During the Victorian Age, the upper class became very wealthy in part by exploiting the lower classes. For America to become a great and wealthy nation, was the exuberance and disparity of the Victorian age justified? Explain why.
No, it is not justified. For any country to become great the exuberance and disparity of wealth is not necessary. The Victorian America is the period during the Victorian era which influenced the living conditions, religion, culture and other features of America. The Civil War brought a change in the American culture. The influence of the Victorian culture was largely seen after the Civil War. During the time of Victorian America, the rich and powerful were not certain about the culture to be followed. In this scepticism they adopted the European culture. The aristocrats were having a great time at the expense of the down trodden. Education was a right of rich families, they got the best education. The rich had an advantage over everything from jobs and education to basic needs as food and shelter. They did not care about the issues faces by the poor and chose to display their wealth in front of them. This gave rise to a massive class divide. There was a widespread discontent among the exploited class. This imbalance restricts the growth of a country and takes it on a brink of a revolution.
In the Victorian era, the upper class (which refers to the aristocracy) did not become wealthy by exploiting the lower classes. The upper-classes were already wealthy. Much of their wealth came from their already established rural estates, which generated income through rural tenancies. The tenants of the landed gentry generally had it pretty good, compared to smallholders or to those working in industries in cities. The relationship between rural tenants and their aristocratic landlords on rural estates was generally good. In the Victorian era, the Lord of the Manor was often benevolent, well-respected and considered to be a pillar of the community. They were big employers and many of their workers had a decent cottage to go with their job. Even the servants of these aristocrats generally had it well off. The only real problem was that women staff were generally expected not to marry.
The exploitation of the poor during the Victorian era was from the wealthy industrialists, who operated mines and factories with long working hours, poor working conditions and poor pay. Private (non-aristocratic) landlords also exploited the poor by providing cheap, over-crowded housing in cities usually in back-to-back type accommodation with poor sanitary conditions.
Perhaps one of the best kept secrets of modern Britain (and other European countries too, including Sweden) is that this aristocratic tradition of landlord and tenants still continues, and to have a tenancy on one of these estates is to have a house for life. They will never throw you out, and their rent is generally lower than what most private companies or landlords would charge. I’d be more than happy to have one of these tenancies, especially in retirement.
With regard to the USA, I assume by upper-class you are referring to the wealthy industrialists and financiers, forming the top tier of US society? I don’t think any of them were considered upper-class until the late Edwardian era. By then, if they were wealthy and successful, had a good education, good social connections and of course knew all the social etiquette and norms of the day, they would be considered to be on par with the lowest tier of the aristocracy of Europe.