Sayed Juneja

The Gilded Age


Gilded means "covered thinly with gold leaf or gold paint.".

The Gilded age was the period of time 30 years after the Civil War, coined by Mark Twain. He was referring to the pretty, shiny, and adorned exterior but the corruption that lied within. This period of time was a period of greed and guile: unscrupulous speculators shady business practices, and scandalous politics.

(Mark Twain)

Grant and the Bloody Shirt campaign

General Grant was nominated to be president by the Republicans in 1868. Grant, a moderate Republican was not an ardent supporter of Radical Republican Reconstruction. However he hastily accepted the Republican nomination for presidency. On the other hand, the Democrats nominated Horatio Seymour for the presidency. In order to bolster support for Grant, the Republicans "waved the bloody shirt", a metaphor to reference the blood of martyrs. The Republicans "Waved the bloody shirt" to show that Grant was a true hero of the Union and to expose the Democrats as traitors who opposed the unification the country and the Civil War. Grant won convincingly in the Electoral College, but the popular vote margin was only about 300,000 votes. It was clear that former slaves provided the margin of victory.

(President Grant)

Corruption in the Guilded Age

Corruption was rife in the Guilded Age, in politics and business. One notable example William Tweed and his kickback scheme. In New York City, Boss Tweed ran Tammany Hall, a local political district. Boss Tweed used bribes, graft, and rigged elections to take money and ensure continual power for himself and his buddies, in a textbook example of machine politics. Thomas Nast was a cartoonist from the New York Times who exposed Tweed's corruption. Tweed despised Nast because, many people in Tweed's district couldn't read about the corruption but they could understand pictures. Nast's cartoon's were instrumental in bringing down Tweed. These cartoons were able to help many illiterate immigrants understand the corruption taking place. Tweed was prosecuted by the future presidential candidate, Samuel Tilden. Tweed eventually died in prison.

The corruption often came via the railroads, meddling with stock prices, and through corrupt polticians.

Jim Fisk and his partner Jay Gould were another notable example. These two came up with, and nearly pulled off, a scheme in 1869 to corner the gold market to themselves.

One of the worst situations was the Crédit Mobilier scandal.

The company was constructing the trans-continental railroad and effectively manipulated the business so they could make double the profit by making two companies instead of one.They also paid off Congressmen in order to avoid getting busted.A newspaper finally exposed the scandal, two Congressmen went down, and the Vice President of the U.S. was censured.

(Tweed below)

The Compromise of 1877

Immediately after the election of 1877 there was a discrepancy in votes between the Southern Democrats and the Republicans. It was evident that the key to the election was from the votes in Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina. Rutherford Hayes and the Southern Democrats secretly met to discuss what would happen. Finally they reached an agreement- the Democrats would give the presidency to Hayes but the Union had to withdraw it's soldiers from the South, effecively bringing the reconstruction era to a close. As a result the South was free of the Union watching their every movement, and the Florida, South Carolina, and Louisiana all became Democratic territory.

(President Rutherford B. Hayes)