Gilded Age

Topics: Gilded Age, Federal government of the United States, Progressive Era Pages: 4 (1256 words) Published: April 26, 2011
Adam EL-Maadawy
Russ Morisi

How effective was the political system of the gilded age and in what ways did progressivism include both democratic and anti democratic impulses?

During the Gilded Age there came a time of economic stability and expansion that brought the country a surplus of wealth. What made this happen was the Second Industrial Revolution that came about post-civil war time, with the building of railroads and being able to transport raw materials from east to west and visa versa. Although the times from 1870-1890 were fiscally dominant the politics in which business was executed was not for the faint of heart. The term “Gilded” is expressed by Mark Twain means “covered with a layer of gold, but it also suggests that a glittering surface covers a core of little real value and is therefore deceptive.”[1]

During this time of Economic surplus the politics of business became very corrupt and the scales were balanced in order to benefit the few as opposed to the many. No longer was legislation passed down to the general society without some corporate influence benefiting a particular economic juggernaut; the railroads known as the “third house” became just as influential as the politicians themselves. Many lawmakers had stake in many lumber and or railroad companies that were issued public aid, it was only logical that a person would want to protect his own interests by swaying legislation towards his benefit.

This political corruption exceeded state issues and would arise in the national level; the largest example would be the Credit Mobilier coming to light during the Presidency of Grant.[2] The company was split by stockholders whom held various positions in the United States Government, some as high as the Speaker of the House Schuyler Colfax. Schemes such as these ensured cornering of the company’s respective market and the overwhelming expansion of construction.

Throughout the 1870’s the Federal...
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