Monopolist Robber Barons In The Gilded Age

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The period from 1865 to 1900 is called the Gilded Age, not only for the monopolist Robber Barons who got very rich by developing major industries -- steel, roads, railroads, electricity, banking, etc -- but because of a fundamental change in American life. Before the Civil War, America was largely agricultural. People lived on farms or small villages & towns. In the 1870s & 1880s cities like Chicago were all the rage. . Life on the farm was boring when it wasn 't drudgery, esp. for women who were pregnant much of their lives while engaged in hard labor without electricity, running water, communication technology or neighbors. In contrast Chicago offered pavement, electricity, movies, newspapers, neighbors, restaurants, romantic possibilities, & an altogether more desirable life. . All of this had costs; many associated with the policy of Manifest Destiny, which claimed that God wanted Anglo (white) culture to spread from the Atlantic to the Pacific. This meant war against the Plains Indian tribes - including slaughtering 11 million buffalo to starve them -- then isolating the survivors in out-of-the-way concentration camps. Local Color literature was written for East Coast readers as propaganda…show more content…
Despite the illustrations offered by authors like Nathaniel Hawthorne, Realism rejected this outlook as illusion. It was committed to the idea that our lives are entirely determined by causes we can 't even discern, much less control. The model is illustrated in Stephen Crane 's Red Badge of Courage by Henry Fielding who wanders around battlefield lost & in a daze. He has no idea what is going on, much less how he might be heroic. His red badge is the result of random events & being at the wrong (maybe the right) place at the right or wrong time. The world is, as Darwin said, full of random events that mean nothing but determine
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