Thoughts about the USA in the 1850s-1910s

The gilded age (1850s-1910s) is the era that I think that contributed most to the building of the most powerful nation on earth, the United States of America; and understanding it would help us making our own gilded age towards a prolonged era of inclusive prosperity for all.

This era ushered in a rapid period of industrialization and consolidation of major American industries as we see them today. The importance of this era cannot be undermined because it is in this era when the major multinationals that served as the diplomats of US sovereignty and influence came into being, mostly with utterly nationalistic sentiments than most companies. Nevertheless, this period is not without its own bumps and imperfections. Rail road rate fixing and the petty but nevertheless cunning tricks that barons of the gilded age performed upon the public were the primary causes of the panics of the 1870s, 1895 and 1907. Millions were traded and billions flowed from the pockets of small independent firms to the coffers of the cunning amalgamation of corporations that they called trust. These trusts and the industry-wide consolidations that followed thereafter, I think, is the most important innovation that happened in the gilded age. It ushered in an era of efficiency and scale. Though the road to consolidation is not smooth, it nevertheless made the American industries so centralized and efficient that it managed to survive competition and emerge victor against the major corporations of other countries. It also introduced an era of venture start-ups, where enthusiastic and risk-taking wannabe entrepreneurs loan money and found themselves building a fortune out of a bull rin and on another year, losing more than they invested. Of all these entrepreneurs which I can proudly say much of modern America has inherited and learned from, John Rockefeller, J.Pierpont Morgan and Andrew Carnegie seemed to be the most successful, if not most cunning, of all these entrepreneurs.

Raphael Justin A, Jambalos



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