Corruption in Gilded Age

Gilded Age
Political and Economic Challenges
Chapter 7 Page 182
Essential Questions
E.Q. 12 - Analyze a primary source document reflecting the
dynamics of the Gilded Age American society.
E.Q. 14 - Analyze a political cartoon that portrays the
controversial aspects of the Gilded Age.
E.Q. 15 - Explain the impact of different forms of corruption and its
consequences in American politics during the later half of the Age.
E.Q. 17 - Determine the progress of political and social reform in
America during the Progressive Era
Analyze the issue of corruption in national politics in the
1870s and 1880s.
Discuss civil service reform during the 1870s and 1880s.
Assess the importance of economic issues in the politics of
the Gilded Age.
Discover the various scandals that plagued this era.
Gilded Age Meaning
Gilded Age
A play on “Golden Age”
Thin gold layer covering outside (to “gild” something)
Ostentatious displays of wealth
Corruption in Politics
Weak and ineffectual
Various scandals
Political cartoons used to
Thomas Nast
Spoils System
Spoils System
“Unless you can get the ear of a Senator... and persuade
him to use his “influence” in your behalf, you cannot get
employment of the most trivial nature in Washington. Mere
merit, fitness and capability, are useless baggage to you
without ‘influence,’ ... It would be an odd circumstance to
see a girl get employment ... merely because she was
worthy and competent, and a good citizen of a free country
that “treats all persons alike.” -Mark Twain & Charles Dudley Warner
Spoils System
Politicians awarding government jobs to loyal party workers
with little regard for their qualifications.
Candidates did not help with their own elections.
Influenced high voter turnout
Led to civil service - system where most gov’t workers would
get their jobs due to expertise and keep them regardless of
who took over office
Spoils System ctd...
Controversy over accepting the civil service system
Politicians worries about attracting workers for campaigns
and parties
President James Garfield’s assassination by Charles Guiteau
helped settle the matter
Chester A. Arthur becomes President and has to support
civil service reform because of public’s outcry after
Garfield’s death
Pendleton Civil Service Act
Applied to Federal jobs
Jobs are rewarded based
on merit
Establishes the Civil
Service Commission
wrote a civil service
“Boss System”
“Political Machine”
Local level spoils system
The leader is the “political boss”
System is held together with material rewards
Jobs, lodging, extra groceries, and a means of socialization
for new immigrants
In exchange, the immigrants offered votes
“Boss System”
William “Boss” Tweed
Tammany Hall
Democratic machine in
“Tweed Ring”
Boss Tweed. “As long as I
count the votes, what are
you going to do about it?
Grant’s Black Friday
President Ulysses S. Grant
During Reconstruction, greenbacks issued without gold backing them.
James Fisk & Jay Gould sought to corner the gold market
Conspired with Grant’s brother-in-law, financier Abel Corbin
Manipulated Grant in social situations to hold gold
Summer 1969 - started buying up all the gold (Prices rise, stocks plummet)
September 20, 1969 - start hoarding gold (Drive prices even higher)
September 24, 1969 - Grant discovers what is going on and releases gov’t gold
and prices plummet
Whiskey Ring Scandal
During the Reconstruction, the government needed funds to help the recovery
Enacted steep taxes - especially on liquor
Upset, distilleries concocted a plan to retain the money which involved bribing
gov’t officials.
St. Louis, Chicago, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, New Orleans, Peoria
Soon, millions of $ were missing in federal taxes and high gov’t officials (including
President Grant’s personal secretary Orville E. Babcock) were embroiled.
In 1847, it was finally busted by the new Secretary of treasury Bejamin Bristow.
Whiskey Ring