The Importance Of The Gilded Age And The Progressive Era To The Development Of American Society

1049 words - 4 pages

The Gilded age and the Progressive Era are time periods that played an important role in the development of the American society. The Gilded Age is a period of American history between 1870 and 1900. This term was coined by Mark Twain in the late 1800s. By this, he meant that this period was glittering on the surface but corrupt underneath ("Learn About the Gilded Age"). The Gilded Age is well known for its political scandals and extravagant displays of wealth. At the same time, this was an era of major achievements in the industry and economy, which significantly changed life of American people. The Gilded Age was followed by the Progressive Era which lasted from the 1890s to the 1920s. Progressive Era is well known for its economical, political, social reforms and technological inventions. In my opinion, The Gilded Age had a more significant impact upon the United States than the Progressive Era because it gave rise to new industries, created transportation and communication networks which provided the infrastructure for further development of technology in the Progressive Era.
One of the most important achievements of the Gilded Age was the creation of a network of railroads including the transcontinental railroad, which connected the United States from New York to California, facilitating transportation across the continent. During the Gilded Age the length of all the railroads combined increased threefold ("Second Industrial Revolution"). This was significant not only because it decreased travel time from the eastern to western parts of the U.S and vice versa down from months to weeks and allowed people to settle the central United States, but also opened new areas for commercial farming and gave an economic boost to steel, coal, and train manufacturers.
The Gilded age is often called the Second Industrial Revolution as economy shifted from textile, clothing and leather production to heavy industry ("Learn about the Gilded"). Development of the steel industry was boosted by discovery of the Bessemer process. ("Second Industrial Revolution") Henry Bessemer and William Kelly drastically reduced the cost and time needed in producing steel from pig-iron. They found out that that blasting air through molten iron produced high quality steel. Steel was widely used in construction of buildings, because it provided good support for skyscrapers and tall towers. Cornelius Vanderbilt, an American entrepreneur who built his wealth in shipping and railroads, was one of the first people who used steel instead of iron to make rails. One of the hallmarks of the Gilded Age is an increased mechanization, or use of machinery to replace manual labor. People were looking for cheaper and more efficient ways to create better products. By utilizing machines one could increase efficiency of the workers and save time. Among industries that benefited most from the mechanization of the country were coal and train industry, because these two industries were those...

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