Gilded Age Essay

Submitted By milkteamaknae
Words: 767
Pages: 4

During the late nineteenth century many people from all over the world came to America to start a new life because they expected many of its potential and opportunities. However, behind the glorious mask of a massive and powerful industrial giant, America held within it numerous problems that were caused by the influx of immigrants, urbanization and political corruptions. This is why Mark Twain has referred to this period in history as the "Gilded Age", a time that bears many ugly inadequacies albeit its magnificent appearance.

In contrast to thousands of immigrants' misconceptions of having a better life in America, they all encountered much difficulty in adapting to the new language and culture. Many of them had lost their lives on these voyages in the vain hope of escaping their native country for a better one. "Rarely allowed on deck, immigrants were crowded together in the gloom, unable to exercise or catch a breath of fresh air. They often had to sleep in louse-infested bunks and share toilets with many other passengers. Under these conditions, disease spread quickly, and some immigrants died before they reached their destination." (Holt McDougal 875). At immigration stations, they had to go through harsh testing and inspection before being admitted into the United States. Once they were admitted to the country, their problems did not end there. Immigrants struggled in finding a place to live, competing for jobs and moving into the cities for better opportunities.(Holt McDougal 877) As nativism spread, immigrants also faced criticism and anti-immigrant sentiments that threatened their stay in the United States such as the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882 or the Gentlemen's Agreement of 1907-1908. Despite the immigrants' dreams of freedom, wealth and opportunities, America did not yield much to their expectation.

One predicament that came alongside the influx of immigrants is the degrading city services in urban areas. As the agricultural system no longer needed much labors, people moved into the city, creating a process called 'Urbanization'. As the urban population plummeted, city services for residents in the United States became unsafe. Two or three families had to share a house because of the rising population. (Holt McDougal 891). Plumbing and ventilation in houses deteriorated. Many immigrants faced the challenge of not having a place to live. "Even in large cities like New York, homes seldom had indoor plumbing, and residents had to collect water in pails from faucets on the street and heat it for bathing. The necessity of improving water quality to control diseases such as cholera and typhoid fever was obvious." The shortage of water supplies and transportation to the work place yielded many problems. Moreover, sanitary conditions worsened as more people moved into the cities. Horse manures piled up on the streets, people threw trash everywhere, and factories dumped their wastes into the environment. (Holt McDougal 892) The city became an unsuitable place to live in. Pickpockets and thieves emerged, finding their earnings in other people's wealth. People's lives were at risk because