Chapter 23: The Gilded Age

Rohan Panaparambil

Gilded - covered in gold.

The term Gilded Age was coined by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner. It was named as such, because the Gilded Age was an era of major societal problems which were ignored as if they were coated with a thin gold gilding.

Election of Grant

The Bloody Shirt Campaign was a tactic employed by Republicans during the Era of Reconstruction. In this style of campaigning, the Republicans attempted to portray Democrats as disloyal Confederates, and also refer back to the injustices of the Civil War to help make their arguments. It won them many a close campaign.

Grant's campaign, in particular, was based on Bloody Shirt strategies because the North was infatuated with Grant, the general who led the Union to victory. He was running against Horatio Seymour from the Democrats. Although Seymore was close in the popular vote, Grant carried the electoral vote. Grant also became the first president to win with a white minority vote, relying on the newly established votes from African Americans to win.


The most notable case of corruption was of Boss Tweed, who was the boss of Tammany Hall, a political machine. As the Administrator of Public Works, Tweed would hire companies to develop areas of New York City under the clause that some of the money would be given to him. The end result was that even though Tweed helped develop large areas of New York City, he stole massive sums of taxpayer money from the city.

Thomas Nast was a cartoonist, considered the father of the American cartoon. He is known for popularizing images such as Uncle Sam, Columbia, Santa Claus, and the Republican elephant and Democratic donkey. He also went on a mission to reveal the scandal of Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall, which was eventually successful largely due to his singlehanded efforts.

Some of Nast's Cartoons

Compromise of 1877

The Compromise of 1877 was a controversial political dealing that ended Reconstruction and resulted in the election of Rutherford B Hayes. After Democrats were outraged that Tilden lost the election, the Democrat majority House helped pass this Compromise, which said that the Democrats would recognize Hayes as president if he removed troops from the South, appointed a Democrat into his Cabinet, and helped the South recover from the losses of the war, including industrialization and building a transcontinental railroad.