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1.    booker t. washington:  african-american educator who believed the best way for african-americans to get ahead was to get a vocational education and achieve economic success without demanding immediate social change.  his ideas are sometimes called the atlanta compromise after a speech he gave in atlanta.

2.    andrew carnegie:  steel manufacturer whose workers struck in the homestead strike and were opposed by his business partner henry clay frick.  carnegie believed that the rich had earned their wealth, but had an obligation to use it to help society, an idea known as the gospel of wealth, after his essay, 'wealth.'  he gave away 90% of his vast fortune.

3.    sojourner truth:  african-american woman who opposed slavery and demanded women's rights.  she gave a famous speech entitled 'ain't i a woman,' connecting the ideas of slavery and women's inequality, and calling on victorian ideas of protecting women to do so.

4.    jane addams:  woman who managed hull house, a settlement house in chicago that helped immigrants assimilate into american society.  it also offered some charitable welfare and gave middle-class and upper-class women a way to work to help society at a time when it was not respectable for them to hold most jobs.

5.    jacob riis:  author of how the other half lives and other works of photo-journalism, exposing the misery and filth of new york's tenements and sweat-shops.  he was an early muckraker (or a fore-runner of them) and encouraged theodore roosevelt to take up reform movements.

6.    cornelius vanderbilt:  made a fortune in transportation--steamboats and railroads.  he was the richest man in the world when he died in 1885.  he gave money to a university in nashville, which renamed itself in his honour.  known as 'the commodore.'

7.    george westinghouse:  developed the air brake, making trains easier and safer to stop, thus letting railroads run longer trains and run them at higher speeds.  he also created one of the first and most influential electric companies in competition with thomas edison.

8.    george pullman:  developed the sleeper car so that people could sleep in beds during long trips.  he made other improvements to railroad cars as well.  in 1894  there was a major strike at the company town of pullman, just outside of chicago, that was crushed by grover cleveland and that propelled e. v. debs to prominence as a labour leader.

9.    milton hershey:  developed shelf-stable chocolate that could keep a long time and be transported long distances.  he treated his workers well and left much of his fortune to a charitable trust that, among other things, takes care of the welfare of hershey company town residents today.

10.eleuthère irénée du pont and the du pont family:  founded and ran a major gunpowder company that later produced many other chemicals.

11.alexander graham bell:  invented the telephone while trying to find a way to help the deaf; founded the bell telephone company, which later merged to form the american telephone & telegraph company.

12.thomas edison:  patented the first useful electric light and over a thousand other things, largely through the use of the first research company at menlo park, new jersey.

13.john d. rockefeller:  founded standard oil company and became the richest man in the world at the time through horizontal integration (monopolisation) of the oil industry.

14.philip armour:  founded a meat-packing company based on assembly lines.

15.gustavus swift:  founded a meat-packing company and developed refrigerated railroad cars.

16.the dawes act (1887):  law passed to give american indian lands to individual indians, allowing the extra reservation lands to be sold off.  the idea was to force indians to give up tribal lands, government, and culture.

17.black friday (1869):  scandal during the grant administration when jay gould and jim fisk tried to corner the gold market (with the help of members of grant's government), nearly destabilising the economy. 

this page last updated 7 december, 2011.
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