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Resurgence of Organized Labor of the Late 19th Century

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resurgence of organized labor of the late 19th century.

The late 19th century welcomed a second industrial revolution; one thanks to growth in technology and an expanding market for goods. Top financers and entrepreneurs took great delight in their triumph of the production community and felt accomplished by their wealth. As more and more people began to accumulate money, people began to question the source. Was this gain in riches due to hard work, skill or just plain luck? From this grew the idea that their prosperity was justified by God and it was what he wanted. The notion of "gospel of wealth" not only provided for the poor, it rationalized the unbounded behavior of some ruthless men.

A good majority of business leaders were Protestants who attended church regularly. They contributed their success to hard work and perseverance. They saw making money as an obligation as a Christian and that God gave them their money in return for their work. Not everyone was as "pure" as they preached. Several entrepreneurs gained unprecedented wealth through sketchy deals and conspiracies. Jay Gould has been known to make his money through the labor of others and by means of bribery. Gould pressured and tricked stockholders and did whatever he could to gain money and rationalized that it was what God wanted.

Andrew Carnegie was a man who had a different outlook on business and finance. His view of the gospel of wealth encouraged more work and money to be broadened to people. This proved to be more beneficial for the common man. He believed success laid with those who has the necessary skills. But, while he believed this, he also believed that it was God who ultimately decided who would receive these skills. He said that since God only selected a few people to be given this skill, they should be responsible to share the wealth they gain from it.

Carnegie's definition of the gospel of wealth lead to many wealthy citizens donating money to those in need. Those who followed in Carnegie's footsteps were happy to help the poor prosper. However, it is evident that the Gospel of Wealth also justified the making of money through reprehensible ways and therefore caused people to lose money. An underlying assumption was that just because one was wealthy, they were better suited to manage money. The Gospel of Wealth was the term for a notion promoted by many successful businessmen that their massive wealth was a social benefit for all.



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