By the dawn of the twentieth century, the American public had become aware of the social and economic consequences of industrialism and unrestrained capitalism. As the nation made the transition from an agricultural to industrial economy, it became clear that rapid industrial growth brought important changes in cultural and class relationships. The preceding generation had witnessed the dazzling advance of industrialization and urbanization, as well as the social upheaval that followed the collapse of the economy in the wake of the Panic of 1893. The Populist political rebellion of the 1890s, rooted in rural discontent but linked to the wider urban social crisis, focused popular attention on the increasing inequality in the distribution of wealth and power that resulted from rapid industrial growth. In this overheated social and economic atmosphere, social critics and intellectuals called attention to new problems that were to test the American commitment to democratic principles over the next generation. Memories of the labor disturbances of the 1890s, unemployment, and business failures encouraged reformers to explore new policies and institutions to defuse the social and economic conflicts and economic inequality that now threatened to shred the social fabric of industrial America.