The Gilded Age

4th period Youree Choi


To gild something means to cover something with thin layers of gold. The term "Gilded" Age was first coined by Mark Twain after his observation that the outside opinion of the United States was lavish and luxurious with plethora of technology innovations and the rich class, when in reality within the nation were full of many social, political, and economical complications.


Horatio Seymour was nominated by the Democrats against Ulysses S. Grant ,who nominated by the Republicans for presidency. Because of Grant's successful role during the Civil War as general, the Republicans utilized this advantage by "waving the bloody shirt" - a reminder to Grant's efforts during the war. Grant won the presidential election.


Gold Ring

“Jubilee Jim” Fisk and Jay Gould were conspirators who plotted to corner the gold market.

  • The plan would only work if the federal Treasury refrained from selling gold.

  • So on “Black Friday” they bid the price of gold skyward which released the gold.

"Boss" Tweed

“Boss” Tweed Ring employed bribery, graft, and fraudulent election to steal $200 million.

  • He was eventually caught when New York Times published evidence.

  • Thomas Nast exposed "Boss" Tweed in his cartoons that were published.

Additional Corruptions

Credit Mobilier Scandal

  • Union Pacific Railroad insiders formed the Credit Mobilier construction company and hired themselves at inflated prices (high as 348%) and distributed shares of stocks to congressmen.

  • The exposure of this scandal led to the censure of 2 congressmen and revelation that the vice president accepted money from the company.

Whiskey Ring

  • They robbed the Treasury millions in excise-tax revenues.

  • Grant’s private secretary was part of the scheme.

William Belknap

  • Secretary of State who gained bribes from suppliers to Indian reservations.

Compromise of 1877

Rutherford B. Hayes “The Great Unknown” was elected by the Republican party while the Democrats elected Samuel J. Tilden. During close votes during election, both parties sent “visiting statesmen” to Louisiana, South Carolina, and Florida.

However, all 3 states submitted two sets of returns: Democratic and Republican.

The Constitution stated that electoral returns from states to be sent to Congress, but controversy rose of who was to count the votes: the Senate (Republican) or Speaker of the House (Democrat).
Democrats finally agreed that Hayes take office in return for his withdrawing intimidating federal troops from Louisiana and South Carolina.