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Major Transition Events from the 19th Century to the 20th and Their Influence on the Formation of Basic Civil Liberties and Values

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The transition of the 19th to the 20th century played an integral period in which a rollercoaster of events took place that shaped the modern political spectrum, the formation, and innovation of new technology, and granted basic civil liberties for many Americans. The timeline of events will discuss how the basic civil liberties of laborers and how the values have shaped over time and will display how the events starting from a 'prosperous' Second Industrial Revolution to the beginning of a 'Dark Era' known as ‘The Great Depression’.

After the Civil War between the Union and the Confederacy, then left with a ‘Reconstruction’ phrase to help rebuild the impoverished regions within the South and help ensure that the rights of the former slaves are preserved. Even though, there were many successes and failures to reform many of the social and political issues that eventually brought in the ratifications of the 14th and 15th Amendments, which extended citizenship and voting rights in addition, ensuring that African Americans will be protected. Foner adds, “Six southern states also adopted a grandfather clause, exempting from the new requirements descendants of persons eligible to vote before the Civil War (when only whites, of course, could cast ballots in the South). The racial intent of the grandfather clause was so clear that the Supreme Court in 1915 invalidated such laws for violating the Fifteenth Amendment”.

The Gilded Age marked an era of prosperity and innovations as a ‘Second’ Industrial Revolution was present as new technological advances and more practices of production such as steel production impacted society. With this in mind, railroads were being constructed and factories were starting to operate to increase the lines of production. According to Foner, “The country enjoyed abundant natural resources, a growing supply of labor, an expanding market for manufactured goods, and the availability of capital for investment”. Mass immigration was pouring into the ports of entry and rapid urbanization was flourishing in cities across America. This era however generated lines of corruption and many forms of harsh working conditions for the working class. Two significant events, the Homestead and Pullman Strikes created an impact to improve the quality of life within the work environments. These two strikes brought attention to try improving the deep issues within the industries. As the Homestead and Pullman strikes demonstrated, direct confrontations with the large corporations were likely to prove suicidal. The ‘defeat’ of the Homestead strike gave hope or inspiration to create more strikes within other corporations knowing that many workers have a voice to have better work conditions/wages.

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Progressivism is a much larger label, in which moral, social, political and economic reforms fall under. With these, it regulates trusts, restricts immigration or americanizes immigrants; insure pure and wholesome water and milk; scientifically manage natural resources; regulate child labor and sweatshops; outlaws the sale of alcohol. Foner states, “Other major contributors to Progressivism were members of female reform organizations who hoped to protect women and children from exploitation, social scientists who believed that academic research would help to solve social problems, and members of an anxious middle class who feared that their status was threatened by the rise of big business”.

The Scopes Monkey Trial is known to be a nationally-famous Tennessee court case in 1925, as the state law banned, in public schools in that state, the teaching of evolution. Even though John Scopes was found guilty, the verdict was invalidated. Although the verdict of trial was not of much importance, Scopes trial brought American awareness as it intrigued interest in the issue of teaching modern science and theology in public schools. This also helped with the divide between Modernist and religious Fundamentalists, as it took less literal approach to the Bible and supported modern science, as emphasized the division between rural and urban American values.

To conclude, there were still too many issues surrounding the society of the United States. Over the years, the era of progressivism included a series of reforms that sparked a new generation of activism and politics. The timeline of events showcases the highlights of how this great country went from a place worth risking to turn rags into riches to then having to start from ground zero by slowly improving the working conditions of laborers and shaping of new values.

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Major Transition Events from the 19th Century to the 20th and Their Influence on the Formation of Basic Civil Liberties and Values. (2022, September 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 26, 2024, from
“Major Transition Events from the 19th Century to the 20th and Their Influence on the Formation of Basic Civil Liberties and Values.” Edubirdie, 01 Sept. 2022,
Major Transition Events from the 19th Century to the 20th and Their Influence on the Formation of Basic Civil Liberties and Values. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 26 Feb. 2024].
Major Transition Events from the 19th Century to the 20th and Their Influence on the Formation of Basic Civil Liberties and Values [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 01 [cited 2024 Feb 26]. Available from:
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