Facts of the Day 2, 13

Mark Twain called the late nineteenth century the "Gilded Age."
By this, he meant that the period was glittering on the surface
but corrupt underneath. In the popular view, the late
nineteenth century was a period of greed and guile: of
rapacious Robber Barons, unscrupulous speculators, and
corporate buccaneers, of shady business practices, scandalplagued politics, and vulgar display.
It is easy to caricature the Gilded Age as an era of
corruption, conspicuous consumption, and unfettered
capitalism. But it is more useful to think of this as modern
America’s formative period, when an agrarian society of small
producers was transformed into an urban (city) society
dominated by industrial corporations – Big Business.
Taylor drew this political cartoon of John D.
Rockefeller holding the White House and
Treasury department in the palm of his hand for
the September 25, 1899 issue of The Verdict. Notice
the smoke from the United States Capitol in the
background? It has essentially become an oil refinery,
itself demonstrating the power big business held
over government.
What Twain meant was that the politics of the time looked
clean and shiny, but underneath lay rot in the form of
corruption and patronage. During this time, businesses
bought votes in Congress, leaving workers and consumers
with few advocates
Political bosses, rather than elected officials ran many cities,
In Twain's view, MONEY RULED.
…..used ANTI-COMPETIVE practices to
build WEALTH
In 1872, a fraudulent private construction company
named Credit Mobilier was discovered to be skimming
money off of U.S. government contracts
The company was supposed to complete the
transcontinental railroad, but instead stole millions of
dollars from the government
Several prominent Republicans were implicated,
including U.S. Grant’s Vice President, Schuyler Colfax.
Consequently, blame for the scandal fell on Grant and
his cabinet and was one of several scandals that tarred
Grant’s 2nd term in off and diverted public attention away
from the FAILURE of Reconstruction in the South.
Of FARMERS had more than a million
members by 1875; it is an example of an
early, organized POPULIST political
Grangers began by forming economic
cooperatives that bought farming tools and
sold crops en masse, utilizing the benefits
They then evolved into a political
organization, endorsing candidates and
lobbying for legislation supportive of
Is a group of business that operate together
to fix prices and to prevent new competitors
from entering the market, forming and
effective monopoly.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, populist
leaders railed against trusts like Standard
Oil and U.S. Steel.
As manufacturers turned to machines in
the 19th century, they found that their
cost per unit went down as the number
of units produced went up
The lower their cost, the cheaper they
could sell their products for.
The cheaper they sold for, the more they
The more they sold, the cheaper the
product became to produce and so on,
and so on.
First arose in the 19th century. Holding
companies own enough stock in other
businesses to have a controlling interest in
every aspect of production, from the
production of raw material all the way to the
distribution of the final product.
They often become monopolies, with
effective control of an entire industry.
Was a business practice common at the end of the 1800s.
A group of small companies in a single industry are
combined to form an effective monopoly.
The smaller companies are either bought out by a larger
one, or they are destroyed through ruthless business
practices. (survival of the fittest).
It became illegal
under antitrust
passed at
the turn of
20th century
Carnegie Steel
Rail Lines
Raw Materials
Iron Ore Fields
Coal Mines
Held vast power in many cities in the 1880s.
Local governments provided few services.
Political bosses helped people find jobs, and
homes, built parks and constructed
INFRASCTURCTURE and funded police, and
fire departments.
In return, the bosses expected votes from
citizens and" donations” from municipal
governments. Many political bosses were
affiliated with ORGANIZED CRIME; the most
NOTORIOUS was News York City’s “BOSS”