Immigration During The Gilded Age

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Eric Foner places the Gilded Age as having lasted between 1870 and 1890 . The period was marked by rapid industrialization as the country sought to rebuild after the devastation of war. It was also characterized by various social, economic, and political changes as the state adjusted itself to fit the realities of the modern world. The Civil War had resulted in the abolition of slavery, and there was an influx of immigrants into the country who saw it as a chance to gain a better life . There were many divisions as to what direction the country was headed. There were those who opposed the immigrants and, thus, adopted nationalist policies to label the real Americans versus the foreigners. The immigrants, on their part, formed the largest labor…show more content…
During the Gilded Age, the economy was growing and rapidly urbanizing. The development of the transport network that was mainly via railroads increased the efficiency of communication and movement of people and goods. There was a significant shift from an agricultural economy to an industrial one. Many Americans moved from the rural areas to the rapidly growing urban areas . The economy gave birth to a middle class and consumerism in the cities. In addition to this trend, there was mass immigration as American prosperity became apparent internationally. At the time, many portions of the world such as in Europe were experiencing strife. This led to migration to the US. Most of these immigrants were poorly skilled and uneducated. They got low paying jobs that barely helped them to make a…show more content…
Rondinone notes that later on, the Americans would develop a more encompassing idea of identity that would reflect the changing times . Nevertheless, these beliefs had not yet taken root in 1894. There was fear among the nationalists, and this motivated their negative response to the workers. This fear drove the response that the state and federal government adopted with regards to dealing with striking workers. The government, upon the wishes of the public, viewed the strikers as being foreigners out to destabilize the country. Thus, they used force to crush these revolts. However, the strike marked a starting point for a change in labor relations and American identity. In conclusion, the Pullman Strike of 1894 was instrumental in changing American labor relations. Prior to the strike, the government always tended to side with the owners against the workers. However, the strike changed the perception that many people had with regards to the labor conditions of the workers. The strike forced Americans to review how they wanted the government to respond to labor conflicts. The strike also strengthened American workers in that it gave them more political and economic power. They were able to agitate for their rights without the government supporting the

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