In the 1870s and 1880s, businessmen clawed their way to the top of the new industrial economy, accumulating staggering fortunes. Oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller ruthlessly eliminated his rivals one by one, seizing control over the nation’s refineries. Steel magnate Andrew Carnegie revolutionized the industry with his relentless drive to cut costs. And banker J. P. Morgan conquered Wall Street, commanding vast amounts of capital to consolidate corporations.
But the concentration of wealth and power had dire consequences for ordinary Americans, and in the summer of 1877 frustrated workers fought back. They blocked freight trains, shut down major rail lines and crippled the nation’s economy.
The strike spread like wildfire and sparked deadly violence.
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