Skip to main content
Close

Welcome to the new Annenberg Learner website! All of the current series have migrated to our new, streamlined interface. The legacy site is available at archive.learner.org through January 31, 2020.

Close
Menu

A Biography of America

Industrial Supremacy

Steel and stockyards are featured in this program as the mighty engine of industrialism thunders forward at the end of the nineteenth century. Professor Miller continues the story of the American Industrial Revolution in New York and Chicago, looking at the lives of Andrew Carnegie, Gustavus Swift, and the countless workers in the packinghouse and on the factory floor.

View Transcript

Enhanced Transcript Page 1

Program 14: Industrial Supremacy

Donald L. Miller with Stephen Ambrose, Virginia Scharff, Waldo E. Martin, Jr., Pauline Maier, Louis P. Masur, and Douglas Brinkley.

Introduction

Miller: America in the late 19th century. Everywhere, East and West, the sense of possibility, opportunity, excitement. The Civil War is over, Reconstruction’s failure denied.

So there’s enormous, swirling change that goes on, and the creation of an industrial machine, and what it does to human life and to culture. Tolstoy called it the “permanent revolution.” The Industrial Revolution. You could hear its roar around the world.

When I look at the 19th century through the eyes of the Europeans, what they’re impressed by, in the West as well as in the East, is they’re impressed by businessmen. That’s who impresses them. It captured the eye of these people. One foreigner calls them “capitalist conquistadors.” He says he’s never seen anything like this.

Men like Gustavus Swift and Andrew Carnegie. In New York and Chicago, and across the nation, Americans are making things and money on a spectacular scale. But there is always a price. A new America? Today, on A Biography of America, “Industrial Supremacy.”

Enhanced Transcript Page 2

Industry Takes Center Stage

In the summer of l877, former president Ulysses Grant was vacationing in Europe when he heard alarming news from home. A railroad strike, the Great Uprising of l877, was sweeping across the country, from Pittsburgh to Chicago. Striking workers were burning and pillaging industrial property, and fighting pitched battles with federal troops sent to crush the strike by President Rutherford B. Hayes. Hayes was acting at the insistence of some of America’s leading capitalists, and Grant was puzzled by this.

During Reconstruction, Grant had been attacked by these same capitalists for using federal troops, under General Phil Sheridan, to protect black people in New Orleans against Klu Klux Klan-style violence. Now “the whole power of the government,” Grant said, was being used “to suppress a strike on the slightest intimation that danger threatens.” Grant wasn’t the only one to note the irony.

“I wish Sheridan was at Pittsburgh,” a neighbor declared to the son of abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison. “Indeed,” Garrison shot back, “but remember how you denounced him at New Orleans.” This little exchange showed how the country had changed. “The Negro issue,” as one paper called it, was dead.

The Strike of l877 had pushed to the forefront the issue of “capital and labor.” The strike was over in a few weeks, crushed by troops and canister shot. But it had awakened Americans to the fact that they were living in a new country where industry was the dominant force, industrialists the new American Medici, and continuing labor strife a certainty.

Following the strike, the Chicago department store magnate, Marshall Field, donated money to the city’s police force to buy an arsenal that included four l2-pound Napoleon cannons. Chicago and other cities began constructing armories to house beefed up National Guard units, and General Sheridan, now stationed in the Chicago area, began issuing threats against labor agitators. “The better classes,” he said, “are tired of the insane howlings of the lowest strata, and they mean to stop them.”

This was indisputably a new America, and the revolution that was creating it, the Industrial Revolution, was for the next century and more the greatest agent of change in the history of humankind. The Civil War had spawned a new generation of capitalists: Andrew Carnegie in steel, John D. Rockefeller in oil, J. Pierpont Morgan in banking, and Philip Armour and Gustavus Swift in meatpacking. Working closely with inventors like Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, and George Westinghouse, they would radically transform this country and much of the world.

In these years, America came to be known to the world as a technological nation, a nation of builders and inventors: makers of roaring steel mills, long-reaching railroads, and wondrous suspension bridges. As the writer William Dean Howells declared: “It is in the things of iron and steel that the national genius most freely speaks.” America’s most characteristic and character-shaping achievement has been its talent for inventing and making things. And in no period was this more decisively in evidence than in the final three decades of the nineteenth century.

Chicago and the Meatpacking Industry

In this golden age of American invention, independent inventors introduced the light bulb, the telephone, the typewriter, the fountain pen, the railroad refrigerator car, the air brake, the electric trolley, the Kodak camera, the movie projector, the phonograph, and the zipper. To see this new America unfolding, there was no better place to go than Chicago, a scene of boiling industrial activity and technological ingenuity. With its far-spreading, factory-like environment, dominated by giant industrial concerns, it was the prototypical American industrial city.

Chicago hosted a myriad of industries, producing everything from straw hats to pianos. New York’s small shops and factories produced more manufactured goods than any other American city. But the long, thin, crowded island of Manhattan wasn’t able to support the gigantic new factories that were the mark of the age.

The sprawling, prairie-city of Chicago was, and it was the place that most foreign visitors went to see the industrial future that America, the wonder country of the world, was hammering into shape. Chicago was the international center of meatpacking. And in its vast stockyard district, it was inventing a new way of making things that would transform the world.

The Chicago Stockyards are the concentrated illustration of the industrializing process that would sweep the world. If you understand their operation, you begin to understand the magnitude and complexity, the heroism and human suffering of the American Industrial Revolution. “You shall find them about six miles from the city,” wrote the visiting Englishman Rudyard Kipling, “and once having seen them you will never forget the sight.” The first impression was the scent, which could be picked up six miles away, a combination of mangled meat, animal blood, dung and urine.

Then there was the scale of the place. In l890, the Chicago meatpacking industry was the greatest concentration of labor and capital in the world. More than 25,000 men, women, and children worked in this empire of blood and order, processing l4 million animals a year. The two largest packing houses, run by Philip Armour and Gustavus Swift, did a business worth $200 million a year.

The business was based, as all American big businesses were, on the railroad. Each day, acres upon acres of pens would fill with animals arriving by rail from places as far away as Wyoming and Texas. Once in the yards, the animals were bought and sold by traders on horseback and then sent to the killing floors of the packing houses. By the end of the day, almost all the pens were empty, and the ritual of collecting, selling, and killing began all over again.

The stockyards were not only Chicago’s biggest industry. They were also, believe it or not, its biggest tourist attraction. On a tour of North America, the actress Sara Bernhardt said that the thing that most impressed her about Chicago was the “butchering of the hogs, a terrible and magnificent sight.”

Inside the House of Blood was America’s first assembly line, or, more accurately, disassembly line, for the product was pulled apart rather than put together. Here’s how the procedure worked: A live hog was attached to a giant wheel by a chain around one of its hind legs. When the wheel began to rotate, the hog was jerked into the air, upside down, squealing and kicking, and was carried by the movement of the wheel to an overhead rail that ran the length of the building, on a descending angle, from the top to the bottom floor.

Then the pig’s throat was cut and the carcass was cleaned, washed, and butchered by hundreds of hands as it passed along the overhead wire to the cold storage area. The entire operation, from the killing wheel to the death locker, took less than ten minutes. The killing and cutting process for cattle was different, but was performed with equal efficiency.

Foreign writers and businessmen came to Chicago to observe the operations at the stockyards. One of the most astute visitors was the French novelist, Paul Bourget. When Bourget went to the Union Stockyards in l893 with a group of his countrymen, he went with the idea of learning more about the ideas and ingenuity that would make the next century, he was convinced, the American Century, with Chicago as its vanguard city.

After touring Armour and Company’s Houses of Blood, Bourget and his companions stepped into a carriage and headed back to their hotel, excitedly discussing the significance of what they’d seen. As Bourget wrote in his notebook, “We all agreed, that the first characteristic of this enterprise is the stupendousness of its conception.” But behind it all was a passion for order.

Bourget saw this union of order and vision as the key to American industrial supremacy. But he and his colleagues were surprised at how little Armour’s production system depended on modern machinery. Organization, not invention, explained the amazing efficiency of Chicago’s packing plants.

Meatpacking was not susceptible to mechanization because the raw materials, the hogs, and sheep, and cattle, varied greatly in size, and shape, and weight. Meatpacking, ironically, became the first assembly line industry because packers weren’t able to mechanize their operations. This forced them to turn from technology to Adam Smith’s concept of division of labor as a way of reducing production time and costs.

Enhanced Transcript Page 3

Gustavus Swift and the Refrigerator Car

Chicago’s slaughterhouses were machines, however, but machines of a new type: machines made up almost entirely of human parts. Bourget was fascinated by the businessmen who built this, and other American mass-production machines. To him, they were the real makers of America, capitalist conquistadors who had had tamed the continent and built new western cities, like Chicago, in one generation, “a feat,” he said, “that would never again be repeated.”

What Bourget found most arresting about these capitalists was their warlike combativeness. That and their taste for risk-taking. No two capitalists better embodied these traits than the Meat Kings of Chicago, Philip Armour and Gustavus Swift.

Armour and Swift arrived in Chicago in the same year, l875, and their careers as meat barons were closely linked. Like the “Steel King” Andrew Carnegie, a former bobbin boy and machine tender, they were self-made men. Armour had been as ditch-digger, Swift a country butcher. And their ascent was greatly attributable, like Carnegie’s, to organizational ability.

Swift, the tightlipped son of a Massachusetts farmer, started life as a butcher’s apprentice, and then shifted to cattle dealing, moving west with the geographically expanding business until he arrived in Chicago at the age of 36. The city’s meat business was then dominated by packers of pork, not beef. In the absence of refrigeration technology to preserve the product in transit, meat had to be preserved by salting or smoking. This was O.K. for pork, for Americans had developed a taste for bacon, and sausage, and smoked ham; but they preferred their beef fresh.

So most of the cattle arriving in Chicago weren’t butchered there, as was pork. Steers were sold, and then shipped live and butchered locally in eastern cities. Swift made a lot of money shipping cattle east, but he had the foresight to see that the business he was prospering in was about to change. And he made himself an agent of that change.

It was all about supply and demand. Population in the growing cities of the East began to outstrip the local meat supply. At exactly the same time, there was a tremendous expansion of cattle production on the unfenced plains of the West. Thundering herds of Texas longhorns, a quarter of a million in a herd, were driven to new railroad towns like Abilene, Kansas.

The primary industry in Abilene had been raising prairie dogs before a Chicago livestock dealer named Joseph McCoy built cattle pens near the new rail depot there, a place on the map where old Spanish trading trails intersected with westward pushing railroads. From the holding pens of this brawling cow town, and other towns that grew up as fast as it did, places like Dodge City and Cheyenne, cattle were sent to Chicago and shipped from there to slaughterhouses everywhere. The animals, however, were badly beaten up in transit, lowering their price and edibility. And Swift, who had what his son called “an eye for waste”, objected to paying freight on the inedible parts of the animals, which amounted to 60% of the weight.

The answer, of course, was to slaughter the steers in Chicago and send only the edible parts East. The trick was finding a way to keep the beef cool and well preserved along the way. Here is where technology and enterprise join hands.

Swift began shipping beef in winter, with the boxcar doors open. But that didn’t work well. Then one his engineers developed a state of the art refrigerator car. This was an enormous technological breakthrough. It made Chicago the center of American beef butchering.

And the meat industry became the city’s major industry. After he developed his refrigerator car, Swift, with Armour right behind him, built the most highly coordinated production and distribution network in the world. A side of beef leaving his Chicago plant was stored in a freezer in New York on the very same hook on which it was hung when it was killed in Chicago.

Swift created America’s first vertically integrated company. This is a firm that reaches out to control the supply, production, and distribution of its products. In meatpacking, that meant controlling everything from the purchase of western steers to their delivery as steaks to the local butcher shop. Vertical integration was the hallmark of big industry that would come to dominate the American economy.

The Steel Industry

[Picture of Andrew Carnegie]

Andrew Carnegie was already a millionaire when he went into steel production two years after the Great Strike of l877. Visiting a British steel mill, he was so impressed by the awe-inspiring display of a Bessemer converter that he declared, “The day of iron has passed.” And he decided then and there to be a steel man.

Carnegie’s steel business, like Armour’s meat business, had an imperial reach. Here Carnegie describes it in deceptively simple language. “Two pounds of iron-stone purchased on the shores of Lake Superior and transported to Pittsburgh. Two pounds of coal mined in Connellsville and manufactured into coke and brought to Pittsburgh. One-half pound of limestone mined east of the Alleghenies and brought to Pittsburgh. A little manganese ore mined in Virginia and brought to Pittsburgh. And these four and one half pounds of material manufactured into one pound of solid steel and sold for one cent. That’s all that need be said about the steel business,” said Carnegie.

[Picture of Carnegie's Pittsburgh Mills]

By l900, Carnegie’s enormous Pittsburgh mills were producing more steel than the entire output of Great Britain, formerly the world’s greatest steel-making power. Steel was the wonder material of the age: steel for rails, steam engines, trolley cars, steel for bridges, factories, and later, automobiles. And steel frames for the new symbol of corporate America: the urban skyscraper. Steel would become an even bigger industry than meatpacking; but both industries were based on efficiency and cost-cutting, high volume and full production, and men working fast, fast, fast, for the mills had to run flat out all the time.

Enhanced Transcript Page 4

Philip Armour and Packing House Working Conditions

Philip Armour, like Carnegie, waged incessant warfare on waste and inefficiency. He used every part of the slaughtered hog, he said, except the squeal. Armour created an entire business from animal parts, among them glue, fertilizer, lard, gelatin and margarine production, making a fortune on animal parts that other packers just dumped into the Chicago River.

But the size and speed of his operations led to scandalously lax health standards, as Upton Sinclair vividly documented in his novel The Jungle. Carcasses infected with parasitic worms, or contaminated by sawdust, were turned into sausage; and canned meat was sold with droppings of rats, and even parts of rats, in it. But Armour ignored these practices until the government, under President Teddy Roosevelt, forced him to do something about them.

Armour was a typical American capitalist of his time. Work was his life and he couldn’t wait to get to it. He walked to his office and was there by six in the morning. The big deals were usually made early, he said, “before the boys with polished nails show up.” Workers arriving at the office a little after seven were greeted by Armour with a booming, “good afternoon.”

His only relief from work, aside from time with his family, was his regular visits to the Armour Institute, an excellent technical school he established for boys, white and black. Armour had come up the hard way, leaving his home in Oneida, New York at age nineteen for the gold fields of California, where he dug sluice ways for miners. And he wanted to give the scrubbed and brushed children who eagerly greeted him at the Institute a good start in life.

Armour lived unpretentiously for a man worth 25 million dollars, preferring to spend his evenings at home with his wife. “I am just a poor butcher trying to go to Heaven,” he described himself. “I do not love the money,” he told Theodore Dreiser. “What I do love is making it.”

By staying in business through ruthless cost cutting, Armour claimed he was doing the only two things he could do for American workers: providing them jobs and affordable, mass-produced meat for their families. What Armour ignored, or chose to put out of his mind, was that he ran a business that treated its workers like industrial slaves. In winter, the unheated packing houses were so cold that workers would stick their feet inside the hot carcasses of freshly slaughtered cattle.

Foremen barked at the workers as if they were galley slaves to keep them moving, for in this business, speed was everything. And to keep down labor costs, packers hired hundreds of workers for only as long as they were needed, for a week or a day or even a few hours. The unemployed showed up at the plant gates every morning at dawn, and the strongest-looking ones, or the ones with a little money to shell out for bribes, were picked out by company guards and ushered into the plant. Then a policeman would wave his club, and the rest of the men would go dejectedly home.

With this system, it was easier to keep down complaints. There was always a hungry man waiting at the gate to take your job. And because your job was so simple, because most of the skill had been taken out of it, the guy at the gate could learn it in a few hours. At Armour and Company, almost every worker was a disposable product.

Paul Bourget was too caught up in the splendid efficiency of the operation to take notice of the workers. But another foreign observer, the Italian journalist, Giuseppe Giacosa, gave a hair-raising report of packinghouse work. The workers on the cutting line, he wrote, “have neither the body nor the face of humans.” A mixture of animal grease and blood stained their faces, and blood hardened in their hair and beards, and on their overalls, forcing them “to walk,” he said, “with long stiff strides.”

But it was not that clear-cut, as Giacosa learned, to his amazement, when he walked past the packinghouse gate at closing time. Out through the portals came the blood-soaked men he had seen an hour earlier. They were now, he wrote, “a lordly collection of gentlemen whom our country ladies would take as models of sporty elegance. They are often tall, young, blonde, with well-trimmed mustaches and polished shoes. They wear handsome ties, and plaid jackets, and little hard hats.”

Then, in a remarkable passage, Giacosa caught the central paradox of American mass production. “The Americans,” he said, “accept the inequality of labor in order to attain a relative equality of goods.” Pride and self-esteem used to come from the kind of work a person did. With physical work degraded, self-esteem came from what workers could purchase.

Packingtown

Giacosa was describing the best-paid workers in the plant, the semi-skilled butchers, most of them Irishmen and Germans, who lived in well-kept cottages in the neighborhoods not far from the yards. But in the year he visited the yards, 1898, these butchers were being rapidly replaced by miserably paid, unskilled Eastern European immigrants. By then, these immigrants made up almost two-thirds of the industry’s work force.

They moved into the decaying neighborhood just behind the yards that the butchers were abandoning. The place was called Packingtown, and it was the vilest slum in Chicago. Packingtown was a fortress of oppression, a place of stench and disease, smoke and slime. The unpaved streets were lined with acid-eaten wooden shacks, and in front and back of them were creeks and drainage ditches so packed with decaying animal matter that carbolic acid bubbled to the surface.

Children and drunken men drowned in these garbage ditches, which were hard to spot because layers of hard brown scum settled on the surface. Polish and Italian immigrants could be seen in Packingtown, picking around the local dump for kindling for cooking, for old mattresses, and even for edible pieces of food. One of the worst places to work in Armour and Company was the paint room. There, Polish girls inhaled so much paint their sputum was blue.

One year, a crusading woman reporter, Nell Nelson, took a job in the paint room to see how Armour, a civic hero in Chicago, treated his workers. “It was good of Armour to build Sunday schools and schools for boys,” she wrote after finishing her investigation. “But it would not be wasted charity, to give a little consideration to the working conditions of thirteen year old girls.”

But it was Dr. Caroline Hedger, a courageous physician who gave her life to these people, who put it all into one sentence: “It must be realized in Packingtown,” she said, “that workers are human beings.” Yet these immigrants kept coming, like the trainloads of the cattle and hogs they were paid to slaughter. Cattle and hogs coming from the west, Poles and Italians from the East; that was Chicago.

When these workers tried to organize unions, Armour crushed them, with the help of strikebreakers, state militia, and Pinkerton detectives. These packing concerns, you have to remember, were family businesses, built from the ground up by the men who ran them. There was a deep feeling among these men that no one but ownership should have a voice in how things were done.

Enhanced Transcript Page 5

The Skyscraper Revolutionizes Industry

In l885 the careers of Philip Armour and Andrew Carnegie crossed in ways unknown to them. That year the Chicago architect, William Le Baron Jenney, was building the world’s first metal-frame skyscraper, when a load of steel beams arrived from one of Carnegie’s Pittsburgh mills. Jenney was persuaded by the company’s local salesman that lightweight structural steel could be used as effectively in skyscrapers as it was being used in suspension bridges, like the Brooklyn Bridge, one of the supreme engineering achievements of the age.

After receiving permission from his client, the Home Insurance Company, Jenney substituted steel for iron beams on the top stories of the skyscraper he was constructing. It was the beginning of a new type of city- one never seen before, a skyscraper city built of steel. When the building was completed, Philip Armour moved in, transferring his corporate offices from the stockyards to plush offices in the center of downtown Chicago. It was an important moment in American capitalism.

A great transformation was underway, in capitalism and the city: the separation of management from production, and the rise of the big city as the headquarters of America’s biggest corporations. These changes, as we’ll see, would bring forward new types of corporate leaders; capitalists more familiar with high finance than with work on the plant floor. But in the last decades of the l9th century, when Philip Armour was operating at full stride, the city that best represented America, and its unique form of buccaneering capitalism, was Chicago. In these years, Chicago, the city that invented a new way of making things, would invent a new type of city.

American Technology

While change occurs constantly and often rapidly in history, especially since the Industrial Revolution of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the pace of change accelerated dramatically in the last third of the nineteeth century. America went from the horse and buggy and steam power to automobiles and electric power in a very short time. Communications by telephone, the invention of the typewriter, the widespread use of electricity, the development of the internal combustion engine, all propelled the nation rapidly into a brave new world. Railroads, which had linked the nation since 1869, entered a period of rapid growth and development in the 1880s that would cause them to dominate American transportation for more than a half century. People like Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell came to symbolize the genius of American inventiveness.

Questions to Ponder

Inventions in the late nineteenth century marked the beginning of rapid and all-encompassing changes in communications, transportation, and in the daily work and home lives of Americans.

1. Can you think of other inventions of the late nineteenth century that dramatically changed the way Americans lived and worked?

2. How would you construct a timeline of important inventors and inventions for other periods of American history, including important changes in your own lifetime, such as the silicon chip and the Internet?

3. Is “inventive genius” an important component of the American character? Or are Americans no different in this respect from people in other nations?

4. What forces in a society encourage invention?

5. Is there a relationship between wars and the increase of new inventions and new technology?

6. How does today’s “digital revolution” build upon and alter the inventions of the nineteenth century, such as the use of electricity, photography, the telephone, the phonograph, and the typewriter?

Bibliography

Bruce, Robert V. Bell: Alexander Graham Bell and the Conquest of Solitude. Boston: Little, Brown, 1973.

Gordon, Sarah H. Passage to Union: How the Railroads Transformed American Life, 1829-1929. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, Inc., 1996.

Hughes, Thomas P. American Genesis: A Century of Technological Enthusiasm, 1870-1970. New York: Viking, 1989.

Millard, A. J. Edison and the Business of Innovation. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1990.

Miller, Donald L. City of the Century, The Epic of Chicago and the Making of America. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996; paperback, 1997.

Webography

Rutherford B. Hayes

Rutherford B. Hayes 
http://www.whitehouse.gov/history/presidents/rh19.html
A portrait and a biography of Hayes.

The Internet Public Library – Presidents of the United States — Rutherford Birchard Hayes 
http://www.ipl.org/div/potus/rbhayes.html
A Rutherford B. Hayes profile, with presidential election results, a list of his Cabinet members, etc. Includes links to other Hayes sites and to related historical documents.

Rutherford B. Hayes 
http://www.ohiobio.org/president/rhayes.html
A photo and a profile of Hayes with a few related links.

The Diary and Letters of Rutherford B. Hayes 
http://www.rbhayes.org/hayes/diaries/
3,000 pages of searchable diary entries from Hayes at age 12 until his death in 1893 at age 70. Also provides links to his letters and papers.

Today in History: October 4 
http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/today/oct04.html
An illustrated biography of Hayes with related links.

Darkness and Light- The Interwar Years, l865-1898 
http://www.army.mil/cmh-pg/books/amh/AMH-13.htm
An American military history from 1865-1898. Includes an account of the railroad strike and Hayes’ use of federal troops.


Marshall Field

People in the West – Marshall Field 
http://www.pbs.org/weta/thewest/people/d_h/field.htm
A brief biography of Field.

Jazz Age Chicago – Marshall Field and Company 
http://chicago.urban-history.org/sites/d_stores/fields.htm
An illustrated account of the origins and growth of Marshall Field.


Philip Armour

Armour Packing Company 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_Danforth_Armour
The history of the Armour Packing Company in Kansas City.

Gustavus Swift

The Cases of Daniel McCallum and Gustavus Swift 
http://www.willamette.edu/~fthompso/MgmtCon/McCallum.htm
The stories of McCallum and Swift.

Refrigerator Cars (Reefers) History 
http://www.chiptin.com/schlitz/reefers.htm
The history of the development of refrigerator cars.


Andrew Carnegie

American Experience: The Richest Man in the World: Andrew Carnegie 
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/carnegie/
A comprehensive Carnegie site, with links to many aspects of his life and work, including a background of the steel mill, timelines, a biography, excerpts from his diary and letters, etc.

History of Andrew Carnegie and Carnegie Libraries 
http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc/
A portrait of Carnegie with many links to Carnegie related sites.

Today in History – March 12 
http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/today/mar12.html
A brief biography of Carnegie with related links.

About Carnegie Corporation 
http://www.carnegie.org/sub/about/biography.html
A biography of Carnegie with a photo.

Bridging the Urban Landscape: Andrew Carnegie: A Tribute 
http://www.clpgh.org/exhibit/carnegie.html
An analysis of Carnegie with a photo and related links.

Modern History Sourcebook: Andrew Carnegie: The Gospel of Wealth, 1889 
http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1889carnegie.html
An introduction and the text of Carnegie’s Wealth, from the North American Review.


The Steel Industry

Bessemer Process 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bessemer_process
A description and history of the Bessemer converter.

Steel Manufacturing
http://www.anselm.edu/homepage/dbanach/h-carnegie-steel.htm
A history of steel manufacture.

 


William Le Baron Jenney

Le Baron Jenney 
http://architecture.about.com/od/greatarchitects/p/jenney.htm
A brief profile of Jenney with a photo and links to the buildings he designed.

American Experience: Technology in America: Telephone: Timeline 
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/telephone/timeline/index.html
An interactive timeline with a reference to Jenney’s skyscraper.

Today in History – September 20 
http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/today/sep20.html
Provides a reference to Jenney and the world’s first tall building; the ten-story Home Insurance Company Building in Chicago. Includes a photo of the building.


 

Great Uprising of 1877

Reconstructing Representation 
http://www.joshbrownnyc.com/reconrep/index.html
A chapter from the American Social History Project with an account of the Great Uprising and illustrations from a local newspaper.

Kearneyism, the Chinese, and Labor Unrest in California – 1877 
http://www.sfmuseum.org/hist6/kearneyism.html
An account of the labor unrest in California in 1877.


William Dean Howells on technology

Corliss Steam Engine 
http://www.150.si.edu/chap4/4ngin.htm
A picture of the Corliss steam engine and William Dean Howells’ quotation, “It is in …things of iron and steel.”

Mechanization takes Command 
http://xroads.virginia.edu/~DRBR/corporat.html
An excerpt from The Incorporation of America: Culture and Society in the Gilded Age.Includes a paragraph on Howells and the full quotation “It is in…things of iron and steel…”

The William Dean Howells Society site 
http://public.wsu.edu/~campbelld/howells/index.html
A Howells site with a photo and related links.


The Chicago Stockyards

A Brief Sketch of Working People’s History in Illinois 
http://www.library.uiuc.edu/irx/briefhistory.htm
An essay on the history of working people in Illinois.


Rudyard Kipling

The Kipling Society 
http://www.kipling.org.uk/
A Rudyard Kipling site, with a biography, links to his writings, a chronology, a picture file, etc.

Series Directory

A Biography of America

Credits

Produced by WGBH Boston in cooperation with the Library of Congress and the National Archives and Records Administration, and with the assistance of Instructional Resources Corporation. 2000.
  • Closed Captioning
  • ISBN: 1-57680-202-7

Units