Chapter 16America's Gilded Age, 1870–1890In 1886, the Statue of Liberty, meant to celebrate the friendship between France and the United States and the triumph of freedom in the Civil War, was dedicated in New York Harbor. The statue, which welcomed generations of immigrants to the United States, came to symbolize American freedom. But 1886 also saw one of the greatest waves of strikes and labor protests and violence in the nation’s history, events that exposed deep social divisions in an industrializing society. The questions of what social conditions enabled freedom and what role the government should play in defining and protecting the rights of citizens took center stage.7
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10The purpose of the focus questions is to help students find larger themes and structures to bring the historical evidence, events, and examples together for a connected thematic purpose. As we go through each portion of this lecture, you may want to keep in mind how the information relates to this larger thematic question. Here are some suggestions: write the focus question in the left or right margin on your notes and as we go through, either mark areas of your notes for you to come back to later and think about the connection OR as you review your notes later (to fill in anything else you remember from the lecture or your thoughts during the lecture or additional information from the readings), write small phrases from the lecture and readings that connect that information to each focus question AND/OR are examples that work together to answer the focus question.
11In the late nineteenth century, the United States experienced perhaps the fastest and most far-reaching economic revolution in history. Abundant natural resources, a growing labor supply and market for manufactured goods, and new capital for investment all fostered massive economic expansion. The federal government also spurred industrial and agricultural development by enacting tariffs protecting U.S. industry from foreign competition, giving land to railroads, and using the army to remove Indians from western lands wanted by farmers and mining companies.Every region except the South saw a rapid expansion of manufacturing, mining, and railroad construction, ending an earlier America based on small farms and artisan workshops. By 1913, the United States produced a third of the world’s entire industrial output. Half of all industrial workers labored in plants with more than 250 employees. By 1890, two-thirds of Americans worked for wages, making dreams of economic independence—owning a farm or workshop—unattainable for most. Between 1870 and 1920, a new working class developed, with 11 million Americans moving from farm to city and 25 million immigrating from overseas. Most new jobs were in industrial cities, whose rapid growth was best symbolized by New York, a city whose banks and stock exchange financed railroads, mines, and factories, thus sponsoring industrialization and westward expansion. The Great Lakes region was the center of
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- Spring '08
- Economics, History, Capitalism, Civil War, Looking Backward, The Significance of the Frontier in American History, Federal government of the United States