A New Century
Recurrent wisdom insists that each generation stands on the threshold of a new age. And that was true once again, as the twentieth century dawned.
By 1900, America, a land of over seventy-five million people spread out in forty-five states, was a place of promise, energy, expansion, exploitation, corruption, and large quantities of luck. With the old physical frontiers now closed, there were new frontiers dominated by men with a consuming passion for wealth and power. Monopolists and robber barons, such as the Morgans and Rockefellers, called for an abundant life for all, as long as they could plunge their own fingers deep into the rich American pie.
Henry Ford, the tunnel-visioned man from Detroit, was on the verge of developing a universal car, while Orville and Wilbur Wright gazed up at the skies and postulated that men would soon fly like birds. President McKinley had just presided over an abbreviated exercise in imperialism called the Spanish-American War, under the promotional auspices of publisher William Randolph Hearst. With an army of sixty-five thousand and only a half-dozen first-class battleships, America had become a world power.