The 40 years that followed the Civil War has often been referred to by historians as the Gilded Age. During this time, America saw impressive economic growth and the unprecedented expansion of major cities, especially in the North and West.
Technological innovations of the time included the telephone, skyscraper, refrigerator, car, linotype machine, electric lightbulb, typewriter, and electric motor. These inventions provided the bases for modern consumerism and industrial productivity.
In the two decades after the Civil War, the 1870s and 1880s, the economy rose at the fastest rate in its history. By the beginning of the 20th century, per capita income and industrial production in the United States led the world, with per capita incomes double those of Germany or France, and 50% higher than those of Britain.
The businessmen of the era created industrial towns and cities in the Northeast with new factories, and hired an ethnically diverse industrial working class, many of them new immigrants from Europe.
All of this growth was driven by individuals who wanted to make better lives for themselves and their families. This drive, to make money, created opportunities and remade America. In this sense, greed is positive. However, industrial leaders often manipulated their workers, keeping more profits for themselves. Long-suffering workers went on strike, or boycotted business. Labor unrest and violence were the result of this side of greed. This leads us to our question. Is greed good?