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Gilded Age

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Gilded Age

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  1. Gilded Age • Political and Economic Challenges • Chapter 7

  2. Essential Questions • E.Q. 12 - Analyze a primary source document reflecting the dynamics of the Gilded Age American society. • E.Q. 14 - Analyze a political cartoon that portrays the controversial aspects of the Gilded Age. • E.Q. 15 - Explain the impact of different forms of corruption and its consequences in American politics during the later half of the Age. • E.Q. 17 - Determine the progress of political and social reform in America during the Progressive Era

  3. Objectives • Analyze the issue of corruption in national politics in the 1870s and 1880s. • Discuss civil service reform during the 1870s and 1880s. • Assess the importance of economic issues in the politics of the Gilded Age. • Discover the various scandals that plagued this era.

  4. Gilded Age Meaning • Book by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner: The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today(1893) - satirizing what they believed to be an era of serious social problems hidden by a thin gold gilding - describes the political corruption of President Ulysses S. Grant’s administration (1869-1877) • suggested a shallow glitter which came to describe the social and political life of the latter part of the 19th century • characterizes an era which enriched some people while trapping others in poverty

  5. Gilded Age Meaning • Term refers to the shallow and gaudy culture engaged in by the newly rich and the families of old wealth • Some historians interpret the ornate mansions of New York City and lavishparties held in them as expression of excess wealth caused by mindless greed. • A play on “Golden Age” • Thin gold layer covering outside (to “gild” something)

  6. Corruption in Politics • Weak and ineffectual Presidents • lassez faire - government • Bribery • Various scandals • Political cartoons used to expose corruption: - Thomas Nast

  7. Spoils System • Spoils System • “Unless you can get the ear of a Senator... and persuade him to use his “influence” in your behalf, you cannot get employment of the most trivial nature in Washington. Mere merit, fitness and capability, are useless baggage to you without ‘influence,’ ... It would be an odd circumstance to see a girl get employment ... merely because she was worthy and competent, and a good citizen of a free country that “treats all persons alike.” -Mark Twain & Charles Dudley Warner

  8. Spoils System • Politicians awarding government jobs to loyal party workers with little regard for their qualifications. • Candidates did not help with their own elections. • Influenced high voter turnout • Led to civil service - system where most gov’t workers would get their jobs due to expertise and keep them regardless of who took over office

  9. Spoils System ctd... • Controversy over accepting the civil service system • Politicians worries about attracting workers for campaigns and parties • President James Garfield’s assassination by Charles Guiteauhelped settle the matter • Chester A. Arthur becomes President and has to support civil service reform because of public’s outcry after Garfield’s death • Laws requiring individuals to pass civil service examination to obtain government jobs - eliminate patronage and corruption in government hiring

  10. Pendleton Civil Service Act • 1883 • Applied to Federal jobs • Jobs are rewarded based on merit • Establishes the Civil Service Commission - make government appointments based on merit system • wrote a civil service exam

  11. “Boss System” • “Political Machine” • Local level spoils system • The leader is the “political boss” • System is held together with material rewards • Jobs, lodging, extra groceries, and a means of socialization for new immigrants • In exchange, the immigrants offered votes

  12. “Boss System” William “Boss” Tweed • Tammany Hall Democratic political machine in NYC • “Tweed Ring” - small group of men who controlled New York City's finances • Boss Tweed. “As long as I count the votes, what are you going to do about it? say?” • The Boss System aspect of Gilded Age illustrated in this cartoon

  13. Grant’s Black Friday • President Ulysses S. Grant • During Reconstruction, greenbacks issued without gold backing them. • James Fisk & Jay Gould sought to corner the gold market • Conspired with Grant’s brother-in-law, financier Abel Corbin • Manipulated Grant in social situations to hold gold • Summer 1969 - started buying up all the gold (Prices rise, stocks plummet) • September 20, 1969 - start hoarding gold (Drive prices even higher) • Friday, September 24, 1969 - Grant discovers what is going on and releases gov’t gold and prices plummet

  14. CorbisDespair after the collapse of the gold market

  15. Whiskey Ring Scandal • During the Reconstruction, the government needed funds to help the recoveryprocess • Enacted steep taxes - especially on liquor • Upset, distilleries concocted a plan to retain the money which involved bribing government officials. • St. Louis, Chicago, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, New Orleans, Peoria • Soon, millions of dollars were missing in federal taxes and high government officials (including President Grant’s personal secretary Orville E. Babcock) were embroiled. • In 1847, it was finally busted by the new Secretary of Treasury Benjamin Bristow. - organized a secret investigation that exposed the ring and resulted in 238 indictments and 110 convictions

  16. Whiskey Ring