The Gilded Age

Maggie Hohfeler

The term "Gilded"

The definition of gilded is having a pleasing and showy appearance that conceals something of little worth. This applies to the Gilded Age because on the outside the United States looked good. Our economy was booming and we were industrializing. However, when you get on the inside, people were using get-rich-quick schemes and social climbers. These people all looked great and wonderful, until you got under the gold.

"Bloody Shirt" Campaign and the Election of 1868

The term "Waving of the Bloody Shirt" refers to remembering the hardships faced during the Civil War, and the hardships still faced with Reconstruction. Radical Republicans often used it to remind people to focus their attention on Reconstruction. Used in the Election of 1868 with Grant, it served as his platform. Grant ran against Democratic nominee Horatio Seymour and won.

Corruption during the Gilded Age

The Gilded Age was also an age of lots of corruption. One example of this are two men by the names of Jim Fisk and Jay Gould. The two men bought a large amount of gold, with the intent of selling it for a profit. In order to lower the high price of gold, the Treasury was forced to sell gold from its reserves. Another example was the infamous William "Boss" Tweed. Tweed used bribery and kickbacks to milk New York City out of $200 million. The money he spent went to rightful things such as constructing public buildings, but the kickbacks and inflated prices were illegal. The New York Times published evidence against Tweed, based off of a cartoon that Thomas Nast drew. A final example of the corruption of the age is with the Union Pacific Railroad Company. The company created a company, Credit Mobilier, to supply supplies and labor. The New York Times exposed the double ownership and congressional hearings were held. To keep things quiet, Credit Mobilier gave huge amounts of its shares to congressmen.

Thomas Nast's Work

The Compromise of 1877

In the election of 1876, Democratic candidate Samuel J. Tilden won the popular vote, but lost the electoral college by one vote to Republican candidate Rutherford B. Hayes. However, the winner would be determining electoral votes would come from Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina, who each sent in two sets of votes, one with Democrats winning and one with the Republicans winning so there was no winner in these states. The Speaker of the House was Democrat, and president of the Senate was Republican. To find out the winner, Congress passed the Compromise of 1877, which assigned 15 men from the Senate, House of Representatives and Supreme Court to decide the winner. Without opening the ballots, they determined that Republicans were the winner. Outraged Democrats agreed to let Hayes take office if he withdrew troops from Louisiana and South Carolina.