The United States emerged from a virulent, intense, and inhumane civil war and evolved into a new nation during this period. This transition was the culmination of political, economic, social, and cultural movements which transformed the nation. E Pluribus Unum – out of many United States, one nation; the United States was forged in the cauldron of these revolutions.”-Arnold Toynbee, A Study of History
The above statement is one that seems to be very true when looking back upon the history of the United States. From the years 1877 to 1933, this country went through many changes and transitions in the areas of politics, economy, society, and culture, which resulted in the birth of a new nation.
The period from 1877 to 1901 in American history was known as the Gilded Age, it was titled so because during this time things on the surface seemed peaceful and good but underneath lay corruption in the society. This era was marked by the end of Reconstruction of the South, as well as the presidencies of Hayes, Garfield, Arthur, Cleveland, Harrison, and McKinley. Significant events of this time were the 1878 Bland Allison Act in which the federal government bought silver and turned it into cheap money. The 1881 Chinese Exclusion Act which banned all Chinese immigrants coming into America because they were hurting employment opportunities for American laborers. The 1883 Pendleton Act that ended Jacksons spoils system in the government and made the Merit System based on intelligence and ability. The 1887 Interstate Commerce Act which regulated the railroads. The Sherman Antitrust Act which outlawed any combination in restraint of trade. And last, the Gold Standard Act of 1900 that made the American monetary unit based on gold.
As in any time period, significant technological advances were made from 1877 to 1933. Since the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution in America, new technologies and advancements are being made every day. This Revolution has transformed the economy and in turn transformed every aspect of American life. An important effect of the Industrial Revolution was the Agricultural Revolution, when new advances in farming were made. In the area of farming, the government passed laws and regulations that were significant in the Agricultural Revolution. Examples are the Hatch Act in 1887 that states that Agricultural experiment stations were to be placed all over the nation. In 1914 the Smith Lever Act which placed farm agents in every county in the U.S. The Smith Hughs Act in 1917, which granted federal money to states to create agricultural courses in high schools. And in 1929, the Agricultural Marketing Act was passed which created the Farm Loan Board. This Board was made to grant low interest, long term loans to farmers only.
The Granger Movement, the Greenback Movement, and the Silver Movement were also very influential in the shaping of present day America. But one of the most important movements in American history is the business movement, although the rise of business during this time is not called a movement, I feel that calling it a movement is appropriate. The rise of business and corporations is very significant because it shaped the American economy and helped lead America to become so successful. Corporations helped put capital into the economy and promote trade with other countries, thus strengthening diplomacy. Big businesses and corporations also provide employment. A major disadvantage of corporations is the possibility of a monopoly forming. This would hurt other small businesses as well as the economy. Influential leaders of the business movement are Rockefeller, Carnegie, Morgan, Armour, Hill, and Vanderbilt. Important results of this movement are the increase of national wealth, increase in standard of living, immigration, urbanization, standardization of American culture, nationalism, and economic problems (monopolies, trusts, etc.).
A major political event that transformed the nation was the First World War in 1914. The United States went into the war a debtor nation and came out a creditor nation, which resulted in the American status of a world superpower. World War I gave the United States a chance to show the world what they were capable of doing.
The last area of importance would be American society from 1877 to 1933. America has always been the home to many different ethnic groups. Immigration as effected American culture almost more than any other factor. As the melting-pot, many bits and pieces of different cultures and societies have helped shape American society. From 1901 to 1910, the United States saw the most amounts of immigrants enter the country than ever before.
After a while the government felt it was time to slow the influx of people coming into the country. Ways in which they did this was the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which banned all Chinese immigrants. The Gentlemans Agreement of 1907, which was an agreement between the U.S. and Japan that only a certain amount of Japanese immigrants were to be admitted into the country per year. From 1921 to 1929 three different approaches were made to regulate immigration based on the population of the nation.
This time period also saw many new inventions that would change American society forever. Such things as the telephone, radio, and television are things that the average present day American could not imagine living without. But a hundred years ago people were amazed at such things. Railroads were now able to bring people all over the country while steam ships could bring you all around the world and airplanes could let you fly. The horseless carriage turned into the automobile.
People were able to directly communicate with others hundreds of miles away by way of telegraph and later, the telephone. In 1920 the first radio was invented, which in a way, united the country. Soon after the television was invented and American society and culture became one and the same in every corner of the country.
In just 56 years, America transformed itself into a new nation. It is truly amazing how the United States could pick itself up from a Civil war into a superpower so quickly. The combination of political, economic, social, and cultural movements definitely transformed the country into one united nation