In the words of Thomas Jefferson, “A wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circlue of our felicities.” (Jefferson, 1801) This idea echoed far beyond it’s time and into the minds and hearts of the Populist’s, and became the center and the driving force of the Progressive era. During the gilded age railroads were being built, Industrialization was rising, the population of United States was increasing dramatically; and corporate businesses were becoming extremely powerful. The gilded age was known for its corruption and business domination, it wasn’t until the Populist movement when people started to fight back and also not until the Progressive movement when people started changing the government system.
In the Gilded age, money and food were hard to come by. If a family was not making enough money that day, the family might not be able to eat but one meal all day. The meatpacking district was a dangerous place during the early 1900. There was little hope of finding a job and living conditions were generally dirty. It was not until the Progressive Era that reform came to working conditions and life
Mark Twain collaborated with Charles Dudley Warner on The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today. Published in 1973, as Twain’s earliest work of extended fiction, The Gilded Age gives a name to the period of opulence and corruption at the end of the 19th century. Portraying the superficial luxury of Washington and high society, the authors describe “The general laxity of the time, and the absence of a sense of duty toward any part of the community but the individual himself” (Twain 203). Twain’s The Gilded Age, like Wharton’s The Age of Innocence focuses on high society. Yet, the imperfections in the gilding betray the dramatic change of the period. Forces of corporatization, unionization, immigration, urbanization, populism, post-reconstruction racism and machine politics were among the drastic changes in American lifestyle churning beneath the brittle “gilded” surface.
The main problem encountered by the Gilded Age era was the administration of wealth, at least according to Andrew Carnegie. In his piece, “The Gospel of Wealth,” he proposed a solution for the abuse of wealth, and assigned duties to the rich in regards to how they should handle the responsibilities brought on by excessive wealth. However, he also addressed the concerns of the working class. He stressed the welfares of individualism and argued that it was: contemporary and innovative, enabled the affordability of luxuries to all classes, and thus ensured that money controlled by a few people would be more effective for the prosperity of the economy than it would to equally distribute national wealth amongst citizens. Carnegie intended to clarify the reasons why the newly industrialized economy and the new administration of wealth were ultimately for the benefit and harmony of both rich and poor.
The Gilded age (1875-1900) was an era in history when rapid industrial growth was overseen by the government, which led to a dystopian idea of capitalism and a corrupt government. The political scene was dominated by small groups of political leaders who managed business and corporations. While predominantly an era of corruptness, the Gilded Age also sought the Progressive Era, which was an era of reformation of the United States. The passing of the Civil Service Act required people to take certain examination for governmental professions, in attempt to reprieve the corruption within the states. In addition, The Interstate Commerce Act attempted to end issues dealing with railroads, while the Sherman Antitrust Act reprimanded monopolies within
The exact period of time in which the Gilded Age occurred is ever-debatable, but most historians can at least agree that it started within the 20 years after the Civil War ended and lasted until the early 1920s. (West) The Gilded Age itself was characterized by the beginnings of corporations and corrupt political machines. Policies such as the General Incorporation Laws allowed business to grow larger more easily, and with less red tape involved. New technology allowed faster and more efficient production, but this explosive growth of industry called for not only more resources, but new business practices and leaders as well. (Moritz 10-12)
In the late nineteenth century known as the Gilded Age (or the Reconstruction period) and the early twentieth century known as the Progressive era, the nation went through great economic growth and social change. Beginning from the 1870s, there was rapid growth in innovations and big businesses. This could be because there was population growth and when there is population growth, there is a high demand of products and other necessities in order to strive in society. Many immigrants from Europe, mostly from the eastern and southern Europe, and Asia moved to American cities. Additionally, farmers from rural America desired to increase economically in society and since corporations ruled and political problems occurred, they decided to move into the cities. Afterwards, the 1900s started with the dominance of progressivism which many Americans tried to improve and solve the problems that were caused or had arisen because of the industrialization of the Gilded Age. It was basically the time when progressives fought for legislations like regulation of big businesses, end of the political corruption, and protection of the rights of the people: the poor, immigrants, workers, and consumers. Thus, between the periods 1870 to 1920, big businesses had arisen and taken control of the political and economic systems through corruption and innovations. In response, American citizens reacted negatively and formed labor unions and political systems to diminish the power that large corporations had in America.
In the late 1800's, American society began to burst with cultural activity. After the Civil War and the Reconstruction, Americans were eager to return to their normal lifestyles. The period that followed, however, was quite different from what the country was used to. During the war, many pushed hard for a rise in industry, leading to an explosive industrial revolution far beyond what people had expected. America's business and economy had boomed, and, as the new century approached, many had a new outlook on life. They were eager to escape the dull regiments of both the past Victorian era and the new urban lifestyle. This was easy for the upper and middle classes, both of which were growing due to the rapid increase in industry. It was great news for entrepreneurs and business people of the time, because there was money to be made in this desire for amusement. Of course, this was not the whole story of the new Gilded Age, but it was definitely an era of growing leisure time and the business that came along with it.
“Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”, three common goals immigrants came to America seeking with hopes of the promise to prosper and gain success. However, during the Gilded Age it seemed as though these were attainable only for the select few, while others left the land they knew to spend their lives toiling away in pursuit of the American dream, many never understanding how unattainable it really was. While the Gilded Age was a time of an industrial boom and a growing economy, those working by the sweat of their brow to make the success of this time possible, were not actually ever grasping this wealth, but rather putting right back into the pockets of the wealthy. The Gilded Age compromised the American Dream by limiting the chances of the immigrant working class, and thus creating a cycle of missed opportunities keeping the immigrants from progressing much further then when they came to America to begin with.
From the period between the 1870’s through the 1890’s, it became an era known as the Gilded Age. The term was characterized by a famous American Literature author named Mark Twain. The writer tried to point out that the term means that while on the outside society may seem perfect and in order, underneath there is poverty, crime, corruption, and many other issues between American society’s rich and poor. This era’s gild is thicker than the cheaper material it’s covering. This can be shown through the countless numbers of achievements and advances America has made during the period of reconstruction and expansion, industrialization, and foreign affairs.
Robber Barons and the Gilded Age Did the Robber Barons and the Gilded Age of the 1890’s and early 20th Century have a negative impact on 21st Century Corporate America today? Carnegie, Rockefeller, Morgan, and Vanderbilt all had something in common, they were all “Robber Barons,” whose actions would eventually lead to the corruption, greed, and economic problems of Corporate America today. During the late 19th century, these men did all they could to monopolize the railroad, petroleum, banking, and steel industries, profiting massively and gaining a lot personally, but not doing a whole lot for the common wealth. Many of the schemes and techniques that are used today to rob people of what is rightfully theirs, such as pensions, stocks, and even their jobs, were invented and used often by these four men.
Commonly referred to as the Gilded Age, the end of the nineteenth century was a period of social issues and political unrest. Following a period of Reconstruction after the Civil War, the Gilded Age was ridden with problems surrounding the countries recovery. Presidents such as Ulysses Grant and Rutherford Hayes were viewed fraudulent and incompetent leaders for the nation. Meanwhile, Congress was mostly ruled by large enterprises, allowing for little political representation of the masses. Additionally, the nation was plagued by an overwhelming amount of social issues including child labor, immigration, women and minorities, and rapid urbanization. Overpopulation was particularly troublesome for the state of democracy as most voters were
Horatio Alger was an author in the late nineteenth century; he wrote books to little boys on the American Dream. Alger’s books seemed to hark back to an older time when the American Dream was quite different than it was in his time. He subscribed to thoughts of morality, individualism and the competence; but keeps the contemporary idea of fruitfulness. Alger wrote many books to encourage young boys to be moral and work hard.
The post-Civil War years between 1865 and 1900 were a time of immense social change and economic growth in the United States. This time period, commonly referred to as “The Gilded Age,” saw an end to Reconstruction, rapid industrialization, and new wealth. Despite these achievements, however, the era between Reconstruction and the beginning of the twentieth century was plagued by political stalemate, a decline of human values, increased materialism, and widespread corruption.
In closing, at the close of the 19th century government spending on public goods and services was minimal, resulting in growing disparity between the new upper class and the working class. Some wealthy people, such as Andrew Carnagie, felt that it was their responsibility to bridge this gap. Others utilized social Darwinism to justify the widening gap between upper and working classes. Both theories failed to meet the needs of an expanding working class in an era of increasing disparity and oppression masked by unprecedented economic growth known as the Gilded Age.