A look at poverty and wealth during the gilded age

Visit Website On the enthusiasm side of the ledger, nothing loomed larger than the booming industrial economy. Between andU. By the U. In recent decades, America has experienced a similar economic boom, albeit one interrupted by periodic recessions.

A look at poverty and wealth during the gilded age

The Republic for Which It Stands: Who would rule and be ruled, whose vision of political economy and social relations would prevail, and who would pay the price? Readers will find a veritable kaleidoscope of subject matter, from electoral politics, political economy, and industrial warfare to popular culture, literature, and sports.

They will find figures of political and cultural prominence as well as those who are now relatively obscure, but who at the time were consequential for their ideas and activism.

And they will find geopolitical breadth, as White—drawing on his expertise in Western US history—makes sure that the trans-Mississippi West and its racially and ethnically mixed denizens figure significantly in the unfolding story.

Holding the more than sprawling pages together is a framework in which party politics and national elections are set as the chronological markers for a developing battle between the forces of liberalism and anti-monopoly, all carried along by the commentary of the novelist, editor, and critic William Dean Howells, whose intellectual journey in many ways mirrored the political drift of the times.

To that end, the federal government extended and expanded the power that it had accumulated during the Civil War into the postwar period and created new institutions to enact this vision.

On the other hand, this newly powerful federal government still lacked the administrative capacity to see such projects through.

The Reconstruction Acts, the high point of Republican Radicalism, enfranchised African-American men, but the rapidly shrinking US Army of Occupation was often unable to protect the exercise of their new rights.

In both of these cases, White draws on the important recent work of the writer and historian Gregory Downs. In effect, the government engaged in a form of land redistribution that it had refused to impose in the South, transferring lands from the control of Native Americans into the hands of aspiring white agricultural operators through the Homestead Act and railroad corporations through the Pacific Railway Act and a raft of other incentives.

As White portrays it, Reconstruction—in the South and the West—was largely an uneven process of state-building that advanced a highly repressive brand of capitalist development.

Reconstruction also threw a dominant liberal ideology into crisis, as the dramatic expansion of the federal state and the mobilizations of working people in the South, North, and West posed new questions about the world that the abolition of slavery appeared to make possible.

But it was in the post—Civil War era that anti-monopoly developed a mass following and made its presence felt in American politics. Anti-monopoly sentiments took hold among urban workers, family farmers, and small-town merchants and retailers, fed by the traditions of Euro-American republicanism, free-labor ideology, and socialism.

And they blamed the moneyed corruption of party politics for their collective plight. To readjust the balance in favor of small producers, they set their sights on the privately controlled national banking system and large railroad corporations; to restore the integrity of the political system, they rallied voters to the banners of independent political parties.

White does an excellent job of explaining the complex manifestations involving gold, greenbacks the paper currency first issued by the federal government during the Civil Warand silver.

Coining silver as well as gold served inflationary ends and won the favor of many small producers whose debt burdens would be lightened; it also stoked the enmity of bankers and financiers, who were creditors and thus worshipped at the altar of gold.

But it was greenbacks, not gold or silver, that became the center of anti-monopoly politics—both because they would increase the volume of currency in circulation and, especially, because they would put the federal government, rather than private banks, in charge of the money supply.

Henry George, one of the most formidable anti-monopoly theorists, saw land monopoly as the cause of economic impoverishment and catapulted to national and international fame after the publication of his immensely influential Progress and Poverty InGeorge nearly won election as the mayor of New York City on a United Labor Party platform that included a land tax and a critique of wealthy landlords garnering more votes than a young Republican named Theodore Roosevelt in the process.

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Meanwhile, anti-monopoly tickets—some associated with the Knights of Labor—emerged victorious in towns small and large across the country. At various times, the Knights distrusted Italians, Finns, Hungarians, and more, but the one racial or ethnic group they banned from the organization was the Chinese.

A look at poverty and wealth during the gilded age

On the one hand, his heart is very much with anti-monopolism and the related reform impulses of the period, and no one could be a sharper critic of the alliance between capital and the state that emerged out of the Civil War. The federal government created a number of large new territories in the trans-Mississippi West during the Civil War to secure its power and authority there.

Fighting Inequality in the New Gilded Age | Boston Review

The trans-Mississippi West, that is to say, served in many ways as a proving ground for the overseas occupations that followed. The Army suppressed Indian resistance to infrastructure-building and white settlement; broke labor strikes; and supported the work of industrialists in the trans-Mississippi regions.

Many of the same soldiers and officers then served in the Philippines and the Caribbean during the Spanish-American War. The Jim Crow segregation that increasingly characterized the South in the s and early s needs to be considered in relation to the apartheid policy of reservations, while the escalating racism and anti-Catholicism of the period—both absorbed and reconfigured by reformers—fueled the imperial warfare of the late s.

Which is to say that the regional, national, and transnational were intricately connected and together made up the United States that emerged at the turn of the 20th century. The proponents of anti-monopoly mounted a withering attack on the sources and nature of power in American society—a more fundamental attack, I believe, than White allows—that rallied millions of Americans to their side, whether through independent parties or a large variety of social movements.Jul 15,  · Then, starting in the late s, as the constraints receded, new tycoons gradually emerged, and now their concentrated wealth has made the early years of the 21st century truly another Gilded Age.

The Gilded Age was a time of extreme poverty and extreme wealth (with said wealth often covering up deep-seated social issues). Like, a crazy ridiculous amount of wealth. A look at the original Gilded Age reveals it as an era marked, not unlike ours, by a powerful duality.

It was both the best of times and the worst of times. It was an age of both enthusiasm and. But if we look closely at the Gilded Age itself, we can see considerable discomfort with the direction of American life much earlier than Twain and Warner wrote their satire of the times in , and they weren't alone.

True leadership, for better or for worse, resided among the magnates who dominated the Gilded Age. Millionaire's Row In less than 25 years, America's brand-new millionaires like Vanderbilt, Astor and Carnegie turned New York City's Fifth Avenue from a rutted, dirt .

The phrase "America's Gilded Age" typically brings to mind the financial exploits and consequent dazzling wealth of the "robber barons": Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, Morgan, Carnegie, and others.

Gilded Age - HISTORY