The Gilded Age

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The Gilded Age
The purpose of this essay is to show how the Industrial Revolution of the Gilded Age contributed to increased problems in gender, race and class in the latter half of 19th century America. Mark Twain coined the term "The Gilded Age" between the years 1870 and 1900 America in reference to the gold gilding that became popular in the era, but also masked very serious social conflicts that arose across the country (Twain, 1996). Ultimately, with economic growth came wider income gaps and brutal social issues with gender, race and class that divided the country. Throughout the Gilded Age, swift financial growth simultaneously increased the size of the labor force, which in turn increased wages (Roediger, 1991). Given that these wages were higher than in Europe, people immigrated to America en masse, which then increased the overall poverty rates (Roediger, 1991). The Gilded Age also transferred industry from independent craftsman toward railroads, factory manufacturing and mining, which created less skilled and more regimented labor forces. This meant that people were forced to work under poor conditions, which stripped workers of their independence, which was the American way prior to the Industrial Revolution (Twain, 1996). These mass-production methods were created as offshoots of the steam engine with technical advancements expanding the size of workforces, making them larger and set up to accommodate more production, which created new jobs with a higher degree of division of labor. This reduced the level of workforce conditions as workers would be forced to work longer hours in less safe conditions for less pay. Ultimately, this was a problem which made it increasingly more challenging for a family survive on two working incomes (Roediger, 1991). As Larson described this aspect of the Gilded Age, "Some men choose to fill their brief allotment of time engaging the impossible, others in the manufacture of sorrow. In the end it is a story...