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Gilded Age - Essay Example

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Mark Twain coined the tem “Gilded Age” in the last decades of the nineteenth century. Gilded Age refers the era that followed the American Civil War, stretching from the end of the reconstruction period to the dawn of the twentieth century…
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Download file to see previous pages Mark Twain coined the tem “Gilded Age” in the last decades of the nineteenth century. Gilded Age refers the era that followed the American Civil War, stretching from the end of the reconstruction period to the dawn of the twentieth century. The era was characterized by enormous economic growth and European investments. Ideally, the Gilded Age was an era of transforming America into a liberal country. Outstanding events that characterized the era included increased immigration, industrial growth, and construction of railway networks. The Gilded Age cannot be considered as a Golden Age for Americans instead, the age symbolizes an era of unsolved problems. In The Gilded Age: a Tale of Today, writers Mark Twain and Charles Dudley confirm that Gilded Age was an era of severe social problems (Biography web). According to the authors, these problems could not be visualized since they remained beneath a thin layer of the supposed gold. In this context, gold symbolizes the economic and social developments that accompanied Gilded Age. Golden age refers to an era of peace prosperity, stability, and harmony. Unfortunately, the Gilded Age was characterized by neither stability nor prosperity (Zinn 32). In particular, the period can be considered as an era of great economic oppressions as Americans struggled to rebuild their country. To the American, the Gilded Age was an era of exorbitant taxation. American economy became more intertwined with cotton and tobacco exports. The prices of these commodities reduced dramatically affecting the livelihood of ordinary American farmers. Although the country experienced a GDP growth, per capita income remained minimal. Unsolved problems in the agriculture sector included the slave question, the north, and south states issue. These problems were covered under increased exports to the European market and the rise of mechanized farming. Unsolved economic problems became the basis of more sophisticated social and political problems. Gilded Age politics were characterized by intense completion between political parties. The third party system promoted intense competition Between the Democratic and the Republican Parties. Consequently, minor parties including the Labor and Farmers unions disappeared as soon as they were established. Intense competition between the two parties intensified the country’s political temperature. Indeed, Americans were divided between Republicans and Democrats (Zinn 54). Both parties established the supposed “Political Machines” to oversee elections, reward their royalists and buyoff their opponents. Consequently, the wining party becomes the sole controller of state and government’s jobs, contracts and business openings. The “spoils system” was also a major source of political influence. Elected candidates were expected to pray according to the instructions of their political spoils/sponsors. For example in 1876, Hayes was elected in a secret deal to be the new president of the United States. In addition, Harrison won the elections without winning the popular vote. Thus, the US did not achieve any form of political stability during the gilded age. Indeed, the era was a cover-up for the political instabilities that characterized the country. The era is considered the most turbulent time in American political history. Political reforms that promoted multiparty democracy and high voter turnout, acted as a conspiracy for politically motivated scandals, political rivalry, and civil unrest. Thus, the Gilded Age can never be considered as the US’s version of the Golden Age. Social developments also remained unattended during the Gilded Age. During the gilded age, discriminations against the black Americans intensified. Black Americans living in the southern states experienced the worst form of discrimination. The black communities were stripped off their political and voting rights. Ideally, the system almost revived slavery despite slave trade and slave labor having been abolished. During the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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