The Gilded Age
Part A: Definition
Gilded Age Era
Part B: Election of Grant
Election of Grant and the "Bloody Shirt" campaign
Wealthy eastern delegates demanded a plank promising that federal war bonds be redeemed in gold, even though many of the bonds had been purchased with depreciated greenbacks. Poorer midwestern delegates promoted the "Ohio Idea,"
which called for redemption in greenbacks. Democrats wanted to keep money in circulation and keep interest rates lower. This dispute introduced a bitter contest over monetary policy that continued to convulse the Republic. The Democrats' nominee Horatio Seymour scuttled the party's faint hope for success by repudiating the Ohio Idea. Republicans whipped for enthusiasm for Grant by energetically "waving the bloody shirt". This revived gory memories of the recent Civil War, which for the first time became a prominent feature of a presidential campaign. "Vote as You Shot" was another powerful Republican slogan.
Grant won the electoral vote and popular vote in the election but the only won the popular vote by 300,000. Most white voters supported Seymour and and estimated 50,000 former slaves gave Grant his margin of victory. To remain in power, the Republican party had to continue to control the South and keep the the ballot in the hands of the grateful freedmen.
Part C: Corruption of Gilded Age
Corrupted politics and people
The infamous and corrupt Tweed Ring in New York City clearly displayed the lack of ethics typical of that era. Burly "Boss" Tweed employed bribery, graft, and fraudulent elections to milk the metropolis of as much as $200 million. Honest citizens were cowed into silence. Protesters found their tax assessments raised. Tweed's days or manipulation and unethical scheming finally ran out. The New York Times secured damning evidence in 1871 and courageously published it, though offered $5 million not to do so. Cartoonist Thomas Nast pilloried Tweed mercilessly, after spurning a heavy bribe to desist. Nast attacked "Boss" Tweed in a series of cartoons that appeared in Harper's Weekly in 1972. In one, Nast depicts the corrupt Tweed as a powerful giant, towering over a puny law force. The portly thief apparently claimed that his illiterate followers could not help seeing "them damn pictures." Unbailed and unwept, Tweed died behind bars.