THE NEW COMMONWEALTH, 1877-1890 by John A. Garraty


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In this newest addition to the publishers' New American Nation series, one of America's foremost historians describes and analyzes the ""social, economic and political situation in the U.S. from the end of Reconstruction (1877) to the onset of the Great Depression of the 1890's."" It is the author's thesis that during this period ""the character of American civilization underwent a basic transformation"" that compelled men to a new dependence on organizations and community activities and brought about changes influencing American life for nearly a century. Describing the post-Reconstruction years as a time of paradoxes, the author writes of inventions, increased production in agriculture and industry, of wealth and idealism, and also of grave social injustices, appalling working and living conditions, and an inefficient and ""monumental"" ineptitude. Robber barons destroyed their rivals and endowed charities; the prevailing belief in laissez-faire led to the exploitation of workers, immigrants and Negroes. Political chicanery was rampant; corrupt congresses bullied virtuous but apathetic presidents; the newly passed Civil Service. Interstate Commerce and Anti-Trust laws were enforced with difficulty. Poverty was endemic, and in a social climate still unfavorable to labor, strikes caused by long hours and starvation wages flared to violence and subsided, but from these years of chaos emerged modern America. Readable, scholarly, superbly documented, this book is a must for all students, professional or amateur, of America's social and political development and her present-day problems.

Pub Date: Oct. 9th, 1968
Publisher: Harper & Row