What were the positive things about the Gilded Age?

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The Gilded Age, spanning roughly 1870-1900, is often condemned as period of "robber barons" in which a few ruthless individuals garnered most of the nation's wealth while exploiting working people. However, this is not the whole story.

It is true that the era was marked by huge wealth inequalities and...

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The Gilded Age, spanning roughly 1870-1900, is often condemned as period of "robber barons" in which a few ruthless individuals garnered most of the nation's wealth while exploiting working people. However, this is not the whole story.

It is true that the era was marked by huge wealth inequalities and a lack of protection for the common person. However, despite this, it was a time of huge economic growth. Between 1877 and 1893, the size US economy grew almost 100 percent as the country threw itself full throttle into industrialism. By the twentieth century, with British power beginning to wane, the US was poised to become the world's superpower, which it eventually did.

While much wealth was concentrated in a few hands, the standard of living for the average person improved markedly, largely through widespread technological innovation. This era saw the invention of the telephone as well as the invention of the electric lightbulb, which made electrically lit homes accessible to the average person. The automobile was invented, and the transcontinental railway was completed, so that people could travel from coast to coast in relative safety and comfort. Access to education grew as the number of public high school expanded rapidly, and by 1900, thirty-one states required students to attend school until fourteen, giving the US one of the highest literacy rates in the world.

Problems emerged in the Gilded Age but so did the wealth, will, and energy to solve them.

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The Gilded Age was an important time in American history. Most historians date the Gilded Age from about 1870 to 1900. During this period, the United States experienced population growth, technological innovation, and social progress.

High wages and lots of available land made America a popular destination for immigrants. The Gilded Age saw around twenty million immigrants come into the country. These were known as the "new immigrants," most of whom were from eastern and southern European countries such as Italy, Romania, Poland, and Greece.

Technological innovations of the time are best exemplified by the railroad. The year 1869 saw the completion of the first transcontinental railroad, drastically reducing the amount of time it took people and goods to cross the country. Railroads improved transportation but also created jobs and required materials. With railroads and factories operating in conjunction with one another, it is no surprise that American worker wages were some of the highest in the world.

The Gilded Age also saw significant social progress. Labor unions began to rise to prominence, as workers would strike, demanding safe working conditions and an eight-hour workday. Urbanization took hold, especially in the north, as more and more people moved into cities. Women also worked toward long-held goals such as the right to vote and equal working compensation.

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