The Gilded Age

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The Gilded Age 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. Corporatization Among the many changes during the Gilded Age, large corporations became powerful forces in American society. New technologies in communication and transportation allowed for a national marketplace and fueled industries including the railroad and telegraph grids. The wealth of this expanding industry became increasingly concentrated in the hands of a relative few. Often by gaining a monopoly in their respective markets, these “Robber Barons” amassed wealth and notoriety, making names for themselves that remain recognizable even today like Carnegie, Vanderbilt and Rockefeller. In 1890, the Sherman Anti-Trust Act was passed to combat these large trust-based monopolies as the power of the large corporations invited abuses of government and individuals (America’s Library). Unionization Labor unions were also a response to the power of t... ... middle of paper ... ...:// 19thcentury.html> Library of Congress. 10 Sept. 2004 <> Morgan, Wayne H. The Gilded Age. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1970. Ohio State University. 14 Sept. 2004 < GAPECartoons.htm> Schultz, Stanley K. The Gilded Age and the Politics of Corruption. 10 Sept. 2004 <> The American Experience. 13 Sept. 2004 < peopleevents/pande01.html> The American Presidency. 10 Sept. 2004 <> Twain, Mark and Charles Dudley Warner. The Gilded Age. New York: Trident Press, 1964. University of Kansas. 12 Sept. 2004 <>

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