Mansel Blackford attempts to express the important roles railroads fulfilled before and during the rise of big business in the United States in this chapter. He claims that railroad companies fore-fronted big business and bureaucracy because of the unprecedented amount of capital they required to operate and the precise organization needed to run the complex, high-speed, dangerous form of transportation . Blackford stresses the importance of the company, and governmental, hierarchies created to effectively and efficiently run the lines in influencing America’s general view on businesses and how they should be ran. The two major components Blackford rewarded for this revolution of business are the need for small-detail precision of a large operation and the forming of large corporations to control the market instead of smaller, competing companies.
Bureaucracy and departmentalization are the hero’s of this story according to Blackford. Early Railroad companies, undoubtedly, imitated military operations in terms of having powerful employers over looking superintendents overlooking railroad officers overlooking specialized operators to ensure they could confidently control their lines. As forward thinking people such as Benjamin Latrobe from the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad or Herman Haupt from the Pennsylvania started to add more and more middle men along with different departments to oversee the varying responsibilities of running a railroad, the lines started to grow into these huge corporations or bureaucracies that not only ran railroads potently but also supported a towering amount of people.
The railroads were not simply expensive , advanced travel devices. No, they were social, economic, and political connections that provided a speedy way to expand commerce along with outreach. Markets benefited as a result. The railroads themselves generated $17-35 million each, but their success supported, but really required, the success of other industries. Farming, textiles, and consumer goods are the most obvious beneficiaries of far-reaching, quick transportation, but the most notable could be information. Railroads required communication and information to be shared over significant distances. Telegraphing, and later on telephoning, grow right along with 1.6 million miles of telegraph wires in operation by 1915 and 13.3 million telephones in use by 1920. Railroads quite literally paved the way for success in America.
All in all, I agree with a lot, if not all, of what Blackford is saying. It makes since to me. I mean the chapter tends to lead in the direction of railroads dominating the reason for success in other markets since Blackford does not provide any alternatives. I would recommend this quick read to anyone interested, but if you desire more information, then check out the following links.
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I found this reading extremely interesting and I had a hnch others did as well, so I found a popular (good or bad) media for all things history to rely onto you, Crash Course. The first link is a video done by john green about the industrial revolution but more specifically railroads during the industrial revolution. It speaks about many of the topics discussed in the reading but in a more flashy way. I found the fact that railroads standardized time zones intriguing, so I decided to include an article speaking on the topic from History.com. Not only did railroads metaphorically change time and space by providing a way for people to travel long distances quickly unlike ever before, but quite literally changed them by creating time zones and unfortunately defacing Mother Earth.
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