The period that existed before the Industrialization of the United States of America was called the “Gilded Age”, this time period began in the late 1800s and lasted well into the 1900s. This monumental change began after the Civil War and the Reconstruction, it was a time when everything became new and improved. During this time there were several drastic changes that paved the way for the Industrialization of the Americas. The Gilded Age was viewed as a period of rapid technological, economic, political, and transformation of social customs.
This era brought about changes in the economy, many new developments in technology, and the government evolved tremendously. During this era, racial prejudice was at an all-time how possibly at its worst since the Civil War ended.
The Gilded Age was a time period when a vast number of railroads were built which led to the formation of the extensive concentrations of money, that produced the first large corporations and created enormous treasures.
Concurrently, the demand for labor encouraged the unification of thousands of farmers and immigrants. These railroads also connected a number of towns and cities. The development of new railroads expanded three times in particular after the Civil War and eventually tripled again several years later. Structurally, railroads were the leading business of the time period. The Gilded Age identified as a period of tremendous accumulations of property, political corruption, and unequal distribution of wealth to America’s citizens.
As new technologies developed after the Civil War the growth of new industries continued.
Some of the new technologies included: The telephone invented by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876, Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb in 1879, Rowell Hodge patented barbed wired, and Jesses W. Reno invented the escalator; just to mention a few.
A multitude of jobs was readily available, large cities grew to house both the growing number of industrial workers and the growing number of industries. Cities began growing at an impressive rate, with little or no planning. Urbanization brought many new opportunities such as jobs, housing, and transportation.
In the midst of all the positive developments, there were also negative happenings; urbanization gave elevation to the poverty levels, sub-standard housing, deterioration of the environment, increasing violence and crime, violent altercations between laborers and management, and more political corruption. The progression was necessary, but the process was not easy. The changes required to create a better living situation for all was lengthy and difficult.
The aforementioned topics allow historians to see the negatively influenced ideologies which gormandized the civil structures that are often praised during the Gilded Age. The lack of housing was a pressing issue that caused an overflow of homelessness among the existing citizens and immigrants. Crime rates in cities increased due to emotional stress caused by the inability to obtain funds and materials necessary for survival. The environment began to deteriorate due to pollution, the deficient and nonexistent water supply, lack of garbage removal systems, sewage, poor air quality, and diseases caused by such conditions. Political corruption was also a large part of the issues faced during this time. The Democratic Party bribed the state legislature to pass several laws that granted power of the city to tax, borrow, and spend as they saw fit. Those receiving jobs and construction contracts and the impoverished, in turn, were expected to vote for the politicians that supported them.
Furthermore, the results of Industrialization were that the nation grew faster than it ever had before. American’s social beliefs shifted and were furtively tied to capitalism; violent conflict arose between the industrialists/Robber Barons and American laborers. The nation became progressively urban; and corporations became progressively dominant in the American economy. The progress of urbanization came with costly consequences for Americans.
In addition to the growing nation, during the Gilded Age, the federal government largely defined liberty based on the views of business entrepreneurs and corporate entities. Federal officials believed that such limitless economic freedom would be beneficial to the nation as a whole and all American people. To ensure that this occurred, the federal government played a great role in defining and protecting liberty in at least six capacities. The Freedom Amendments were passed to protect the rights of America’s freed African American men and women but failed to enforce both the 14th and 15th Amendments. With the promotion of industrial and agricultural development, Indians were removed from western lands to encourage free labor and settlement for white Americans and support of the liberties of industrial capitalists at the expense of the liberties of their laborers, which were wage slaves.
As a result, Americans were divided into two conflicting notions of freedom & liberty when the 19th century ended. Employers; big business, industrial and agricultural corporations believed freedom was required for them to obtain complete control over their property rights. The control they wished to obtain was not restrained by union demands or government regulation. This control was for the public good. Workers; farmers and industrial laborers believed that freedom was required for economic security and economic independence.
All things considered, the Gilded Age and Industrialization contributed to the way our country is run today. The problems that existed during this time are mostly a thing of the past, but there are still areas of the world that lack an abundance of jobs ad housing. There are also places that lack clean water sources and proper sewage systems. Our country would not be what it is today without industrialization. Even though not every part of this process seemed beneficial, it served its purpose in creating a better living system. Without the Gilded Age and Industrialization, the country would not be where it is today.