Gilded age is defined as a period when rapid economic growth took place, especially in the west and the north. Many social conflicts also supplemented the period. During this period, the skilled works in the United States were highly paid as compared to the skilled workers in Europe. This resulted in a massive increase in the number of immigrants in the north and the west, hence resulting in the globalization of the United States. The real wage grew by 60%, despite the rapid increase in the amount of a labor force that was available.
The period is also considered as the duration of poverty because many of the poor Europeans migrated to America in search of jobs. During this period, there was an increase in economic activities and the development of infrastructures such as the railroads, mining, and the development of the factory systems. As a result of this economic development and an increase in the amount of the labor force, labor unions emerged and increased rapidly as they were of great importance. The growth was interrupted by two major depressions that took place throughout the nations. The depression periods were known as a panic, depression, period of 1893 and the panic of 1873.
The south became economically challenged as the prices of cotton and tobacco decreased. The economy of the South depended on tobacco and cotton production. The black Americans were denied the voting rights and they were denied their political power. The effect was intensely felt, as there was an increase in corruption activities and the evenly matched party elections closed. The major challenges were the money, tariff supply and the cultural factors such as racism, education, and ethnic groups.
Individuals who crusaded for reforms were against the working hours per day, which were eight hours and child labor, women suffrage and prohibition. The local governments and the states constructed schools, hospitals, and colleges while private institution was also built mostly with the support of the local philanthropist. The Protestants also came up with their schools as numerous religious denominations emerged.
There was also tremendous changes in the individual lives for both who lived both in town and those who were in the rural areas. For those who lived in the rural areas, the prices of lands were low. They could acquire large chunks of lands at a very low interest rate. There was also the introduction of new farming mechanism that resulted in the increase of yields from the farms. Availability of the railway roads, enabled the farmers to get a market for their products before the prices of cotton and tobacco were greatly affected. The society went through tremendous changes because of the civil war, especially in the North America urbanization.
An increase in the demand of unskilled labor was notified. This encouraged many unemployed immigrants from Europe to go to town mills, industrial sites and the mining camps to look for employment. It resulted in a rapid expansion that required better transport to transfer the products from the companies and the minerals, which were to replace the horse drawn cars. Street railways and electric Troyes were developed and subways in most of the cities that were developed. Poverty increased because of an increase in the number of immigrants. There was an increase in the number of criminal activities and death rates in the urban area.
Calhoun, C. W. 2006. The gilded age: Essays on the origins of modern America. Lanham, Md:
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
De, S. V. P., Ryan, J. G., & Schlup, L. C. 2003. Historical dictionary of the Gilded Age.
Armonk, NY: Sharpe.