History: The Gilded Age of American Society

Along the Railroad to the New American Society

Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner wrote the book The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today. This book depicted an “American Society that despite its appearance of promise and prosperity, is riddled with corruption and scandal.” Today in American history this is how we explain this period of time (1870-1916). America has accomplished a great deal in developing their society politics and economics during this Gilded Age period.

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First of all, the Railroad was one of the biggest portions of this change after the Civil War. By 1900, A train service opened that it was 193,000miles from the railroad. Also, the railroad connected every state in the U.S. It had been started to change U.S. dramatically. Like any other means of interconnection between the main points of the huge continent, the railroad contributed a lot to the rapid progress of the country and enhanced the development of the country. With help of the trains connecting different parts of the country, both the industry of the country and the production of the goods increased several times, as Boyler explained (542).

It is also worth mentioning that the expansion of the railroad allowed the government to, increase tariff protection for industry, and provide land subsidies for farmers, as Boyler emphasized (546). Helping the country to start improving the existing industries and creating new ones, the railroad was a major breakthrough for the entire state. Without it, America would not have had the quick start that gave the push to further rapid growth.

In addition, it is also important to mark that the railroad construction and use enhanced the creation of such enterprises as JP Morgan and Carnegie, the famous giants of the steel industry (Boyle et al., 511). Indeed, without the rapid development of the railroad, there would have been no such swift, all-embracing progress that touched upon every single branch of industry. Creating a solid fundament for the further creation of various administrative establishments and various facilities, the development of the railroad was the entrance to the brand new world. It must be also mentioned that, since the Republicans governed the country at the time of the amazing surge of progress, the party’s rates increased considerably, which also played an important part in further political issues.

When a Man Changes History: The 1896 Election

Another important stage of the development of the United States, the victory of McKinley at the presidential elections is considered one of the turning points in the history of the United States. Predetermined considerably by the efforts the Republicans made to develop the transportation system of the country, McKinley’s triumph had both positive and negative effects on the society of America, yet it cannot be denied that the event was another important stage in the country’s development.

Even though in the epoch of McKinley’s rule, the country had to face three wars with the other sovereign states, it goes without saying that the impact of McKinley’s reforms was huge. On the one hand, the advent of the Republicans meant that granting African Americans rights was going to be postponed for another couple of decades (Boyle et al., 483). On the other hand, it was evident that the Republicans could contribute to the country considerably and enhance numerous industries, which would, in turn, trigger a powerful change of America’s political authority among the other countries.

Aimed at establishing a more profound and stable position of the United States in world politics, the policy of McKinley changed the existing idea of the relationships with the foreign countries completely. Aiming at taking the superior position, the USA worked out its own scenario which allowed the country to become politically strong and at the same time avoided rough changes. Establishing new political relationships with the rest of the world became the number one USA priority.

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Speaking of the home policy that the USA started conducting soon after the elections of 1896, one must mention that everything was being done to make the country’s economics stabilized. The production and economics rebuff was grand even by the American standards, which meant that the country was passing to a completely different quality stage of development, as Boyler emphasized (616).

In this period, the USA starts to get involved in the political affairs of other countries. The USA involvement in the Cuban political affairs in 1986 is a striking example of the interest the state started displaying towards world politics (Boyle et al., 620). Hence, it must be admitted that the elections of 1896 had great consequences in the USA political life.

Through Corruption and Scandal to Prosperity

One of the most complicated and controversial periods in the history of the U. S., the Gilded Age was not merely an epoch with its established ideas and policy, but rather a passage to the other life that the citizen of the country hadn’t experienced by that time. Even though the measures undertaken by the politicians seemed to have no visible effect on the country’s well-being, these measures still had tangible consequences further on. It seemed that the country was getting ready for another style of living that the people have never tried before.

The time when the country was only shaping and getting ready for another powerful breakthrough, and, like any other link in the chain of events that led to the country’s progress, the Gilded Age was absolutely necessary. It cannot be denied that the country saw an outburst of amazing political, industrial, and economical activity, which is quite remarkable. In addition, the Gilded Age allowed creating fundament for further development.

It must be admitted that the women’s rights campaign in the Gilded Age was quite successful since the reform allowed women to “advocate for their rights” (Boyle et al., 234) and encouraged further struggle for the women’s authority in the USA. It can be claimed that the Gilded Age was the time when feminism emerged, yet was still an embryo. Hence, there are some reasons to say that the Gilded Age was the time for a change.

One also has to admit that one of the major issues in the USA of 1870-1916 was the immense flood of immigration. Mostly settling in the northern parts of the United States, the immigrants proved to be quite an efficient working force, yet they also contributed to the unstable state of the country. Some of the immigrants being illegal, they had a rather disturbing impact on the state economy, yet their positive effect was also evident. Creating their own environment, “slums and ghettoes” (Boyle et al., 571), immigrants shaped American society.

However, taking a general look, one can say that most of the promises to the people of the USA were not fulfilled. Before McKinley became the president, there was a glimmer of hope for African American people to obtain their rights, yet as the new policy came into force, the hope was broken. Upholding the “Jim Crow” law, the government slackened the racial discrimination for another century, which was most disgraceful. Another proof that no state can survive without the reign of democratic principles, the Gilded Era turned out another gilded pill for the USA to swallow.

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Works Cited

Boiler, Paul, et al. The Enduring Vision: A History of the American People. Vol. 2: From 1865, Concise. 7th ed. Stamford, CN: Cengage Learning, 2010. Print.

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StudyCorgi. 2021. "History: The Gilded Age of American Society." April 6, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/history-the-gilded-age-of-american-society/.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'History: The Gilded Age of American Society'. 6 April.

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