The Gilded Age was published in 1873 and was a satirical novel written by Mark Twain and co-authored by Charles Dudley Warner. The term “Gilded Age” was eventually used to refer to the decades from the 1870s to the 1890s. Many events took place during these times, for example, James Garfield was elected President in 1880 and was then assassinated in 1881 and Chester A. Arthur became President shortly after Garfield was assassinated, the Pendleton Civil Service Act took place in 1883, Benjamin Harrison was elected President in 1888, the National Farmers’ Alliance was formed in 1889, the Supreme court declared federal income tax unconstitutional in 1895, etc. The Gilded Age was chaotic, many people viewed it negatively, and some viewed the period in an optimistic way. Some of the positives were the growth of the middle class where they were able to afford to live a comfortable life and enjoy modern life during the Gilded Age. Another positive outcome during the Gilded Age was when middle-class women-led movements which were empowering to women.
For example, Florence Kelley had worked at Hull House and became the chief factory inspector for Illinois in 1893. She and other female settlement workers, settlement houses functioned as a supportive sisterhood of reform. In 1898, Florence Kelley formed the National Consumers’ League and urged stores to pay female clerks a better wage. The League would work for protective legislation regulating the hours and conditions for children and women. Back then women were shut out of male-dominated unions such as the American Federation of Labor or AFL for short, mostly because they thought that the employed women were taking the jobs of men who were the main source of income for their families.
Now, politics was a huge issue during the Gilded Age, the reason why was because there so much mayhem; though there were some pros when it came to politics during this era. Throughout the decades, when it came to politics for both parties, the Republicans and Democrats believed that the national government should not have any right to regulate corporations or protect the social welfare of workers. Neither party, therefore, courted the labor union vote. Many members of both parties embraced the doctrine of laissez-faire, which is the belief that unregulated competition represented the best path to progress. This means that the federal government should promote economic development but not regulate the industry. Once Grover Cleveland became the 22nd President of the United States, he embraced the belief that government must not meddle in the economy and opposed any public regulation of corporations. But, he also rejected providing any governmental help for those in need, vetoing the bill that would have given seeds to drought-stricken farmers in Texas, he warned that people should not expect the government to solve their problems.
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