Essay On The Gilded Age

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The Gilded Age, circa 1870-1900, began after the Civil War and Reconstruction, was characterized by unregulated expansion. By the 1890s, however, the federal government had begun to exert some control thanks to public pressure. The Panic of 1893 was the worst of a number of economic recessions, and further reined in the wide-open industrialization and urbanization of the late 19th century. Men such as J. P. Morgan, Andrew Carnegie, and Cornelius Vanderbilt built the nation’s industrial infrastructure, and in doing so helped rationalize the economy through the creation of monopolies, trusts, and other economic structures that helped generate enormous—but highly concentrated—wealth. Traditionally, the federal government had never exerted much—if …show more content…

Although agriculture benefitted from new inventions, science, and opening of new farmlands, particularly in the Midwest, the farmer did themselves did not. Competition from larger agribusiness made it necessary for the small farmer to invest in expensive machinery, driving debt rates higher. Better production drove prices down. Railroads charged exorbitant rates—and the weather continued to make farming a dicey undertaking. The laborer, toiling in factories and industry, did not fare much better than the small farmer. Immigration increased dramatically, providing the necessary workforce for industries. Socialist ideas, however, along with low pay, and the ability of some workers to enter the middle class (in part through the creation of a managerial class), kept labor unions from effectively protecting workers from exploitation. Low wages, long hours, job insecurity, hazardous working conditions, and gender, age and racial discrimination characterized the working life of many(?)/most(?)

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