Looking back in history at The Victorian Era, many events occurred in which shifted the life of America and the world as a whole. This era took place from about the middle of the 1800s to the beginning of the 20th century. Within this time frame, the Victorian culture experienced many challenges, especially involving race, gender, and immigration. In this paper, I will discuss with you the features and beliefs of the Victorian culture, the hardships that arose in this era, and the solutions to those problems, and the effects it had on American life.
Beliefs and the way of life played a major role in how life shifted during the Victorian Era. Society was based on social class determined by one’s wealth. Anglo-Saxon Americans were considered the vast majority of those living in America at this time. There was competition in society between the wealthy and middle class (White, 2017). The wealthy upper class started to urbanize with the passing of the Homestead Act in 1862, allowing them to move to the west and acquire land (“Primary Documents in American History”). The economy took a turn and started blooming rapidly when the Industrial Revolution took off. At this time through the second industrial revolution in 1870, technology grew and manufacturing factories became very popular (“Second Industrial Revolution”). The Victorians showed a strong work ethic, as men, women, and children started working in these factories. Political, social, and economic issues also started to arise because of the southern states of America favoring slavery, and the northern states trying to abolish it. As this issue continue growing, it eventually led to the civil war.
Major challenges arose to Victorian Culture in the late 19th century, such as immigration, race, and gender issues. As the Industrial Revolution took off, immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe brought many hardships, especially for the middle class (Marmorstein, 2013). The middle class had to fight for jobs as immigrants moved in and settled at these poor-paying jobs. These jobs were unsafe, had long hours, and women and children younger than 15 were pushed to work in these conditions to work alongside men (Marmorstein, 2013). Women eventually started leaving these unsafe jobs, switching to prostitution which became very popular in this era. As these unsafe conditions for the middle class continued, they began rioting against them leading to a major increase in crime and disease among the nation. Among these, racial issues leading up to the civil war took place in 1861, which concluded in the northern states beating the south and turned to African Americans starting to become a part of real society.
Effects that problems of the Victorian culture faced and the solutions they brought, led to a huge impact on how America revolutionized into what it is today. After the civil war came the reconstruction period to help rebuild the south. In 1865-1870 the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments rose to abolish slavery, give citizenship to all born in the United States including former slaves, and give African Americans the right to vote (Marmorstein, 2013). This was a huge shift in America, as we started seeing equality spread across the nation. Labor unions started forming to fight against the harsh conditions of middle-class jobs, which eventually allowed for shorter workdays, more safety, less crime, child labor, and prostitution (“Impacts of the Industrial Revolution”). However, women began fighting back for their rights due to not being valued even remotely close to men. They brought upon the Woman’s Property Act in 1882, allowing them to own property and keep their own wages (“Married Women’s Property Act 1882”). The middle class was also able to start buying their way to power with the development of the industrial revolution and the economy being more based on consumerism.
In conclusion, the Victorian Era shifted America into a new society, with economic growth, production of many manufacturing goods, including iron, and race and gender equalities. This paper has informed you of the features and beliefs in the Victorian culture, the hardships that arose in this era, and the solutions to those problems, and the effects they had on American life. The progression continued after the Industrial Revolution, but it was the start of African Americans becoming a part of society and being real Americans. Women were able to start working and eventually owned their own rights as well.