The great change politically and economically.

The United States started growing tremendously in 1860. Agriculture becoming more mechanized, resulting in less work for farmers in rural areas. Families started moving to cities where the men could work in factories, and women and children could work as servants. This lead to extreme lifestyle changes that people were not prepared for. They came to the city looking for new opportunists with brighter futures.

With so many people migrating to the cities they quickly became over populated. Multiple families living in one house, each family only having one room apiece. Due to the population spike, landlords had high rates for rent. Men relied on their wives and children for additional income because they weren’t making enough from the factory work. Although this was not idea women, children, and African Americans were getting more opportunities in the work forced.

There was also high death rates during this time period mainly in young children. Horses pouted the streets with manure leaving the drinking water contaminated. There were high epidemic’s with different illnesses like typhoid fever, bronchitis and pneumonia. In Chicago during the 1890’s 10,000-12,000 kids died yearly. The poor needed assistance, and the settlement homes did just that. Settlement homes were dedicated to helping the poor with things from education to healthcare, along with a variety of other services in between.

Although politics have always favored the rich before the poor, the people of the Glided age did tremendous things by coming together and organizing institutions. Ethnic enclaves were developed which helped assist people who migrated here from southern and eastern Europe. The people’s party was probably the most beneficial during this time period because it gave the workers a voice, giving them better working conditions and introduced unions into the work force.

Keene, Jennifer D. Visions of America: A History of the United States. 3rd ed., vol. 2, Pearson, 2017.


16 thoughts on “The great change politically and economically.

  1. I really enjoyed reading your blog, it was educational as well as interesting. Your comment about children in this time period were dying at alarming numbers is an interesting concept to think about. There are some places currently that this problem is a reality (maybe not at the same alarming numbers but still a pertinent issue), but if it were to happen in the United States currently people would demand change as the issue is unacceptable. How much do you think children working in the labor force had an impact on the child mortality rate? Workplace incidents, the contaminated air in factories, etc. must have had some type of large impact compared to other causes. Again, great blog!

    1. The following question, which you asked in your blog post comment, really stood out to me: “How much do you think the children working in the labor force had an impact on the child morality rate?” This was the first thing that came to my mind when I read this blog post. Children were certainly dying at alarmingly high rates, but these same children were being forced into a work environment that wasn’t even considered safe for their parents. I understand that in many cases the parents to these children felt that they had no other option but to send their children to work. However, if these children were not sent to work at such young ages, maybe they would have had a fighting chance of survival. On top of the push to add children to the work force, I’m sure having multiple families in one household was no better. If one child was sick, it is possible that caused many others in that household to get sick. If the sickness was bad enough, one contaminated child could easily share that with many others that they were living with.

  2. I enjoyed your blog! It is crazy to think that these families had to worry about contaminated drinking water and given the death population for kids each year, this seemed to be quite a problem. Thankfully, settlement homes were founded, and the poor got some assistance. I agree that another important point is the influence the People’s Party had and how it gave worker’s a voice as you said.

    1. It is wild to think about the level of sanitation and disease problems that plagued cities after massive urban migration. While large cities still face these issues today in the United States, it was still much worse during the Gilded Age, especially in slums and areas with many tenements. Settlement homes helped relieve the poor by providing essential services, and the initiatives in researching “germ theory” and increasing sanitation measure helped create a better environment to live in for many. The City Beautiful Movement also had a lot of impact on the health and safety in urban areas.

      1. I agree, the level of street pollution was insane during this time period. While there are quite a few cities that are lacking in sanitation now, I would gladly choose life in one of them over life in the cities of the Gilded Age. I also agree that further research into the idea of bacteria and “germ theory” greatly aided city sanitation efforts, making people healthier and cleaning up the areas in which they lived.

    2. Kayla, I found your comment very similar to an idea I had about this blog. I traveled to Africa this summer and the struggles they face are quite like the families the author mentioned in the blog. Families in Zambia, Africa do not have access to clean drinking water, not sure where their next meal is coming from, and have a high death population due to lack of proper health care. It is amazing that America could come back from this point in history and better the lives for its citizens, but it is unfortunate that countries are still facing these difficulties.

  3. This was a very nice and detailed blog, I enjoyed reading it. It’s scary to think that families had to worry about the contaminated drinking water. Also, so sad to see how high the death population for children was each year. This had to have been hard for families, it’s a good thing that the settlement houses were founded for sure. Then they were able to get some assistance, and the help they needed to survive.

  4. I loved reading this blog, it was very detailed and informational. I couldn’t image living during this time. The lifestyle must’ve been so hard, especially for the working class. I agree with you on the importance of the third-party because it allowed for the working class to voice their opinions. It led to small unions and groups forming to help each other out, like settlement houses, which helped dramatically. The Gilded Age was a strange time of progress for our country. All in all, a GREAT blog.

  5. I could never imagine living in these kind of conditions, I can’t imagine living with my entire family in only one room. It’s to think that so many children were dying from illness because of disease from the contaminated waters. People came to the city for better opportunities, but it turned out to be a big mess. I really enjoyed reading your blog, it was very interesting and educational!

  6. I learned a lot of new, detailed information reading your blog. I can’t imagine how the people who migrated in hopes to have a better life and more opportunities felt when after arriving the population was so high that the work opportunities was less and less. Also, the fact that because it was becoming so over populated landlords could hike up the rent, women and children having to work in order to make ends meet and help contribute to their families income. This had to be a huge adjustment after thinking migrating from one area to another would be a positive change. Thank goodness for the working class speaking their minds and for the people’s party giving a voice in order to make some huge changes that positively changed the way things were done.

  7. Yes, I would not be able to survive living in a time period like this one. I know if things to day took a drastic change and resemed this time period we would have so much outrage from the people. Probably would satrr a purge. This chapter definitely made me appreciate some of the little things in life just a little bit more.

  8. Well written blog!
    Somethings we don’t even think about in our current times is garbage and waste in the streets.
    Simple Illness we get today that go away within a week killed people in this time. This was definitely a difficult time in our history!

  9. Thank you for the good blog! I think it’s great that we now have so many settlement houses in the United States. As you said, they aided the poor with education and healthcare. Without them, I think it would be much harder for the poor to find job opportunities due to lack of education. Thankfully, the settlement houses are a big help with this and give the poor a chance to progress in life.

  10. Great blog post. Just imagine living in that era. It really is remarkable how they did things back then. Advancements in technology played to be huge factors in society back in that time period. It is crazy how fast things can become obsolete.

  11. Great article! I kept imaging what it would be like to live with those conditions in many parts. People in third world countries are most likely dealing with a lot of the same issues such as: no clean water, illnesses, and hard laboring work.

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