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During the Gilded Age, many American workers struggled to make ends meet as a enormous gap between the wealthy, increasing celebrated in mass media, and the poor developed. Ultimately, the wealth of titans of industry like John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie was built upon the labor of millions of working class people whose ranks swelled with immigrants. Efforts to unionize and push for better wages and working conditions were met with resistance and sometimes violence, as the railroad strike of 1873, the Pullman strike of 1894, and the Homestead lockout of 1892 demonstrate. The Gilded Age also witnessed the rolling back of rights for African-Americans, especially in the South, where Reconstruction crashed to an end, allowing whites to reassert their supremacy with violence and discriminatory Jim Crow laws. These laws received federal sanction, as did acts of violence aimed at restoring labor discipline. As railroad magnates and financiers made millions off the railroads, small farmers in the West and the South struggled to make ends meet, and their struggles against railroad abuses and the monetary policy that deprived them of currency to pay their debts resulted in a political movement known as Populism in the late nineteenth century. While the Gilded Age was certainly an era of rapid economic growth, much of this growth was leveraged on the backs of working people.
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