Main Street Historical Context

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The American middle class, a category that most citizens fall into today, developed during the period marked by the end of the Civil War in 1865 and the start of World War I in 1914. During that time, the development of industry and the westward expansion across the North American continent provided opportunities for wealth on scales previously unheard of. Key industries, such as steel, petroleum, banking, and railroads, were controlled by a few individuals who established monopolies, fixing prices and making deals with their suppliers to run competitors out of business. There were different levels of income, but most citizens were closer to poverty than wealth. This situation became nearly intolerable during the depression that hit the country in 1893 and lasted for four years. Much of the country suffered economic hardship: more than 15,000 business firms failed, and at least seventy-four railroads, which had...

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This section contains 722 words
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Buy the Main Street Study Guide
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