The Rise of the Social Gospel in American Protestantism, 1865-1915

By Charles Howard Hopkins | Go to book overview
Save to active project

INTRODUCTION

THE years immediately following the Civil War opened a new era in American life. During the period of "reconstruction" the forces of industrial revolution, stimulated by the demands of the great conflict, swept triumphantly to victory over the agricultural economy that remained from the nation's youth. By 1880 a vigorous capitalism had laid the foundations of modern America in an industrial order that was rapidly transforming the rural United States of Lincoln and Lee into a closely knit nation of swarming cities.

Mark Twain satirized the unique society that emerged from the crucible of war and from the new iron furnaces of Pittsburgh as the "gilded age." A "welter of crude new energy," this "chromo civilization" satisfied its elemental desires by raping a virgin continent and ignoring its illegitimate offspring. The scramble for possession of the country's boundless resources was nothing less than the "Great Barbecue" at which the common man was handed a farm, while the "Iron Buccaneers" of railroad, industry, and finance carved for themselves empires whose vastness and power -- and whose rulers' methods -- Caesar might have envied.

The postwar moral reaction severely strained certain traditional ethical and social standards. Corruption in local, state, and national government was widespread and in many places unashamed, and business ethics suffered a similar decline. In an atmosphere of optimism and moral laxity speculation flourished until the panic of 1873 brought the sobering realization that progress could not be built on watered stocks or blueprints. The lesson was made painfully clear to the working classes by unprecedented unemployment and desperate poverty. Bread lines appeared in the city streets of a nation rapidly becoming the richest country in the world. But the kings of industry and finance paid little heed and an exaggerated individualism continued to ride roughshod over human rights. Even the volcanic eruption of working-class discontent in 1877 hardly checked them.

This violent birth of a new world called forth heroic efforts

-11-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Rise of the Social Gospel in American Protestantism, 1865-1915
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 352

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?