AP US. History
January 29, 2015
Problems with the Gilded Age
The Gilded age, which lasted from 18701900,was one of the most dynamic, contentious, and volatile periods in American history. Americans industry exploded and the economy grew by more than 400%. This was was seen as a great fortune to most, but also it left many farmers and workers struggling merely for survival. Although the gilded age did experience its good share of great fortune, there were many huge problems during this time that would affect the way we live and work today. During this time, industry was growing so fast that populations of people skyrocketed;however, the conditions of these industries became horrendous. The novel
, by Upton Sinclair exposed the appalling working conditions in the meatpacking industry. His description of diseased, rotten, and contaminated meat shocked the public and led to new federal food safety laws. Before the 20th century, a major reform movement had emerged in the United States. Known as progressives, the reformers were reacting to problems caused by the rapid growth of factories and cities by the gilded age. Progressives at first concentrated on improving the lives of those living in slums and in getting rid of corruption in government. Essentially the progressive era was a time that had intentions of fixing what had gone wrong with the gilded age. The main problems of the gilded age includes, working conditions, limited health care, monopolies, urbanization, and corruption,women’s
suffrage. So in all, the Gilded age was a period of rapid economic growth but also an abundance of social conflicts.
The Gilded Age was a period of horrific labor violence, as industrialists and workers literally fought over control of the workplace. In factories, there were no liabilities or safety for workers. The companies didn't care about the workers as long as the work got done somehow. What is even worse is that children made up a big majority of workers. They would use kids to clean machines or go in mines that were too small for adults in order to get coal. These , sometimes fatal, working conditions were put up with because many families needed the kids to work in order to survive.Throughout Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, the author demonstrates the greed of Capitalism and how it gives politicians and businessmen the ability to exploit the immigrants population so that they will work in that kind of atmosphere. Luckily, “ The agitation and investigation inspired by Sinclair’s The Jungle had much to do with bringing about the passage by Congress of the Meat Inspection act and the Pure Food and Drug act of 1906”(Chapter 28). Along with industrialised workers, farmers also suffered a huge blow. They experienced increased competition, saturated markets, and falling prices for their produce. In response to these poor conditions, a US political party named the Populist party formed in 1891 that advocated the interests of labor and farmers, free coinage of silver, a graduated income tax, and government control of monopolies. Also, in 1913 under president Wilson, the child labor act and federal resource act were passed to prevent further deaths from children working and to have control over disposal of hazardous wastes. This was presented in chapter 29. The limited health care during this time was tragic, absolutely terrible.In The Jungle the poor health care is exposed, it states,
“One morning as Jurgis was passing, a furnace blew out, spraying two men with a shower of liquid fire. As they lay screaming and rolling upon the ground in agony, Jurgis rushed to help them, and as a result he lost a good part of the skin from the inside of one of his hands. The company doctor bandaged it up, but he got no other thanks from any one, and ...
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