The Gilded Age

What it is and everything about it!

What's the gilded age?

The term was coined by writers Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner in The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today (1873), satirizing what they believed to be an era of serious social problems disguised by a thin gold gilding.

It was a time of remarkable poverty during a major time of industrialization. Most household's annual income was around $380 which was earned mainly from working textile mills and mining. There were times of great depression which didn't help at all and the whole gilded age wasn't a particularly nice time period to live in.

Election of Grant and the "Bloody Shirt" campaign...

Grant was nationally recognized as a Civil War hero during the Election of 1876. Everything was fine until James G. Blaine was in an railroad scandal which immediately knocked him out. The public kept getting worse and worse about the election season until it degenerated into the opposing sides launching vicious personal attacks on the opposing candidate.

The phrase waving the "bloody shirt" came about when the candidates and the public were constantly reminded of the war heroes (Hayes being the recognized one) on the opposing sides.

Corruption During the Gilded Age

Corruption: The corruption usually refers to the political bosses and their "machines". Company and political leaders used cheap labor (immigrants) to help make their business grow. They used the workers to get more money and created new businesses to take their money and bankrupt them.

Boss Tweed: William Tweed was a major player in Tammany Hall. He played companies, gained money, and moved up politically.

With absolute power over who could be nominated as a Democratic candidate and enormous influence over appointments to office, "Boss Tweed" was himself appointed a Deputy Street Commissioner, and began putting cronies on the city payroll for doing no work. With his substantial kickbacks, Tweed bought several companies which were promptly awarded city contracts. He was elected to the State Senate in 1867, and within months had charmed and cajoled his way to similar near-absolute control over the state's capitol.

Thomas Nast: Thomas was a famous editorial cartoonist that His cartoons in Harper's Weekly helped expose "Boss" Tweed, the head of a political machine that dominated New York City in the mid-1800s.

Compromise of 1877

The Compromise of 1877 was an unwritten, informal deal between the Republican and Democrats of Congress to recognize the Republican president (Hayes) if the following actions took place:

1. Removal of all federal troops from the southern states.
2. Appointment of at least one southern Democrat into Hayes's Administration.
3. Construction of a second transcontinental railroad in the South called the Texas and Pacific.
4. Legislation enacted to help industrialize the South.