Politics in the Guilded Age Essay

This essay has a total of 792 words and 5 pages.

Politics in the Guilded Age



Essay Topic 2

Politics in the Gilded Age

Daniel Thompson

739 Words

Discuss Politics in the Gilded Age. Include major political events and issues, and the
roles of the “bloody shirt,” corruption, patronage, and reform movements.

The term Gilded Age was named for a Mark Twain book. It meant covered with gold, and was
applied to this period as a whole. This was a period of corruption in sordid politics.

The Republicans and Democrats didn’t really have strong opposing beliefs during this
period. The Republicans supported high tariffs and sound money. The Democrats supported
lower tariffs and expanded currency. Both rural and urban classes supported each party.
They worked with spoils and local issues. Both parties worked to please everyone, and to
attract voters. Since both parties were so close in strength, it caused the elections to
be fought harder.

The Republicans used the waving of the bloody shirt tactic. This meant that they brought
back the past in order to avoid the real issues. They portrayed the Democrats as rebel
traitors. The Republicans were against alcohol. The Stalwarts were led by Senator
Conkling from New York and were the hard core machine of elections. Senator Blaine led
the Half-Breeds from Maine, and they wanted to be in control of it all. The mugwumps were
a group that turned Democrat because of the corruption of the Republican presidential
nominee, Senator Blaine.

One president was Grant during this period. He was elected into office for his past war
experience. He had little knowledge of politics, and depended on his fellow politicians.
These men, in turn, involved in scandals to embezzle money from the government. One was
the Great Mobilier scandal; it dealt with the Union Pacific Railroad. The Construction
Company hired themselves at inflated prices to build railroad lines, and distributed
shares of stock to congressmen. A scandal during Grant’s second term, was the
Whisky Ring. This scandal was uncovered in St. Louis, and consisted of selling whiskey
without the excise tax. In return it defrauded the government out of millions of dollars.
Belknap was selling goods and trading with the Indians for lower prices.

During Grant’s administration the monetary issues were inflation, cheap money, and
greenbacks. The debtors, especially farmers, wanted cheap money. However, Grant vetoed
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