At the turn of the XIX-XX centuries, there was a fundamental change in the paradigm of economic and social development of the USA. The leading countries of the world entered a new stage of their development - monopolistic capitalism. The formation of international monopolist community divided the world into spheres of economic influence. The run through economies of the world dictate certain economic (and often political) conditions and form the global economic environment. Leading industrial power in the world was in the hands of the United States. For several decades after the Civil War, 1861-1865, it made a huge leap in the economic development, which allowed the country to come out on top of the world in terms of industrial and agricultural production. Between 1865 and 1901, America was on the way of the whole Reconstruction that touched all spheres of its life. On the one hand, after the Civil War, there was a rapid economic development of the United States; on the other hand, this triumph had some undesirable consciences.
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Historians call the end of the XIX century a time of strong industrial development of the United States. Mark Twain dubbed this era Gilded Age. The most secure class of American society bathed in luxury, but did not forget also about philanthropy, which Carnegie called the Gospel of Wealth, supporting thousands of colleges, hospitals, museums, academies, schools, theaters, libraries, orchestras, and charities. For example, John D. Rockefeller donated to charity more than $500 million, which accounted for more than half of his total income. An unprecedented wave of immigrants brought to the United States not only labor for American industry, but also created a variety of ethnic communities, inhabiting poorly populated western territories. It is believed that the modern American economy was built in the era of Gilded Age. In the 1870s and 1880s respectively, the economy as a whole, as well as wages, wealth, national product, and capital in the U.S., grew at the fastest pace in the nations history. By the early twentieth century, per capita income and industrial production in the United States were the highest in the world. Per capita income in the United States doubled the German and French, and 50% - the British. In the era of technological revolution, businesspersons built in the Northeast U.S. new industrial cities with town-owned factories, which employed salaried workers from all over the world. Multimillionaires, such as John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Mellon, Andrew Carnegie, John Morgan, Cornelius Vanderbilt, and Astor family, acquired the reputation of the robber barons. The workers began to organize small unions, such as the American Federation of Labor.
The period between 1865 and 1920, in the U.S. is also characterized as a period of concentration on population, political influence, and economic activity in the major cities. In 1860, there were only nine cities with population of more than 100,000 people, and by 1910 there were already fifty. The first twelve U.S. presidents were born in the country areas, and between 1865 and 1912 the presidents were representatives of the city business.
Industrialization and urbanization reinforced each other. Industrialization, however, has negative sides such as poverty, brutal exploitation, and slums - exacerbated by rapid growth, the difficulties of government regulation and corruption of the city authorities. At the same time, overcrowding and unsanitary conditions of American cities were the cause of the spread of mass infections such as dysentery, cholera, and typhoid fever. This is just the first example of the fact that changes in the American society were not beneficial.
After the Civil War, there was restored political unity of the U.S., destroyed the slave system and the rule of planters, and accelerated land settlement of the West. All this contributed to the rapid expansion of the U.S. domestic market; thereby, significantly speeding up of the development of capitalism in the United States. However, as Marx pointed out, in the United States capitalist economy and the associated enslavement of the working class were developed faster and in a more cynical way than in any other country (Digital History Home, n.d.).
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Hamilton first started talking about the need for active government promotion of industry, commerce, and agriculture in order to create a stable domestic market. Arguing with the ideologues of Agricultural Development of the United States, with those, who are guided by the increased exports of agricultural products in exchange for manufactured and other goods, Hamilton argued that such a course would put the United States in relation to other powers. Source of wealth of the nation, stressed the Minister of Finance, was in its natural resources, which should contribute to the development of domestic manufactures. The growth of cities will provide the market for the goods produced by farmers and plantation owners that, according to Hamilton, was to protect agriculture from the effects of these crises and fluctuations in the foreign markets.
Though the economy in the U.S. had been significantly developing, this had not very favorable consequences. The point is that acceleration of the concentration of production in the cutthroat competition soon led to the first in the U.S. monopolies (mainly trusts). Monopolists artificially raised commodity prices and faster enriched themselves at the expense of the American people.
At the dawn of the 1890s, population began to ripen protest against the oppression of the monopolies. Disgruntled farmers formed the backbone of the Party, but populist ideology limited the scope of its influence. In the cities, unions gradually sought concessions from the employers, who, in the fight against the strikers, resorted to using scabs and federal troops. Particularly brutal exploitation underwent the immigrants, who rushed to the United States.
Another side of the victory of the American way of development of capitalism in agriculture led to a further stratification of farming. The bulk of farmers becoming entangled in debt fell quickly into bondage of the rich American bankers. Many farmers could not stand the competition of large farms and went bankrupt.
Another example of changes that actually were not beneficial is the abolition of slavery that did not bring the real emancipation of blacks. Deprived of their land, they became powerless tenants, sharecroppers. In the U.S. racial discrimination was again intensified.
The subjugation of the States to negro domination would be worse than the military despotism under which they are now suffering. It was believed beforehand that the people would endure any amount of military op-oppression for any length of time rather than degrade themselves by subjection to the Negro race. Therefore, they have been left without a choice (Cobbs-Hoffman, 2011, p.7).
Thus, after the end of the civil war, the situation of the majority of Americans, who fought against the slave owners, continuously deteriorated. American people, who gave the world an example of the revolutionary war against the feudal slavery, were in the newest capitalism and wage slavery (Digital History Home, n.d.). Just released from slavery, it may be doubted whether as a class they know more than their ancestors how to organize and regulate civil society (Cobbs-Hoffman, 2011, p. 56).
The rule of the big bourgeoisie was established in the United States. Since then, solely a small group of major financial bigwigs in New York Wall Street decided the main issues of American policy. The rapid development of capitalism after the Civil War made the United States a powerful country in the late XIX century, that, with other capitalist countries were among those young imperialist plunderers, who first began to struggle for the re-division of the world.
The collapse of Reconstruction had enormous costs for the African-American population of the South. Arguably, its failure also postponed the economic and social recovery of the entire region until well into the twentieth century (Cobbs-Hoffman, 2011, p.8). However, all the above-mentioned changes of Reconstruction, albeit with errors, gave impetus to the development of the country in all directions; yet, brought it to a dominant position in the world.