The Gilded Age

By David Gu

Gilded: Covered with Gold

This was a time of economic growth, filled with advancement and prosperity - on the outside. Internally, businesses were corrupted and used bribes in order to benefit themselves, with some industries becoming huge monopolies dominated by one company. There were much corruption in the government as well, with scandals even with the Grant Administration, causing people to distrust the government as well as corporations.

Grant and the "Bloody Shirt" Campaign

Ulyssess S Grant ran as the Republican Representative, and Horatio Seymour as the Democratric in the Election of 1868. As the popular general of the Union Army, Grant garnered all the votes without even trying, even as Seymour traveled all across the country to try to convince the population that the South were seriously trying to reform. The Grant Administration simply waved the "Bloody Shirt" which told them that they were responsible for all the mishaps that the citizens still remembered during the Civil War.

The Corruption of the Gilded Age

One of the most notorious scandals of this era was the Tweed Ring. William "Boss" Tweed, the owner of Tammany Hall, devised a complex system where he was able to get money from the city by ensuring kickbacks from his co-conspirators. He ran a political machine, which was how he was able to gather up the support of the lower class by offering them a few benefits that he was able to provide - in return for complete loyalty to him. Therefore Boss Tweed controlled many aspects of the politics of New York City, stealing over $100 million in the process. His frauds were brought to the public thanks to Thomas Nast, a political cartoonist in New York City. His cartoons were instrumental in bringing the Tweed Ring down, and even received a bribe from Tweed to stop producing them. When Tweed escaped from jail to Spain, he was caught because he was recognized by people from Nast's cartoons.

Comprimise of 1877

During the election of 1877, Rutherford B. Hayes did not win the popular vote for the presidency, and was only a few electoral votes away from Samuel J. Tilden. It was an unofficial comprimise that gave the presidency to Hayes in return for the South to go back to their old ways. Union Reconstruction troops were pulled out of the South, and Democrats were also allowed back into major politics. It was seen as betraying the African American cause of equality while brining the South back to the Union.