AN04_Migration and Industrialization: The Railroads as Mirror of Societal Changes in Post Civil War America.
Timeline: 1865 – 1898
Main Idea: The Civil War consumed the nation’s resources, time, and most importantly, ~700,000 of it’s people. It’s end was an opportunity to heal and address the problems that lay before it. Paramount on this list of national ‘to dos’ was how to integrate millions of former slaves. “Reconstruction” was the plan slated to tackle this monumental issue. Also on the list, but farther down, was the incorporation of Western lands (Frontier) into the Union.
Reconstruction, and the disposition of the Frontier, provided the back-drop for the nation’s commercial postwar efforts. Industrialization expanded rapidly during the war years and those at the helm could now redirect American enterprise. The railroad industry is an appropriate case study for us to tackle since it can serve as a mirror to the issues that remain in the latter third of the 19th C. Its rise and fall brings us in contact with the: immigrant labor force, utopian worker communities, integration of new technologies, ascendency of trust-like corporations, and the financial recklessness that often plagues such entities.
FQ: How were the Railroads a Mirror of Societal Changes in Post Civil War America?
I. Railroads: The Need as The Nation Grows
A. The movement west of the Mississippi was encouraged. (Homestead Act)
B. The discovery of gold veins in California enticed miners (professional and non-professional). (The 49’ers)
II. Railroads: The Obstacles (…to making it to work).
A. How to cover the expanse of territory?
1. Track laying increases drastically (1856- 30K miles, 1890- 180K miles. 600% growth).
2. Transcontinental Railroad connects East and West coasts (Golden Spike 1869)
1. Attacks by Native Americans, Bandits.
2. Weather Conditions (tornados, dust storms, extreme heat/ cold)
3. Machine Accidents: Steam Engine (Boiler) Explosion
a. 1888 witnessed 2000 deaths.
b. 1888 witnessed 20000 injured.
C. Where is the labor coming from?
1. Chinese (Western port of entry)
2. Irish (Eastern port of entry)
3. Civil War veterans
D. The Issue of ‘Time’.
1. ‘Synchronization’ of Local Time.
2. The Impact of ‘Simultaneity’ (and the Telegraph)
E. Standardization (Uniformity) of Services
1. Rail car design/ capacity. (George Pullman)
2. Rail car amenities.
4. Hauling fees, Passenger tickets
F. Developing an Industrial Network: Raw materials, manufacturing, supply/ maintenance depots.
III. Railroads: The Impact
A. Weakening Native Peoples: Military encounters (Battle of Little Big Horn), Reservation System, killing of Buffalo.
B. Rise of many towns along the route of the rails (as if the rails were ‘rivers’).
C. The Rise of ‘Trusts’
1. Worker Cities: G. Pullman: 1894 Strike (resulting from a cut in wages with no lowering of rents).
2. Vertical control of ‘Means of Production’
3. 1864: Union Pacific Railroad and the Credit Mobilier Construction Co. fraud.
5. Sale of Railroad land grants for personal profit.
6. Panic of 1893: Brought on by financial improprieties by RR companies.
D. ‘Time’ Standardization.
1. National ‘Time’ Synchronization: 18 Nov. 1883. Creation of ‘Time Zones’.
2. 1884: The Global Standardization of Time.
3. 1918: US Congress adopts Standardized Time Zones.
E. Service Quality: Development of ‘Franchises’
F. Need for Regulation
1. The Grange (1867 Farmers Association)
2. Granger Laws Case Study: Mann v. Illinois, 1877 (States can regulate if railroad commercial activity is within State lines. When it involves crossing into a neighboring State, the Federal government has jurisdiction.)
3. 1886: Supreme Court- States cannot regulate railroads if they enter/ exit the State from/ to another State.
4. 1887: Interstate Commerce Act- Remains an ineffective legislation until the Progressive Era of the ‘turn of the 20th C.’