What is it?
Grant and the "Bloody Shirt" Campaign
Corruption During the Gilded Age
Overall, the corruption of the Gilded Age was extensive- not just politically, but socially as well. About 27 million immigrants came to the United States from the year 1880-1930 and discrimination was a prime issue during this time. Immigrants- such as Jews, Irish, Italians, and Chinese- were essentially cast out and accused of stealing jobs from American workers. Therefore, they suffered from low paying jobs, horrible living conditions in tenements, exclusion from the political process, and overall mistreatment.
Additionally, the Gilded Age reflected a time of political corruption as well. William "Boss" Tweed traded jobs, housing, and other important items in return for immigrant votes- a method called the "Spoil System." Political leaders would promise individuals political positions in the city in exchange for their vote. Tweed also gained power through kickbacks. He promised immigrants that he would build them a new tenement in return for their support. Once he had reached a position of political power in the city, he sought out funding for the construction project. In doing so, Tweed made money off of some of the project in exchange for hiring a certain company to construct the tenement. However, Tweed is not legally allowed to directly pocket the money, so he earned it by telling the company to simply pay him themselves. Essentially, Tweed found a way to steal from the city without making it look like a theft.
Tweed's scams were exposed when the New York Times posted an article about his deals. However, immigrants continued to vote for Tweed because they were not able to read the newspaper. Therefore, Thomas Nast drew cartoons for the New York Times highlighting tweed's bribed and he lost the support of immigrants.