Growing the American Identity in a Way to be a Country That Supports Liberty In And Out of The United States
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After the Civil War, America was at a crossway; the previously divided nation had been reunited, slavery had been ended, and America started to revolutionize from the agricultural society of small producers into an urban society, into a big factory business. The economy of the country grew at an astonishing rate. The thirty-five years between the end of the Civil War and the end of the nineteenth century, the Gilded Age made the Americans the most industrialized people in the world. This economic phenomenon was unparalleled in history. There was a huge growth in different industries. “The U.S. Patent Office, which had recorded only 276 inventions during the 1790s, registered almost 235,000 new patents in the 1890s” (Shi and Tindall 622). As several new technologies have been introduced, new ways of living and working have been established. Inventions such as electrical power and the telephone permitted the construction of the railroad to get across the United States.
Modern and tall buildings have been constructed in cities, and they stood as symbols of power and the achievement of the American dream, and a skyscraper in Chicago, which was completed in 1885 and was the first building in steel usage was an instance for that dream. While the United States was experiencing a huge growth of various manufacturing, an overwhelming improvement in inventions in multiple fields, a massive influx of immigrants that came into the country in search for better job, rapid changes in cities, a notable enhancement in transportation features, and a conspicuous success of western expansion, given the vote right for women, and fundamental shifting from being isolationist to being an internationally active, underneath all these great factors that led the United States to be the foremost of the world power, there were quite dark factors accompanied the era such as the emergence of elite class who looked down upon the other average Americans , destitution that become widespread, segregation against colored citizens, destruction the lifeways of Indian Americans, and imperialism and corruption.
America had transfigured into an economic powerhouse; however, the transfiguration had created unconditioned new divides in wealth, standing, and opportunity. The new business performs a mass production that helped in growth most of these factories because any specific position training was not required for a worker to get a job in a factory. That means there was a notable transfer in the direction of unskilled labor, and that opens a broad way for women and children to work in factories as well. Many farmers moved from the country to cities dreaming of finding their fortune. Most of these workers had to settle for difficult and dangerous low-paying factory jobs and uncomfortable, dirty city tenement houses and work at least 60 hours per week without any benefits. Likewise, the flood of immigrants from all parts of Europe entering the country seeking political freedom and economic prosperity made up a large part of the new workforce.
The American dream that brought them to the United States, much of it was being denied to the immigrants. Most of whom lived in poverty in overcrowded and unhealthy urban living conditions that led to waves of sicknesses, which spread quickly throughout the overcrowded poorly tenement apartments. However, the immigrants did have the right to vote and this meant political power to anyone who could move that vote in their favor. Hence, many corrupt politicians courted the immigrants vote as a means of winning an election. Immigrants were not the only oppressed group to gain political power in the Gilded Age; by 1877 Georgia had passed a law which taxed polling places, meaning that African Americans would have to pay money to place their vote.
This tax was just the first of a host of legislation that swept throughout the south and served to disfranchise African Americans by robbing them of their voice in politics in addition to the tax literacy tests were a common means of disfranchisement if you could not read, you could not vote because that well known that many of the former slaves have gone uneducated. If legislation does not work, lynching and political violence will terrorize them, and disfranchised African Americans were also subject to Jim Crow laws which enforced segregation by the late 1890s. “If whites walked along a sidewalk, blacks were expected to step aside and let them pass. There were even racially separate funeral homes, cemeteries, and churches. When a white deacon in a Mississippi Baptist church saw a black man in the sanctuary, he asked: “Boy, what you doin’ in there? Don’t you know this is a white church?” The black man replied: “Boss, I’m here to mop the floor.”
The white man paused and said, “Well, that’s all right then, but don’t let me catch you prayin’ ”( Shi and Tindall 668). African Americans were taken of most of the rights that were promised to them after the Civil War. in 1896, the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Plessy vs. Ferguson, which stated to separate but equal facilities and accommodations were legal under the Constitution. In fact, everything from schools to public restrooms, and railroad were changed to meet the standards set by the decision. Segregation was thereby legalized. While African Americans were being denied their rights as citizens, the Native Americans were being denied their right to the land. The settlement toward the west was continuing into territories that already populated by native Americans. The slaughter of the Buffalo by railroad workers and frontiersman caused the most deeply damage to the Native Americans who depended on the animal as a major source of food, clothing, and shelter. Those Native Americans who survived were forced to live in reservations with the lower economic value found by frontier speculators. That is what the white upper-class people wanted to see the negative Americans because, in their view, they were a bunch of barbers.
Gilded Age was a period flowing with corrupt political systems. Therefore, robber barons who developed the prestigious empires in the united states across various industries including railroads, oil, steel, and sleeper cars dominated the scene in both the local and federal governments. That precisely what the letter that was sent by the governor of Illinois to George M. Pullman, President Pullman Palace Car Co., Chicago exhibited “ It seems to me that you would prefer to relieve the situation yourself, especially as it has just cost the State upwards of fifty thousand dollars to protect your property, and both the State and the public have suffered enormous loss and expense on account of disturbances that grew out of trouble between your company and its workmen”( Altgeld, John Peter ). George M. Pullman made a town named after himself and that would be Pullman Illinois where his factory was. Pullman had figured out that if he built a town for his workers, he could control costs, so workers wouldn’t really receive their full payment; in contrast, they would take out their rent and money for their foods and give them coupons, and Pullman really controlled the town hardcore, including freedom of the press and many of others.
After the economic recession, it is called the panic of 1893, George Pullman’s business has been affected; he was not going to be making as much money that he was used to making. Therefore, in order to keep his profits at where they were, he decided that to cut the wages of his employees at the Pullman Palace car company, which was what the name of his company, and he decided that he would keep the rent amount, and the same amount of work. In 1894 workers boycotted and refused to work and rallied against any railroads that use Pullman cars over 250,000 workers went on strike and railroad traffic was severely affected. Notably, US troops were called in to crush the strikers and return the railroads to working order. The Pullman Strike was also a failure many of the organizers were imprisoned and many of the laborers were blacklisted from future work in the railroad industry. The Pullman Strike was quickly broken up by government soldiers, showing proof of the United States government’s sympathy for big business legislators.
In 1893, the western frontier was officially closed for the previous 300 years of its existence the dominant fact of American life had been the expansion, but a new frontier was just beginning as economic prospects around the world led businessmen to seek new markets beyond the borders of the United States. Albert Beveridge, a Republican senator from Indiana, was one of the major proponents of this imperialism. He stated in his speech of the march of the flag in 1898, “Shall the American people continue their resistless march toward the commercial supremacy of the world? Shall free institutions broaden their blessed reign as the children of liberty wax in strength until the empire of our principles is established over the hearts of all mankind?” (Beveridge, Albert J, par.2).
American manufacturers that had been producing lots of goods needed to find new markets and to protect the American interest and to dominate trades in the Pacific, the navy bases must be established overseas; moreover, it was known by many that American Christianity and American identity were synonymous and could not be an American without also being Christian. They believed that it is an American holy mission to spread Christianity over the earth. Therefore, the stronger race, which is white should take control of all other weaker races. In 1887, the US Navy established a base at Pearl Harbor on the Hawaiian island of Oahu; by 1893, the government of Hawaii was overthrown, and it was soon annexed is a territory of the United States. However, it was not until 1898 that the U.S. truly displayed its new power just off the coast of Florida.
Spain was busy suppressing a revolt in its territory. Thereafter, the Spanish-American war that began in 1898 that dealt with issues involving Cuba and in acquisition territories from Spain, was only four months war, but it introduced Americans to a hero who would be a constant factor in the years to come as assistant secretary to the Navy. Theodore Roosevelt, who was assistant secretary of the Navy and would later become a president of the United States organized the ships that defeated the Spanish fleet and cleared the way for the U.S. occupation of the Philippines. Roosevelt then organized the U.S. volunteer cavalry regiment nicknamed the Rough Riders because of their formidable fighting abilities. Roosevelt led the regiment in the Battle of San Juan Hill and won a decisive victory over the Spanish army as a result of the Spanish-American war. Cuba became a protectorate in Puerto Rico the Philippines and Guam became the United States. Imperialism that most Americans believed was leading the united states to build its empire.
Nevertheless, an organization called the anti-imperialist league that was founded after the Spanish-American war had ended was against imperialism. The anti-imperialist league was a group of people who believed that American first. They believed in being isolationist, saying the United States should just isolate itself and not to be taking care of its own problems and not worrying about the rest of the world. Especially, the Philippines which had been Spanish ownership fell into American control. What was assumed by some of the anti-imperialists that the Philippines would be given its independence, but rather than that happened, there was a brutal guerrilla war against the invasion of America which caused many deaths in both sides? “We demand the immediate cessation of the war against liberty, begun by Spain and continued by us. We urge that Congress be promptly convened to announce to the Filipinos our purpose to concede to them the independence for which they have so long fought and which of right is theirs” (“Platform of the American Anti-Imperialist League”).
Anti-imperialists argument was sharper against American involvement in the Philippines than any other involvements in the region. They saw that imperialism altered the American identity from being a country that supports liberty and work for it to be a country that strived severely to establish an empire by violating other people right to live independently.
Gilded Age is an era that can be seen in many angles. When the angle of the industry is examined, it is a phenomenal period of time because the inventions and innovations that led the economy to growth speedily and set the foundation of modern and powerful America that presented the United States as a leader of the global power. In fact, the unique about the gilded age was a development that other nation could have achieved within a century, Americans accomplished it within two decades. Meanwhile, the majority of the working population was living in desirable, dirty apartments struggling to barely feed their families while greedy businessmen and corrupt politicians lived in exquisite homes, spending their times with luxurious mirth. Besides exploitation and poverty, the ethnic had become law segregation and taking native American land had known as expansion. The growing imperialistic element in these wealthy class made them believe deeply that they are the superior nation who are limited by a certain sort of fictional power to bring civilization to the less developed people in and out of the United States.