Gilded Age Post-Reconstruction to the Turn of the Century

Economic

Scandals

  • Jim Frisk and Jay Gould devise a scheme to make the price of gold go up on Black Friday of 1869 by buying up the gold on the market; the US Treasury sold
  • Tweed Ring: Boss Tweed employed fraudulent elections, bribery, and graft to take $200 million from New York
  • Credit Mobilier Scandal: the Credit Mobilier Construction Company was created by Union Pacific Railroad stockholders, and they sold shares to Congressmen

Issues

  • The Panic of 1873 was caused by over-speculation and banks that irresponsibly gave out loans
  • Inflation was caused by mistrust in the government, and the Resumtiin Act of 1875 required that the government take greenbacks out of circulation, and redeem the currency in gold (contraction)
  • The Republican hard money policy proved detrimental and helped the Democratic party get the vote in 1874
  • Stock Watering (liquidating): they inflated claims on the company's assets and enabled it to sell for more than it was worth
  • Railroad kings monopolized the business and worked together with rich investors to gain more profit and keep prices high; this led to many economic scares and railroad strikes

Railroad System

Railroads created an enormous domestic market for American raw materials and manufactured goods, and also stimulated immigration. The railroad system also created a standard time for all of America to follow, divided into four time zones.

  • The Northern Pacific Railroad was completed in 1883
  • The Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe railroad system completeld in 1884
  • The Southern Pacific 1884
  • Great Northern Railroad was completed in 1884 (James J Hill, a private investor who's railroad outlasted those from other companies)

Industrialists

  • Cornelius Vanderbilt was a key player in the railroad industry
  • Steel was the main product of the United States, and by the 1880s, the US produced one third of the world's steel (the Bessemer process made in more profitable). Andrew Carnegie¬†(Steel King) monopolized the steel industry
  • J.P. Morgan (Bankers' Banker) financed the reorganization of the railroads and ended up buying out Carnegie
  • John D. Rockefeller (Oil Baron) created the Standard Oil Company of Ohio in 1870 to knock out his competitors and controlled 95% of the oil refineries

Political

American was effectively a Plutocracy (government controlled by the wealthy), and was fill to the brim with political corruption.

  • Economic troubles due to corrupt railroad companies were often based on immigrants, which prompted the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882
  • The Knights of Labor was a prominent labor union that was blamed for the Haymarket Square riot on May 4, 1886; thus began the union's decline and the takeover of the AF of L
  • The American Federation of Labor was founded in 1886 and was led by Samuel Gompers; it was a federation of labor unions, and helped bring about the federal holiday of Labor Day in 1894
  • Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890 which forbade monopolies

Republican

  • Stood for the continued reconstruction of the South, and tended to stress personal morality and government involvement in society and the economy,
  • They nominated Ulysses Grant in 1868 for president, who stood for peace, and continued to support him in 1872 (called a "bloody shirt" because he won based on his merit in the Civil War)
  • Due to Grant's consideration of a third term, an act was pased so that a person could only run for two terms
  • They nominated Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876, who won using the Compromise of 1877, which settled a dispute over electoral votes
  • In an attempt to promote racial equality using the Civil Rights Act of 1875, Hayes lost support from his party, and the act was seen as unconstitutional
  • James Garfield was the nominee in 1880, who was killed (VP Chester Arthur replaced him); it shocked the government into passing Pendleton Act of 1883 and the Civil Service Commission
  • James G. Blaine was their nominee in 1884
  • The Liberal Republican party was formed in 1872 in response to corruption in the government and lack of reconstruction efforts. They met in Cinncinati and chose Horace Greeley as their nominee for the 1872 election
  • Amnesty Act in 1872¬†was used to give confederate leaders a pass and reduced the Civil War tariffs the South had to pay in exchange for mild civil servace reform

Democratic

  • Made up of immigrants who were against intolerance of differnces and government involvement and the government imposing a single moral standard
  • They nominated Horatio Seymour for the platform in 1868
  • They stood behind Horace Greeley in 1872
  • They nominated Samuel J. Tilden in 1876, who won the popular vote, but lost to Rutherford; they allowed the win if they withdrew troops from Louisiana and South Carolina
  • Winfield Scott was their nominee in 1880
  • Grover Cleveland was their nominee in 1884, and he was the first win for the Democratic party during this time period

Populist

  • Made of disgruntled farmers who wanted more government involvement, shorter workdays, less immigration, and direct representation
  • Nominated James B. Weaver for the 1892 election
  • They were behind the Homestead strike
  • Supporters of black rights became the black community made up much of its voters

Social

  • Jim Crow laws and Black Codes were put forth after the Civil war in the South, Sharecroping popped up as legal slavery, and Plessy vs. Ferguson allowed for "separate but equal" establishments
  • By 1890, New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia had populations above one million (with the help of Louis Sullivan's skyscrapers) due to people being attracted to electricity and plumbing, but trash was a huge problem
  • Joseph Pulitzer led the way to Yellow Journalism, a sensational version of normal journalism that was less than truthful
  • The National Prohibition Party (1869) and the Women's Christian Temperance Union (1874), and other such moral changes led to the banning of alcohol in 1919

Cultural

  • New immigrants from southern and southeastern Europe came to the US during the "American Fever"; the federal government did little to help these immigrants assimilate, so a combination of community bosses, protestant churches, and settlement houses helped them in the governments place
  • Antiforeignism/nativism arose in the 1880s due to "natives" being scared the immigrants would push them out of their home (The American Protective Association was created in 1887 and worked to keep Catholics out of office)
  • Catholicism and Judaism gained ground because of the influx of immigrants
  • Public Education all the way up to the high school level was getting support, including monetarily in the form of tax dollars; the Morrill Act of 1862 and the Hatch Act of 1887 gave land-grants to the formation of public schools
  • The Tuskegee Institute was the first college for blacks, and it had the minds of Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Dubois, and George Washington Carver (who formed the NAACP)
  • Divorce rates increased and family size decreased as women became more independent
  • Music, art, and leisure activities (such as the fair and circus) became more popular

Literature

Literacy rates went up as books became cheaper, public schools became more prominent, and novels were wrote in common language

  • Realism- authors wrote about the drama of the real world using dry humor
  • Naturalism- writers applied scientific objectivity to human life
  • Regionalism- authors wrote about the local way of life
  • Charles Darwin published his On the Origin of the Species, which challenged the church (social darwinism stemed from this, and things like The Gospel of Wealth, which applied survival of the fittest to the rampant poverty)
  • General Lewis Wallace wrote Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ to combat Darwinism

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