When was America's Age of Prosperity?

I read an article (I’m always reading something) about a new Congresswoman who said she’d missed America’s age of prosperity. She didn’t really say what time frame she was referring to, but when I googled the term, it says it occurred in the 1920s. That means all except the very elderly missed it. Her statement made me wonder if she thought she’d been born too late or she was talking about something else.

Defining a prosperous age depends on the definition of prosperity, what race you are, and where you happened to be. At dictionary.com, it says prosperity is a successful, flourishing, and thriving condition. In the 1920s, stockholders were wealthy and prospering. Business owners were thriving. Jim Crows laws were being enforced in the South so it wasn’t a prosperous time for African Americans who lived there. It wasn’t until 1965 those laws were dissolved. The Chinese Exclusion Act outlawed Chinese immigration until the early 20th Century. Even the Chinese children born here weren’t allowed to be citizens until 1943 so times were difficult for them during the “prosperous” 1920s. American Indians were forbidden to practice their culture and religion as soon as they were herded onto reservations. The 1978 American Indian Religious Freedom Act restored their legal right to practice the old ways.

When Hubby and I were married, the country was coming out of a recession. We wanted to buy a house, but mortgage rates were 12 to 16 percent. That made any house out of our price range. Commentators said no one in our generation would ever be able to own a home because it was too expensive. Over time, that statement proved to be wrong, but at the time, it was a scary prospect. A decade or more later, the news was filled with people who had too much credit card debt. Analysts looked at how people got into that condition and how they’d never pay their debts off. Fingers were pointed at the greedy credit card companies who charged 20 to 25 percent on unpaid balances. Today when I hear reports about student loan debt, it’s like déjà vu. The same arguments and complaints were voiced a long time ago. One crisis faded and another took its place. It’s a never-ending cycle.

Individually, we may have our own personal ages of prosperity. Think of a time when you were prosperous and thriving. Maybe you’re that now. Sometimes all it takes is counting blessings to realize how much we really have and how prosperous our lives may be. Maybe we’ve been prosperous for so long, we take everything for granted. My aunt who lived through the Depression always said “if you think you’re poor, come talk to me and I’ll tell you what being poor really is.” She lived through American’s Age of Prosperity, followed abruptly by the Age of Least Prosperity. We could learn a lot from those who lived through those time so that we appreciate the prosperity of these times.

Prosperity is a matter of perspective and attitude. As the Bible says, “…for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content” (Phil. 4:11). It’s time to count blessings instead of troubles.

One Comment
  1. “Prosperity is a matter of perspective and attitude.” Well said! The poorest person in America would seem rich to many people in the world.

Leave a Reply to Carol Peterson Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *