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Progressive Era

At the close of the Civil War in 1865, the United States was still primarily a rural and agricultural society. Business was conducted in local or regional markets by family farms, and small firms were owned and operated by single individuals or small groups of partners. The scale of production was modest, consumption for most was limited to little beyond life's necessities, and, among white Americans, wealth, with some notable exceptions, was distributed without great gaps separating rich from poor. But by 1890, huge manufacturing corporations employing a succession of revolutionary new machines and processes had begun to create the modern American economy of mass production and consumption. Millions of farm workers had left the countryside for the cities to labor for the new industrial ...

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