The Protestant Crusades from the Civil War to World War I
If the United States had a Golden Age, it was the half-century following the Civil War. At least, it was during this period that the uniquely American drama was unfolding and that the peculiarly American heroes of this drama were being created for future fable: the omnivorous industrialists and financiers, the hard-driving immigrants, the brawling frontiersmen and cowboys of the West.
Between the end of the Civil War and the turn of the century, the number of manufacturing establishments in the nation more than doubled, and manufacturing production increased more than fourfold. The great new industries and finance houses were booming. At the end of the Civil War there were more farm workers than nonfarm workers in the nation; by the turn of the century there were almost twice as many nonfarm workers as farm workers. There were great aggregations of wealth in the cities, along with great waves of immigrant population. About 25 million immigrants came to America between the end of the Civil War and the beginning of World War I. In dramatic numbers, they entered the laboring class, came to the cities, and were heavily Catholic.
Against this background, and in reaction to specific political and historical events, the monistic impulse quickened in America, under the banner of Protestant nativism. This nativism often served the purpose of wedding conservative political interests with an appeal to the Protestant common man.