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Vincent Prior
AP American History
Quiz #16

Read the attached excerpt from "How the Other Half Lives," by Jacob Riis and address the Gilded Age issues listed below:

   The accuracy of Twain's terming the period the "Gilded Age"
   The Link between industrialization and urbanization and immigration
   The spirit of reform inspired by the excess of the Gilded Age

    Mark Twain was well justified to call this period the Gilded Age. The industry and society of the time was flourishing in the eyes of the upper class, there was more money in their wallets then ever before. However, if one looked into the lives of the less fortunate, they see that not everything was golden, there was a rough metal being carried through society within the United States.
    There was much economic growth throughout this period of time. Industrialization was creating jobs and technologies, not to mention creating industries of Rail Roads, steel, oil, iron, etc. The Robber Barons who controlled these industries were true stories of American success, they went from rags to riches, as the old adage goes. Also the blacks now had freedom from slavery and were beginning to be equal members of society. The country was also expanding, the west was beginning to be settled and the industry was fueling it.
    While all these things look great, they caused many problems. The need for more industrial workers created problems such as slums, poverty and rampant diseases. "New York's wage earners have no other place to live, more is the pity. They are truly poor for having no better homes..." While the blacks had been given their freedom, they were not truly equal. The Jim Crow laws kept many from voting and kept the right to vote controlled by the white people. The expansion to the West also created many problems, namely with Indians. The United States was forcing the Native Americans to move out of land which they held for many centuries and were destroying the Indian's tribal life and culture.
    Industrialization brought more jobs for the immigrants of the country. An example of this industrialization is the Rail Road Industry, which began to grow throughout this time period. It was required to transport raw goods and finished products from one end of manufacture to the other. The people who cam to work for such industries as these stayed in these areas which caused the creation of cities and thus, urbanization. As more people got wind of these jobs more people came to the country and added to the urbanization.
    Because of the excess produced during this time period reform was needed. Monopolies grew which led to the social stratification and unequal distribution of wealth within the economy. The fact that such things were occurring led the government to a necessary regulation such as the Sherman Anti-Trust act. The labor unions that were created, such as the Knights of Labor and the AFL, were forced to do some reformation by going on strike very often over working conditions. Also because of the poverty and the "unruly mob" that was society, religious reforms began to grow and efforts to regain morality  began.    
    The Gilded issue was a time in which economical status was important. If one was on the right side of the dollar sign they were very well of and continued to prosper. However, if one was on the wrong side they were doomed to failure, if not by one way, by another.