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Misconceived Progression: An Era For The Will

1674 words - 7 pages

To the mother concerned about feeding her child, the father ashamed of being unable to provide for his family. They are able to find hope in the Statue of Liberty, realizing that they too can reach the American Dream and can have a future worth fighting for. This icon represents the path to new beginnings and opportunities, but what it fails to mention in its grand impression is who is seizing the benefits of the new era. Before we can characterize the aftermath of the Civil War as a moment of regeneration for the United States, we must take into account those who were still left behind in the struggle. There were few individuals who benefited greatly from this time such as industrialists Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller.Yet there were still many more who struggled to survive. For one, there were the farmers, whose hard labor and solitude gradually took a toll on their lives. Second, working class Americans who worked in hazardous conditions but remained there for fear of losing their jobs. Lastly, you have African Americans who under the Thirteenth Amendment were free but still faced inequality and discrimination which limited their resources to achieve all the advantages that this new period had to offer. Although some managed to reach prosperity the majority were left with stagnant dreams because of the misconceived notion of the new progression.
By the end of the Civil War and the early 20th century, the U.S. underwent one of the largest and productive economic revolutions in history. Philosopher John Dewey states “there has been a revolution in history so rapid, so extensive, so complete.”1 Most manufacturing took place in industrial cities like New York, Detroit, Pittsburg and Chicago. People in search of security and a new start uprooted their lives and moved to the city. “Between 1870 and 1920, almost 11 million Americans moved from farm to city, and another 25 million immigrants arrived from overseas.”2 This growing population supplied the work force for mass production and distribution of goods. Among these were the leading business figures Thomas A. Scott, Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller, whose names defined America’s Gilded Age during the 1870s-1890s. With innovations in railroad construction, making of steel and oil these individuals managed to accumulate vast wealth and power. They succeeded because they had what Eric Foner, author of Give Me Liberty! An American History said would dominate society, and that was the passion for money.3 Although these businessmen accumulated more wealth than the rest of society combined, there were those few who contributed to the welfare of others. These philanthropist, Carnegie and Rockefeller, contributed to the common good of the country, which helped steer the U.S. in a positive direction after the Civil War. Andrew Carnegie believed that the best and only way to go about charity would be do donate while one is still alive. In his own words “ they have it in their power during...

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