Entering the New Century.
In some ways the 1900s were the last decade of the nineteenth century. The opulence and self-confidence of the wealthy, which had suffered a temporary, if severe, setback in the depression of 1893-1894, were back on display in Newport, Rhode Island, and other watering holes of the well-heeled members of high society. At the other end of the social spectrum, the everyday lives of working men and women were shaped by many of the same social forces that had changed the United States so dramatically in the decades after the Civil War. Big business grew even bigger, and the distance between rich and poor seemed just as great as it had during the 1890s, when social strife and violent clashes between labor and capital broke out with frightening regularity. Many of the habits, customs, and mores of the nineteenth century shaped patterns of behavior and belief in the new decade as well.
Changes in American Life.
However, enormous changes were under way during the 1900s. The population grew substantially (by sixteen million from seventy-five million between 1900 and 1910), in large part because of the hundreds of thousands of immigrants who arrived every year on American shores. The process of urbanization, already well established in the nineteenth century, continued unabated, bringing millions of Americans into contact...
(The entire section is 1700 words.)
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