GildedAgeOL-ECON - THE GILDED AGE 1869-1889 Themes of the...

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1 THE GILDED AGE: 1869-1889 Themes of the Gilded Age: 1. Industrialism : U.S. became the world’s most powerful economy by 1890s: railroads, steel, oil, electricity, banking – America was transformed from an agrarian nation to an urban nation between 1865 and 1920. 2. Politics : hard vs. soft money ('70s & '90s); trusts (throughout late 19th c.) 3. Urbanization : millions of "New Immigrants" came from Southern and Eastern Europe, mostly to work in factories. a. Unions and Reform movements sought to curb the injustices of industrialism. b. Farmers increasingly lost ground in the new industrial economy and eventually organized (Populism) 4. The “Last West” 5. By 1900 society had become more stratified into classes than any time before or since. INDUSTRIALISM: 1865-1900 I. Major Ideas A. By 1900 the U.S. exceeded the combined output of Germany and Great Britain 1. U.S. borrowed heavily from Europe 2. after WWI, U.S. emerged as largest creditor. 3. Technological innovations: a. steel: railroads, skyscrapers, engines b. oil: internal combustible engine, cars, subways, street railroads c. Electricity: lights, power, refrigerated railroad cars d. Advances in business: telephone, typewriter, cash register, adding machines e. Mass popular culture (early 20th century): Cameras, phonographs, bicycles, moving pictures, amusement parks, professional sports f. Contrasts 1st Industrial Revolution: textiles, coal, iron, early railroads. 4. In 1880, about 50% of Americans worked in agriculture; only 25% by 1920 5. Class divisions became most pronounced in US history during this period 6. Farmers lost ground a. In 1880, 25% of those who farmed did not own their land. b. African Americans i. 90% lived in the South ii. 75% were tenants or sharecroppers 7. Depressions and recessions led to unrest a. 1873-1879; 1882-1885; 1893-1897; 1907-1908; 1913-1915 II. Railroad building A. By 1900, 192,556 miles of track; 35,000 in 1865 alone (more than all Europe combined) 1. Gov’t subsidized transcontinental railroad building since unpopulated areas were initially unprofitable 2. Railroad companies given 155.5 million acres along RR lines 3. Gov’t received low rates for postal service and military traffic in return 4. Cities flourished where lines were laid while bypassed cities became "ghost towns" B. The Transcontinental Railroad (completed in 1869) 1. Pacific Railway Act (1862): a. Passed by Republican Congress during Civil War b. Connecting the Pacific states seen as urgent to security 2. Union Pacific Railroad appointed by Congress to build west from Omaha, NE a. Company granted 20 square miles for each mile of track constructed b. Company also granted federal loans for each mile:
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2 i. $16,000 for flat land ii. $32,000 for hilly country iii. $48,000 for mountainous country c. Construction began in 1865 d. Irish "paddies" who fought in the Union armies worked at a frantic pace. e.
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GildedAgeOL-ECON - THE GILDED AGE 1869-1889 Themes of the...

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