The Guilded Age of the United States

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In the Gilded Age of the United States, industrialism was running ramped in the laissez- faire economy. Land grant and loans to the railroads helped bind the country together with steel ribs, but the farmers and workers of America faced difficult changes. But railroads took advantage of these assistances and formed pools where they would share customers and profits, which were often excessive because of the high rates of service to farmers. Workers, men women and children, faced harsh working conditions, long hours and little pay in factories. With the dangerous conditions, children often suffered severe injuries and women were paid less than their male counter parts. Both took steps to change their situation. The farmers and workers of America formed labor unions or alliances to negotiate better working conditions and compete against industrialism. Farmers first tried to regulate railroads through state legislature, but ran into numerous legal problems, especially with railroads that crossed state lines. The Supreme Court had ruled in the Wabash vs. Illinois that individual states could not regulate interstate commerce. But in 1886, Congress responded to the outcries of farmers by passing the Interstate Commerce Act. The act prohibited rebates and pools and required the railroad to publish rates openly. It also set up the Interstate Commerce Commission to administer and enforce the new legislation. Really only provided an orderly forum where competition was peaceful and stabilized the existing system rather than revolutionize it. Farmers found more success in forming alliances in the late 1880’s. By 1890, about a million farmers had joined farmers’ alliances against industrialization. These alliances had serious potential to turn into an independent party and did so in 1890. When a national organization of farmers, the National Alliance, met in Ocala, Florida, to address the problems of rural America, they created the Ocala Platform. It supported direct...
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