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Storia Americana, Cultura americana Appunti scolastici Premium

Appunti di Cultura americana per l'esame del professor Bajetta. E' presente il Programma del corso con relativi argomenti su:
1 The rise of industrialism.
2 Panamerican American Imperialism.
3 The progressive era, WWI, the 1920's.
4The Cold War, the McCarthyism.
5 From Kennedy to Nixon, the 1960's.

Esame di Cultura americana docente Prof. C. Bajetta



world's richest man and the first American worth more than a billion dollars. Adjusting for inflation, he is often

regarded as the richest person in history.

Rockefeller spent the last 40 years of his life in retirement. His fortune was mainly used to create the modern

systematic approach of targeted philanthropy. He was able to do this through the creation of foundations that

had a major effect on medicine, education, and scientific research.

His foundations pioneered the development of medical research, and were instrumental in the eradication of

hookworm and yellow fever. He is also the founder of both the University of Chicago and Rockefeller

University. He was a devoted Northern Baptist and supported many church­based institutions throughout his

life. Rockefeller adhered to total abstinence from alcohol and tobacco throughout his life.

As an economic fact he was the richest man in the world, he represented the type of man who started

self­made man. american

from scratch and built an empire. He is the typical example of a He prolonged the

dream, showing America as the land of opportunity, and the democratic values which are based on the

concept of having nothing and become rich or succeding from work is something honest.

As said in the puritan religion the financial reward or the material success on earth are the proof that

you have been elected by God. This concept is really different from the idea of inheriting money without any

efforts. social darwinism.

Rockfeller can be seen as the embodiment of the idea od

Social Darwinism is an ideology of society that seeks to apply biological concepts of Darwinism or of

evolutionary theory to sociology and politics, often with the assumption that conflict between groups in society

leads to social progress as superior groups outcompete inferior ones.

The name social Darwinism is a modern name given to the various theories of society that emerged in

England and the United States in the 1870s, which, it is alleged, sought to apply biological concepts to

sociology and politics. The term social Darwinism gained widespread currency when used in 1944 to oppose

these earlier concepts. Today, because of the negative connotations of the theory of social Darwinism,

especially after the atrocities of the Second World War (including the Holocaust), few people would describe

themselves as Social Darwinists and the term is generally seen as pejorative. Social Darwinism is generally

understood to use the concepts of struggle for existence and survival of the fittest to justify social policies

which make no distinction between those able to support themselves and those unable to support themselves.

Many such views stress competition between individuals in laissez­faire capitalism; but the ideology has also

motivated ideas of eugenics, scientific racism, imperialism, fascism, Nazism and struggle between national or

racial groups. Opponents of evolution theory have often maintained that social Darwinism is a logical

entailment of a belief in evolutionary theory, while biologists and historians maintain that it is rather a

perversion of Charles Darwin's ideas. While most scholars recognize historical links between Darwin's theory

and forms of social Darwinism, they also maintain that social Darwinism is not a necessary consequence of

the principles of biological evolution and that using biological evolution as a justification for policies of

inequality amounts to committing the naturalistic fallacy.

Rockfeller Childhood

1 As a child he became aware of the poverty of his family and his carachter was shaped by his personal story.

His father, first a lumberman, then a traveling salesman, billed himself as a “botanic physician” and sold elixirs.

The locals referred to the mysterious but fun­loving man as "Big Bill," and "Devil Bill". He was a sworn foe of

conventional morality, who had opted for a vagabond existence and who returned to his family infrequently.

Throughout his life, William Avery Rockefeller gained a reputation for shady schemes rather than productive

work. Eliza, a homemaker and devout Baptist, struggled to maintain a semblance of stability at home, as

William was frequently gone for extended periods. She also put up with his philandering and his double life,

which included bigamy. Thrifty by nature and necessity, she taught her son that "willful waste makes woeful

want." Young Rockefeller did his share of the regular household chores and earned extra money raising

turkeys, selling potatoes and candy and eventually lending small sums of money to neighbors. He followed his

1 Let the money works for you

father’s advice to "trade dishes for platters" and always get the better part of any deal. He realised he could

rent his money for having interests.

In September 1855, when Rockefeller was sixteen, he got his first job as an assistant bookkeeper, working for

a small produce commission firm called Hewitt & Tuttle. He worked long hours and delighted, as he later

recalled, in “all the methods and systems of the office”. He was particularly adept at calculating transportation

costs, which served him well later in his career. The full salary for his first three months' work was $50 (50

cents a day). From the beginning, he donated about 6% of his earnings to charity.

As a youth, Rockefeller reportedly said that his two great ambitions were to make $100,000 and to live 100

years. In 1859, Rockefeller met Mr. Clark and they founded a refinery, which was directly composed of Clark

& Rockefeller, chemist Samuel Andrews, and M. B. Clark's two brothers. The commercial oil business was in

its infancy. Whale oil had become too expensive for the masses, and a cheaper, general­purpose lighting fuel

was needed.


Rockefeller became a lifelong member of the then­new Republican Party, and a strong supporter of Abraham

Lincoln and the party’s abolitionist wing. He was a faithful congregant of the Erie Street Baptist Mission

Church, where he taught Sunday school, and served as a trustee, clerk, and occasional janitor. Religion was a

guiding force throughout his life, and Rockefeller believed it to be the source of his success. As he said, "God

gave me money", and he did not apologize for it. He felt at ease and righteous following John Wesley’s dictum,

"gain all you can, save all you can, and give all you can."


In 1866, his brother William Rockefeller built another refinery in Cleveland and brought John into the

partnership. In 1867, Henry M. Flagler became a partner, and the firm of Rockefeller, Andrews & Flagler was

established. By 1868, with Rockefeller continuing practices of borrowing and reinvesting profits, controlling cost

and using refineries' waste, the company owned two Cleveland refineries and a marketing subsidiary in New

York; it was the largest oil refinery in the world. Rockefeller, Andrews & Flagler was the predecessor of the

Standard Oil Company.

Standard Oil

By the end of the American Civil War, Cleveland was one of the five main refining centers in the U.S. (besides

Pittsburgh and Philadelphia . In June 1870, Rockefeller formed Standard Oil of Ohio, which rapidly became

the most profitable refiner in Ohio. Standard Oil grew to become one of the largest shippers of oil and

kerosene in the country. The railroads were fighting fiercely for traffic and, in an attempt to create a cartel to

control freight rates, formed the South Improvement Company, in collusion with Standard and other oil men

outside the main oil centers. The cartel received preferential treatment as a high­volume shipper, which

included not just steep rebates of up to 50% for their product, but also rebates for the shipment of competing

products. Part of this scheme was the announcement of sharply increased freight charges. This touched off a

firestorm of protest from independent oil well owners, including boycotts and vandalism, which eventually led to

the discovery of Standard Oil's part in the deal. A major New York refiner, Charles Pratt and Company, headed

by Charles Pratt and Henry H. Rogers, led the opposition to this plan, and railroads soon backed off.

Pennsylvania revoked the cartel’s charter and equal rates were restored for the time being.

Undeterred, though vilified for the first time by the press, Rockefeller continued with his self­reinforcing

cycle of buying competing refiners, improving the efficiency of his operations, pressing for discounts on oil

shipments, undercutting his competition, making secret deals, raising investment pools, and buying rivals out.


In less than four months in 1872, in what was later known as "The Cleveland Conquest" or "The

Massacre", Standard Oil had absorbed 22 of its 26 Cleveland competitors. Eventually, even his former

antagonists, Pratt and Rogers, saw the futility of continuing to compete against Standard Oil: in 1874, they

made a secret agreement with their old nemesis to be acquired. Pratt and Rogers became Rockefeller's

partners. Rogers, in particular, became one of Rockefeller's key men in the formation of the Standard Oil Trust.

Pratt's son, Charles Millard Pratt became Secretary of Standard Oil.

For many of his competitors, Rockefeller had merely to show them his books so they could see what

they were up against, then make them a decent offer. If they refused his offer, he told them he would run them

into bankruptcy, then cheaply buy up their assets at auction. He saw himself as the industry’s savior, "an angel

of mercy", absorbing the weak and making the industry as a whole stronger, more efficient, and more

competitive. Standard was growing horizontally and vertically. It added its own pipelines, tank cars, and home

delivery network. It kept oil prices low to stave off competitors, made its products affordable to the average

household, and to increase market penetration, sometimes sold below cost if necessary. It developed over 300

oil­based products from tar to paint to Vaseline petroleum jelly to chewing gum. By the end of the 1870s,

Standard was refining over 90% of the oil in the U.S. Rockefeller had already become a millionaire. Standard

Oil Trust Certificate 1896

In 1877, Standard clashed with the Pennsylvania Railroad, its chief hauler.

The railroad, seeing Standard’s incursion into the transportation and pipeline fields, struck back and

formed a subsidiary to buy and build oil refineries and pipelines. Standard countered and held back its

a price war

shipments, and with the help of other railroads, started that dramatically reduced freight payments

and caused labor unrest as well.

Rockefeller eventually prevailed and the railroad sold all its oil interests to Standard. But in the

aftermath of that battle, in 1879 the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania indicted Rockefeller on charges of

monopolizing the oil trade, starting an avalanche of similar court proceedings in other states and making a

national issue of Standard Oil’s business practices.

Standard Oil gradually gained almost complete control of oil refining and marketing in the United

States through horizontal integration. By 1880, according to the New York World, Standard Oil was "the most

cruel, impudent, pitiless, and grasping monopoly that ever fastened upon a country." To the critics Rockefeller

replied, "In a business so large as ours … some things are likely to be done which we cannot approve. We

correct them as soon as they come to our knowledge.”

At that time, many legislatures had made it difficult to incorporate in one state and operate in another.

As a result, Rockefeller and his associates owned dozens of separate corporations operating in just one state,


making their management of the whole enterprise rather unwieldy. In Rockefeller's lawyers created an

Standard Oil Trust.

innovative form of corporation to centralize their holdings, giving birth to the

The "trust" was a corporation of corporations, and the entity's size and wealth drew much attention.

Nine trustees, including Rockefeller, ran the 41 companies in the trust. The public and the press were

immediately suspicious of this new legal entity, but other businesses seized upon the idea and emulated it,

further inflaming public sentiment. Standard Oil had gained an aura of invincibility, always prevailing against

competitors, critics, and political enemies. It had become the richest, biggest, most feared business in the

world, seemingly immune to the boom and bust of the business cycle, consistently racking up profits year after


1862 Homestead act

This act was giving a section of land for free.

To be continued....

2 The American Empire

American Imperialism

There was a conflict between the US and Spain, from Febrary to September 1898. It started actually after the

explosion of a ship in Cuba.

To undestand this conflict, we need to look at the background.

Both Portugal ans Spain lost most of their colonies, Brazil became indipendent in 1822 ; from that Brasil was

opended to international trade, there were conflicts between France and Britain since they were trying to

control the trade market.

Gradually the rest of Latin America separeted from Spain, other colonies demanded their

indipendence. There were some crisis and conflicts, some of them were violent. All colonies( sauf Peru)

separeted, but then they were reconquered.

Colombia 1820

Chile 1817

Mexico republic 1824

Spain had just Cuba and Puerto Rico.

At the time the position of US was a position of neutrality, whereas on the concept of the monroe's doctrine,

the US decided to send a warning to Spain.

"The American Continent by the free and indipendent condition that they have assumed and manteined

henceforth not to be considered as subjetc for future colonization, by any European powers." This show that

the US didn't want to attack but they just wanted to defend their territor.

Cuba wanted to be indipendent.

II) Cuban Affair

It forces the US to intervene. In 1896 there was the arrival of a new spanish governement in Cuba, his

mission was to THwart (prevent by menace) cuba indipendence, they didn't want any more rebellions.

By 1897 and 1898 The cuba resisted and this caused a spanish repression. The cuba citizens who

had helped the rebels was placed in Reconcentration camps. This aspect outraged the cubans,

resistence against spanish autorithy continued. It was seen and honorable fight for indipendence.

At the time president cleveland avoid coinvolge the us in this confict. His successor, William

McKinley applied the same policy however what happened is that the american congresse had

already foseen a possible engagement and therefore had already voted funds to be there. The

event which changed everything was that in january 1898 the president Mckinley ordered the The

Maine. He ordered the battleship maine to havana harbour in order to protect american citizens

and especially because the us had considerable investments in Cuba, especially in the sugar

harvest; many americans ere living on cuba island. The maine exploded in Havana Harbour.

(Febrary 1898)

When she exploded all the crew men died. It was an accident. But at the time it was a turning

point for us. Americans who supported and possibly helped cuban rebels, put the blame on the

spanish, and their called for American retaliation. The phrased which was used at the time was :

REMEMBER THE MAINE. It was an emphasis that this it would be a Just war. Mckinley still

wanted to continued policy of neutrality, but he soon realised that the Congress was ready to

declare the war on its own. IThis is a costitutional aspect, the president is the chief of the army

whereas the congress is the only who has the real authority to declare a war. He reluctently asked

the congress to send trups to Cuba, at the same time the congress recognize the Cuba

indipendence from Spain. On april 24th, 1898 Spain decided to declare war against the US.

On January 25, 1898, one of the most modern ships in the US's navy steamed into the harbour of Havana,

Cuba. The Maine was sent to Cuba as a demonstration of , American power. Three weeks later Febrary 15, an

explosion shook the city, the maine was blown to pieces and 260 of its crew were killed.

"The warship maine was split into two by an enemy's infernal machine." , the story which followed made it clear

that the enemy was Spain. Everyone believed it, not because they had proof, they just wanted to do it.

In 1867 the US had bought Alaska from Russia, they brought the control of California after the mexican war in

1846. However a new spirit started to enter American foreign policy. These were years when Britain, France

and Germany were busy claiming colonies, foreign lands which they could rule or exploit. Some Americans

believed that they should do the same. Colonies overseas ment trade, wealth, power and prestige, " a policy of

isolation worked well when we were an embryo nation, but today things are different" said the senator Platt in

1893. In 1895 people of Cuba rose their rebellion ahainst Spanish rulers. To cut off rebels' supplies, Spanish

soldiers moved thousands of Cuban civilians into a prison camps. They were rapidly overcrowed and people

died of disease and hunger.

Joseph Pulitzer published sensational accounts of the struggle in Cuba. When the Maine blew up , people

began calling for war with Spain, "Remember the Maine" became a battle cry. In April President McKinley

declared the war. The Spanish­ American war was fought in two parts of the world. One was Cuba, the other

was Philippines. The philippines was another big Spanish colony near the coast of Southeast Asia. The

Philippines became an indipendent country in 1946.

In 1953 Puerto Rico became self­governing, but continued to be closely tied to the US. In 1959 Hawaii was

admitted as the fiftieth state of the Union. Cuba was treated differently. When Congress declared war on Spain

in 1898 it said that it was only doing so to help the Cuban people to win indipendence. When the war ended,

Cuba was soon declared an indipendent country. But for years Cuba's indipendence was just a pretense.

Before the Americans took away their soldiers in 1902 they made the Cuban governement give the land at

Guantanamo bay on the Cuban coast. A big american naval base was built there. The Cubans also had to

accept a condition called Platt Amendment. This said that the US could send troops to take control of Cuba

any time it believed that American interests were in danger, in other words, whenever they wanted.

The splendid little war.

This is the common name which is used to called this short war between the US and Cuba. It was very short, it

lasted just 10 weeks. There was unprepareness, the firts military actions did not take place in Cuba but in the

Filippines, which ere also occupied by Spain. Admiral George Dewey came with his squadern from Hong

Kong, which was a british colony, and destroy the spanish flit on the bay of Manila. 11.000 trups were sent from

the us to support the filippino irregulars and they all defeated the spanish trups in August.

Regarding Cuba, military action was quick and decisive, on May the 29th, they blocked the spanish at

Santiago Harbour.In the following months 17.000 trups were sent included the T. Roosevelt Rough Riders.

These trups stormed the country, they captured several important places one by one, like Daiquiri, Santiago,

San Juan. After an engagement that lasted 4hours, the American flit had managed to destroy all the spanish

ships. Things were concluded on the 12th of August, spain agreeed to leave Cuba. Cuba became indipendent

and ceded some colonies to the US as Puerto Rico, Guam(island in the Marianos). The formal negotiations

were conducted in Paris, and Spain also agreed to sell the Philippines to the us for an amount of 20 millions

dollars. New problems arrosed Cuba, and very rapidly the presence of american trups were hated. Cuba didn't

want to stay under the us. After some years the us decided to leave the island.

Thanks to this Splendid little war, Mckinley and Roosevelt gained importance. Roosevelt was his vicepresident.

In 1904 Mckinley was assassinated, Roosevelt became the new president.

It was an empire over the seas, it was a sort of imperialism, trough the military conquest.

The Platt amendament

The Platt Amendment of 1901 was an amendment to a joint resolution of the United States Congress,

replacing the earlier Teller Amendment.[1] It stipulated the conditions for the withdrawal of United States troops

remaining in Cuba at the end of the Spanish­American War and defined the terms of Cuban­U.S. relations until

the 1934 Treaty of Relations. The Amendment ensured U.S. involvement in Cuban affairs and gave legal

standing (in U.S. law) to U.S. claims to certain territories on the island including Guantanamo Bay Naval Base

04/10 Populism

Populism has been viewed as a political ideology, political philosophy, or as a type of discourse. Generally,

populists tend to claim that they side with "the people" against "the elites". While for much of the twentieth

century, populism was considered to be a political phenomenon mostly affecting Latin America, since the

1980s populist movements and parties have enjoyed degrees of success in First World democracies such as

the USA.

This is about the American political party commonly known as the "Populists" which existed from 1892

to 1908. For other American and worldwide parties using the term populists see Populist Party. For the

American party with the same name which was active in the 1970s see People's Party (United States, 1971).

For the party existing in the Utah Territory from 1870­1891 see People's Party (Utah).

The People's Party, also known as the "Populists", was a short­lived political party in the

United States established in 1891 during the Populist movement (United States, 19th Century). It was most

important in 1892­96, and then rapidly faded away. Based among poor, white cotton farmers in the South

(especially North Carolina, Alabama, and Texas) and hard­pressed wheat farmers in the plains states

(especially Kansas and Nebraska), it represented a radical crusading form of agrarianism and hostility to

banks, railroads, and elites generally. It sometimes formed coalitions with labor unions, and in 1896 the

Democrats endorsed their presidential nominee, William Jennings Bryan. The terms "populist" and "populism"

are commonly used for anti­elitist appeals in opposition to established interests and mainstream parties.

The Octopus Roosvelt against the trusts

Some famous events

1. Edison electric invention

2. 1883 ­> an important costruction of the BROOKLING BRIDGE

3. 1889 ­> Oklaoma land rush , Oklaoma was inhabited, noone could live thre, then they opened the land and

started tha conquer of this last state! Thanks to the Homestad act they could have land for free. It was

conquered in 24 hours!

4. No Other land could be conquered.

5. 1890 important book "How the other half lives" by jacob riis. He denounced the poverty of NYC. He was also

a photographer he included some terrible picture about the poverty and misery of NYC 's streets.

6. 1890 as weell the first skyscaper was built in Saint Louis in Missouri : The Wainwright building.

7. 1890 the last battle against indians. Wanded knee was a massacre!

8. 1903 The first movie. The Great trump robbery,

9. 1903 The Wrigth Brothers . First flight in the world.

10. 1906 " The jungle" which dealt with the jungle of the stockmarket

11. 1909 the National Association for the advancement of Color people ( NAACP )

Reformers and Progressives

Kansas­Nebraska act 1854 which separeted the two states in order to avoid these conflicts.

Between 1865 and 1880 , 150 km of railroad were built. The governement send a aid with section of free land,

plus financial aid from the Congress. In May 1859 the first Transcontinental Rail Road was ready, Union pacific

with Ocean pacific met in Utah.

Loans, Private investements by the end of 19 century the railroas owned more than 130 millions of federal



1. Commodities, material were sold

2. people

There was abuses in the railroad that caused strickes and

speculative promotion,

political corruption(pressure on politions and magistrators), market manipulation

Stock Watering( the over capitalizes by selling more stocks and chairs than actualy rapresented the company.

To show to the people that the company was richer than it was in reality)

The pit (stockhouse in Chicago)

There was also discriminations about shipping stations.

Coveres act to prevent POOLING AGREEMENTS, to control charges and to forbidden secret discounts. Plus

the first formation the first union.

1880 an 1900 there were about 2000 strikes. These strikes concerned every large corporations.

The haymarket Incident . May 1896

Anarchists started being fear in the country.

All these demostrations ended in 1901 when the socialist party in america was founded which signed the

beginning of the progressive era.

There are some few events

The monroe Doctrine 1823

Homestead act 1862( cultivating a land for 5years gave the farmers the right to own it by law)

problem of slavery from a rational point of view Dred scott v. Sandford.

The Sherman antitrust act 1892 , which was the first attempt at controling the various monopoly.

Every contract, combination in the firm, in the trust or overwhise, or conspirancy (assosiation de malfatteur) ,




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Corso di laurea: Corso di laurea in lingue e comunicazione per il territorio, l'impresa e il turismo
A.A.: 2015-2016

I contenuti di questa pagina costituiscono rielaborazioni personali del Publisher alice.pavia.9 di informazioni apprese con la frequenza delle lezioni di Cultura americana e studio autonomo di eventuali libri di riferimento in preparazione dell'esame finale o della tesi. Non devono intendersi come materiale ufficiale dell'università Valle d'Aosta - Univda o del prof Bajetta Carlo Maria.

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