From the beginning of time, the change of the centuries was met by little fanfare and treated as little more than a cycle, until 1599, when it became clear that there was a direct relationship between the changing of the centuries and the changing of the calendar. As the 16th century turned into the 17th century, a new modernized world began, and was celebrated.
In the 1890s though, people feared the new century, uncertainty abounded and was mixed with feelings of hope for the technological promise of the future. Around the country giant fairs were held in major
cities showing the great promise of the future. Still people hesitated, new ideas and inventions were challenging what they thought they knew about society. Suddenly industry and science ruled the world with the invention of the light bulb, the airplane, the automobile, and even the motion picture. The prospect of
these technologies in their lives were both celebrated and greatly feared, much in the same way we depend yet wonder how much we should rely on computers today. The seeds of progress and change soon squelched those fears, and when Americans realized the benefits of technology in everyday life, a new era began.
Technology was not the only thing that changed America in the earliest d
ecade of the new century; immigration changed the people and the culture forever. 1890 to 1910 saw the coming of 13 million immigrants to the United States (Jennings, 12). This gave cities a chance to rebuild and
renew themselves. San Francisco, which was demolished by an earthquake in 1906, was able to be rebuilt with new sturdier materials and a new immigrant population just three years later. Immigrants quickly found jobs in New England mill towns and it was calculated that in 1900 there were 25 different languages being spoken in Lawrence, Massachusetts (Jennings, 14) Although many immigrants traveled to America looking for a prosperous new life, many were met with the harsh realities
of poor urban America. There were no welfare programs, youth programs, or any other forms of assistance to these immigrants. Even the youngest members of the family were often forced to work in deplorable conditions in factories, mills, or coalmines.
1901 was a year of military and government for the US. William McKinley, the 25th president was inaugurated in 1896, and reelected in 1900. It was that year that McKinley sent troops to
China when the Boxer Rebellion broke out there, and foreigners were besieged. In 1901, problems emerged in the Philippines when Emilio Aguinaldo, who proclaimed the Philippines independence from spanish rule, refused to acknowledge U.S domination of the
Philippines. Aguinaldo was captured and on July 1, and was forced to swear alliance. A Philippine government was established with William Howard Taft serving as the first governor general. The United States took control of the
Philippines as part of the Treaty of Paris, the agreement that halted the Spanish-American War. The US also took control of Guam and Puerto Rico at this time. The Spanish-American War was originally a disagreement over Cuba. Rage grew in the US as newspapers wrote accounts of repression of Cuba from Spain and the desire for intervention grew. Finally, Cuba became protectorate of the US, allowing it to have economic freedom and govern itself.
In 1901, McKinley attended the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. At the Exposition McKinley revealed plans of lowering tariffs by treaties and urged the early construction of the Panama Canal. The next day, September 6, McKinley held reception at
the Exposition. As the crowd eagerly stood in line to shake McKinley's hand, Leon Czolgosz shot the president with a revolver, William McKinley died on September 14, 1901. Theodore Roosevelt took office and was later reelected in 1904. The last president to be inaugurated in the new century was William H. Taft, the first governor general of the Philippines.