Since its inception, America as a nation has developed and progressed
according to trends of change that collectively define an era. Like all other
eras, the time period of 1875-1925 experienced growth, changes, movements, and
new ideals. It is the way that these changes came about that defines this era.
Americans started to push for changes in many arenas of life that were
previously unchallenged. New experiences and opportunities were also presented
to America that caused tributaries in the former American ideal. These pressures
for change could not be ignored and thus America continued its maturity in a new
and unique manner. The changes in the American sphere of life and the
development of greater organization, the largest underlying theme of the time
period, facilitated the urgency of new foreign and military policies, urban
reform policies, economic reform policies, neo-federalism especially in dealing
with business, social reform policies, and the quality of life.
from 1875-1900 was considered the \"Gilded Age\". On come the no-name
presidents. There is a reason though, why these presidents were no-name
presidents. It is because all the power that the presidency gained from Lincoln,
was lost during reconstruction. Most things in American life were considered to
be things that the government, especially the president, should not touch. The
laissez-faire philosophy was in full force. The lack of interference allowed the
giants like John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, and J. Pierpont Morgan to rise
to almost divine status. This is where organization comes to play. Business
began to realize that by organizing their power and joining together in bonds
such as cartels, later pools, and finally trusts, that they could maximize the
exploitation of the growing American population. With this fusion of power and
the creation of mega corporations, abuses in the course of industrialization
concerning labor and the environment developed. This reaction to the weak
central government led to the opposition of these abuses. It is a natural
pattern that opposition would occur, but the fact that organized opposition
began to grow is what separates these resistances from the oppositions of the
past. Immigration reaches its peak during the gilded age and shifts from the
\"old immigration\" (northern & western Europe) to the \"new immigration\"
(southern & eastern Europe) over time. The immigration was considered not to
be easy to assimilate, and therefore a bigger problem than before. Nativist
developed, as immigrants increased the urbanization problems and formed ethnic
ghettos throughout the city while competing for jobs and working at lower wages
than native-born citizens. This immigration brought on an increased fight for
labor power, urban machines for maximizing the immigrants\' large collective
power, another form of organization, and plans for urban reform especially the
\'Wisconsin idea\", and the city-manager plan.
All the reforms suggested to
remedy these problems are known as progressive reforms. Progressivism is what
the time period is most known for. A major feature of the progressive reform, is
that a great deal of it came from the middle-class. A middle-class reform
carries a great deal of weight, and also means that it is not a great class
struggle, but that a higher class is looking to improve social injustices.
Progressivism is a general term that encompasses the reforms of women\'s
movements, granger movements, labor movements (including socialism), racial
movements (pro and anti-black), nativism movements, moral/religious movements,
and anti-trust movements. Later on, at the national government level, Theodore
Roosevelt became the first true progressive president and brings to the
forefront the idea of neofederalism, the square deal, and the new nationalism
(later). He started to strengthen the national government and the presidency
which was continued eventually through to Woodrow Wilson and his New Freedom.
The key to progressivism is that all of these reforms were organized from the
local level of labor unions and other resistence movements to the top level of
government organization in matters such as trust-busting.
successful in accomplishing many of its goals. It reduced corruption in many of
America\'s institutions. It gained privileges for working class people the in
reduction of hours in workweeks, got increasingly safer conditions, and higher
wages. The settlement houses provided help for the urban, immigrant poor and
also key information about the racial ghettos and quality of living. This led to
muckraking and other tools of bringing reform. Progressives got the 18th and
19th amendments passed granting prohibition and women\'s suffrage. Segregation,
which was considered a progressive movement, started to develop more and more
during this time period. The insurance system had its major modern roots in the
progressive era and city manager plans took effect as a result of progressives
in order to destroy all the abuses of urban life. Basically, the time period is
known for the changes that came about in it, and these changes are because of
With all of the changes going on within America, and the
prosperity and production that came with the industrial revolution, the
temptation to stray from the foreign policy that Washington set out a hundred
years before was very great. The Americans now entered a time where they were in
a position to compete with European powers, but the European powers had a jump
on the Americans in many areas, especially colonization of foreign territories.
In addition, the American frontier for the first time in history, no longer
existed. The frontier symbolized the freedom of a place to go when things got
boring. The frontier was a safety valve for people to go settle new territories,
and to find raw materials. Now with the frontier gone, the idea of taking
foreign territories looked like the best way to replace that frontier.
Increasingly, the Americans had started to flex their muscle in the affairs
around the world. Finally, it became clear that an imperialistic stance for
America would be necessary in order to keep up with all the other western
In conclusion, many changes in American life especially
industrialization forced America to react to the new situations being presented
to it. The people developed opinions on certain issues and actively pursued
change. This forced America to experience things that it never had in the past.
It marked the rise of America as a substantial world power, the removal from
isolationism, and the changing of the quality of life. The organized responses
of the era, are its stamp on American history, and are responsible for all the
changes of the era.