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America's Gilded Age (1870-1890)

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Britt Christensen

on 8 January 2016

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Transcript of America's Gilded Age (1870-1890)

The Gilded Age (1870-1890)
What is the meaning of the term....
"gilded?"
The Corruption of Politics
"The galleries and lobbies of every legislature are thronged with men seeking to procure an advantage for one corporation or another."
"Boss" William M. Tweed (Tammany Hall Machine):
Reached into every neighborhood; close ties with railroad men and labor unions; support of immigrants through private "welfare" system; payments from reformers and businessmen
Lawmakers supported bills aiding companies they had connections to....
Credit Mobilier-participants could sign contracts with themselves to build new railroad lines; Speaker of the House (and others) owned stock in the corporation
Whiskey Ring-tax collectors and whiskey manufacturers defrauded the government of millions of tax dollars
American Democracy in the Gilded Age"
Republican Party
People with $$$
North, upper Midwest
High tariffs
Limits on immigration
Democratic Party
Immigrants, laborers, planters, farmers
Low tariffs
High farm prices
Less government aid to big business

Regulate railroad, businesses
Rates in proportion to distance traveled
Public rates
Outlawed special rates to special customers
Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) to enforce
19th-(R)Rutherford B. Hayes (1878-1891)

21st-(R) Chester Arthur (1881-1885)

23rd-(R) Benjamin Harrison (1889-1893)

25th-(R) William McKinley (1897-1901)
In a growing capitalist system, laws helped to establish that the
national government could regulate the economy to promote public good
...
Discussion Question...
At this time in history, the different regions of the country had very different priorities. Discuss these differences.
Division in Society
Workers (Labor):
Manufacturers (Capital):
Complained of overwork, poor housing, tyrannical employers
Workingmen were the "scum of the English and Irish" with a "hereditary feeling of discontent"
Talk of "better classes," "respectable classes," and "dangerous classes" dominated discussion
Questions:
Explain Charles Darwin's theory of evolution....
How was this theory applied to society (Social Darwinism)?
Social Darwinism...
"It is a time when one’s spirit is subdued and sad, one knows not why; when the past seems a storm-swept desolation, life a vanity and a burden, and the future but a way to death. It is a time when one is filled with vague longings; when one dreams of flight to peaceful islands in the remote solitudes of the sea, or folds his hands and says, What is the use of struggling, and toiling and worrying any more? let us give it all up.”
-Mark Twain
The Gilded Age
Social Gospel...
Reaction to Social Darwinism
Freedom and spiritual self-development required equal wealth and power
Competition and inequality went against Christian ideals and beliefs
Combat poverty, child labor, poor housing conditions
Liberty of Contract:
"So long as labor relations are governed by contracts freely arrived at by independent individuals, neither the government nor unions had a right to interfere with working conditions, and Americans had no ground to complain of a loss of freedom."
What are YOUR thoughts on this? How would this opinion be regarded in today's society?
"Gospel of Wealth" Questions:
1) Carnegie spoke out against "indiscriminate charity." What did he mean by this statement?
2) What should be the primary considerations when bestowing charity?
3) How do you think Carnegie would describe someone who was "worthy" of charity?
4) Do you agree with Carnegie's "Gospel of Wealth?" Why or why not?
Question: How much power should the government be allowed to accomplish this goal?
Prosperity covering up the problems that exist in society
Series of nonthreatening, Almost Forgettable Presidents...
Reform Legislation.....
Interstate Commerce Act
Important Terms:
Trust
Vertical Consolidation
Horizontal Consolidation
Monopoly
Companies in a single industry managed by a single director
Controls
every phase of production
, from raw materials to production to transportation of finished products
Buying out and controlling competition
Specific person or enterprise controls an entire industry or commodity
Example: Railroad lobbyists
20th-(R) James Garfield (1881)
22nd-(D) Grover Cleveland (1885-1889)
24th-(D) Grover Cleveland (1893-1897)
In three of the five elections, the margin separating major candidates was less than 1%
Elections were closely contested
80% (or more) of eligible voters cast votes
Massive party rallies
How does this compare to elections today?
Addressed the "spoils system"
Pendleton Civil Service Act (1883)
Sherman Anti-Trust Act
Civil Service Commission-tested applicants' fitness for government jobs
Focused on hiring qualified people, not people who were connected
Requires U.S. government to investigate and pursue trusts, companies, and organizations in violation of the act
-Promotes competition
Did the growing "permanent factory population" living on the edge of poverty alongside a growing class of millionaires pose a challenge to traditional ideas of freedom?
Did America's promise still lie in the opportunity it offered ordinary citizens to achieve economic independence?
Some groups naturally superior over others
"Survival of the fittest"
Poor were responsibly for their own fate
Failure to advance in society due to lack of character, determination, self reliance
Inequality is natural and workers should not look to the government for aid
"The days are over in which this country could rejoice in its freedom from the elements of social strife which have long abounded in the old countries."
New York Times
1) Why is this period of time called the "Gilded Age?"
2) Explain horizontal and vertical consolidation.
3) What is a "political machine?"
4) Explain the role of william "boss" tweed
5) Describe the Presidents who served during this time period
6) Characteristics of the Republican Party?
7) Characteristics of the democratic party?
8) Describe an example of reform legislation passed during this time period
9) Explain the theory of "Social Darwinism"
10) Explain this Image of Capitalism
Important Term:
Political Machine
What is a "political machine?"
Scenario:
Image yourself a poor Irish immigrant living in New York City's Lower East Side around the turn of the 20th century. Your wife suddenly fell ill, and her health steadily got worse. You had no money for medical help. But you knew who to contact: the 'boss' of the local Democratic political machine. The boss shows up and helps get your wife to the hospital. You say you have no money, and he replies, 'Don't worry about it. Just remember this on election day.' And you do. You vote for whichever Democratic candidate the boss tells you.
An urban organization designed to win elections and reward its followers
Often formed a 'shadow government' more powerful than the actual elected officials
Support and Rewards:
Immigrants and the Poor
Machines often provided social services in exchange for party support on election days
Weatlhy Businessmen/Financiers
Often gained government contracts and special deals
Led to social reform movements
Robber Baron
OR
Captain of Industry?
Robber Baron

Businessmen who were viewed as having used questionable practices to gain wealth

For example, buying out competition to create a monopoly.
Captain of Industry
Business leader who uses wealth to contribute the society in some way
Full transcript