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Role of the Gilded Age in United States History: Argumentative Essay

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Throughout history there have been many different eras that had affected Americans and the world in many different ways. These eras had affected us in either a good way or a bad way. One era that had affected us tremendously was the Gilded age. The Gilded Age in United States history is an era that occurred during the late 19th century, from the 1870s to the 1900s. This time period was where gender roles were infamously strict. This era had affected both roles in different ways. Depending on your economic status, depended on what lifestyle you lived.

The Gilded Age was the start of the industrial revolution when America shifted from an agricultural society to an industrial one. “Farmers and workers formed the bulwark of anti monopolism and, although brave in their opposition, they were out matched by industries” (challenging the systems). This created massive population growth and urbanization. The rich and the poor had very different lifestyles. The poor men, children, women, and immigrants started working in these dangerous factories for long hours making barley anything, this making the rich even wealthier. During the Gilded age there was a huge gap between the rich and the poor. The wealthy lived in fancy homes, dined and ate expensive food. They showered their children and family with gifts or whatever they wanted. The poor were crammed into filthy tenement apartments. These homes were very tight and unsanitary. “Tenements lacked toilets, showers, baths, and even flowing water” (History of Gilded..). This was before the Tenement house act came out in 1867, stating that “Its required that tenement buildings have one outhouse for every 20 residents” (Life inside Ny). This act was an attempt to improve the living environments, However not many followed this act. The poor really had an awful lifestyle, while the rich were living their best life. “It was a world where those who controlled corporations could perpetuate gigantic fraud.”(major problems in). People who owned these factories profited an insane amount off of these cruel, dangerous, and unfair working laws. This all changed after “Muckrakers” started exposing this corruption. “Muckrakers is a term used to describe reporters who exposed corruption among politicians and the elite” (Gilded age Tale). These were journalists who got their name from digging through the horrors and “muck” of the Gilded age.

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Women and men roles were affected differently during this time period for many reasons. Wealthy white men were superior to everyone one in this era. They owned factories and controlled everything. Wealthy women were “eye candy” to the men, basically property. Men, If they wanted and education, they could get one, if they wanted to vote they could, unlike most women. The early 1800s and prior, women's roles were to cook, clean, take care of the children, and obey the men in their life. In the mid 1800s specifically 1848, the women's suffrage began. This is when women finally fought their rights for equality. The Gilded age for women was a new beginning. Women finally started to put themselves out there, experiencing greater opportunities for education and public involvement, either through work or through campaigns for social change and equality.

After around 35 years, this era soon came to an end. The working class would have to organize to improve their working and living conditions and make a change. This change consisted of lots of violence especially with each other. The violence was between the workers themselves as they struggled to agree on what they were fighting for. Some wanted increased wages and a better working environment, while others wanted to keep women, immigrants and blacks out of the workforce. There were also a large amount of strikes, like the railroad strikes. There was a pay cut and workers were furitated. The workers announced they’d prevent all trains from leaving until their pay was restored. The mayor at the time, the police and even the National Guard couldn’t stop the strikes that were going on. In 1893, both the overextended Philadelphia and Reading Railroad and the National Cordage Company failed, which set off an economic depression in America. Banks and other businesses went bankrupt, and the stock market plunged, leaving many millions unemployed, more people were homeless and hungry. In some states, unemployment rose to almost 50 percent and ultimate high in America. The Panic of 1893 lasted four years and left lower and even middle class Americans fed up with political corruption and social inequality. Everything changed after this and Their frustration gave rise to another movement called the Progressive Movement which took hold when President Roosevelt took office in 1901.

Throughout history there have been many eras this one being a major downfall in America. All types of people were affected during this time period. Women were fighting for equal rights, the poor and immigrants were suffering in a poverty cycle, and the rich were taking advantage of the poor. This era shaped and molded us to who we are today with the urbanizations that occured, fighting for the rights of women, and the laws that were made because of this era.


  1. Editors. “Gilded Age.”, A&E Television Networks, 13 Feb. 2018,
  2. Sherman, Elisabeth. “New York City Housing Was Absolutely Awful In The Early 20th Century [25 PHOTOS].” All That's Interesting, All That's Interesting, 29 Mar. 2019,
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