The Gilded Age is a period in American society (1870-1900) with rapid economic growth but also characterised by corruption, materialism, monopoly businesses and growing inequality.
The Gilded Age was a time of unbridled capitalism, with some business leaders becoming very wealthy through the consolidation of key industries into powerful monopolies.
The term ‘Gilded Age’ implies outer wealth was a mask for the inner corruption and inner poverty. ‘Gilded Age’ is a satire on the rich monopolists, who were accused of gaining wealth through monopoly practices, mistreatment of workers and corruption of the political process.
One of the defining elements of the Gilded Age was the railroad industry. Americans developed a love/hate relationship with the railroads. They transformed society enabling greater travel and economic growth, but they were also run by business magnates who wielded enormous power and could set high prices to farmers, suppliers and travellers. While the owners grew very wealthy, the industrial work was also very dangerous, with numerous accidents and relatively low pay. Read On…