The Gilded Age

By: Kyle Zatyko

What is the gilded age?

Definition of gilded- covered thinly with gold leaf or gold paint.

Coined by Mark Twain this age encompasses the time after the Civil War up until the progressive era around 1913. 'Gilded' was used because like the gold on the surface of a coin, America was prosperous and growing rapidly, but, like the regular stone underneath, the country was less than ideal.

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How the beginning was granted.

After Andrew Johnson's disaster of a presidency the Republicans chose Ulysses S Grant, the famous union general, as their candidate for president.

Republican: Grant

  • Famous due to the war
  • Did not have previous government experience
  • Campaigned with the slogan "let us have peace"
  • Bloody Shirt-reminding the public of the war that Grant won, "vote as you shot"

Democrat: Horatio Seymour

  • Democrat party was divided sectionally
  • Former governor of New York
  • Poor mid-westerners introduced the "Ohio Idea", the focus on greenback money

The ugly stone: Corruption

Boss Tweed- Tweed was a government official in NYC and dealt with contracting work from companies. He engaged in kick backing with the companies, or over paying them for the work they do and the company gives him the difference in money, as well as outright bribing. The New York Times published evidence of Tweed's dealings and soon the public, spearheaded by the political cartoonist Thomas Nast, called for his imprisonment.

Examples of Thomas Nast's work.

More Stones

Trusts- Companies of similar enterprises came together to form a trust and in combination would raise prices, limiting competition and hurting the consumer.

Union Pacific Railroad- When tasked by the government to build more railroads Union Pacific Railroad created a sister company Credit Mobilier and hired that sister company to make the railroads for them at hugely inflated prices, garnering more money for the company at the expense of tax payers. Government officials were found to have been bribed to keep quiet about the pilfering when the scheme was revealed.

Compromise of 1877

The election of 1876

Republican candidate: Rutherford B. Hayes

Democrat candidate: Samuel J. Tilden

The election was a complete mess. Three states, Florida, South Carolina, and Louisiana sent 2 sets of ballots each with separate results. Furthermore the election depended on these 3 states votes because Tilden won the popular vote but was one elector vote from being declared the winner.

It was up to congress to decide the course of action. They devised a committee comprised of senators, representatives, and supreme court justices to 'work it out'. Hayes was declared the winner of all 3 states, giving him the presidency, however, it was under the condition that the US military would remove its troops from Louisiana and South Carolina. This decision marked the end of reconstruction and the end of the Republican party's focus on civil rights.

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