The Octopus Historical Context

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The American economic system is based on the principle that anyone with enough determination can start a business, regardless of size, and with luck make a living out of it. At first, the government encouraged Americans to settle in the West by giving away land, which in turn gave people an incentive to fight against the people who already lived there: poor families who owned practically nothing could cultivate a piece of free or cheap land and build their fortune. Similarly, in urban areas, a person starting with little could open a small business or a small manufacturing concern and make ends meet. This was the ideal of a capitalist democracy.

By the year 1901, the small business model had given way to corporate growth. Investors found that they could pool their money in the stock market to create powerful industrial entities that would have greater control...

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This section contains 1,069 words
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The Octopus from Novels for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.