The Gilded Age

By: Lindsey Maeshima

What does "Gilded" Mean?

Gild based off of Merriam Webster means. . .
  • to overlay with or as if with a thin covering of gold

The name, The Gilded Age, was termed by Mark Twain to name this era in US history. The meaning was metaphoric to show that this time period was supposed to symbolize the cheapness and fakery of the time period with cheap commercialization and a heightened interest in gold and wealth. This connects with the literal definition of gilded as to cover with gold to appear luxurious but to in reality have no substance therefore being cheap and fake.

Election of Grant and Bloody Shirt Campaign

Ulysses S. Grant was a famous war hero in the Civil War and would be elected in the Election of 1868 as a Republican. His main competitor for presidency was on the democrat side, Horatio Seymour. Grant didn't do much campaigning while Seymour went across the country trying to persuade of the South's absolute loyalty after the Civil War. Seymour's attempts failed though as in the Grant campaign, a bloody shirt was waved to show of the death caused by the South in the war. Grant won 53% of the popular vote and 214 out of 294 electoral votes. Grant promised to restore peace in the distraught nation.

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Ulysses S. Grant (VICTOR) VS Horatio Seymour

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The Corruption during the Gilded Age

  • Business was rapidly growing, companies often using illegal measures to get rich quick and to successfully compete with other businesses
  • The government didn't interfere with business's cut-throat methods, an approach called laissez-faire
  • One of the big scandals involved the Union Pacific building of the transcontinental railroad through government money then claiming to be bankrupt when the Union Pacific had paid inflated prices for Credit Mobilier's services and supplies, shareholders ended up losing millions in effect
  • William "Boss" Tweed, a powerful figure in Tammany Hall, formed the Tweed Ring which bought immigrant votes in exchange for jobs, housing, and other items for immigrants, encouraging judicial corruption
  • Tweed used kick-backs and bribes but was exposed by the New York Times and cartoonist Thomas Nast, his efforts resulting in almost every Tammany Hall member being removed from power in 1871
  • Tweed was sent to prison after being recognized from one of Nast's cartoons by the Spanish police

Compromise of 1877

  • One of the compromises to keep America together w/o violence AFTER the Civil War
  • Occurred in effect after the election of 1876
  • Rutherford B. Hayes, Republican, if taken office would need to bring an end to Reconstruction in the South which ended up occurring, end of Reconstruction Era
  • Supposed to have federal financial help for the South but didn't end up occurring
  • Turned away from the problem of slavery in the South and took a turn towards the Jim Crow era