The Gilded Age

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While many Americans living during the “Gilded Age” (1865-1900) considered it a time of prosperity, others were not so fond. Many peoples that weren’t middle and upper class whites were being treated very poorly by both the government and by other members of society. While all Americans found their lives changed by big business and new technologies, others found their way of life completely altered. Particularly Native Americans, industrial workers and African Americans saw their entire way of life changed by many different factors.

Native Americans saw the most dramatic change in their lives during this time period. Buffalo in the Great Plains were central to Native American life as it was used for many different things including housing, clothing, blankets, and food (Danzer 409). They lived a communal life where their children were raised by the whole village, and where they were governed by council rather than by a single ruler (Danzer 409). All of this soon began to change as more and more white settlers moved out west. Because white settlers claimed that the Native Americans did nothing to “improve” the land, many considered it unsettled, and traveled to seek opportunity via wagon trails and train (Danzer 409). In 1834 the United States had set apart the Great Plain as a giant reservation for the Native Americans to live on (Danzer 410). However, by the 1850’s laws were being changed that gave boundaries to this reservation which eventually led to battles between white settlers and the Native American, including the Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1868 that forced them to live on reservations around the Mississippi River (Danzer 410). Many of these wars were actually in fact massacres that left thousands of Native Americans dead such as the Massacre at Sand Creek, the Red River War, and finally the Battle of Wounded Knee (Danzer 410-12). Eventually white settlers began to out populate the Native Americans in the Great Plains due to the ever-expanding railroad...
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