For some reason I am enamored with the gilded age of America. The term refers to 1870-1905 when industrialism was king in the US. It was a time of peace for America and accretive wealth for those people that owned companies that specialized in steel, manufacturing, building, newspapers and with the beginning of the automobile.
The examples that come to mind were the families like Vanderbilt, Carnegie, Rockefeller, Goodyear, Firestone and families that owned steel companies, railroads, newspapers etc.
The time period 1870-1905 was a euphoric time of peace, prosperity and happiness. For a select few that is. The automobile, radio and telephone were new inventions and the future of America seemed endless. Mansions of Newport Road Island, the Biltmore Estate in Asheville and Millionaire’s Village on Jekyll Island were examples of the expression of wealth these families wanted to portray.
In Newport Road Island there are streets filled with historic mansions and the wealthy families that owned them would spend their summers in Newport. They would host and or attend nightly parties at different homes. The objective seemed to be having the best party that was bigger and better attended than their neighbor’s party. It was a social status thing and there were many nights that several families would have parties and the guests would go from party to party. It was told that the first party host would do almost anything to keep the people from leaving and attending someone else’s party. Again a pride, ego and status and social thing.
While is hard to believe, these families would have a clothing budget for the summer of 20-30 thousand dollars each. Their party budget was several hundred thousand dollars for the summer. To give you some perspective on how much money that was in 1900, the average US citizen earned $9.00 a week. A school teacher’s salary was $6.30 a week. So when these wealthy families would spend 200k on parties for the summer you can get some idea of what I am talking about.
Why am I talking about this? Many of these families were unchurched, unsaved and died with no eternal salvation. Their God was money and status. Outside of the gilded age, there is no period in US history where wealth had clouded common sense as much as then. Many of these people literally lost their minds when they became older and could not show off their wealth and compete with the younger ones. It was a thing that drove many of them mad because the need to compete and impress was so powerful, it destroyed many of their lives. Also keep in mind that many of these families did not earn a dime on their own and many were the children of wealthy industrialists that were living off of their parent’s financial success.
Every generation has to find its own footing and anchor in life. I think it is great to see people have some success in their life and not change everything about who they are and still be the same people. During the Gilded age, people just seemed to have lost all control over perspective. Go to google and look up “Newport mansions” and then hit the “images” tab and you will see what I mean. The pictures you see were their summer homes. ha
Keeping it real should be our objective. KT