Chapter 4 Lesson 3

III. Social Darwinism and Social Reform
Gilded Age Ideas
 What were the main ideas of Social Darwinism, and
how did it compare with the ideas of individualism?
Gilded Age ideas
Amazing new
 1873 Mark Twain and Charles Warner
wrote a novel entitled The Gilded
Age. Historians adopted the term to
name the era of 1870 to 1900
 Twain and Warner were sounding an
Gilded means expensive on the
outside and cheap on the inside
Gilded with gold. Might seem to sparkle.
Industrial growth
Gilded Age Ideas
 Time of great cultural activity
 Industrialization and urbanization
altered Americans and their society
 Gave rise to new values
 In art
 New entertainment
The Idea of Individualism
 Individualism – the belief that no
matter what a person’s background is,
he or she can still become successful
through effort
 Americans could rise as far as their
talents and commitments could take
them, no matter how humble their
The Idea of Individualism
 Horatio Alger expressed it the best
 Wrote more that 100 “rags to riches”
 Poor person goes to the city and through hard
work becomes successful
 Alger’s books convinced many young people
success was possible
Charles Darwin
Herbert Spencer
 British philosopher in 1859 wrote On
 Spencer argued that human society also evolved
then Origins of species by Means of Natural
 Darwin argued plants and animals
evolved over millions of years
 Process of natural selection is species
that cannot adapt die out, those that
adapt thrive and live on
through competition. Society became better
because only the fit survived
Spencer and William Graham Sumner became
know as Social Darwinism
“Survival of the fittest” became the catch phrase
Some industrial leaders used this theory
to support laissez-faire- capitalism
This doctrine opposed any government
programs that interfered with business
The most fit were white, industrialized societies
such as the U.S. and Great Britain.
Social Darwinism
 Social Darwinism – a philosophy based in
Charles Darwin’s theories of evolution and
natural selection, asserting that humans have
developed through competition and natural
selection with only the strongest surviving
 Theories reinforced the idea of individualism
Darwinism and the Church
 Many Christians found Darwinism offensive
 They rejected the theory of evolution
 Thought it contradicted the theory in Bible
of creation
 Some clergy thought evolution was God’s
way of creating the world
Carnegie’s Gospel of Wealth
 Carnegie advocated a gentler version of Social
Darwinism. Thought wealthy Americans
should engage in philanthropy
 Philanthropy – providing money to support
humanitarian or social goals
 Building schools, hospitals was better than
handouts to the poor
 Carnegie founded the creation of public
libraries in cities
Gilded Age Ideas
How did Horatio Alger’s books demonstrate the
idea of individualism?
Gilded Age Ideas
 Alger’s books gave people hope that they could
improve their lives by hard work, as the characters did
in the story
The Rebirth of Reform
What methods and philosophies were developed
for helping the urban poor?
The Rebirth of Reform
Industrialization and Urbanization triggered a
debate on society’s problems
Some embraced
(survival of the
fittest) and
(work hard for
American government
needed to help to fix
society’s problems
• Regulating the
• Helping those in
People succeeded because they learned to
Naturalism in Literature
 Naturalists challenged the ideas of Social
 Many people failed in life because of
circumstances out of their control
 Stephen Crane’s novel Maggie, A Girl of the Streets
(1893) story of girls descent into prostitution
and death
 Jack London’s tale of the Alaskan wilderness;
power of nature of civilization
 Theodore Dreiser’s novel Sister Carrie (1900)
 Painted a world were people sinned without
 Pursuit of wealth and power destroyed their
Helping the Urban Poor
 Social Gospel movement worked to better
conditions in cities
 Used biblical ideas of charity and justice
 Washington Gladden wrote Applied Christianity
 Early advocate who popularized the movement
in writings
Helping the Urban Poor
 Walter Rauschenbusch argued, must “demand
protection and moral safety of the people.”
 Inspired churches
 to build gyms
 Provide social programs
 Child care
 Help the poor
Helping the Urban Poor
 Salvation Army and Young Men’s Christian
Association (YMCA) combined faith and interest
into reform
 Salvation Army
 Offered practical aid
 Religious counseling to the poor
 YMCA organized (industrial workers and the
Bible studies
Citizenship training
Group activities
Low cost housing for men
Helping the Urban Poor
 Dwight Moody (head of Chicago YMCA)
gifted preacher revival meetings drew
 Moody rejected the Social Gospel and Social
 Help the poor by
 Redeeming their souls and reforming their
 Not by providing services
Helping the Urban Poor
 Settlement house began as offshoot of Social
 Settlement House - an institution located in a
poor neighborhood that provided numerous
community services such a medical care,
child care, libraries, and classes in English
Settlement Houses
 College educated women in the late 1800’s
established settlement houses in poor heavily
immigrant neighborhoods
 Reformers lived in the settlement houses
 Offered everything from medical care to
kindergarten and recreational activities
Helping the Urban Poor
 Jane Addams opened Hull House in
Chicago in 1889
 Jewish reformer Lillian Wald founded
Henry Street Settlement in New York
 Both women powerful force in the
settlement house movement
Public Education
 Industrialization and Urbanization
needed more trained workers
 Public schools increased dramatically
after the Civil War
 7 million in 1870 to 15.5 million in
 Public school crucial to immigrant
child success
Public Education
 At schools immigrant were taught English
and American history and culture
 Process was called Americanization
 Americanization – the process of acquiring
or causing a person to acquire American
traits and characteristics
Public Education
 Grammar schools divided students
into grades
 Drilled them in punctuality
 Neatness and efficiency
 Necessary habits for the workplace
 Vocational education in high school
taught skills for specific trades
Public Education
 City children had greater access to
education than rural areas
 African Americans faced educational
 Booker T. Washington founded the
Tuskegee Institute in 1881
Public Education
What role did religion play in the Social
Gospel movement? How did churches
respond to this movement?
Why were public schools important to the
success of immigrant children?
Public Education
Religious morals and teachings were the
foundation of these organizations. Churches built
gyms, provided social programs and childcare,
and helped the poor.
Children learned English, American culture and
history, as well as workplace skills
A Changing Culture
Why do you think artists and writers
portraying Americans more realistically?
 Movement in Art and Literature late
 Artists and writers wanted to portray
the world realistically
 Thomas Eakins, America’s best know
realist painter
 Painted men rowing
 Athletes playing baseball
 Surgeons and scientists in action
 Writers attempted to capture the world as
they saw it
 William Dean Howells presented realistic
descriptions of American life
 Wrote The Rise of Silas Lapham
 Attempts of self made man trying to enter Boston
 Howells first to declare Mark Twain an American
 Twain’s real name was Samuel Clemens
 Adventures of Huckleberry Finn 1884
 Title character and his friend Jim who escaped slavery
 Float down Mississippi River on a raft
 Twain wrote with a local dialect with a lively
sense of humor
Popular Culture
 Changed considerably in the late
 Industrialization
 Improved standard of living
 Spend money on entertainment and
 Divided life into work and home
 People began “going out” to public
Popular Culture
 In cities saloons outnumbered
grocery stores
 Saloons played a major role in male
workers lives
 Saloons offered
 Drinks
 Free toilets
 Water for horses
 Free newspapers
Popular Culture
 Saloons offered the first lunch
 Salty food that made patrons drink more
 Served as political centers
 Saloonkeepers key figures in the political
Popular Culture
 Amusement parks opened
 Coney Island in New York City
 Railroad rides and water slides cost only a
nickel or a dime
 People began watching professional sports
 First professional baseball team was the
Cincinnati Red Stockings
 1903 first World Series Boston Americans
and Pittsburgh Pirates
 Football gained popularity
Popular Culture
 Work became less strenuous
 People looked for physical exercise activities
 Tennis, golf and croquet became popular
 1891 James Nainsmith (Massachusetts)
invented indoor game of basketball
Popular Culture
 People enjoyed comic theatre and
 Vaudeville adapted from French
 1880s hodgepodge of animal acts,
singers, comedians, acrobats, and
Popular Culture
 Ragtime music
 Syncopated rhythms grew out of
riverside honkytonks
 Saloon pianists and banjo players
used patterns of African American
 Scott Joplin King of Ragtime
 ‘The Maple Leaf Rag” in 1899
A Changing Culture
Why was it possible to pursue more leisure
activities and popular entertainment during
this time period?
A Changing Culture
 An improving standard of living provided more
income to spend on such activities, and a decrease in
work’s strenuousness encouraged more sport and

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