History Essays on The Guilded Age and Big Business

The Guilded Age and Big Business


Between 1890 and 1910, big businesses acted as government steers rather than governments driving the big companies. During the span of the Gilded Age, the United States Congress passed laws that mainly favored corporations (Faragher et al., 1999).The big business played a crucial role in steering the U.S government.

The laws considered corporations to be monopolies of manufacturing rather than commerce. With these laws, the Congress was not able to regulate these monopolies. For example, the 14th Amendment was designed for the rights of the African Americans. However, when it reached the Supreme Court, the document was manipulated to give corporations more rights. This gave corporations the rights just as any citizen would have including political lobbying. The amendment allowed corporations to hold significant political power and swayed political opinions and outcomes in the US. In addition, the Sherman Act was supposed to put a check on the powers of corporations but was manipulated and interpreted in a manner that the corporations barely changed their status quo. These new laws showed that the government was fully in support of the corporations and enabled them to make major decisions for the government and the citizens (Faragher et al., 1999).

The Sherman Act was passed on the backdrop of the American Civil War which had derailed the economy leading to depression. The revival of all spheres of the American society was dependent on the general health of the economy. Proponents of the law argued that the country would be better off with a sound industrial system, transportation, improved domestic output and excellent leadership with a reliable workforce. The law was aimed at protecting the companies; however, it gave the corporations significant power that has continued to shape the political landscape of the country.


Faragher, J. M., Czitrm, D., Buhle, M. J. & Armitage, S.H. (1999). Out of many: A history of the American people. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.