Presentation on theme: "TECHNOLOGY The Gilded Age saw an immense burst of inventive energy. The Bessemer process improved steel making; refrigerated railcars emerged; a cigarette."— Presentation transcript:
TECHNOLOGY The Gilded Age saw an immense burst of inventive energy. The Bessemer process improved steel making; refrigerated railcars emerged; a cigarette machine could roll 120,000 a day. Then along came the Singer sewing machine, the telephone, the light bulb, and the phonograph [record player]. Large corporations, meanwhile, pooled the patents of these inventions in yet another mechanism of market domination.
STATUE OF LIBERTY The Statue of Liberty is the most visible symbol of the personal freedoms that attracts immigrants to the U.S. Given to the people of the United States by France in 1884 as an expression of friendship, the statue commemorated French aid in the dark days of the American Revolution. Since then, it has greeted every immigrant entering New York Harbor, promising freedom and opportunity. Though unveiled on a wet and foggy NYC day, the bad weather did not stop some one million New Yorkers from turning out to cheer. Parades on land and sea honored the Statue while flags and music filled the air. When it was time to release the tricolor French flag that veiled Liberty's face, a roar of guns, whistles, and applause sounded.
THE CHICAGO FAIR From 1892 - 1893, over 25 million visitors entered the gates of the Chicago World’s Fair to gauge the mastery of American industrial development. The country’s largest corporations displayed their newest products: gigantic steam engines, the lighting of an Egyptian temple, long distance phone calls to the East Coast, and the latest phonograph. The largest building on the site - the Manufacturers and Liberal Arts Building - took up over 44 acres of floor space and was built with 3 million feet of lumber. The high point - President Cleveland kicked off the fair as electric fountains shot steams of water high into the air.
INDUSTRY In less than 30 years, through innovations in technology and production, business leaders had built the U.S. into the world’s greatest industrial power. America’s economy grew a staggering 4% per year - double that of Great Britain. Overall, factory output grew from $1.8 billion to $13 billion by 1900 -- all with 2 crippling economic depressions.
BUSINESSMEN The Gilded Age, more than any other age, is absolutely packed with billionaires: In today’s money, Bill Gates is worth $63 billion. During the Gilded Age, there was: Wall Street railroad investor Jay Gould with $71 billion. Steamboat maker Cornelius Vanderbilt, with $185 billion. Steel industrialist Andrew Carnegie, with $310 billion. And of course, oil executive John D. Rockefeller, who is the richest American who has ever lived, with holdings of $340 billion.
WORKERS Many workers put in 60 hours a week with no pensions, compensations for injuries, or protections against unemployment. Although Americans earned more than Europeans, working conditions were more dangerous. In the Gilded Age, between 1800 and 1900, an average of 35,000 workers died each year in factories, the highest rate in the world. Public or private police forces were often brought in to break up strikes. Much of the working class remained desperately poor and to survive needed income from all family members. Massive strikes broke out
SOCIETY The Gilded Age witnessed an unprecedented accumulation of wealth. Class divisions became more visible. Upper class families built mansions, especially in Newport, Rhode Island. By 1890, the richest 1% received owned more property than the remaining 99%. Meanwhile, much of the working class lived in desperate squalor, sometimes in dark, airless, overcrowded tenement houses. Jacob Riis, a Dutch photographer, exposed these horrors in a film essay called How The Other Half Lives that shocked Americans.
POLITICS Americans were deeply proud of their democracy and broad voting rights, which most countries in the world didn’t enjoy. In government as well as in the court system, corporations wielded immense influence as lawmakers and judges held stocks in the companies they were supposed to oversee and sided with businesses. In NYC, the leader, William Tweed and his cronies, were infamous for plundering the city of tens millions of dollars, keeping power by promising the city’s immigrant poor jobs and housing. Voting, meanwhile, reached all-time highs with 80% of the country casting a ballot in presidential elections. Still, the needs of the public were often ignored in favor of corporate interests.
IDEAS Circulating around the country at this time was the idea that society was and should be built around the concepts of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. Specifically, corporations and their apologists applied Darwin’s Survival of the Fittest biological concept to the social order of the day, arguing that the big corporations had emerged powerful not because they were favored by governments but because they possessed inherent virtue. Even 2 massive depressions didn’t shake the view that the poor were responsible for their fate. Charities divided their loyalties between the deserving and the undeserving. Meanwhile, a rising crop of anarchists, such as Emma Goldman, and socialists emerged, challenging the system and sometimes resorting to violence and strikes.
AFRICAN AMERICANS Black Americans saw the rise of the KKK absolutely destroy their political lives in the South. A new system of segregation, called Jim Crow, created a caste system whereby Black Americans were excluded from much of the joys of American life and relegated to a status of second-class citizens. When it came to voting, intimidation and poll taxes brought black voter registration in Mississippi down to just 7%. Northern politicians, racist themselves, and fearful of upsetting the Southerners in their respective parties, stood idly by.
Big Concept The major trend of the Gilded Age was… And what did this lead to…