The Gilded Age was a period of about twenty to twenty-five years that followed the Civil War and Reconstruction era. It was a time for growth that was characterized by “corporate expansion, social inequities, urban growth, social and cultural developments, and political movements” (Boyer).
Many industries bloomed during this time, and the economy grew. The large cities expanded, and suburbs were developed. The United States was quickly expanding. During the Gilded Age, America began to show prejudices that had not been exhibited before, and were based on things other than racial issues.
The Democratic and Republican parties became more dominant, and were pretty evenly dispersed between governmental powers. Not one party was more predominant than the other. Along with the distresses, the Gilded Age was a period of achievement and economic growth, and the Civil War made this growth possible. Between the Civil War and the end of the nineteenth century, economic and technological change moved very quickly across the nation. During the Civil War, the nation was torn apart because of many disagreements between the north and the south. The North was already very reliant on industry, but the south was fully reliant on their cotton.
“The Civil War caused the northern industry to bloom, but the South was destroyed” (Faux).
After the war was finally over, many things needed to take place in order to restore the Union. This was no longer a period of civil war, but a period of Reconstruction. It was a time for the nation to be brought together again, and meet on some kind of common ground. President Lincoln began this so-called “Reconstruction period”, but after his assassination it was then picked up by Andrew Johnson, Lincoln’s Vice President, and eventually, Congress took over.
In 5 pages, the author discusses the events and causes that lead to the Civil War. Many issues were prominent in the Civil War. They include slavery, Lincoln's elections and his assassination, the careers of the various generals, major battles and minor battles, the dominating forces, and other important catalysts, effects and results. The stage of the times was set with a drama with an intense ...
“At first President Johnson and the Republican-controlled Congress seemed to have similar views on Reconstruction… but the relationship between Johnson and Congress deteriorated, as the president resisted legislative efforts to toughen some of his Reconstruction policies” (Faux).
The Southern states did not think Johnson’s plan was sufficient enough. They felt that the blacks should not be treated as equals, and that Johnson should be harsher to them. In response to the actions by the southern states, the US Congress decided to take over the Reconstruction process. “Congress enacted stricter reconstruction policies and sent in federal troops to enforce them.” (Hillstrom).
Following the end of Reconstruction was the Gilded Age. It came to be remembered as a time of “corrupt and useless politics, corporate domination, and oppressive treatment of the less fortunate” (Faux), but in all actuality it was one of growth, expansion, accomplishment, and new beginnings. Industry soared, and the growth of big business was the dominant economic fact of the era. The end of the Civil War, in 1865, fueled a huge economic boom (Faux).
Manufacturing soared. Leading the way was steel and railroads, and the discovery of oil. Railroads emerged as the nation’s first big business. “They employed thousands of people, created bureaucratic structures to carry on their operations, and posed large policy issues for the political system” (Hillstrom).
As railroads expanded, cities were connected. This helped aid in the growth of the rural communities and urban areas.
In 1869, the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific Companies were connected at Promontory Point, in the Utah Territory, completing the world’s first transcontinental railroad. This was a major step to economic boom. It was now possible for the industry of the North, and the cotton of the South to be sent to California and the Oregon Country in a manner faster than that of shipping it across the country by way of the Rivers and waterways. It was now possible for goods to be exchanged by land, a quicker more productive way also.
Industry and Competition Several large companies have focused on the multi-occupant vehicle market, specifically school bus production, in North America. Competitors within the school bus manufacturing industry consist of the Henlys Group PLC, a British based company, and two U.S. bus companies, Collins Industries Inc. and Navistar International. Henlys consists of Blue Bird Corporation, Prevost ...
Following the railroads were the iron and steel, and petroleum (oil) industries. Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, and JP Morgan were the figureheads of this transformation. “Business competed ruthlessly, sometimes even unethically, and corrupted the political system through bribes, kickbacks, and illegal rebates” (Boyer).
“Each dealt a mortal blow to the small-scale economy of the early republic, fostering vast industries that forever altered the size and scope of the nation’s business” (Chernow).
Although their business tactics differed, obviously each man’s worked in the same way because to put it simply, they made the money that they had intended making.
Rockefeller led the way with the first major multinational corporation, Standard Oil. Nearly ninety percent of America’s oil was refined, distributed, and marketed by Rockefeller at the top of his career. He began his career as an assistant bookkeeper in a commodity brokerage house, and invested in his first refinery during the Civil War (Chernow).
In 1870, Rockefeller co-founded Standard. He began to employ tactics that were different than any other business tactics introduced to the world before. He brought up rivals, modernized plants, and organized the oil industry on an enduring basis.
These were the tactics that made him a legend. “He colluded with railroads to gain preferential freight rates, secretly owned rivals, bribed state legislators and engaged in industrial espionage” (Chernow).
Andrew Carnegie became involved with the steel industry as a young man, about twenty-three, and everything escalated from there. He imported the Bessemer forced-air steel process to America. This was an innovation that allowed him to reduce the price of rails by an immense amount of money.
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This steel aided in the structure if Americas growing towns and factories (Chernow).
Carnegie saw time as money. He strongly believed that if one’s workers could put in twelve hour days, seven days a week that money was to be made, however these unrealistic ideals clashed with the brute realities of his mills. Although this was a different way to work with things, the outcome was still very prosperous.
J. Pierpont Morgan also made a legendary reputation for himself. By financing the reorganization of railroads, insurance companies, and banks. In the 1870’s, he gained “imperial status” by underwriting America’s railroads. “He issued stocks and bonds for railroads, brokered deals among them, and dominated their boards” (Chernow).
By 1890, he controlled one-sixth of America’s railway system.
Morgan scorned competition, and did not believe that money power was dangerous, unless in dangerous hands. Morgan’s power really took off when in 1901, he bought Carnegie’s “empire” he formed U. S. Steel.
He had now become a part of American business. U. S. Steel quickly took off and became America’s first billion-dollar corporation. Morgan presided over many large-scale industrial consolidations.
“He invested heavily in, and eventually gained control of the Erie Railroad” (Boyer).
Industry had clearly taken off, but that wasn’t all that represented this period of time. Urbanization had also stepped into the picture, mainly because of the railroad. Large cities, such as New York City, Chicago, and Boston, spread along the railway systems. “Suburbs developed as rapid transit offered affluent city dwellers the benefits of country living with proximity to their jobs” (Boyer).
There were some inhabitants, often of poor and immigrant background that lived in ghettos.
The Nations diversity was growing, and that change was evident within the central city. Many political innovations were being made, and new things were being done to gain the votes of particular groups. People were now being viewed in different classes, and with different social backgrounds. This helped to shape the United States as we know it today.
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If the previous prejudices, which existed before the Civil War had even begun, were not in existence, who knows where this would have ended up. It could have very easily ended in tragedy, but things had previously been taken care of because of the outcome of the war. Every one was now to be treated equally as human beings, and citizens of the United States no matter what their background, ethnicity, religion, or any other reason, although this really wasn’t the case. During this time, women began making their appearance in everyday society. For the white, middle-class women, the Gilded Age brought economic and political gains. They began organizing clubs and social groups, which could have possibly been the beginnings of the Women’s Rights Movement.
The Gilded Age was also a period of “notable literacy and artistic achievement” (Boyer).
Many novels and poems were written by authors such as Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, and Henry James. Americans now attended various sporting events to pass the time. This included professional baseball games, and watching college football. Theater had picked up, and Museums and symphony orchestras flourished in major cities. Pop culture was now a big thing.
Political life remained basically the same as always, a predominantly white male type of thing, but more and more outsiders became involved. Newspapers began covering politics in greater detail. People began attending rallies in large numbers and listened to speeches that could last for hours. Two major political parties now began to mark their territory.
The Democratic and Republican parties began to dominate, although not one more than the other. They were fairly evenly dispersed between the electorate (Boyer).
For the most part, the Republicans controlled the White House and the Senate, and the Democrats held the majority in the House of Representatives. Smaller parties emerged for a short time period, but none really held a lot of ground for a notable amount of time. The 1890’s were a time of political Revolution. The United States was growing, and at the end of the Gilded Age was emerging as a world power.
When you are young and even well into your adult years people will tell you there will always be somebody who is smarter, faster, happier, or better at something than you are. This is true for all periods of time but in the Gilded Age those who were better gained more and more crushing the people below them with unprecedented greed, corruption, and power. The few exploited the many by way of ...
The Gilded Age did not cure the nation of “racial tensions, social inequities, and corporate power” (Boyer), but there were substantial achievements. “They industrialized economy, created a national market, built the great modern cities, and established a durable two-party system that would govern the nation for the century that followed” (Boyer).
It was a time of improving what we already had started. The inventions continue to influence American life today. It enabled post-Civil War Americans to create for themselves a strong, solid foundation for world leadership and economic growth. The Civil War provided the opportunity for the nation to be torn apart and rebuilt again, strengthening it and allowing room for its growth and improvements.
Without the Civil War tearing it apart, the changes could not have possibly been made. Although the era was not a total success, its accomplishments overshadow it faults.