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The Gilded Age a Part of Progressivism

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The United States has never been more capitalist than it was in the 1900s. The Gilded Age was apart of progressivism, a movement in the late 1800s that fought to end corruption in government and business. Robberbarons gained huge profit by paying employees low wages. However, The Gilded Age saw political change, the Social Gospel movement helped improve the lives of those in poverty, and the Hull House worked to help conditions caused by poverty. Therefore, The Gilded Age was a period of economic prosperity and political equality illustrated by different voting laws and movements helping the less fortunate.

The Gilded Age saw political changes such as the secret ballot that brought the downfall of political machines. Between 1880 and 1896, 90% of the states in the U.S.were convinced to accommodate a new ballot, similar to the one in Australia, which was a system of voting that listed voter options. The paper ballot integrated as a dominant voting method. The secret ballot caused political equality for all Americans because the ballot was anonymous and it prevented attempts to effect the voter by blackmailing and possible vote buying. The entire goal of the secret ballot was to reach the goal of political privacy. For example, political machines gave money to support businesses, immigrants, and the poor would return the favor for their votes. Political machines were very corrupt, they controlled tax rates and stole millions from taxpayers using fraud. For these reasons, the secret ballots were created so everyone could cast their votes without being threatened or pressured.

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The Social Gospel proclaimed that all true Christians should be concerned with the conditions of immigrants and other poor residents of the United States and should financially support efforts to help improve the lives of these poor urban residents. A movement led by a group of Protestant progressives in response to the social issues enlarged by the fast industrialization, urbanization, and growing population of immigrants in the Gilded Age. One of the movements biggest contributions to society was the creation of settlement houses. Settlement houses added numerous opportunities for less fortunate people, made up of access to education, free or inexpensive health care and free or inexpensive housing. The Social Gospel movement helped create economic prosperity for Americans because they gave out many benefits for the less fortunate Americans, which helped the country grow as a whole because the citizens were growing individually.

The Hull House in Chicago worked to improve conditions caused by poverty. Hull House was a progressive social settlement targeted at poverty reduction by supplying immigrants and workers with social services and education. To new European immigrants living in extreme poverty, the Hull House and other settlement houses provided housing, schooling, recreation and childcare facilities. There were about 70 people living in Hull House and running the house and its services cost the settlement over $26,500. The Hull House founded the idea of “Social Welfare” by giving out benefits to the less fortunate, which created economic prosperity by helping out the people in poverty when the government didn’t.


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