HS-HSS-TAP-Part_4_--_Chapter_23-_Political_Paralysis_in_the_Gilded_Age.pdf

HS-HSS-TAP-Part_4_--_Chapter_23-_Political_Paralysis_in_the_Gilded_Age.pdf

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FORGING AN INDUSTRIAL SOCIETY ---rcivl~-- 1865-1909 A nation of farmers fought the Civil War in the 1860s. By the time the Spanish- American War broke out in 1898, America was an industrial nation. For genera- tions Americans had plunged into the wilder- ness and plowed their fields. Now they settled in cities and toiled in factories. Between the Civil War and the century's end, economic and techno- logical change came so swiftly and massively that it seemed to many Americans that a whole new civilization had emerged. In some ways it had. The sheer scale of the new industrial civilization was dazzling. Transcontinental railroads knit the country together from sea to sea. New industries like oil and steel grew to staggering size-and made megamillionaires out of entrepreneurs like oilman John D. Rockefeller and steel maker Andrew Carnegie. · Drawn by the allure of industrial employ- ment, Americans moved to the city. In 1860 only about 20 percent of the population were city dwellers. By 1900 that proportion doubled, as rural Americans and European immigrants alike flocked to mill town and metropolis in search of steady jobs. These sweeping changes challenged the spirit of individualism that Americans had celebrated since the seventeenth century. Even on the western frontier, that historic bastion of rugged loners, the hand of government was increasingly felt, as large armies were dispatched to subdue the Plains Indians and federal authority was invoked to regulate the use of natural resources. The rise of powerful monopolies called into question the government's traditional hands-off policy toward business, and a growing band of reformers increasingly Factory Workers. with Railroad Spikes. Harrisburg. Pennsylvania. 1898 Immigrant and native-born workers alike bent their backs to build industrial America. 502
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clamored for government regulation of private enter- prise. The mushrooming cities, with their need for transport systems, schools, hospitals, sanitation, and fire and police protection, required bigger governments and budgets than an earlier generation could have imagined. As never before, Americans struggled to adapt old ideals of private autonomy to the new realities of industrial civilization. With economic change came social and political turmoil. Labor violence brought bloodshed to places such as Chicago and Homestead, Pennsylvania. Small farmers, squeezed by debt and foreign competition, rallied behind the People's, or "Populist," party, a radical movement of the 1880s and 1890s that attacked the power ofWall Street, big business, and the banks. Anti- immigrant sentiment swelled. Bitter disputes over tariffs and monetary policy deeply divided the country, setting debtors against lenders, farmers against manufacturers, the West and South against the Northeast. And in this unfamiliar era of big money and expanding govern- ment, corruption flourished, from town hall to Con- gress, fueling loud cries for political reform.
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