African American Literature In the United, the Gilded Age referred to the era after the Civil War. The Gilded Age ran from the early 1860s to the late 1890s. The era that followed the Gilded Age was known as the Progressive Era (Edwards, 2005). This paper will talk about the Gilded Age of the United States and its agendas.
The phrase “Gilded Age” was coined by Charles Dudley Warner and Mark Twain in their writing The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today (Edwards, 2005). The phrase refers to the gilding/decoration of a less expensive metal with a thin layer of gold, with a suggestion of the “golden age” of a country’s glory. Countless critics, at that period, argued that the era was marked by crass manners, pretentious display, shoddy ethics, and political corruption. Historians say that it was an era of enormous urban, industrial, and agricultural development, which attracted millions of enthusiastic laborers from Europe. Railroads were the chief industry, but mining and the factory system were essential as well, plus labor unions started to be significant (Lears, 2009). The development was interrupted by serious countrywide depressions referred to as the Panic of 1873, as well as the Panic of 1893. Most of the development and wealth only came in the previous Union states of West and North. The South remained financially devastated. The South’s market became increasingly limited to tobacco and cotton production, which were traded at low prices (Edwards, 2005).
African Americans in this region experienced the worst hindrances. African Americans in the south were stripped of their voting rights and political powers. The political scenery was dreadful in the south part of America. Even though elections between the uniformly matched parties were close, widespread corruption was high in the region (Lears, 2009). The dominant matters were rights for African Americans, monetary policy, and tariff policy. Reformers advocated for reforms in the civil service, women’s suffrage, and prohibition. Philanthropists, on the other hand, built hospitals and colleges, and the numerous religious denominations exerted a significant influence in daily life. Craft-oriented labor movements, for instance, carpenters, shoemakers, printers, and cigar makers, developed gradually in the industrial towns after 1870. These movements used frequent short demonstrations as a technique of achieving control over the labor market, and to fight off opposing groups. The railroads had their own fairly diverse unions. A key brutal strike came in the economic recession of the late 1870s. The famous railroad workers’ strike of 1877 was carried out for 45 days. The strike resulted in damages to railroad assets (Edwards, 2005). It warped up when leader, Rutherford B. Hayes, introduced federal troops to suppress the organized fighting.
Gilded Age politics, referred to as the Third Party Scheme was distinguished by intense rivalry between the two parties, with minorities coming and going, particularly on matters relating to prohibitionists, farmers as well as labor unions. The Republicans and Democrats clashed over the management of offices as well as substantial financial matters (Edwards, 2005). Election turnout was exceedingly high. It exceeded 80% or even 90% in a number of states as the parties drilled their devoted members the same way an army drills its military. The rivalry was severe, plus elections were exceptionally close. Before the Gilded Age, the time known as the old immigration had witnessed the first real bang of newcomers to the United States. In the Gilded Age, roughly 10 million immigrants arrived at the United States in what was referred to as the new immigration. Some of the immigrants were affluent farmers in search of fresh terrain. A number of the immigrants were also impoverished peasants in search of the American Dream in mines, mills, and factories.
Society itself experienced noteworthy changes after the Civil War. These changes were most notable in the fast urbanization of the North. As a result of a growing demand for skilled and unskilled workers, numerous European immigrants moved to mill towns and mainly, industrial cities. Philadelphia, New York, and particularly, Chicago, witnessed rapid development. In the Gilded Age, several new social unions took hold in the U.S. Many female abolitionists who were dissatisfied that the Fifteenth Amendment did not approve voting rights to women remained active in political affairs. The women-focused mainly on matters significant to them. Bracing the restraint movement from the Second Great Awakening, a lot of women joined the Women’s Christian Temperance Union in an effort to bring ethics back to the United States. Other women groups took up the matter of women’s suffrage which was inactive ever since the Gilded Age began (Lears, 2009). Leaders like Susan B. Anthony formed the National American Woman Suffrage Association so as to secure the right of women to vote.
In conclusion, the main agendas that were dominant during the Gilded Age were mainly politics being dominated with corruption, and frustrated workers, mainly the railroad workers and industrial workers as well as women’s oppression. Also, the high turnout and close results of the election were dominant matters during the Gilded Age. Citizens mainly carried out the demonstrations since they longed for a peaceful society.
Edwards, R. (2005). New spirits: Americans in the Gilded Age, 1865-1905. New York: Oxford University Press.
Lears, J. (2009). Rebirth of a nation: The making of modern America, 1877-1920 (American History). New York: Harper Press.