Is Standard Oil a Monopoly?

This political cartoon drawn during the Gilded Age depicts Standard Oil as an octopus which uses unscrupulous business methods to put the competition out of business. It was considered to be a monpoly that harmed many small oil companies and dominated the oil industry for many years.

The information in this primary source document helps us a great deal to provide the basic five ‘w’s. The who here would be the small oil companies that were decimated and destroyed at the hands of the oil giant Standard Oil. They were put out of business by unscrupulous business practices. For example, prices for Standard Oil’s oil were slashed so low that competing companies couldn’t lower their prices that low so they lost business and made no profit which eventually turned into a devastating cycle that left them bankrupt. This occurred all throughout the United States but was more primarily focused on the industrialized states during the Gilded Age.

This information enhances the meaning of the document. Being presented with an artist’s portrayal of Standard Oil is good because it gave me a visual image of all the people and companies being crushed by this single large foe. In a sense, it made me empathize with the plight of small business by viewing this document. People can connect to and interpret images in their own ways and this is definitely a plus when it comes to examining political cartoons of the past.

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