"America 2.0" picks up in 1877 with what many hoped was the dawn of a new age. The guns of the Civil War had fallen silent. Reconstruction, which, like the month of March, had come in like a lion... went out like a lamb. And America was chomping at the bit to set up shop overseas and "do what all the cool kids were doing".
Manifest Destiny had expanded the nation from "sea to shining sea", but this expansion had come at a cost: the shuffling of Native Americans had alienated America from its original inhabitants; the further from home America ventured, the more it butted heads with the "studs" of Europe; overseas expansion brought the use of the word "empire" into association with America; and the profitability of "being American" attracted immigrants to its shores.
Immigrants were rarely welcomed with opened arms but soon found themselves a vital cog in the growing machine that was Industrial America. Cities and Big Business grew on the backs of such laborers, prompting Progressive reformers to attempt to level the playing field. Factory conditions improved, wages increased, hours were reduced, unions were created, and more Americans found themselves able to participate at the polls.
America was growing up – but was it ready to take the next step?