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The Fears of the Middle Class. In the early 1900s the middle class was growing but was worried about lawless cities, a desperate poor, and an untouchable rich. Growth of the middle class. Falling prices and increased consumerism led to improved standard of living for most Americans

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the fears of the middle class

The Fears of the Middle Class

In the early 1900s the middle class was growing but was worried about lawless cities, a desperate poor, and an untouchable rich

growth of the middle class
Growth of the middle class
  • Falling prices and increased consumerism led to improved standard of living for most Americans
  • Urbanization meant greater access to popular entertainment and modern comforts
  • Industrialization meant the creation of management, clerical, and service industry jobs that were “white collar”
  • Most of this middle class lived in and around the cities
growth of the cities
Growth of the Cities
  • From 1860 to 1900 the percentage of Americans living in the cities rose from 20% to 40%
  • Drawn by jobs, electricity, luxuries, anonymity
  • The cities grew so quickly that overcrowding became a major problem
immigration
Immigration
  • From 1880 to 1920 about 25 million, about half as many people who lived in the country in 1880
  • 80 percent from Southern and Eastern Europe
  • Most illiterate, poor, uneducated
  • Catholic, Jewish, Orthodox
social problems
Social problems
  • Crime – 6.8 homicides per 100,000 in 1920 (1.2 in 1900) (is now 5.6 per 100,000 in 2007)
  • Not enough police, firefighters, garbage and sewage systems
  • Overcrowding – apartments subdivided
  • Poverty
slide6
Most transportation was done by horse-drawn carts generating 20 to 30 pounds of manure a day- by the 1890s replaced by electric trolleys
  • Most tenements had no plumbing so outhouses and cesspools were used and people threw their garbage into the streets or into alleys
  • Immigrants began to move near immigrants from the same country – Little Italy, Chinatown, etc. . .
corruption
Corruption
  • Political machines emerged in the cities
  • Voters bribed by favors from ward bosses (jobs, money, gifts)
  • Businesses bribe officials for contracts, favors
  • Officials (elected or otherwise) get bribes or use information for personal benefit
alcohol
Alcohol

The cities and their immigrant populations became associated with heavy alcohol use

Per capita consumption of alcohol in a year (in gallons)

1871-1880 – 1.72

1906-1910 – 2.6

2007 – 2.31

Alcohol consumption is associated with crime, domestic violence, indolence and vice

women s rights in the late 1800s
Women’s rights in the late 1800s
  • If married a women would lose her right to own property, sign a contract and in some cases (teaching) has to quit their jobs
  • Women were encouraged to not work outside the home
  • Domestic violence
  • A belief in the moral superiority of women helped build support for granting women the right to vote
rights for women
Rights for women
  • Map of US Suffrage, 1920
trusts and the wealthy
Trusts and the wealthy
  • A rash of mergers and buyouts concentrates ownership
  • Trusts are combinations of companies that dominate an industry
  • Large companies put smaller companies out of business with newer machines and technology
  • Some trusts could lower prices with new machinery, but fear of monopolies and low wages persisted
  • By 1910 – 2 percent of the population earned 20 percent of the nation’s income (double what it had been in 1896)