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

By Charles Howard Hopkins | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VI
THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND
"OUR COUNTRY"

Christianity is primarily concerned with this world, and it is the mission of Christianity to bring to pass here a kingdom of righteousness and to rescue from the evil one and redeem all our social relations. RICHARD T. ELY

ALTHOUGH the social gospel of the 1880's found itself largely occupied with the problems of socialism and of labor, there were other products of the industrial revolution to which it gave equally serious attention. During this period, when the nationalizing of business was proceeding apace, other changes of equal importance with those affecting labor were being wrought in the American scene. These further concomitants of industrialism were the accumulation of vast new wealth, the consolidation of business, and the emergence of the corporation with its legitimate offspring, monopoly. At the same time the industrial centers grew almost overnight, and without plan or hindrance, into vast sprawling cities whose social, sanitary, and religious problems were as staggering as was their mushroom development.

The last forty years of the nineteenth century saw the wealth of the United States increase from 16 to 126 billions of dollars.1 One of the chief instruments that helped produce such riches was the corporation. So powerful and efficient did the joint-stock company prove that individually owned firms were gradually but inevitably supplanted, and consolidation for the purpose of eliminating competition became the order of the day. The decade of the 'eighties was marked by the evolution of the interlocking corporate structure through the "pooling" and "trust" stages. Consolidation was taking place during these years in all the major lines of economic endeavor: transportation, communication, and industry; likewise in agriculture, and

____________________
1
Ida M. Tarbell, The Nationalizing of Business, 1878-1898 ( New York, 1936), pp. 2, 262.

-98-

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