By 1870, not only the role of women was being challenged. Industrialists, corporations, utilities, bankers, and brokers were increasingly viewed as an enemy by the working class, whose wages had stagnated while men who were already millionaires got richer. Failed land deals, speculation, and corruption were prevalent. Many workers went from being independent tradesmen to being wage laborers concentrated in large factories. Millions of immigrants swelled the population of U.S. cities and began to compete for jobs. Labor unions were born to represent these angry and beleaguered workers.
Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner captured some of this turmoil in a book on which they collaborated, The Gilded Age, a tale of corruption and failed land deals and a loss of innocence. The book's title was often used to describe this period.