6.1 — Technological advances, large-scale production
methods, and the opening of new markets encouraged the rise of industrial capitalism in the United States.
A variety of perspectives on the economy and labor developed during a
time of financial panics and downturns
The industrial workforce
expanded and became more diverse through internal and
international migration; child labor also increased.
Labor and management
battled over wages and working conditions, with
workers organizing local and national unions and/or
directly confronting business leaders
Some argued that laissezfaire
policies and competition promoted economic growth
in the long run, and they opposed government
intervention during economic downturns.
Despite the industrialization
of some segments of the Southern economy—a change
promoted by Southern leaders who called for a
“New South”—agriculture based on sharecropping and
tenant farming continued to be the primary economic
activity in the South.
New systems of production and transportation enabled consolidation
within agriculture, which, along with periods of instability, spurred a variety of responses from farmers
Many farmers responded to
the increasing consolidation in agricultural markets and
their dependence on the evolving railroad system by
creating local and regional cooperative organizations
Economic instability inspired
agrarian activists to create the People’s (Populist)
Party, which called for a stronger governmental role
in regulating the American economic system
mechanization helped agricultural production
increase substantially and contributed to declines in
Large-scale industrial production—accompanied by massive
technological change, expanding international communication networks,and pro-growth government policies—generated rapid economic
development and business consolidation.
As the price of many goods
decreased, workers’ real wages increased, providing
new access to a variety of goods and services; many
Americans’ standards of living improved, while the gap
between rich and poor grew.
Many business leaders
sought increased profits by consolidating corporations
into large trusts and holding companies, which further
Businesses made use of
technological innovations,greater access to natural
resources, redesigned financial and management
structures, advances in marketing, and a growing
labor force to dramatically increase the production of
Businesses and foreign
policymakers increasingly looked outside U.S. borders
in an effort to gain greater influence and control over
markets and natural resources in the Pacific Rim, Asia, and
Following the Civil War,
government subsidies for transportation and
communication systems helped open new markets in
6.2 — The migrations that accompanied
industrialization transformed both urban and rural areas of the United States and caused dramatic social and cultural change.
International and internal migration increased urban populations and
fostered the growth of a new urban culture.
Increasing public debates
over assimilation and Americanization accompanied
the growth of international migration. Many immigrants
negotiated compromises between the cultures they
brought and the culture they found in the United States.
In an urban atmosphere where
the access to power was unequally distributed, political
machines thrived, in part by providing immigrants and the
poor with social services
Urban neighborhoods based on
particular ethnicities, races, and classes provided new cultural
opportunities for city dwellers
Corporations’ need for
managers and for male and female clerical workers as
well as increased access to educational institutions,
fostered the growth of a distinctive middle class. A
growing amount of leisure time also helped expand
As cities became areas of
economic growth featuring new factories and businesses, they
attracted immigrants from Asia and from southern and eastern
Europe, as well as African American migrants within
and out of the South. Many migrants moved to escape
poverty, religious persecution, and limited opportunities for
social mobility in their home countries or regions.
Larger numbers of migrants moved to the West in search of land
and economic opportunity, frequently provoking competition and violent conflict.
As migrant populations
increased in number and the American bison population
was decimated, competition for land and resources in the
West among white settlers, American Indians, and
Mexican Americans led to an increase in violent conflict.
The U.S. government violated
treaties with American Indians and responded to
resistance with military force, eventually confining
American Indians to reservations and denying
In hopes of achieving ideals
of self-sufficiency and independence, migrants
moved to both rural and boomtown areas of the West
for opportunities, such as building the railroads, mining,
farming, and ranching
Many American Indians
preserved their cultures and tribal identities despite
government policies promoting assimilation, and
they attempted to develop self-sustaining economic
The building of
transcontinental railroads, the discovery of mineral
resources, and government policies promoted economic
growth and created new communities and centers of
6.3 — The Gilded Age produced new cultural and
intellectual movements, public reform efforts, and political debates over economic and social policies.
New cultural and intellectual movements both buttressed and challenged
the social order of the Gilded Age
Some business leaders
argued that the wealthy had a moral obligation to help the
less fortunate and improve society, as articulated in the
idea known as the Gospel of Wealth, and they made
philanthropic contributions that enhanced educational
opportunities and urban environments
A number of artists and
critics, including agrarians utopians, socialists, and
advocates of the Social Gospel, championed
alternative visions for the economy and U.S. society.
advocated theories later described as Social
Darwinism to justify the success of those at the top of
the socioeconomic structure as both appropriate and
Dramatic social changes in the period inspired political debates over
citizenship, corruption, and the proper relationship between business and government
Many women sought
greater equality with men often joining voluntary
organizations, going to college, promoting social
and political reform, and like Jane Addams, working
in settlement houses to help immigrants adapt to U.S.
language and customs.
The Supreme Court decision
in Plessy v. Ferguson that upheld racial segregation
helped to mark the end of most of the political gains
African Americans made during Reconstruction.
Facing increased violence, discrimination, and
scientific theories of race African American reformers
continued to fight for political and social equality.
The major political parties
appealed to lingering divisions from the Civil War
and contended over tariffs and currency issues, even
as reformers argued that economic greed and selfinterest
had corrupted all levels of government.