Gilded Age

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The Gilded Age was a period of rapid economic growth and technological innovation in the United States beginning in the latter half of the 19th Century and extending into the early 20th Century. During this time per capita income and living standards were raised dramatically. Infant mortality fell steadily and life expectancy was extended by many years. It was during this period of growth that the economy in the U.S. overtook that of Great Britain to be the world's largest.

In the years following "Reconstruction" in the southern U.S., the federal government's role in the economy was minimal relative to contemporary life in America. There was no income tax, no central bank, and no military-industrial-complex; the largest federal program at the time was the U.S. Postal Service. This, coupled with a rapidly expanding population, due in large part to increased immigration, meant that sufficient capital existed for such growth.