Christianity in The Gilded Age

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The Gilded Age in the USA was during the late 1800s when industrialization and railroads led to rapid economic growth. The average industrial worker's wages increased 60% between 1860 and 1890 driving massive worker migration from Europe and other countries into the USA. While workers gained, the wealthiest 2% gained more. The top 2% owned 35% of the nation's wealth while the bottom 44% owned a measly 1%. 

The USA led the world in industrial accidents. In 1898, out of 704,000 railroad workers, 20,000 were injured and 1,872 were killed. The USA was also the only industrial power to have no workman's compensation program in place to support injured workers. Industrial accidents were the leading cause of blindness in 1900.

Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, and Episcopalians set up numerous colleges, hospitals, charities, and overseas missions. The labor union movement, along with progressive churches like the Methodists, supported a five-day work week and the elimination of child industrial labor.


Image adapted from a photo by Joshua Melo on Unsplash