The United States is currently in the midst of a second Gilded Age, and it’s not just because of rampant income inequality. It’s also because of how we consume entertainment.

The the second gilded age quizlet is a quiz that will test your knowledge on the period of time in America.

Scholars believe the country can move away from its self-centered “I come first” mentality and return to the “we” culture of the Progressive Era. 

At Harvard University, Robert D. Putnam is the Malkin Research Professor of Public Policy. He has received every major academic award in his field. He received the National Humanities Medal from President Barack Obama in 2013 for “deepening our knowledge of community in America.” Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community is one of Putnam’s 16 books. His most recent book, The Upswing: How America Came Together a Century Ago and How We Can Do It Again, was published by Simon & Schuster in October.

Dragging America Out of Its Second Gilded Age

After passing through the Second Gilded Age, Putnam sees the United States prepared for a time of strong citizen engagement.

Economic inequity, cultural fragmentation, and social Darwinism characterized the Gilded Age in the United States. After a 65-year transition, a more communitarian “we” society emerged. When did that change begin, and how did it happen? The Progressive movement bloomed in the first decade of the twentieth century, based in protests against the late nineteenth century’s inequalities and self-centeredness. The only thing that brought this diverse group of people together was their belief that America needed to change. In his brilliant work, Drift and Mastery, the young Progressive Walter Lippmann grasped America’s crucial decision. Americans might drift with the Gilded Age’s apparently inevitable flow, or they could move to manage change in a different direction, according to Lippmann. 

A “moral awakening” was pursued through grassroots action during the Progressive Era. Describe the actions that people took. Frances Perkins, a middle-class Yankee, first became acquainted with Progressive ideas when a Mount Holyoke professor urged her to research factory working conditions. Perkins’ career ended as the first American woman cabinet member when she served as FDR’s secretary of labor after more than 30 years as a reformer. Tom Johnson came from a poor family in Virginia to become a successful young entrepreneur. Johnson, however, changed direction in his mid-30s, inspired by the reform spirit, to become the country’s greatest urban activist and reformer. Ida B. Wells was born into slavery and became a prominent advocate for Black rights after being kicked from a segregated train in 1884. In the early 1900s, she nearly single-handedly put a stop to the heinous practice of lynching. 

Dragging America Out of Its Second Gilded Age

Ida B Wells, a journalist and activist, in 1920. She advocated for anti-lynching legislation and attempted to join the women’s suffrage movement, but was rebuffed by the white organization’s leaders. (Getty Images/Chicago History Museum)

Economic equality, political comity, social cohesiveness, and community all improved during what you term the Great Convergence. Were you surprised by the alignment of those four factors? I was surprised, but I shouldn’t have been since the changes in each of those four areas had previously been recorded by studies. The striking consistency of change across all four was noted by myself and my co-author Shaylyn Romney Garrett. Our viewpoint on each of the four changed as a result of the simultaneity. 

What role did education and public high school play throughout this communist era? Few people are aware that the public high school was first established in the United States in 1910. For the first time in history, towns offered free secondary education to all of the town’s children. Surprisingly, this idea did not come from the top down, from national specialists, or from major cities, but from grassroots activists in tiny Midwestern communities with the greatest feeling of community.

Cooperation was a defining feature of the period, from the New Deal through the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Nearly half of congressional Republicans (47%) backed FDR’s nine major New Deal reforms: the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, the Agricultural Adjustment Act, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the National Industrial Recovery Act, the National Housing Act, the Works Progress Administration, Social Security, the National Labor Relations Act, and the Fair Labor Standards Act. The six main Great Society programs of President Lyndon B. Johnson—the War on Poverty, Civil Rights, Voting Rights, Medicare/Medicaid, government aid to education, and immigration reform—had 63 percent Republican support in Congress. In recent years, similar efforts, such as Obamacare or Trump’s tax changes, have received just 3% of the opposition party’s support.

For most of the twentieth century, America saw fast economic development and more equality, combining the best of our individualistic and communitarian inclinations in a difficult to attain equilibrium. People, particularly economists, often claim that we must choose between growth and equality. However, throughout the most of the “we” period, we enjoyed both development and equality. Extreme individualists create the notion that a hard choice between development and equality is inevitable. 

The pendulum started to swing in the late 1960s and 1970s, and the Great Convergence became the Great Divergence, ushering in a “second Gilded Age.” In a collective backflip, America entered the 1960s with a “we” stance and emerged from the decade with a “I” posture. It occurred so fast that it’s difficult to pinpoint a single reason, although the shift can be heard in popular music of the time. The Beatles sang in harmony about togetherness in the 1960s—I want to hold your hand; I get by with a little assistance from my friends—but a disillusioned George Harrison complained in their last album as a group in April 1970, “All I can hear, I me mine/I me mine, I me mine.” Six months later, in his solo song “God,” John Lennon said, “I don’t believe in Beatles/I only believe in myself.”

Since then, there has been a decline on all four fronts. Is there anybody who has had a particularly strong influence? It’s difficult to identify what’s causing what since the changes are so tightly synced, much as it’s impossible to tell which bird is leading a flock whose members all change direction at the same time while observing birds in flight. However, after examining the data as thoroughly as possible, we believe we have discovered two clues: First, economic disparity lags after the others, indicating that it is unlikely to be the cause; and second, some non-quantitative data suggests that cultural change may occur sooner than the others.

Despite the present Gilded Age, you seem to believe that Americans may once again join together and rebalance our individual and communal values. I have a positive outlook. Indeed, circumstances have made me even more hopeful that we are approaching a significant historical turning point since we completed the book in February. The Upswing’s title implies that it’s time to learn from a similar turning point more than a century ago. Grassroots public mobilization was crucial during the Progressive Era; young people concerned about new problems were crucial; political leadership was a lagging signal, and so on. Not surprisingly, they are the same trends we’re witnessing today. Personally, I am more hopeful about the future of our nation than I have been in a long time. 

This interview was published in American History in December 2023.

The what ended the gilded age is a question that has been asked for many years. The answer to this question is not simple, but it can be narrowed down to two factors.

Frequently Asked Questions

How did the Gilded Age affect America?

The Gilded Age was a time period in America during the late 1800s and early 1900s that was marked by great economic prosperity. It is often considered to be the last era of classical liberalism, which is characterized by free market capitalism, laissez-faire economics, and political pluralism.

What were 3 major problems of the Gilded Age?


What were 2 social problems during the Gilded Age?

The Gilded Age was a period of time between the 1870s and 1900s in which there were many social problems. These included poverty, child labor, environmental issues, and corrupt government officials.

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