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American Imperialism

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Since its inception, America as a nation has developed and progressed according to trends of change that collectively define an era. Like all other eras, the time period of 1875-1925 experienced growth, changes, movements, and new ideals. It is the way that these changes came about that defines this era. Americans started to push for changes in many arenas of life that were previously unchallenged. New experiences and opportunities were also presented to America that caused tributaries in the former American ideal. These pressures for change could not be ignored and thus America continued its maturity in a new and unique manner. The changes in the American sphere of life and the development of greater organization, the largest underlying theme of the time period, facilitated the surgence of new foreign and military policies, urban reform policies, economic reform policies, neo-federalism especially in dealing with business, social reform policies, and the quality of life.

The period from 1875-1900 was considered the "Gilded Age". On come the no-name presidents. There is a reason though, why these presidents were no-name presidents. It is because all the power that the presidency gained from Lincoln, was lost during reconstruction. Most things in American life were considered to be things that the government, especially the president, should not touch. The laissez-faire philosophy was in full force. The lack of interference allowed the giants like John D. Rockefellar, Andrew Carnegie, and J. Pierpont Morgan to rise to almost divine status. This is where organization comes to play. Business began to realize that by organizing their power and joining together in bonds such as cartels, later pools, and finally trusts, that they could maximize the exploitation of the growing American population. With this fusion of power and the creation of megacorporations, abuses in the course of industrialization concerning labor and the environment developed. This reaction to the weak central government led to the opposition of these abuses. It is a natural pattern that opposition would occur, but the fact that organized opposition began to grow is what separates these resistance

s from the oppositions of the past. Immigration reaches its peak during the gilded age and shifts from the "old immigration" (northern & western Europe) to the "new immigration" (southern & eastern Europe) over time. The immigration was considered not to be easy to assimilate, and therefore a bigger problem than before. Nativist developed, as immigrants increased the urbanization problems and formed ethnic ghettos throughout the city while competing for jobs and working at lower wages than native-born citizens. This immigration brought on an increased fight for labor power, urban machines for maximizing the immigrants' large collective power, another form of organization, and plans for urban reform especially the 'Wisconsin idea", and the city-manager plan.

All the reforms suggested to remidy these problems are known as progressive reforms. Progressivism is what the time period is most known for. A major feature of the progressive reform, is that a great deal of it came from the middle-class. A middle-class reform carries a great deal of weight, and also means that it is not a great class struggle, but that a higher class is looking to improve soical injustices. Progressivism is a general term that encompases the reforms of women's movements, granger movements, labor movements (including socialism), racial movements (pro and anti-black), nativism movements, moral/religious movements, and anti-trust movements. Later on, at the national government level, Theodore Roosevelt became the first true progressive president and brings to the forefront the idea of neofederalism, the square deal, and the new nationalism (later). He started to strengthen the national government and the presidency which was continued eventually through to Woodrow Wilson and his New Freedom. The key to progressivism is that all of these reforms were organized from the local level of labor unions and other resistance



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