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American Culture in the 19th Century Culture means the ways in which people understand themselves and interact with each other and their environment This essay will look at how immigration poverty labor disputes and women struggling for a place in this time period shaped the 19th century The 19th century was a time of rapid growth and change in America It was a century of Westward expansion and the building up of muscular new cities like Chicago Immigrants brought their cultural traditions to their adopted land The last three decades of the 19th century were marked by relentless capitalism corruption vulgar tastes and ostentatious displays of wealth While the rich wore diamonds many other Americans wore rags In 1890 11 million of the nations 12 million families earned less than 1200 per year the average annual income for most families was 38000 well below the poverty line In 1871 Mark Twain was quoted as saying What is the chef end of man-to get rich In what way - dishonestly if we can honestly if we must There were three new social classes in America during the 19th century the first two were the industrial capitalists it included men like Andrew Carnegie The second social class was the urban middle class It included mostly doctors lawyers shop keepers factory clerks and the managers The urban poor were an extremely larger group The frustrations of the poor factory workers transformed the labor movement into a vigorous if often violent force Workers saw men like Andre Carnegie getting fabulously rich and were enraged at being left behind Violent strikes and riots were common place throughout the turn of the century There was a feeling of unrest and brooding revolution Industrialists took a hard line against the formation of unions but the labor movement continued to grow In 1877 three national unions existed in 1880 there were eighteen In 1886 a national strike called for
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