Gilded Age

By Inna Hwang

The Gilded Age

Gilded- To give an often deceptively attractive or improved appearance to.

Late 1800's - early 1900's in America was called the "Gilded Age" because of cheap commercialization, snottiness, and "fakery". Under the face of success and industry came the ugliness of people motivated with finding gold, wealth, and power through whatever means. This term became especially popularized by writer Mark Twain.

The "Bloody Shirt" Campaign

  • Election of 1868 (First presidential election to take place post-Civil War during Reconstruction)
  • Against Democrat- Ulysses S. Grant and Republican Horatio Seymour
  • Seymour campaigned in many states, Grant did the opposite
  • Grant issued "Bloody Shirt" campaign which tactically reminded the nation of the wrongdoings by the South during the Civil War. The nation was swept by this, which lead to Grant's election.


"Gilded Age" was negatively used to show America's new found OBSESSION with gold, wealth and power; also to get it in whatever means (legally or illegally). The wealthy often assisted the poor and once they racked up a portion of popularity they ran for elections. This became machine politics because of their ability to call out the votes. Despite the fact some machines helped widows, children, and other under privileged, many sought to help themselves causing in people wanting reform.

People also like William Marcy Tweed who led in businesses were corrupted. He gather $200,000,000 through bribes and manipulations. He then owned Tamany Hall in New York City. Luckily he was soon prosecuted in 1871 due to his misuse of public funds, but until then he strutted with power.

Spoiler System also started to run the political game. High government positions would be given to supporters, friends, and relatives, despite their lack of skill in the field.

Other incidents included: Whiskey Ring Scandal, Secretary of War collected bribes, etc.

Thomas Nast (Look below for some of his work)

Thomas Nast was a famous for the political cartoons he drew of "Boss Tweed" which illustrated his vast wrongdoings.

Compromise of 1877

The election of 1876 was surrounded by a series of arguments over reconstruction. In order to settle these disputes the informally, unwritten Compromise of 1877 came into play.

  • Allowed military districts to dissolve due to the completion of reconstruction
  • Republicans withdrew soldiers from south
  • Increase industrialization in south
  • Appoint democratic positions for southerners
  • Allow a democrat to the cabinet