Throughout the 1800s, homegrown American scientists and inventors were a source of pride for the fledgling republic, which was rapidly surpassing Great Britain and the rest of Europe as a hotbed of industrial activity. Sentimental paintings like Christian Schussele’s Men of Progress lionized American inventors by portraying them as heroic figures.
All business leaders have to innovate; a few rise to the level of “game changers.” Some of them fundamentally alter traditional business practices. Some blaze trails into new territories and technologies. And still others break through societal barriers. While not always successful, these game-changers leave their mark in business history.
To understand American business history, follow the trends. See how America was settled over time, how people moved from farms to cities, how gross national product grew, how stocks went up and down, and how income was distributed. One thing is certain: in business, things constantly change.