The Gilded Age and The Industrial Revolution.


The Gilded Age is defined by the very rapid changes that were brought on by immigration, industrialization, and the challenges American society faced due to these developments. The quick advancements of the Industrial Revolution shook countless American homes, with new consumer products on the market and mechanical devices being made. This era was one in which wealth was made by some and aggressive poverty struck many others. It was an era that called for a revolution as the American people decided that these rapid changes needed to be slowed down a bit for these fast paced changes in their lives.

In many ways, the Gilded Age was the peak of the Industrial Revolution, when America shifted from an agricultural based society over to an industrial based one. Most of the major cities were than migrated to extremely fast, such as New York, Chicago, and Boston. Those that migrated were made up mostly of struggling farmers and immigrants looking for work. These cities were just plain unprepared for such rapid growth in population in such a short time. There wasn’t enough housing for all those who moved resulting in tenements popping up nationwide.

The conditions all around were poor or non existent. Medical care, sanitation, heating and housing were all poor and millions died from what have normally been preventable diseases. Out of the people who had migrated over, many had little to no skills, because of this they were willing to work long hours for little pay. The people that had wealth also had the most power in the Gilded Age, these people considered those with no skills ideal employees for their warehouses. Where the working conditions were very dangerous inside as well. With wage cuts, no benefits and long periods of unemployment on top of this, it was with no question the wealthy only had profit on their minds and very little else.

The first labor unions were established in the nineteenth century, but they really took off during the Gilded age. Unions are organizations that represented and protected workers. The primary reason they took off during the Gilded Age was the increased number unskilled and unhappy factory workers. Joining a union was incredibly risky, and some employers even hired spies to expose labor organizers, so they could fire them and put them on blacklists (16.3.3). Even though it was risky and dangerous, the reward outweighed the risk for those who joined. The benefits of having a team of people fighting with you and for you was enough for those who were brave enough to join.

Work cited

Keene, Jennifer D., Cornell, Saul, and O’Donnell, Edward T. Visions of America: A History of the United States, Volume2, 3rded. 2019.

11 thoughts on “The Gilded Age and The Industrial Revolution.

  1. Indeed the conditions of the Industrial Revolution were very poor, unless you had a large form of wealth. The formation of unions definitely helped develop rights for workers and we still see the lasting impacts to this day.

    1. I agree that we see the impacts of this time even today. Our workforce has so many rules and regulations now to protect workers such as safety and mandatory breaks. I can’t imagine working under the conditions people had to with no one to protect you.

      1. Neither can I however, even though that conditions are many times better now than they were we still struggling with selective issues. For example the wage of women compared to that of men.

  2. Its sad to think of a time where so many people flocked to one area for jobs that the cities couldn’t handle the population. The people who came to these cities were looking to make a better life for themselves, I doubt they wanted to live in the conditions that were the only thing available for them. I am thankful for the technology that came from the gilded ages and that continues today. I would not know what to do without some of these luxuries.

  3. It would have been a very big transition to live during that time especially as a farmer who was forced to learn new trades and live in a large city under poor conditions. The advances made during that time of course have contributed to the growth of society but such rapid change always has a cost.

  4. That would be a very big transition but without it we might still be sowing by hand or having a hard time making steel. All in all, no matter how crooked the monopolists were, the Industrial Revolution was one of the best thing to have happened on this planet.

  5. The Industrial Revolution had it’s major ups and downs, but without it, Detroit wouldn’t have been known as “Motor City”. Henry Ford was one of the biggest influences of the Industrial Revolution, bringing about the world renowned automobile. No need for me to explain what life would be like without cars.

    1. Yes I agree Henry Ford is a prime example of someone who was apart of the Industrial Revolution. The Model T was able to be mass produced because of the assembly line. He made more cars in a short period of time than ever done before.

  6. There were many different changes that American’s went through during the Industrial Revolution. The drastic change from being a farmer to working 12+ hour days in a factory must have been shocking. The introduction of machinery led to workers being paid less and working longer work days. The machinery didn’t help with the lack of job security either. The employers could treat the employees poorly because they knew that could find another unskilled worked to replace them quickly. The workers had to endure harsh conditions in order to support their families, and some of these include long hours, low wages, and a lack of safety. This led to the creation of Union’s. The workers wanted to be heard and change the harsh conditions. Employers were worried about the unions because they wanted to maintain their power over their employees. The workers used unions to try and change the harsh conditions they were going through.

  7. Without a doubt there is both good and bad to the industrial revolution. It is almost like you were either filthy rich or extremely poor, no happy middle! It was definitely a shame to the farmers who were negatively impacted by the changes. Just like in todays society, there are constant changes. You either follow the change or you will be left behind.

  8. The Industrial Revolution led to unfair working conditions because skilled workers weren’t needed due to new machinery. Since anyone could do the work, employers paid workers less money. Working conditions were also bad. In hopes of fixing these problems, people created unions.

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