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The “Gilded Age” 1865-1900 Author Mark Twain. VOCABULARY GILDED Covered with a thin layer of gold or a substance that looks like gold.

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Presentation on theme: "The “Gilded Age” 1865-1900 Author Mark Twain. VOCABULARY GILDED Covered with a thin layer of gold or a substance that looks like gold."— Presentation transcript:

1 The “Gilded Age” 1865-1900 Author Mark Twain

2 VOCABULARY GILDED Covered with a thin layer of gold or a substance that looks like gold.

3 The Gilded Age… Looked golden, shiny, happy, prosperous BUT UNDERNEATH IT ALL… [Fill in your own disgusting images]

4 What was shiny in the Gilded Age? Economic growth –close to the wealthiest country in the world –People with enormous fortunes Big cities –Exciting, modern places Technology –Telephone, electric light, and thousands more

5 What Was the [xxxxx] Underneath? Massive poverty, hunger, homelessness Domination of society by big business and trusts Horrible working conditions & child labor Corruption Total abandonment of civil rights Total lack of rights for women

6 Labor Conditions in the Gilded Age

7 Industrialist Cornelius Vanderbilt “The public be damned” “Who gives a damn about the public? I got the power, don’t I


9 Corruption in the Gilded Age Grant Administration –Credit Mobilier Scandal Railroad company was overcharging the US government and giving bribes to govt. officials –Whiskey Ring Scandal Govt officials taking bribes to assist whiskey sellers break the law Public officials for sale


11 Politics in the Gilded Age

12 The Federal Government’s Jobs During the Gilded Age Deliver mail Maintain a small army Provide a structure by which the dull, bearded presidents could comb their beards In other words: very little power

13 The Age of Mediocre, Forgettable Presidents Hayes, 1877-1881 Garfield, 1881 Arthur, 1881-1885 Cleveland, 1885-1889; 1893-1897 Harrison, 1889-1893

14 Elections, 1876-1896

15 The Two Parties Democrats and Republicans Very similar –Pro business –Anti-radical –Republicans a little (not a lot) more responsive to civil rights Your politics didn’t determine your party; your CULTURE did

16 Who Belonged to Each Party? “Old stock” Protestants –Anti-immigrant –Pro-temperance Northeasterners Blacks Bankers, Bigger business owners, etc. –Pro-tariff White Southerners Catholics & other big city immigrants Westerners Farmers Republicans Democrats

17 Social Issues in the Gilded Age




21 Civil Rights in the Gilded Age Total abandonment of Reconstruction Blacks had few voting or civil rights Staggering number of lynchings an other forms of violence

22 Civil Rights in the Gilded Age Plessy v. Ferguson –1896 Supreme Court decision –Separate facilities did not violate the 14 th Amendment as long as they were “equal” They were never equal –Law of the land until 1954 1890—Force Bill (to enforce 15 th Amendment) is voted down Last Black leaves Congress in 1901 –None til 1929

23 “Strange Fruit”—Billie Holiday Southern trees bear strange fruit, Blood on the leaves and blood at the root, Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze, Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees. Pastoral scene of the gallant south, The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth, Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh, Then the sudden smell of burning flesh. Here is fruit for the crows to pluck, For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck, For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop, Here is a strange and bitter cry.

24 Women’s Rights in the Gilded Age Some western states allowed suffrage –Wyoming the 1 st in 1890 Overall, women had few rights –Voting, child custody, divorce, freedom from violence, property ownership, etc.

25 Economic Issues in the Gilded Age

26 Farm Crisis in the Gilded Age Economic –New technology & new lands meant overproduction –Low prices & heavy debts made farmers desperate Political –1800—97% of population was rural –1880—only 60% was rural –Farmers are losing political voice Social –Lonely, boring isolated life on the farms

27 Farmers Were in Debt To… Banks Land speculators Commercial (corporate) farms Railroads Equipment Salesmen Mills & other middle men KEY POINT: Farmers had no control over any of these people

28 The Solution? Formation of the Farmers’ Alliances –A sort of “labor union for farmers” Membership: –4,000,000 farmers by 1890 –Both white and black Alliances Goals: –Economic cooperation & assistance to each other –Political lobbying & candidate support Eventually their own political party (The Populists) –Relieving social isolation through gatherings

29 Why Farmers Were Going Broke Technology & new lands mean overproduction –Means falling prices (“the more ya got, the less it’s worth”) Technology is expensive Middle-men (mill owners, etc.) charge a lot Banks charge high interest & take land Monopolistic railroads charge high rates


31 Alliance Economic Tactics Sharing technology Pooling resources to start own banks Fixing prices at a higher level & limiting production –Sort of like the manufacturers’ pools Starting non-profit mills, etc.

32 Alliance Leader Mary Elizabeth Lease “Raise less corn and more… HELL!!!”

33 Alliance Political Tactics Campaign for & Support friendly candidates –Most often Democrats –1890 helped elect friendly legislators 50 Congressmen 6 Senators Lobby for favorable laws –Railroad regulations, government assistance to farmers, etc. 1892—Formation of the People’s (Populist) Party

34 A Texas Alliance Gathering, 1890

35 1892 Election

36 The People’s (Populist) Party Formed in 1892 Constituency –Mostly western and southern farmers –Attempted to recruit organized labor as well Core Beliefs –Stronger national government –Public ownership of utilities & railroads –Government loans to farmers –“Free silver” Success –Won 8.5% of vote & three states in for president in 1892

37 Money Printed money had to be backed by a supply of a precious metal Based only on gold—less money printed Based on gold & silver—more money printed “The more there is the less it’s worth” If the money is worth less, prices are higher –inflation

38 Money, Part 2 People in debt (who owe money) want –More money available Debts are worth less Debtors (people who are owed money) want –Less money available Debts are worth more Farmers wanted… –More money available –Paper money based on gold and silver

39 3 Early Attempts at Reform in the Gilded Age Pendleton Act (1884) Interstate Commerce Act (1887) Sherman Anti-Trust Act (1890)

40 Pendleton Act Pendleton Act required some government jobs to be assigned through competitive exams More symbolic than effective

41 Interstate Commerce Act Goal was to regulate railroads rate Said that railroads must charge “a reasonable and just rate” –Gave no indication what that meant Set up the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) –Had no enforcement power at all

42 The ICC can be made of great use to the railroads. it satisfies the popular clamor for a government supervision of the railroads, at the same time that such supervision is entirely nominal…The part of wisdom is not to destroy the Commission, but to utilize it.” --Railroad Corporation Lawyer Richard Olney



45 Sherman Anti-Trust Act Put government restrictions on trusts, monopolies and certain trade practices In reality, rarely enforced at all against corporations WAS used against labor unions –“monopolies of labor”

46 The Tariff 1890—McKinley Tariff; highest ever 1894—Wilson-Gorman Tariff –Democrats controlled White House & Congress –But still an INCREASE in tariff –Did include a 2% graduated income tax Ruled unconstitutional 16 th Amendment of 1913

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