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Positives and Negatives of the Gilded Age

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Between the 1870s and 1900s, the United States underwent major changes that led to the increase and growth of big businesses. This was a big turning point for the United States. This led to our economy becoming one of the best in the world. Some things that led to this increase in industrialization were technological advances, an abundance of natural resources, population growth, and improved transportation.

First of all, this industrialization period, also known as the Gilded Age, had some positive and negative sides. One great thing that happened during this time was the technological advances. One of the most popular technological advances was the telephone. This invention by Alexander Graham Bell blew away the telegraph. This invention opened communication worldwide. This was very important during this time because it allowed people to communicate much faster, communicate far distance, and helped lessen the chances of miscommunication happening. It also saved many businesses money because they did not have to travel to get a message through which made businesses more efficient. Another important invention would be the first car made by Henry Ford. This happened in the later years of the Gilded Age. The invention of the car modernized the transportation industry tremendously. It allowed people to be able to travel wherever they wanted when they wanted a lot quicker. It also helped people make quicker trades. Not only did this help the people, but it boosted our economy. This led to an increase in oil and steel; This even led to an increase in motels for travelers. This was a very important step in history because this was a major stepping stone to future technology inventions. The last example would be the light bulb. This invention was one of the most important inventions in history. The light bulb allowed people to extend our work hours into the night and helped them travel safely at night. This raised our economy tremendously because it allowed the factory workers to work well within the night instead of just the day. Not only did this help boost our businesses and economy, but it changed how people lived day-to-day. There are so many more technological advances that happened during this time that led to where we are today.

Another reason the industrialization increased was because of our abundance of natural resources. America is very rich in natural resources. Some of our most popular natural resources are water, iron, coal, oil, and lumber. For example, water helped power many industrial machines. The natural resources of iron and coal led to us being able to build railroads, build buildings, and many other things. This also helped create and provide jobs for labor and miners. With the invention of the steam engine and the car, coal and oil became very useful. This created many jobs in the oil field industry. Our abundance of forests allowed us to have timber to build buildings, and it provided more labor jobs. All of these have something in common; The abundance of natural resources created many jobs for the American people. This helped boost our economy and allowed big businesses to grow.

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Another example of how the industrialization increased is because of population growth and improved transportation. During this time, our population grew tremendously. More jobs had been created, and more places to live. Our cities had transportation and the cities were growing. This led to urbanization throughout the country. Transportation played a major role in this because people that lived in the city were able to use transportation to get to work. This was very appealing to many people especially ones looking for a job.

Yes, so many positive things came out of the industrial revolution. However, what about the bad sides? The bad sides of industrialization and big businesses would include a phrase called Robber Barons. Many people picked up this term because it is known for the “greed, ruthlessness, and corruption that characterized the late nineteenth century industrialists and capitalists” (p. 551). These robber barons held industrial monopolies and an unbelievable amount of wealth. A man by the name of Johann Jakob Astor was a prime example. He owned a fur company that became one of the leading ports in a few countries. This became to be the first American business monopoly. Another man that is considered a red baron is Jay Cooke. He owned his own bank, and is known to have financed the civil war. He is also known to have triggered the panic of 1873. Andrew Carnegie is a name a lot of people know. However, he is known to be one of the top red barons. He grew up as the average man and supported workers’ rights, however, he destroyed unions. He could make steel at a lower price than anyone else. This caused a problem. All of these men played a major role in the industrial age.

Overall, this period in time happened to be one of the biggest turning points in United States history. Some may argue that there were negative sides to the industrialization period. However, the increase in technological advances, natural resources, population growth, and transportation show that this improved the United States a lot more than hurt it. The Gilded Age will be remembered for bringing America to be one of the leading economies in the world.

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Positives and Negatives of the Gilded Age. (2022, September 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 2, 2024, from
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