The post-Civil War era was filled with many new ideas and reforms in the United States. From 1875 to 1900 there was a major boom in industry. Many of the industries that grew during this time had one company that controlled that industry and earned a lot more money than the smaller businesses. The owners of these "bug businesses" were called both captains of industry and robber barons. Those who called these men captains of industry believed that they were generous philanthropists that respected and treated the poor equally. However, the term robber barons better suit these men. These businessmen are best described as robber barons because of their treatment of their workers, influence and control in politics, and personal investment with some of their money. .
Working conditions in factories during industrial growth were cramped, unhealthy, and unsafe. The big business owners neglected to ever address the issue of workplace safety. Factories were often very crowded with many people in small spaces working with large machines. This was extremely unsafe and was the cause of many workplace injuries around the country. There were immigrants from England who said the conditions of the factories were much worse in the U.S. than they had been in England. The business owners also thought that just because the workers' wages had been raised, that they would not mind the conditions in the factories (Doc. G). Another unsafe workplace practice was that the businesses employed young children to work simple, yet often dangerous jobs. Children often were not paid or were paid very little, and were more likely to injure themselves on the job (Doc. J). One of the best examples of a workplace tragedy during this period of industrial growth is the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire in New York City. The workers were locked inside the building that contained tons of flammable cloth and a fire was sparked when a burning match was thrown into a trash can.