History of America 1877-1900

History of America 1877 – 1900

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The history of America 1877-1900 is the history of the Gilded Age, an era of robust economic growth, especially in the northern and western states. The term “Gilded Age” was used by writer Mark Twain to characterize this era of profound social problems masked by a thin gold veneer. It describes an era of abject poverty and inequality, especially for the millions of impoverished immigrants who poured into the United States. Their lives were lived in stark contrast to those of the robber baron industrialists and financiers who were emboldened by this culture of greed and corruption in their quest for profits.

Industrialization demanded an ever-increasing pool of cheap labor, and this need was met by the influx of millions of European immigrants. As railroads became the leading growth industry, factories, the mining industry, and high finance also grew quickly. Rapid growth out West, in farming, ranching, and mining, was hastened by immigration. This in turn led to the growth of labor unions grew in the expanding industrial cities, and strikes were increasingly contentious. Then, the financial upheavals of the Panic of 1873 and the Panic of 1893 brought economic and political turmoil. Also, the South remained shattered after the Civil War, and its economy suffered from low prices for cotton and tobacco. What’s more, nearly all African Americans living in the South were denied the vote and existed in a continuing state of poverty, oppression, and terror.

The political landscape was notoriously corrupt, though voter participation was avid. The controversies were social (prohibition of alcohol, universal education, race and ethnicity) and economic (tariff protection and the supply of gold and silver). Ward bosses took control of city politics, and powerful trusts controlled industries. In response, unions agitated for an eight-hour workday, better workplace conditions, and the abolition of child labor. At the same time, others demanded civil service reform, prohibition of the manufacture and sale of alcohol, and the vote for women. Local governments provided public elementary education, and public high schools began to be built. In all, the problems faced by the poor gave rise to reforms in the Progressive Era that followed.

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1877-1900 Index | Society: Reform: ReformersImmigrationMovements: Settlement MovementSocial Gospel Movement | New South: CitiesRural Areas | Culture: ArtLearningLiteraturePhilosophy: Gospel of Wealth | Science and Technology | Power: PresidentsElection of 1896Political Parties CongressLegislationIssues: Civil ServiceBusiness and IndustryCurrency | Local Politics: Issues | Rural Politics | Ward Bosses | Foreign Affairs | Economy: Agriculture: The FarmInnovationsGreat Plains: Settlement BoomChallenges | Economy: California | Industry | Natural Resources | Ranching | Trade | Rural Discontent | Farmers’ Alliances | Capitalism: Depression of 1893Social Darwinism TrustsMuck-RakersChurches | Labor: Artisans and Skilled WorkersFactory SystemWorkers: Unions: American Federation of Labor | Child Labor WomenImmigrants

1877-1900: Index


Society: Immigration

Society: Reform

Society: Reformers

Society: Movements

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Settlement Movement

Social Gospel Movement

New South: Cities

Culture: Art

New South: Rural Areas


Society: New South

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Culture: Learning

Culture: Literature

Culture: Philosophy

Philosophy: Gospel of Wealth

Culture: Science and Technology

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Power: Presidents

Power: Election of 1896

Power: Political Parties

Power: Congress

Congress: Legislation

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Power: Issues

Issues: Civil Service

Issues: Business and Industry

Issues: Currency

Power: Local Politics

Local Politics: Issues

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Local Politics: Ward Bosses

Power: Rural Politics

Power: Foreign Affairs


Economy: Agriculture

Agriculture: The Farm

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Agriculture: Innovations

Great Plains

Great Plains: Settlement Boom

Great Plains: Challenges

Economy: California

Economy: Industry

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Economy: Natural Resources

Economy: Ranching

Economy: Trade

Economy: Rural Discontent

Economy: Farmers’ Alliances

Economy: Capitalism

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Economy: Depression of 1893

Economy: Social Darwinism

Economy: Trusts

Economy: Muckrakers

Capitalism: Churches

Economy: Labor

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Labor: Artisans and Skilled Workers

Economy: Factory System

Factory System: Workers

Labor: Unions

Unions: American Federation of Labor

Labor: Child Labor

Labor: Women

Labor: Immigrants

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