Leonardo"s Notebook by Mattheus Mei

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

America's Second Gilded Age

Do people remember the Gilded Age, from text books in High School and middle school history? I'm not sure if people remember the gist of why it was called the Gilded Age. If something is Gilded, according to dictionary.com it is something of lesser appeal or value being covered up with something of greater appeal or value, usually gold. As a reminder of how that plays out in American History, according to Wikipedia, America's Gilded Age refers

"...to unprecedented wealth polarization in the U.S. and wasteful displays of wealth and excessive opulence of America's upper-class during the post-Civil War and post-Reconstruction era, from the 1870s to the 1890s. The wealth polarization derived from industrial and population expansion. Industrialization during this era saw unusually rapid growth of railroads, small factories, banks, stores, mines and other enterprises and dramatic expansion into highly fertile western farmlands. Ethnic diversity increased through immigration. Steamship and railroad companies promoted immigration by emphasizing the availability of jobs and farmland. The era overlaps with Reconstruction (which ended in 1877) and includes the Panic of 1873." (emphasis added)

This age also fostered high levels of Nativism. This gilded age ended in 1893 with a deep depression. Does it sound familiar? What's the old saying that if you don't learn from history your doomed to repeat it? Thankfully what followed was a period known as the Progressive Era which rectified the excesses of much of the Gilded Age and lasted until WWI cut the Progressivism short. Hopefully there won't be a World War to interrupt the next progressive era that, it is my hope, will be inaugurated with the next President of the United States.

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