by: Nitya Chivukula

The Gilded Age

What does Gilded mean and how does it pertain to the Age?

The word "gilded" was coined by author Mark Twain in his book that talked about money and social climbers. Gilded literally means to give a deceptively attractive appearance to something. For this age, gilded held a connotation of cheap commercialization, shoddiness, fakery, and lastly the fascination of gold or wealth. In fact, the people covered their coins with gold which helped lead the era to be called the Gilded age. What was ironic was that while there were many extremely wealth people, the majority of the society was extremely poor.

The Election of Grant and the Bloody Shirt Campaign

Ulysses Grant was in the position of Secretary of State as Stanton was fired during Johnson's presidency. While Johnson was not successfully impeached, he did not run for a second term. Therefore in 1868, Grant was nominated as a Republican candidate. ALthough he lacked the experience to run a country, Grant was very popular for being a war hero. Grant leaned towards the platform of the Radical Republicans as he too wanted the Federal government to protect the African Americans and he wanted to stop the Confederacy from taking power. The South nominated Horatio Seymour as the Democratic candidate. Seymour ran many campaigns to prove that the South wholly wanted to return to the Union. In return, Grant ran his "Bloody Shirt" Campaigns in order to remind the Union about what the South had done previously. Grant was advocating for peace, but used this campaign to remind struggles, passions, and losses of the civil war in order to raise resentment towards the Democrats. In the end, Grant won with 53% of the popular vote and 214 out of the 294 electoral votes.

Age of Corruption?

There was much corruption in this era.

For example:

1)Businesses would form a duplicated board so they could make the other one bankrupt and take its money: this would hurt the investors and taxpayers

=A primary example of this was the Union Pacific and Transcontinental Railroad affair

- Union Pacific set up Credit Mobilier but then let it go bankrupt and thus taking away all the money from the investors and taxpayers

2) The government was also corruption as it ran on the spoils system

-Nepotism and patronage also existed in the government, sapping its vitality

3) There was also neighborhood organizations and political machines that would use preferential treatment in order to influence election

= the leaders or bosses claimed loyalty to whom they owed their success too

-bribed people to vote for them

-took money illegally to gain political favor

-a famous example of this was William Marcy Tweed of Tammany Hall

4) Immigrants were exploited:

=Tweed was a primary example that did this with his kickbacks

-low wages in their workplace

-the tenants that they were forced to live in

Other incidents that showcased the corruption was:

-Summer 1869 : price of gold increases

-Annexation of Santo Domingo: treaty is signed to annex this area

-Whiskey Ring: group of government officials took the revenue tax on whiskey

William Marcy Tweed of Tammany Hall and Thomas Nast


-He was a boss of Tammany Hall which was a Political Machine

-He used bribery and kickbacks to steal $200 million from the the city of New York

-Used some of this money to give to people for bribes

Nast and the New York Times:

-In 1871 the New York Times published a series of articles showcasing Tweed's corruption

-Word really got out when the political cartoonist Thomas Nast published political cartoons about Tweed

= this really helped the poor as most of them could not read the articles on the New York Times

The Compromise of 1877

The presidential election of 1876 consisted of two candidates, Republican Rutherford Hayes and Democratic Samuel Tilden. The real problem came when the disputed territories of Louisiana, South Carolina, and Florida sent their votes in. There were two sets, one being Republican and the other Democratic. The Constitutional Crisis came when it was not apparent whether the Speaker of the House or president of the Senate should open it. This deadlock was broken by the Electoral Count Act, only to lead into another deadlock. It was agreed to take in the Republican count which angered the Democrats.

This Conflict was broken by the Compromise of 1877. Democrats were promised that Hayes would take out his troops from Louisiana and South Carolina. The Republicans also promised to support a bill that would buy over the Texas and Pacific Railroad construction.

Although this compromise brought peace between the two parties, it was at the expense of the racial equality that the Republicans fought for. With this compromise, the Reconstruction era had ended.