Chapter 22, Section 1

Chapter 22, Section1:
Reform in the Gilded Age
Main Idea: During the Gilded
Age, reformers worked to end
political corruption and limit
the power of big business.
A. Politics in the Gilded Age
Gilded Age – name given to the late 1800s due to
greed & political corruption (gilded = gold covered/not
Republicans (N & W) & Democrats (S) traded power in
Congress back & forth, but Presidents were Repub. for
25 years.
Elections were entertaining (bands, parades, picnics,
etc.) & voter turnout was high (almost 80%)
2 issues shaped politics:
power of rich – wealthy were controlling politics at
expense of common good
corruption – bribery, voter fraud (blamed on spoils
system – giving govt. jobs to political supporters)
B. Reforming the Spoils System
Patronage (giving jobs to followers) led to corruption &
incompetence in government
Pres. Hayes ordered investigation of NYC customhouse.
Hundreds of appointed officials were getting high salaries for
doing no work.
Pres. Garfield tried to award jobs in his administration based
on merit (ability), rather than political favors. For this, he was
assassinated by an angry office seeker.
Congress passes the Pendleton Act to create the Civil
Service System, which required all federal job seekers to
take exams. Highest scorers earned the jobs (merit).
By 1900, 40% of federal jobs were determined this way.
Taming the Spoils System
Spoils System –
practice of
supporters with
"The Civil Service
As It Is"
February 3, 1872
by, Frank Bellew
Caption: "The Civil Service As It Is" Hon. Member of
Congress presenting a Few of his Constituents for Office
Patronage – practice of giving out government jobs as
favors to loyal party workers
• Patronage oftentimes led to corruption.
· Jobs were frequently
given to unqualified
I’ve got to thank
Uncle Billy for
getting me this cool
job. Well…a little
joke never hurt
anyone, right?
• Garfield believed that civil service jobs should be
given to people based on merit and ability,
not political connections.
1881:Garfield Assassinated!
"The True Meaning of Republican Harmony" by Bernhard Gilliam Puck, March 11, 1883
C. Regulating Big Business
Bribery of government officials by big business was
widespread and common. Money controlled the actions of
most politicians & business was too powerful.
Interstate Commerce Act – forbade practices such as
pools (when several big companies agree to divide up
business in an area) & rebates (discounts to biggest
customers) and created ICC to oversee the railroad
Sherman Antitrust Act – prohibited businesses from
trying to limit or destroy competition
Both measures were weak at first (judges tended to side
with RRs & big business), but gained strength after a while
“Congress—Who’s In It and Who Owns It”
The Sherman Anti-Trust Law
Returns From the Dead, 1904