Storia Americana, Cultura americana
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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. 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
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
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
There was abuses in the railroad that caused strickes and
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) ,
+1 anno fa
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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