The term "Gilded Age" is applied to the years between 1865 and 1900 because the era was so wealthy. The word "gilded" refers to something coated in gold. During this time period, many things were going on in various topics, like politics and labor. Politically, the government became laissez-faire. Between the Republicans and the Democrats, presidential elections were very close. The Republicans consistently carried the North in presidential elections, while the South was solidly Democratic. Democrats carried the responsibility for the bloody upheaval of the Civil War, while the Republicans were associated with Northern aggression and domination. With this, the Republicans and the Democrats did not have strong opposing beliefs during this era. The Republicans supported high tariffs and sound money, while the Democrats supported lower tariffs and expanded currency. Since both parties were so close in strength, it caused the elections to be fought harder. These political disturbances caused corruption in the federal government. Many people who were elected to office, used their power to gain personal profit. There were a lot of scandals involving politicians exploiting contracted companies. Once Grover Cleveland was elected President for two separate terms, more corruption started, as reform movements were proposed. Cleveland wanted to reform tariff, but Congress postponed it. The Republicans described Cleveland's tariff reform as a free trade policy that would ruin American industries and put Americans out of work. Labor unions were started in order to demand shorter workdays and higher wages. The National Labor Union formed in Baltimore in 1866. The workers started getting more of what they wanted because of organized strikes and protests. The Gilded Age contained the two extremes of wealth and poverty. Although the era was full of proposals and reforms, many scandals took place. Overall, the Gilded Age was "golden".
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