Alex Johnson

Gilded Age

What is the Gilded Age?

Gilded means that something is covered in a layer that makes it appear nice on the outside, but underneath, there are problems.

From the outside, the Gilded Age looks like a prosperous time for America as the country moved from its agrarian roots to an industrial dominated economy. It was also a time of civil reform, but beneath what is happening on the surface, America was filled with social problems and corruption in industry from guile, duplicity, and shady business dealings.

Election of 1868: Grant and the Bloody Shirt Campaign

After the disaster that became of Johnson's presidency, Ulysses S. Grant had a good chance at the presidency because he fought with Johnson on the side that the public liked. While the southern democrats, with Horatio Seymour as their candidate, did an extensive amount of campaigning to convince the northerners that the South was 100% loyal to the Union, Grant did a minimal amount of campaigning and still won the 1868 election. His campaign consisted primarily of waving a bloody shirt to remind the nation of the destruction that the Confederacy caused during the Civil War.

The Gilded Age Corruption

The Gilded Age was a time when power was often time abused. Political Machines started organizations that were meant to help impoverished people, but they quickly became duplicitous companies that focused on profiting for themselves. William "Boss" Tweed stole thousands of dollars through bribery and kickbacks-a process where Tweed promised to hire a certain company for civil projects as long as they return some money Tweed. Thomas Nast revealed Tweed's actions to the public through numerous political cartoons and articles. The political machines used their power and immigrant support to gain high ranking political positions. With the spoils system, these political machines granted their followers high ranking positions regardless of their experience or knowledge. Powerful businessmen built tenements, but then proceeded to treat immigrants horribly and not conform to the suggestions of unions such as The Knights of Labor. John Rockefeller an other business men attempted to get monopolies on industries, and huge companies such as the Union Pacific Railroad stashed money for themselves. As epitomized by the definition of gilded, this era looked prosperous but it was full of guile.

Compromise of 1877

Because the election of 1876 was so close and multiple states were suspects of fraud, the disputed votes were given to the House of Representatives. Rutherford B. Hayes, the republican candidate, one the election by calming the south's opposition to him. The compromise stated that if elected, the south would see an increase in internal improvements, removal of all federal troops from their land, and further measures to help get the south back on their feet from the Civil War. The government abandoned its little commitment to African American equality, and at last the nation had officially come to peace within its borders.