The late 19th and early 20th century was a very extreme time for the United States, mainly in the differences between the rich and the poor. Which is my thesis statement for this research paper. During this era the poor got poorer and the rich got richer, rarely was there a middleclass population. The rich people never paid attention to the poor; they were only concerned with themselves and their well-being. In this paper I will support this thesis elaborately.
The “Gilded Age” was a term used by Mark Twain to describe the late 19th century and the early 20th century. It brought change for the middle class people as well as the rich and poor (Hakim p. 9). Vacations became part of the lives of ordinary people for the first time. It was a time of extremes for the American population.
During this era there were not many people who made a whole lot of money. 1914 was the first year that any Americans paid an income tax. Only 1 percent of Americans were rich enough to have to pay income tax (p. 60). Most of the rich people were politicians who were corrupt and full of greed. Fat-cat industrialists stuffed themselves on profits from high tariffs, while poor farmers were excluded from the good life (p. 61). This shows how the rich gained and the poor lost.
During the “Gilded Age” the economy wasn’t stable, it was weak and changed frequently. When money was short in supply people who had money to lend could charge a lot of interest to those who wanted to borrow it—even though the price of other goods were falling (p. 65). Another instance in which the rich was greatly different from the poor was during deflation. While the rich rarely had debts, the poor were in trouble. Because the poor usually borrowed money, deflation lowered their income but they still had to payback loans at interest rates based on the old higher prices (p. 66).
The poor immigrants who came from other countries looking for a better life were faced with diff...