Frank Cogliano, Professor of American History, Edinburgh University considers the social, economic and political development of the United States during the last decades of the nineteenth century. Having just emerged from a very bloody civil war, the United States underwent a series of profound transformations as the nineteenth century drew to a close. These included explosive growth – geographic, demographic and economic – and an increase in social tensions and conflict. Its growing wealth made the nation more confident culturally at the very time that internal divisions threatened to undermine the its experiment with republic government. As the nation grew in strength it was increasingly riven by social, racial, and class tensions which threatened its well being. By 1900 the United States was a nation on the brink.
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