The Gilded Age: America’s Wealthiest and Most Corrupt Period

The creation of the national market is one of the best things that happened not only to america but to the entire world. Lots of new technologies were invented during this time period like Carnegie Steel process however, as society in america started to fall depression began to rise. Starting in the late 1860’s to 1896 the “Gilded Age” is known as the most corrupt period in America because big business owners took complete control of the government and people’s personal individualism while they were just trying to get their land and freedom back from the Robber Barons.

The richest man and also the most ruthless was John D. Rockefeller. He got his money by starting an oil company and could easily knock out his competition with hit incredibly low prices. George Rice was one of the many people ruined by Rockefeller. Another rich and powerful man that became more of a philanthropist near the end of his life is Andrew Carnegie. He got his money from the steel industry by creating a new and faster way to smelt steel. There’s something that makes him different from all the other monopolist though. He was poor as a child and his mother had to fight so hard everyday to feed her children. He knew what it felt like to be poor so he had a little sympathy for his workers. In an article called “Wealth” Carnegie says,”The man of wealth thus becoming the mere agent and trustee for his poorer brethren”. He was someone who wanted to help others, not always hurt them.

These men and many more had complete control of the government. They were seen as “The Bosses of the Senate”, drawn by Joseph Keppler. If they wanted to do something illegal all they had to do was bribe the government so they would look the other way. They could do whatever they wanted, including taking away someone’s individualism. After the rich became the bosses of everything David A. Wells said, “The result has been that the individualism or independence of the producer in manufacturing has been in a great degree destroyed”. The monopolist held all the power and the people had no say.

Around 1887 a union was formed by George E. McNeill against the “railroad king”. George said, “He can control legislative bodies, dictate legislation, subsidized the press, and corrupt the moral sense of the community”. The rich really did have all the power and could do whatever they wanted to the people and land however, the people could not stand for that any longer. A year before “The Problem of Today” was published there was a disturbing event that happened that cause a pause and dispute in society. The Haymarket Riot was a protest formed by the labor leaders that ended with some protesters throwing a bomb and killing 8 people. This was a shameful and tragic event that the unions couldn’t defend. A few years after this event and the public calmed down, the People’s Party Movement was created and they said their goal was to, “We seek to restore the government of the Republic to the hands of ‘the plain people’ with which class it originated”. People wanted their freedom again, and they didn’t want to fight with violence for it again.

The Gilded Age is known as the richest and most corrupt period in America. It wasn’t until the end of the era that the rich saw they were no better than the poor, that they all were still people not gods. Their big businesses and desire for money is what clouded their judgement and made them ruthless people.