Politics in the Gilded Age
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...