In 1877, how had rapid industrial growth divided the nation rich, poor, employers and employees?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

With the advent of industrialization in America towards the end of the 19th century, America had developed two specific classes of individuals.  The one group represented the titans of industry such as  Carnegies,  Mellons, as well as J.P. Morgan.  These individuals consolidated their power through embodying the principles of capitalism to its penultimate extreme.  They were able to control the marketplace, often times engaging in practices that denied genuine competition.  These industrialists, or what could be termed as "robber barons," believed in a "law of the jungle" mentality where they would seek to strengthen their control with a "winner take all" perspective.  This helped to create a very wealthy segment of the population as personal wealth for these individuals was greatly amassed.  As the title of his series of photographs, "How the Other Half Lives," there was a section of the American population that did not get the chance to live out the American dream-like vision of the Robber Barons.  By contrast, these individuals toiled for long hours in unsafe factories, many times owned by the robber barons themselves, and were compensated in a very paltry manner.  Given the fact that immigration to America was also increasing and along with it, the belief that the "streets were paved with gold," individuals were willing to place themselves in positions where economic exploitation and a lack of upward social mobility was reality.  This helped to create a very large and poor segment of American society.