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c. 1871 - c. 1880
In United States history, the Gilded Age was used to describe the period of gross materialism and blatant political corruption between the Civil War and the turn of the twentieth century. The period takes its name from "The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today", a famous satirical novel by Mark Twain set in the late 1800s.
The Gilded Age was a period of economic growth. During this era, America saw unprecedented growth in industry and technology. In 1869, the Transcontinental Railroad was finished and opened the far-west United States. The Gilded Age was in many ways the culmination of the Industrial Revolution.
The Gilded Age saw the first real boom of new arrivals to the United States, approximately 20 million immigrants came to the country. As immigration increased in cities, poverty rose as well. Most of European immigrants went to mill towns, mining camps, and industrial cities.
Most of the working class lived below poverty level. The income inequality between wealthy and poor became more and more glaring. The wealthy considered themselves America’s royalty.
Upper-class women of the Gilded Age have been compared to dolls. Many young women worked as servants or in shops and factories until marriage. Many women during the Gilded Age sought higher education. Soon, women became increasingly knowledgeable, cultured and well-informed.
The Gilded Age, overlaped the Reconstruction Era and followed in the 1890s by the Progressive Era. Many of the problems faced by society, gave rise to attempted reforms in the subsequent Progressive Era.
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