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Gilded Age: Essential Questions

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1 Gilded Age: Essential Questions
What is meant by the term Gilded Age and how true was it about American life during the late 1800s? Why did political machines come to dominate cities during this period? What problems arose from political machines and patronage during this era?

2 -Term coined by Mark Twain
Gilded Age -Term coined by Mark Twain -Used to describe the glitter of the time period which hid the corruption of politics and government as well as the growing gap between the rich and the poor


4 CORRUPT GOVERNMENT -many people saw gov’t job as means of wealth -spoils or patronage system—giving gov’t jobs to friends and party supporters -trusts and monopolies had come to dominate and control the gov’t People in gov’t positions known for corruption: -graft: illegal use of political position for personal gain -kickbacks: form of bribery, obtaining money and “gifts” illegally -Fraud: deception for personal gain

-laissez-faire (hands-off approach to gov’t) and social darwinism (survival of the fittest) led to and allowed for corruption -Lack of city services: water fire departments police departments -Lack of social services for poor and immigrants: need to find jobs need places to live need for US citizenship

Lack of regulation by gov’t, social services, and city services leads to the development of political machines Political machine: when a party comes to dominate an area, social darwinism at its best Political Machines are characterized by: -Pyramid in nature—a boss at the top, ward bosses who ran particular neighborhoods, and precinct workers & captains that helped secure votes -Corruption in the form of patronage, loyalty, graft, & kickbacks -Offered services (help finding jobs, a place to live, and becoming a US citizen) to immigrants in exchange for votes & monetary gifts -Controlled jobs, business (both legal and illegal like gambling rings), gov’t, tenements, etc. Why did the public allow this system??? –political machines are able to provide solutions to the challenges that immigrants faced



9 TWEED RING -most notorious political machine was:
Tweed Ring also known as Tammany Hall -controlled NYC -Boss: William Tweed -Democrats -lots of graft and corruption which allowed Tweed & the other leaders to make money off of the tax payers -many of the immigrants couldn’t read so when newspapers published articles about Tweed Ring and the corruption they went unnoticed. -eventually exposed by political cartoonist Thomas Nast, everyone can understand a picture




13 OTHER SCANDALS -fraudulent elections
-lobbyists & captains of industry held great influence over Congress for the large trusts -patronage system leads to unqualified people in office that often used positions as a means of personal gain During the 1870s Grant’s administration: -Credit Mobilier: RR Scandal involving the construction of RR—investors literally signed contracts with themselves and then overcharged for construction to make more -Whiskey Ring: distillers paid bribe to tax collectors

14 CIVIL SERVICE REFORM BEGINS -Rutherford Hayes campaigns for political reform & is elected in 1877 -Hayes urges the elimination of patronage system and establishment of merit system -Hayes leads reform efforts: appoints independents to office, sets-up investigative commissions -James Garfield (elected in 1880) continues reforms by appointing reformers to positions

15 -Garfield assassinated by job seeker (essentially job seeker who support Garfield during his campaign was not awarded a job b/c Garfield felt he was not qualified) Chester Arthur (VP) becomes President and passes the: -Pendleton Act passes: Ended spoils/patronage system established Civil Service Commission which made appointments based on a merit system Required gov’t examination for jobs

16 The Tariff Debate Rages On
Tariffs are designed to protect domestically produced goods, now United States is a world leader so are they necessary? -big business says YES -Democrats (mostly South) say NO Grover Cleveland(1884) —tries to lower tariffs but no support from Congress Benjamin Harrison(1888) —signed McKinley Tariff Act increasing tariffs Cleveland again(1892) only president to serve two non-consecutive terms Again supported lowering tariffs, but was unsuccessful

17 Gilded Age Activity Key Terms & Political Machine Review
Study Guide Goal 5 Test tomorrow—SSS pgs (Big Business, Industrialization, Inventions, Labor Movement & Strikes, Immigration & Urbanization, The Gilded Age)

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