History Thesis: Reconstruction Era
After the Civil War, America was still amidst great turmoil and economic instability. During this time period, the ultimate goal for Americans was to seize the “American Dream”. This was defined by most as being able to support their family and live a comfortable life. Although some did achieve this, many faced social, political and economic hardships. Beginning with the unjust treatment of African-Americans, then the struggles of immigrants, and followed by the rise of big businesses, the challenges faced during this time of rebuilding varied among the classes.
Of all the groups, African-Americans, had the most treacherous economic ladder to climb. Immediately following the Civil War they had the freedoms necessary to obtain
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At the same time these economic struggles are taking place for African-Americans and later immigrants, there were Americans who were financially well-off. Following the Civil War and Reconstruction, the economy was weak and the market had low barriers-to-entry. This was a result of the governments enforcement of “Laissez-Faire”, meaning “hands-off”, and the lack of government regulations. Few took advantage of this raw economy with few rules, but for those who did it paid off significantly. Through hard work, and fortunate investing, anyone could climb the ladder to success in an unbelievably fast rate. One of the success stories was John Rockefeller, founder of Standard Oil, and a prominent businessman. Rockefeller revolutionized the way business was conducted in America. His vision was to obtain full horizontal integration by building a monopoly and destroying his competitors. He was cut-throat in his approach to business, sometimes cutting deals with railroads to run people out of business. In a six-week period he remarkably took over 22 of 26 competitors in a six-week period. He proved Horatio Algers claim that, “through hard-work and a little luck, anyone can climb the ladder to success”. Rockefeller maximized the usage of capitalism, and emulated the “American Dream”.
The lack of government regulation led to an unbalanced distribution of wealth across the different