Amoro/Antonetti AP Timeline Project



1870 - 1900

The growth of big business impacted the post-Civil War United States by creating the 'glided age', a period of economic growth - as well as nearly destroying the economy twice. The United States government was limited in its power to regulate due to several lawsuits by these big businesses, whereas state power increased. In response to the growth of big business, workers became unhappy - and thus organized labor was formed.


Panic of 1873

September 18 1873 - 1879

After the collapse of the Northern Pacific Railroad, several other financial institutions collapsed. This created a massive domino effect, causing over 18,000 businesses to collapse in a 2-year period. By 1876, unemployment rates were at 14 percent.

Northern Pacific Railroad Declares Bankruptcy

September 18 1873

This is the first company that created a trans-continental railroad and was planning on creating another one, so investors poured money into it. They later declared bankruptcy because they realized they did not have the physical ability to create such a railroad.

National Labor Union Dissolved

December 1873

Because of the Panic of 1873, the National Labor Union was forced to close its doors because of the general lack of membership due to the high unemployment rates.

Gilded Age

1877 - 1893

A period of great growth in America. Many Europeans were attracted to the United States, and a time of technological advances and economic growth occurred.

Rockefeller controls 90 percent of Oil industry in the US


By 1879, John D. Rockefeller controlled 90% of the United State's oil refining capacity, officially becoming a robber baron - a person who exploited workers to make money.

Rockefeller establishes complete oil monoply


In 1882, Rockefeller had complete control over the oil industry in the United States, allowing him to essentially set prices at will. Other companies attempted to emulate this model, and there became a push to control prices via market control.

The War of the Currents

1884 - 1893

A battle between American and large European companies most famously personified as a battle between Thomas Edison and George Weistinghouse over whether or not direct current or alternating current would become the leading electrical source in America. This was important because the victory of alternating current brought about cheaper electricity to millions of people.

McKinley Tariff

October 1 1890 - 1894

Tariff passed by Representative William McKinley that raised average duty on imports to almost 50 percent. The tariff was designed to protect domestic industries from foreign competition. In 1894, the tariff was replaced by the Wilson-Gorman Tariff, which lowered the tariff rates.

Panic of 1893

1893 - 1897

During the last days of the Harrison administration, the Reading Railroad went into receivership. Hundreds of banks failed and European investors pulled out, causing another collapse of the economy. Since the Reading Railroad was the largest employer in the country, unemployment rates jumped to 20-25 percent.

World's Columbian Exposition

May 1 1893 - October 30 1893

After the Chicago fire, Chicago was destroyed. A large amount of wealthy commercial entrepreneurs, most notably Charles H. Schwab, decided to have a fair to show that Chicago had risen from the ashes and was making a comeback. This was also important because the fair brought together the citizens of Chicago and made them a closely-knit community after the fire. The large amount of attention surrounding Chicago helped it developed into one of the most economically important cities in America, something which would not have been possible without the wealthy entrepreneurs that created this fair. Furthermore, the fair was powered by alternating current. This helped alternating current becoming the most popular way of powering electrical devices in America and later the world.


Munn Vs. Illinois

March 1 1877

Illinois legislature called for the inspection of how grain was being handled inside their state and the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the legislation. This gave the state the power to regulate private corporations.

Interstate Commerce Act


The Interstate Commerce Act was passed in 1887. It was designed to regulate the railroad industry, and in particular required railroad rates to be 'reasonable and just'.

Sherman Anti-Trust Act

July 2 1890

This act prohibited companies from preventing competition within the marketplace. The federal government was required to investigate and pursue people suspected of being in violation of the act.

People's Party ("Populists")

1892 - 1896

The "Populist" party was a political party that represented a radical form of agrarianism. It was based around poor, white farmers in the South and West, and it was also hostile to banks, railroads, and "elites". The party rapidly faded away after the presidential election of 1896, when the Democrats endorsed the "Populist" party's candidate William Jennings Bryan was beaten by William McKinley.

Pullman Strike

May 11 1894 - Jun 26 1894

The Pullman strike was a strike of Railway workers in 1894. This strike became a national conflict, and the Sherman Antitrust Act was invoked to restrict workers right to strike. Due to the importance of their railways, big businesses were being protected from worker strikes using the same laws designed to restrict them.

United States Vs. E.C. Knight Co.

January 21 1895

The American Sugar Refinery Company took control of the E.C. Knight Company which gave them a 98 percent monopoly of the sugar refining industry. The United States government sued the the E.C. Knight Company under the provisions of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. The ultimate decision by the Supreme Court was that the states needed to take action against companies that had had monopolies, not the federal government. This limited the federal government's ability to control monopolies.


Railroad Strike of 1877

July 14 1877 - September 4 1877

Railroad workers in West Virginia were protesting a 10 percent wage cut by their employer, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. The city fell into a state of chaos and the United States Army and the Illinois National Guard were called in to control it. At least 18 people were killed.

Term 'Robber Barons' established


First used in a pamphlet about railroad monopolies, the term 'Robber Baron' came to refer to wealthy businessmen of the time, who made money off of the exploiting their business. This reflects the general dissatisfaction of the workers against their conditions.

Chinese Exclusion Act

May 6 1882

People were upset because they thought Chinese immigrants were taking all the jobs, so this act banned them from entering the country for 10 years. It created a lot of hatred toward the Chinese.

Ocala Demands

December 1890

A series of demands placed by agrarian unions calling for such things as the election of United States senators directly by the people and the abolition of national banks. This shows hows workers were generally disgruntled and unhappy with their positions.

Coxey's Army

March 25 1894 - May 1894

Coxey's army was a protest march led by Jacob Coxey. Unemployment in Ohio reached 50 percent among industrial workers, and Coxey organized a march to make the federal government give aid to the workers. This march failed miserably, and Coxey was immediately arrested with only 600 followers behind him.

National Consumer League chartered


The National Consumer League fought for the idea that people should only buy products from companies which had employees in safe working conditions.