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The Rise of Big Business: 1860 - 1920, 3rd Edition

ISBN: 978-0-88295-240-6
162 pages
December 2005, ©2006, Wiley-Blackwell
The Rise of Big Business: 1860 - 1920, 3rd Edition (0882952404) cover image


The fundamental and explosive changes in the U.S. economy and its business system from 1860 to 1920 continue to fascinate and engage historians, economists, and sociologists. While many disagreements persist about the motivations of the actors, most scholars roughly agree on the central shifts in technologies and markets that called forth big business. Recent scholarship, however, has revealed important new insights into the changing cultural values and sensibilities of Americans who lived during the time, on women in business, on the ties between the emerging corporations and other American institutions, on the nature of competition among giant firms, and on the dawn of modern advertising and consumerism.

This vast accumulation of notable new work on the social concept and consequences of economic change in that era has prompted Glenn Porter to recast numerous portions of The Rise of Big Business, one of Harlan Davidson’s most successful titles ever, in this, the third edition. Those familiar with this classic text will appreciate the expanded coverage of topics beyond the fray of regulation and the political dimensions of the emergence of concentrated enterprise, namely the influence of the rise of big business on social history.

An entirely new bank of photographs and illustrations rounds out the latest edition of our enduringly popular title, one perfect for supplementary reading in a variety of courses including the U.S. history survey, the history of American business, and specialized courses in social history and the Gilded Age.

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Table of Contents

Foreword v

Preface to the Third Edition IX

CHAPTER ONE: What is Big Business? 1

CHAPTER TWO: The Appearance and Spread of Big Business 31

The Advent of Industrialization 31

Pioneers in Big Business: The Railroads 34

Preconditions for Big Business 43

Vertical Growth 48

Horizontal Growth 61

The Great Merger Wave 79

CHAPTER THREE: Corporate Triumph: “Capitalistic, Centralizing, and Mechanical” 93

Bibliographical Essay 129

Index 149

Photographs follow page 92

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Author Information

Glenn Porter is the Director Emeritus of the Hagley Museum and Library, an internationally renowned research library in business history and one of the leading American industrial museums. He is the author of numerous articles, chapters, and reviews, and the books he has written, co-authored, or edited include: Merchants and Manufacturers: Studies in the Changing Structures of Nineteeth-Century Marketing (1971); Enterprise and Economic Development: Essays in Canadian Business and Economic History (1973); Regional Economic History: The Mid-Atlantic Area since 1700 (1976); The Encyclopedia of American Economic History (3 vols., 1980); The Workers’ World at Hagley (1981); The Papers of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. (1991); and Raymond Loewy: Designs for a Consumer Culture (2002). While on the faculty of the Harvard Business School, he served as editor of the Business History Review, and he was also the general editor for two book series, at JAI press and at the John Hopkins University Press.

Dr. Porter served on the editorial board of the Journal American History, as President and Trustee of the Business History Conference, as Trustee of the Andalusia Foundation and of the WORLDESIGN Foundation, on the Department of the Interior’s advisory committee on National Historic Landmarks, on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s History Advisory Committee, and as President of the Independent Research Libraries Association. At Hagley, he headed the Regional Economic History Research Center before becoming Director of the Hagley Museum and Library in 1984. He retired from that post in 2002 and now enjoys life in New Mexico.

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