The Gilded Age was a time period in the 19th century that took place between the civil war and the beginning of the 20th century. The Gilded Age was when America experienced enormous growth. This period of time brought in new technology and industry growth. The Gilded Age was not all good though, monopolies were formed and corruption in government began.
The Second Industrial Revolution was where economic productivity was spurred. The Revolution came about from the creation of modern transportation, communication systems, electrical power, and the systematic application of scientific research to industrial processes. The biggest thing from modern transportation was the transcontinental railroad which helped expand markets worldwide. Communication systems came from telegraph lines which helped Europe and America communicate. Electricity increased speed, power, and efficiency of machinery. Electricity also made elevators possible which made taller buildings possible. Scientific research helped researchers find a way to make more steel and gasoline. This research helped make new products like telephones, typewriters, phonographs, sewing machines, cameras, and farm machines. With making these new products faster it made the prices go down.
Corporations grew much larger in size, power, and socially than ever before. The corporations would often form connections with important people to influence governors, legislators, Congress, and presidents. Some corporations tried to eliminate their competition by driving the other company out or by buying the other company out. By forming these companies many business leaders bribed politicians, broke laws, and exploited workers. Many people men who created big businesses were driven by the desire of becoming rich, so they could have power. One major monopolist was John D. Rockefeller who created a vertical integration monopoly with his Standard Oil Company. This means that he owned all of the different businesses that he needed to produce and sell the oil. After the Civil War Congress, state legislators, and presidents were all bribed to let big businesses do what they wanted to.
Not only did the economy transform but the tension between social classes were also more visible than they were before. There was no intermarriage between two different classes. The industrialists that dominated economic, social, and political life after the Civil War had so much wealth and showed it off to everyone. Most middle-class Americans were left to practice self-discipline and restraint, simplicity and frugality. The working class was filled with unskilled workers from railroads, mills, mines, factories, sweatshops, and slaughterhouses. Even though wage levels grew overall during the Gilded Age, there was a great difference between the pay for unskilled and skilled workers.
Women and Children were given more opportunities to better themselves and their families during this time period. The number of middle-class women working outside the home tripled during this time period. Most of this is due to women being able to get a higher education because they were allowed to be admitted to more colleges. But the mills, factories, large businesses, and mines needed more unskilled workers, so they hired children and women to fill those places. Children and women had lower wages than an unskilled man that did the same job they were doing.
Workers during the Gilded Age often struggled to force employers to recognize their needs and concerns. Since no would listen, the workers which were also called unionized workers would frequently hold strikes in response to their wages getting cut. Those strikes usually became violent between the unionized workers and the managers of the business. The violent strikes led the middle-class Americans to view the unionized workers to be radicals or anarchists.
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