Relax! I don’t think you’re a dummy. I mean, I almost locked my keys in my car yesterday while the engine was running. So who’s really the dummy here?
Now, onto the Gilded Age.
This is a tiny pocket in history roughly between the Civil War and World War I. Most people remember the Gilded Age from history classes through long boring lectures about Boss Tweed, Tammany Hall, and scandals I can’t pronounce.
But stick with me. I promise you, I have the attention span of a squirrel and the Gilded Age is FASCINATING.
First, let’s talk innovation. Telephones, telegraph, skyscrapers, elevators, electricity? GILDED AGE. Not all were American inventions (most were), but they were perfected here. Why? In the Gilded Age, the U.S. economy DOUBLED IN SIZE. Business was booming. Europe didn’t have nearly the amount of money we did, so most of the technological innovations took off in America.
Oh, and did I mention AUTOMOBILES? Yeah, those were Gilded Age, too (though late in the time period, and they weren’t accessible to anyone but the rich. Don’t worry, the Gilded Age had a lot of rich people.)
So that leads me to the wealth. Did you see the part about the U.S. economy doubling in size? America became the leading world economic force during the Gilded Age. Steel. Railroads. Oil. Textiles. Coal. All run by financial powerhouses, with household names like Vanderbilt, Carnegie, Morgan, Astor.
There were no laws governing fair trade or anti-trust in those days, so it was every man for himself–literally. And with the amount of money at stake, it’s no wonder there were frequent corruption scandals.
Lastly, the ladies. You had the socialites, throwing parties for their monkeys and elaborate costume balls where they dressed in electric gowns, but you also had new independent young women coming into the cities from the farms. They held office jobs and worked in department stores. These women weren’t forced to marry straight out of the family home and start pumping out kids. Instead, they earned their own income, rented their own rooms, and dated young men.
Believe it or not, the bicycle craze helped, too. A bicycle allowed women more freedom in getting around. It was cheaper, and certainly more independent. Clothing was altered to assist in cycling: “Cycling required a more practical, rational form of dress, and large billowing skirts and corsets started to give way to bloomers — baggy trousers, sometimes called a divided skirt, cinched at the knee. Although bloomers first appeared decades earlier, and a major social battle was waged over their propriety, the cycling craze practically mandated changes in women’s attire for any woman who wanted to ride.”
Women mobilized in the Gilded Age. They began to speak out on issues like voting rights for women, temperance, equality, poverty, and education.
So that’s a few reasons why the Gilded Age is totes awesome-sauce, as my daughters might say. And hey, I have a brand-new Gilded Age romance out today. If historical romance is your jam, I hope you’ll give MAGNATE a try!
Born in the slums of Five Points, Emmett Cavanaugh climbed his way to the top of a booming steel empire and now holds court in an opulent Fifth Avenue mansion. His rise in stations, however, has done little to elevate his taste in women. He loathes the city’s “high society” types, but a rebellious and beautiful blue-blood just might change all that.
Elizabeth Sloane’s mind is filled with more than the latest parlor room gossip. Lizzie can play the Stock Exchange as deftly as New York’s most accomplished brokers—but she needs a man to put her skills to use. Emmett reluctantly agrees when the stunning socialite asks him to back her trades and split the profits. But love and business make strange bedfellows, and as their fragile partnership begins to crack, they’ll discover a passion more frenzied than the trading room floor…
Pick up a copy of MAGNATE here: