The Gilded Age:
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
After the Civil War the things began to change drastically in the United States. The economy underwent rapid growth, there were numerous technological advances, people began to flock to the cities from the rural areas, and foreign policy became an important part of the United States government. However, along with these changes also came problems for certain segments of society. Reconstruction led to slight improvement for African Americans but it also increased racial tension. The role of farmers and labor were transformed due to industrialization and urbanization. Along with the arrival of immigrants came new customs and traditions, and altered the social dynamic of society. In the areas of culture, the newfound wealth generated an appreciation of music, art and literature on a more sophisticated level than before. The politicians that were in power during this time of massive change were generally thought of as corrupt, ineffective, and as putting the interests of the corporations above the people.
All of these things created an atmosphere that can be categorized into three main traits: the good, the bad, and the ugly. While those characteristics are common in any period in history, it seems to be particularly appropriate to describe the Gilded Age.
The Northern victory in the Civil War resulted in economic devastation in the South. Reconstruction was necessary but was met with stubborn resistance. The South may have lost the war but they were not going to freely comply with Northern demands. President Lincoln began the process of presidential reconstruction, but after his assassination the duty fell to Andrew Johnson. His approach was to humiliate the wealthy planters by requiring them to seek special permission to take the oath of loyalty to the Union. While he did...