GILDED AGE

By Roop Panesar

"Gilded." To cover something with a thin layer of gold, as to cover up its true identity.

More about the Gilded Age

The Gilded Age was a period of time in America from 1870 to 1898, that was marked by the growth of industry and wealth, causing materialism and political corruption. It left a permanent mark on United States politics and the nation's beliefs about the government.

Change in America:

  • Industrialization – RR, oil, steel, millionaires, Westward expansion, cities, immigration
  • Socialization – Labor violence, collapse of small farms, Populist party, monetary policy
  • Government – corruption, laissez-faire

Election of 1868

Grant and the "Bloody Shirt" Campaign

Back during the Johnson era, the Radical Republicans were trying to impeach Andrew Johnson and get rid anyone who was sympathetic to the South. General Ulysses S. Grant had been a Union leader. He wanted to help the free blacks in the South and resolve any political issues. After the impeachment proceedings of Johnson, Grant was nominated as the Republican candidate in 1868. The Democrats nominated Horatio Seymour from New York. Grant didn't do much campaigning, but Seymour traveled the country in order to campaign and assure people that the South wanted to return to the Union were completely loyal. This was unsuccessful, because the Grant campaign waved the "bloody shirt," meaning that they reminded voters what the South and the Democrats did to America. After this incident, Grant won 53% of the popular vote and 214 electoral votes.

Corruption

Governments were unable to deal with many business practices, so they allowed them to continue. Business managers often had to adopt practices they disliked or instead be forced out of business.
America was founded on “laissez-faire," or "hands off," approach. Americans disliked many of the abuses they saw in business, but were hesitant to support government interference because they feared they would do something to diminish the remarkable engines of progress and production.
William Marcy Tweed:

  • William "Boss" Tweed was the boss of Tammany Hall, a political machine, in New York City. He became really rich and the way he gained all that money was by using bribery and kickbacks. He stole $200 million from NYC and then even used some of his money to give to people for bribes. This was called the Tweed Ring.
Thomas Nast:
  • In 1871, the New York Times published a few articles about Tweed's corruption and bribery. Most of the immigrants being duped by Tweed couldn't read or write, so they weren't able to read the articles, which were supposed to warn them. Then, cartoonist Thomas Nast realized that they could easily understand pictures, so he began publishing political cartoons about Tweed and his story in the New York Times.


Compromise of 1877

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The Compromise of 1877 was an unofficial, unwritten agreement that settled the disputed 1876 American presidential election. It also ended the reconstruction in the south. The Democrats had the House of Representatives on their side, which allowed the verdict of the Electoral Commission to be influenced.

Also called the Bargain of 1877, it was stretched over many months. They didn't want the South joining the West and therefore upsetting the East-West alliance, making the East an isolated minority.

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