A Description of the Gilded Age Which Began During the Reconstruction of the South After the Civil War

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The Gilded Age began during the Reconstruction of the South after the Civil War and ended shortly after the conclusion of the Panic of 1893. This era of American history was known as a time of forgettable presidents, industrialization, depression and corruption. Between the years of 1865 and 1900 Americans witnessed the government Des inability to adequately solve issues, such as controlling monopolies and trusts, addressing the needs of farmers, regulating railroads, and enforcing the equal rights of African Americans (Doc. A). Until the Sherman Anti-Trust Act was instated in 1890, monopolies and trusts dominated the United States government (Doc. C). Monopolies such as the Standard Oil Company and the U.S. Steel Corporation were selling trusts to congressmen and other government officials to encourage the Congress not to vote against big businesses.

The Populist Party, who primarily protected the rights of farmers, disagreed with this, believing that the government had lost sight of how destructive these trusts and monopolies were to the country (Doc. H). Because the government failed to control monopolies until 1890, they continued to eliminate competitors by buying them out and raising prices, which was a main contributing factor in the depression in 1893.

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Mary Lease stated less corn and more hell, referring to the grievances farmers had after the United States government had ensured them that if they provided the government with a plentiful crop, in return the farmers would receive a greater profit, but instead, the government claimed it to be overproduction. This overproduction resulted in a very significant decrease in profit that the farmers would receive for their crops.

During this time period, farm life as American knew it, was beginning to deteriorate. Mary Lease also believed that the government was run by Wall Street and big business, and had no interest in the needs of the farmers. To help each other cope with debt, and reluctant support from the government, farmers formed organizations such as the Grange and the Farmers Alliance, which later evolved into the Populist Party.

For the first eight years that the Transcontinental Railroad operated it was no system of regulation. Each railroad station posted its own pricing, there had no standard national time system and long distance freights were often receiving rebates. Problems such as these occurred not only on the Transcontinental railroad, but on all American railways. Depending on where you loaded your freight on a railway, the prices fluctuated. Prices were also inconsistent for farmers who needed to ship small freights rather than large freights.

Rebates were also a component of railroad corruption; if a farmer had a large freight, the railway would charge him a certain price, then he would receive a rebate of the money he had paid. Until 1883, every town in America had its own local time. To avoid accidents and make it easier to schedule trains, the United States adopted a standard time. This divided the nation into four standard time zones: Pacific, Mountain, Central, and Eastern, with times that staggered, moving forward as you moved east. When Reconstruction ended in 1877, African Americans were forced to assimilate into the white American culture.

They were not instantly treated equally as W.E.B Dubois (Doc. BB) had insisted, but rather had to work hard to gain economic and social success and equality, as suggested by Booker T. Washington (Doc. AA). While blacks were attempting to achieve economic and social equality they were forced to be segregated from whites by the Jim Crow laws. This made receiving an education and being employed difficult. The Supreme Court finally attempted to take action to solve this problem in 1896 with the case of Plessy v. Ferguson.

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court ruled that separate but equal facilities were indeed constitutional as long as blacks and still had facilities equal to those of the whites (as stated in the fourteenth amendment Ð3Ð ̧Ñš equal protection for all citizens, except they would be separate. During all the corruption and focus on big business, the Populist Party stood up for the average American farmer, who was not cared for as closely by the Democratic or Republican parties (Doc. H). The Populist Party began as the Farmers Alliance which was an organization of farmers which had originated from the Grange.

The Populist or PeopleParty supported unlimited coinage of silver, graduated income tax, government ownership of public businesses, and the adoption of referendum. Despite the fact that the Populist candidate for the 1896 presidential election, James B. Weaver, did not win the presidency, he still received a substantial number of votes from citizens in the western states where farming was more prevalent. Even after the 1896 election the Populist Party still protected the rights of the farmers. The Populist Party eventually began to dissolve and became a part of the Democratic Party.

Throughout the Gilded Age, corruption and inequality constricted the ability of the United States government to sufficiently deal with the social and economic issues of the era. Despite the government laws, blacks were treated unequally, farmers were not protected, railroads were unregulated, and the government was involved in various trusts and monopolies. Big business and industrialization were the main concerns of the government during the Gilded Age not the farmers and African Americans who were suffering from debt and unequal protection of rights from the United States government.

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A Description of the Gilded Age Which Began During the Reconstruction of the South After the Civil War. (2022, Dec 21). Retrieved from


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