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The Gilded Age and the first years of the twentieth century were a time of great social change and economic growth in the United States. Roughly spanning the years between Reconstruction and the dawn of the new century, the Gilded Age saw rapid industrialization, urbanization, the construction of great transcontinental railroads, innovations in science and technology, and the rise of big business. Afterward, the first years of the new century that followed were dominated by progressivism, a forward-looking political movement that attempted to redress some of the ills that had arisen during the Gilded Age. Progressives passed legislation to rein in big business, combat corruption, free the government from special interests, and protect the rights of consumers, workers, immigrants, and the poor.



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Americans paid more attention to politics and national elections during the post–Civil War period than at any other time in history, because each election had the potential to disrupt the fragile balance—and peace—between North and South, Republican and Democrat. Voters turned out in record numbers for each presidential election in the late nineteenth century, with voter turnout sometimes reaching 80 percent or greater. The intensity of the elections also helps explain why Congress passed so little significant legislation after the Reconstruction era: control of the House of Representatives constantly changed hands between the Democrats and the Republicans with each election, making a consensus on any major issue nearly impossible. Once the war was over, government pulled back, not to prewar levels, but to such an extent that it could not cope with the rapid acceleration of events affecting the economy.

  • The years between the end of the Civil War and the turn-of-the-century saw huge changes in economic and social conditions. The shift of politics in the decade before the Civil War and the political requirements of Reconstruction, left the parties and Congress preoccupied with issues that had little to do with domestic affairs. (I.e: the Compromise of 1877)
  • During the Gilded Age, the two political parties had balanced out. There were few significant issues that separated the Democrats from the Republicans.
    1. Republicans
      1. Republican voters tended to stress strict codes of personal morality and believed that the government should play a small role in regulating the economic and the moral affairs of society.
      2. The majority of Republican voters were found in the Midwest and northeast.
      3. Many Republican votes came from the Grand Armies of the Republic (a politically active fraternal organization of many union veterans of the Civil War).
    2. Democrats:
      1. Immigrant Lutherans and Roman Catholics who believed in toleration of differences in an imperfect world.
      2. They also opposed the government imposing a single moral standard on the entire society.
      3. Democrats were found in the South and in the northern industrial cities
    3. Similarties
      1. Both parties were pro-business
      2. Both were opposed to any type of economic radicalism or reform
      3. Both advocated a "sound currency" and supported the status quo in the existing financial system
  • Amnesty Act of 1872: The Republican Congress passed this act to remove political disabilities from most of the former Confederate leaders. It was issued by the Liberal Republicans who were disgusted by the political corruption in Washington and military reconstruction.


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  • Although there were some notable political figures in this era, a large majority of the national leadership could be considered little more than political mediocrities: the movers and shakers were all in business, though some made good use of their financial power to buy their way into high offices such as state governorships and the United States Senate. Powerful political “bosses” in each party coerced urban residents into voting for favored candidates, who would then give kickbacks and bribes back to the bosses in appreciation for getting them elected.
  • The dominant fact concerning the American political parties between 1875 and 1900 was that the parties were quite evenly divided. It was also an era in which political corruption seemed to be the norm, and practices that today would be viewed as scandalous were accepted as a matter of routine.

Tariffs-being used by big companies to charge excessively high prices, became party issue

1.

McKinley Tariff of 1890


  • Opened American market to other foreign sugars and subsidized domestic producers.

  • Second highest import tariff in history; lasted only four years.

  • It was a protectionist document meant to foster industry.

  • Precipitated an economic crisis in Hawaii and contributed to political turmoil there.

The Bland-Allison Act (1878)

  • passed by the U.S. Congress to provide for freer coinage of silver
  • allowed the treasury to buy 2-4 million in silver

Sherman Silver Purchase Act (1890):

  • required the US government to purchase nearly 2x as much silver as before
  • also added substantially to the amount of money alredy in circulation

Populist Party


  • - Formed in 1891 by remnants of the Farmer's Alliances
  • - Big gov't party with a long list of demands that included:
    • free coinage of silver
    • government owernship of the railroads, telegraphs, and telephone lines
    • graduated income tax
    • direct election of US senators
    • the use of initiative, referendum, and recall
  • - The party eventually faded because farmers' situation improved in the late 1890s and because their political agenda was assumed by the major parties.
  • The Populist Party grew out of the agrarian revolt that rose after the collapse of agriculture prices following the Panic of 1873
  • The Farmer's Alliance formed 1876, promoted collective economic action by farmers and achieved widespread popularity in the South and Great Plains.
    • The Farmers' Alliance was ultimately unable to achieve its wider economic goals of collective economic action against
      • Brokers
      • Railroads,
      • Merchants,
      • Many in the movement agitated for changes in national policy.
    • By the late 1880s, the Alliance had developed a political agenda that called for
      • regulation and reform in national politics
        • most notably an opposition to the gold standard to counter the deflation in agricultural prices.


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The Congress of the Gilded Age was known for being rowdy and inefficient. It was not unusual to find that a quorum could not be achieved because too many members were drunk or otherwise preoccupied with extra-governmental affairs. The halls of Congress were filled with tobacco smoke and spittoons were everywhere.



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  • After the war the nation returned to peacetime activities—farming, manufacturing, railroad building, and all the advances stimulated by the arrival of the second Industrial Revolution.
  • Driven by the North, which emerged from the Civil War an industrial powerhouse, the United States experienced a flurry of unprecedented growth and industrialization during the Gilded Age, with a continent full of seemingly unlimited natural resources and driven by millions of immigrants ready to work. In fact, some historians have referred to this era as America’s second Industrial Revolution, because it completely changed American society, politics, and the economy. Mechanization and marketing were the keys to success in this age: companies that could mass-produce products and convince people to buy them accumulated enormous amounts of wealth, while companies that could not were forced out of business by brutal competition.
  • Panic of 1873: monetary panic primarily caused because too much expansion had taken place. Also, too many people had taken out loans of which they were unable to pay back due to lack of profit from where they had invested their money.
  • Due to popular distrust of the government dealings, inflation soon depreciated the value of the greenback.
  • Resumption Act of 1875: required the government to continue to withdraw greenbacks from circulation and to redeem all paper currency in gold at face value, beginning in 1879. When the day came in 1879 for holders of the greenbacks to redeem their greenbacks for gold, few did; the greenback’s value had actually increased due to it’s reduction in circulation.
  • Wealthy businessman such as Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Carnegie, Morgan, and others who needed to use the political process for their own ends tended to “purchase” political support rather than getting directly involved. (It was said of John D. Rockefeller that he “did everything with the Pennsylvania legislature but refine it.”)
  • Beginning of UnionismBeginning of Unionism:
  • The expansion of industrialism led to various attempts to organize the workers to petition forexternal image ihy9412082.jpg greater pay, shorter working hours, and better environments. Initially all attempts at organizing unions were fiercely resisted by owners, who saw any such organized-labor efforts as leading to socialism. Initial efforts at unionizing were also hampered by ethnic tensions within the work force, and the constant stream of new immigration desperate for work.
  • Large scale union efforts emerged around 1870-1900, and initial relations were often ugly. The Pullman Strike in Chicago in 1894 — federal government troops broke the lines of striking railroad workers by force — was the peak of hostility to unions. After this point, U.S. unions moved towards gaining a legal right to strike. Although full recognition of the legal right to strike did not come until the 1930s, by the end of the 19th century, U.S. unions had made practical gains.



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These two terms were used to describe industrialists, especially those who displayed their wealth. Some feel that the powerful industrialists of the gilded age should be referred to as "robber barons." This view accentuates the negative. It portrays men like Vanderbilt and Rockefeller and cruel and ruthless businessmen who would stop at nothing to achieve great wealth. These "robber barons" were accused of exploiting workers and forcing horrible working conditions and unfair labor practices upon the laborer.
Another view of the industrialist is that of "captain of industry." The term captain views these men as viewed ingenious and industrious leaders who transformed the American economy with their business skills. They were praised for their skills as well as for their philanthropy (charity).



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John D. Rockefeller (July 8, 1839- May 23, 1937): He revolutionized the oil industry and defined the structure of modern philanthropy. Rockefeller strongly believed since he was a child that his purpose in life was to make as much money as possible and then use it wisely to improve the lot of mankind. In 1862, Rockefeller founded the Standard Oil Company in which he kept his stock and as gasoline grew in importance, his wealth soared and he became the world’s richest man and first billionaire.







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Cornelius Vanderbilt: (May 7, 1794 – January 4, 1877) An American entrepreneur who built his wealth in shipping and railroads. During the Panic of 1873 and the resulting depression, Vanderbilt began construction of Grand Central Terminal in New York City, offering employment to thousands who otherwise would have been unemployed. The New York Central was one of the few railroads that posted profits during the depression.Vanderbilt was never a great philanthropist, but he did bequeath $1 million to Central University in Nashville, Tennessee, which became Vanderbilt University. The bulk of his $100 million fortune was left to his son, William.






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Andrew Carnegie: (November 25, 1835- August 11, 1919) was a Scottish-American industrialist, philanthropist, businessman and the founder of the Carnegie Steel Company which later became U.S Steel. By the 1860s, he had investments in railroads, railroad sleeping cars, as well as bridges and oil derricks, and he built wealth as a bond salesman raising money in Europe for American enterprises. Steel was where he found his fortune. In the 1870s, he founded the Carnegie Steel Company, a step which cemented his name as one of the “Captains of Industry”. He introduced the conept of "vertical integration" to combine all phases of manufacturing into one organization. He and his business controlled every aspect of prodcution and his goal was to improve efficiency. By the 1890s, the company was the largest and most profitable industrial enterprise in the world. He sold it to J.P Morgan's US Steel in 1901 and devoted the remainder of his life to large-scale philanthropy, with special emphasis on local libraries, world peace, and scientific.





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J.P Morgan : (April 17, 1837 – March 31, 1913) an American financier, banker, philanthropist, and art collector who dominated corporate finance and industrial consolidation. After financing the creation of the Federal Steel Company he merged the Carnegie Steel Company and several other steel and iron businesses to form the United States Steel Corporation in 1901. Described as a coldly rational man, Morgan began reorganizing railroads in 1885, becoming a board member and gaining control of large amounts of stock of many of the rail companies he helped restructure. In 1896, Morgan embarked on consolidations in the electric, steel (creating U.S. Steel, the world's first billion-dollar corporation, in 1901), and agricultural equipment manufacturing industries. He bequeathed much of his large art collection to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.



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The United States became a world leader in applied technology. From 1860 to 1890, 500,000 patents were issued for new inventions—over ten times the number issued in the previous seventy years. George Westinghouse invented air brakes for trains (making them both safer and faster). Alexander Graham Bell's revolutionary telephone came into use, and Theodore Vail establishes the American Telephone & Telegraph Company. Thomas A. Edison invented a remarkable number of electrical devices, as well as the integrated power plant capable of lighting multiple buildings simultaneously; he founded General Electric corporation. Oil became an important resource, beginning with the Pennsylvania oil fields. Kerosene replaced whale oil and candles for lighting. John D. Rockefeller created Standard Oil Company to consolidate the industry.


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Railroads: Railroads were the fields were many of the greatest Gilded Age fortunes were built. With the opening of the West, railroad construction reached record proportions just after Civil War and during the 1870's and 1880's. Railroad mileage rose from 35'000 miles in 1865 to over 163'000 in 1890, almost a fivefold increase. By the turn of the century, that number had jumped to almost 200,000 miles, linking the North, South, and West. With these railroads making travel easier, millions of rural Americans flocked to the cities, and by 1900, nearly 40 percent of the population lived in urban areas. Railroads became the knit which held together the growing nation, creating by their very existence opportunities for entrepreneurs in other fields. Railroads were the linchpin in the new industrialized economy. The railroad industry enabled raw materials, finished products, food, and people to travel cross-country in a matter of days, as opposed to the months or years that it took just prior to the Civil War.

  • There was a total of 5 transcontinental railroads built during the Gilded Age:
    • The Union Pacific Railroad
      • commisioned by Congress in 1862 to build a transcontinental railroad starting in Omaha, Nebraska
      • recieved monetary aid from the government
    • The Northern Pacific Railroad
      • completed in 1883
      • ran from Lake Superior to Puget Sound
    • The Atchison
      • completed in 1884
      • ran from Topeka to California
    • The Southern Pacific
      • completed in 1884
      • ran from New Orleans to San Francisco
    • The Great Northern
      • completed in 1893
      • ran from Duluth to Seatle
      • created by James J. Hill

  • The railroad stimulated the industralization of the country in the post-Civil War years. It created an enormous domestic market for American raw materials and manufactured goods.
  • Railroad companies also stimulated immigration
  • During this time, every town in the United States had its own local time. In order to keeps schedules and avoid wrecks, the major rail lines stated on November 18,1883, that the continent would be divided into 4 times zones.
  • Immigration:
  • Immigrants to the 19th century U.S. faced religious and ethnic discrimination and frequent poverty, yet the social and economic structure of country allowed a remarkable degree of social upward mobility, especially for the Western European immigrants. Of this lot, the Irish fared the worst — they were the poorest and least educated, and were Catholic.
  • Towards the end of the 19th century, the immigration patterns changed, as the immigration from Western Europe was replaced by immigration predominately from the Mediterranean, Eastern Europe, and the Balkans. These "New Immigrants" were perceived as fundamentally different than the previous groups. They were seen and were treated as being of a lower and more unassimilatable class of people. They encountered greater prejudice; and more often lived in separate enclaves divided by ethnicity, and in much greater poverty than previous groups had experienced. Religion was often also a barrier — the New Immigrants were predominately Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Jewish.
  • Hostility to the New Immigrants, and middle-class disgust at the teeming, wretched tenements they lived in, was one factor feeding the rise of "Scientific Racism" in the late 19th century — a body of "scientific" works which grouped the various races, including the white races, in hierarchical order, by alleged level of intellectual development. While laws were not as discriminatory against the New Immigrants as they were against blacks, there were strong de facto barriers, and Jews and Asians also encountered legal barriers in real estate, and admission to universities.
  • "birds of passage": Many of the millions of immigrants who arrived into the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries did so with the intention of returning to their villages in the Old World. Known as "birds of passage," many of these eastern and southern European migrants were peasants who had lost their property as a result of the commercialization of agriculture. They came to America to earn enough money to allow them to return home and purchase a piece of land. As one Slavic steelworker put it: "A good job, save money, work all time, go home, sleep, no spend."

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  • In order to increase the weight of cows, stock watering was employed. It entailed forcing a cow to bloat itself with water before it was weighed for sale.
    • This technique enabled railroad stock promoters to inflate their claims about a given line's asset and profitability and sell stocksand bonds in excess of the railroad's actual value.
  • Railroaders felt that they were above the law and abused the public by bribing judges and legislatures.
  • Railroad kings were manipulators of a huge natural monopoly and exercised too much direct control over the lives of people.
  • Pools were created in which agreements were settled to divide the business in a given area and share the profits.


The Bessemer Process: The process is named after its inventor, Henry Bessemer, who took out a patent on the process in 1855. Nearly every aspect of society used steel. The United States soon outdistanced all foreign competitors and was producing 1/3 of the world’s steel supply. The Bessemer process allowed for the price of steel to drop dramatically and for its production to be done with relative ease. The process involved blowing cold air on red-hot iron in order to ignite carbon and eliminate impurities.

Telephone- created in 1876 by Alexander Graham Bell, this invention revolutionized the way Americans communicated.
Electricity- Thomas Alva Edison invented numerous devices and was well-known for his perfection of the electric light bulb in 1879.


Organized Labor



Knights of Labor (1869)

  • secret society under leadership of Terence V. Powerdly
  • Reforms-worker coops to make each man his own employer, abolition of child labor, abolition of trusts and monopolies
  • Declined membership after Haymarket riot in 1886


Haymarket bombing (1886)


May 4 police attempted to break up a public meeting in Haymarket Square, someone threw a bomb that killed seven police

American Federation of Labor (1886)


  • founder = Samuel Gompersd
  • concentrated on attaining practical goals like higher wages and improved conditions. Focused on skilled labors



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Some historians have dubbed the presidents of the Gilded Age the “forgotten presidents,” and indeed many Americans today have trouble remembering their names, what they did for the country, or even in which era they served. These six men—Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, James Garfield, Chester Arthur, Grover Cleveland, and Benjamin Harrison—had relatively unremarkable terms in office and faced few if any major national crises during their presidencies. Some historians have suggested that these Gilded Age presidents were unexciting for a reason—because Americans wanted to avoid bold politicians who might ruin the delicate peace established after the Civil War.




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Rutherford B. Hayes (October 4, 1822 – January 17, 1893): American politician, lawyer, military leader and the 19th President of the United States (1877–1881). Beneficiary of the most fiercely disputed election in American history, (see compromise of 1877) Rutherford B. Hayes brought to the Executive Mansion dignity, honesty, and moderate reform. The policies of Rutherford B. Hayes, America's nineteenth President, began to heal the nation after the ravages of the Civil War. He was well suited to the task, having earned a steadfast reputation for integrity throughout his career as a soldier and a statesman. Upstanding, moral, and honest, Hayes was elected after the most lengthy, bitterly disputed, and corrupt presidential election in history.




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Hayes held the first Easter egg roll on the White House lawn.




garfield_good.PNG James A. Garfield (March 4, 1881 – September 19, 1881): Born on November 19th, 1831 in a log cabin in Orange, Ohio. Garfield was well educated, attending Western Reserve Eclectic Institute (now Hiram College) and transferring to graduate from Williams College in1856. Before he was president, Garfield was:a teacher, a member of Ohio State Senate (1859-61), a member of U.S. House of Representatives (1863-80), and elected to United States Senate, 1880. Garfield was shot by disappointed office seeker Charles Julius Guiteau on July 2, 1881, at 9:30 a.m., less than four months after taking office.Speculation states that Garfield would have survived the gunshot wounds, but he succumbed to infection caused when doctors with unsterilized tools and hands were operating on the president, causing a massive heart attack or a ruptured splenic artery aneurysm, following blood poisoning and bronchial pneumonia. Garfield died on September 19th, 1881 in Elberon, New Jersey. Garfield is know to be the president with the shortest presidential term, serving the country in office for 6 months and fifteen days.



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1. As a parlor trick, Garfield would entertain thers by writing Greek with his right hand, writing Latin with his left hand, and speaking phrases inGerman at the same time. His family thought Garfield was born left- handed but had been taught to write with his right hand.

2. President Garfield was extremely skilled in math. He created a proof to the pythagorean theory which is still used and popularized today. He was also a mason



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Chester Arthur (September 19, 1881 – March 4, 1885): Born on October 15th, 1829 in Fairfield, Vermont. Born to Irish immigrant parents, Arthur graduated from Union College and eventually became a lawyer, giving support to African Americans who objected to the racial segregation of city transportation. Eventually, Arthur came to serve under James A. Garfield as Vice- President. However, after the assassination of President Garfield, , Arthur was sworn in as president. While in office, Arthur was known for several of his actions as President. For example, as president, Arthur established the Standard Oil Company in 1882. He also issued the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which was issued to suspend Chinese immigration into the United States in response to an overflow of Chinese immigrants into the U.S. in an attempt to obtain jobs. Arthur’s administration was known for the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act of 1883, which established the United States Civil Service Commission, which placed most federal employees on the merit system and marked the end of the so-called "spoils system." Arthur sought a full term as President in 1884, but lost the Republican party's presidential nomination to former Speaker of the House and Secretary of State James G. Blaine of Maine. Blaine, however, lost the election to Democrat Grover Clevland of New York.


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Chester A. Arthur always claimed that he was born in North Fairfeild, Vermont, although no birth certificate has ever been found to confirm it. His political foes and some historians believed he was born across the border in Canada. Of course if he had been born in Canada, he would have been ineligible to be vice president or president.




160px-President_Grover_Cleveland.jpgStephen Grover Cleveland (March 4, 1885- March 4, 1889): The First Democrat elected after the Civil War, Grover Cleveland was the only President to leave the White House and return for a second term four years later. Cleveland won the Presidency in 1884 with the combined support of Democrats and reform Republicans, the "Mugwumps," who disliked the record of his opponent James G. Blaine of Maine. As president, Cleveland pushed civil service reform, opposed the pension grab and attacked the high tariff rates. While in the White House, he married Frances Folsom in 1886. Cleveland vigorously pursued a policy barring special favors to any economic group. Vetoing a bill to appropriate $10,000 to distribute seed grain among drought-stricken farmers in Texas, he wrote: "Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the Government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character. . . . " He also vetoed many private pension bills to Civil War veterans whose claims were fraudulent. When Congress, pressured by the Grand Army of the Republic, passed a bill granting pensions for disabilities not caused by military service, Cleveland vetoed it, too. He angered the railroads by ordering an investigation of western lands they held by Government grant. He forced them to return 81,000,000 acres. He also signed the Interstate Commerce Act, the first law attempting Federal regulation of the railroads. In December 1887 he called on Congress to reduce high protective tariffs. Told that he had given Republicans an effective issue for the campaign of 1888, he retorted, "What is the use of being elected or re-elected unless you stand for something?" But Cleveland was defeated in 1888; although he won a larger popular majority than the Republican candidate Benjamin Harrison, he received fewer electoral votes.


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Cleveland was the only president married in a ceremony at the White House, June 2, 1886.




harrison.PNG Benjamin Harrison (March 4, 1889- March 4, 1893): During the Civil War, he rose to brigadier general. A sound-money Republican, he was elected senator from Indiana in 1880. In 1888, he received the Republican nomination on the eighth ballot. Though behind on the popular vote, he won over Grover Cleveland in the Electoral College by 233 to 168. Promising a "Legal Deal," Harrison named six lawyers and two businessmen to his cabinet. With a Republican majority in both houses of Congress until 1891, the president saw most of his legislative program enacted, including broader civil service law coverage. The administration attempted to solve pressing economic and social problems by passing four important laws in 1890.
  • The Sherman Anti-Trust Act, outlawing trusts and monopolies that hindered trade, met the demands of farmers and small businesspeople who sought protection from corporations that controlled market prices and destroyed competition.
  • The Sherman Silver Purchase Act, increasing the amount of silver that could be coined, reassured farmers who believed that the freer coinage of silver would avert bankruptcy and foreclosures, which were threatening because of failing farm prices.
  • The McKinley Tariff Act, setting tariffs at record highs, was designed mainly to protect American manufacturers during a period of rapid industrialization.
  • The Dependent Pension Act, which benefited all Civil War veterans who could not perform manual labor, was passed despite the fact that the resulting cost of pensions would rise from $88 million in 1889 to $159 million in 1893.

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Benjamin Harrison was the first president to use electricity in the White House. After he got an electrical shock, his family often refused to touch the light switches and sometimes would go to bed with the lights on.



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(Grover Cleveland March 4, 1893- March 4, 1897): Elected again in 1892, Cleveland faced an acute economic depression. He dealt directly with the Treasury crisis rather than with business failures, farm mortgage foreclosures, and unemployment. He obtained repeal of the mildly inflationary Sherman Silver Purchase Act and, with the aid of Wall Street, maintained the Treasury's gold reserve. Within a year after his second inauguration there were 4 million unemployed out of a population of about 65 million. There were acute personal hardships and deterioration in the government's financial position. This period was Cleveland's real testing time. Cleveland failed again to secure tariff reform. The Wilson-Gorman Tariff of 1894 did not fulfill the campaign promises of the Democrats in 1892 to lower the tariff. Although Cleveland refused to sign the bill, he declined to veto it. But worse than this he gave no effective leadership in framing the measure. It was a sad conclusion to the crusade he had launched in 1887.





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The public believed Cleveland went on a fishing trip in July 1893, but he was actually having surgery for a cancerous growth in his mouth. It was not until 1917 the truth was revealed.




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William McKinley (March 4, 1897- September 14, 1901): Former Congressman and Governor of Ohio, won the election of 1896 and became the 23rd U.S. President. Upon assuming the Presidency, McKinley called a special session of Congress to pass the Dingley Tariff Act, which raised tariffs to a new high. McKinley's Administration is best remembered for spanning the time that America moved onto the world stage as a major player. This took place primarily as a result of the Spanish American War. The war was almost forced on the President by the press, but resulted in the United States gaining possession of Puerto Rico, the Philippines and Guam. Spain capitulated and gave independence to Cuba - the stated goal of the war. In 1898, the same year as the Spanish-American War, McKinley approved the annexation of Hawaii. With the end of the War and the United States clearly in a position of world power after roundly defeating the Spanish, McKinley pursued a strong open door policy in China. This resulted in the participation of American forces in suppressing the Boxer Rebellion. The evolution of the strong modern
presidency began during his terms of office; McKinley laid the basis for further growth under Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson.





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William McKinley was the first president to ride in an automobile and campaign by telephone.



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Review Questions:


1. Which of the following was NOT a factor in shaping the Gilded Age politics?
a. Politics was seen more as a way to get office rather than a way to press certain issues.
b. Business remained separate from politics
c. In national politics, neither party could keep both a majority in Congress and a president in the White House,
d. None of the presidents in this period could be described as a strong leader.

2. Which person would most likely have been inclined to vote for William McKinley in 1896?
a. An owner of a silver mine
b. The president of a bank in Indiana
c. A member of the Knights of Labor
d. An Illinois farmer with a $5,000 mortgage on his farm
e. A person who favored vigorous enforcement of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act.

3. If the gold delegates dare to defend the gold standard as a good thing, we will fight them to the uppermost. Bryan's famous "Cross of Gold" speech called for?
a. the unlimited coinage of silver
b. lower tariffs
c. a revival of greenback paper currency
d. renewed religious commitment for all Americans
e. federal and social welfare programs to deal with the Panic of 1893

4. Which of the following statements is LEAST true about immigration to the U. S. between 1880 and 1900?
a. Most immigrants were unskilled day laborers.
b. Immigration increased steadily during these years.
c. Immigrants tended to be Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, or Jewish.
d. Chinese immigrants were excluded by law during most of these years.
e. Most immigrants came from northern and western Europe.

5. One theme of the Gilded Age politics was the?
a. Triumph of urban-industrial interests.
b. Rise of the common man.
c. Extension of government into the private sphere.
d. Triumph of rural-agricultural interests.

6. The 1896 presidential election marked the last time that?
a. Rural America would defeat urban America.
b. A serious effort to win the White House would be made with mostly agrarian votes.
c. The South remained solid for the Democratic Party.
d. Factory workers would favor inflation.

7. Booker T. Washington believed that the best way for blacks to improve their status in the United States was to?
a. Struggle militantly against all forms of racial discrimination in order to gain educational opportunity.
b. Form a nationwide council to work for federal laws against lynching.
c. Leave the United States and return to their African origins.
d. Accommodate themselves to segregation and disfranchisement while at the same time working hard and proving their economic value to society.

8. In the period from 1865 to 1900, the United States Government aided the development of the West by
a. Maintaining free and unlimited coinage of silver
b. Offering low-interest loans to businesses
c. Granting land to railroad companies
d. Providing price supports for farm products

9. In the United States, the main purpose of antitrust legislation is to
a. Protect the environment
b. Increase competition in business
c. Encourage the growth of monopolies
d. Strengthen the rights of workers

10. At the turn of the century, why did most immigrants to the United States settle in cities?
a. Jobs were readily available.
b. Government relief programs required immigrants to settle in cities.
c. Labor union leaders encouraged unrestricted immigration.
d. Immigrants were not permitted to buy farmland.

11. Prior to 1890, United States businesses made few foreign investments mainly because
a. State governments discouraged foreign investments
b. Foreign investments were prohibited by Congress
c. Foreign nations did not accept investments from United States businesses
d. Investment opportunities were better in the United States

12. Which statement about immigration to the United States during the 19th century is most valid?
a. Organized labor supported unlimited immigration.
b. Most immigrants to the United States were illegal aliens.
c. Industrial growth led to a demand for cheap immigrant labor.
d. Few immigrants came from western Europe.

13. Which factor most limited the growth of labor unions during the late 1800’s?
a. Most employers were very hostile toward workers’ efforts to organize.
b. Most factory workers were satisfied with their wages and working conditions.
c. The Federal Government declared that unions were illegal.
d. Workers preferred to negotiate with factory owners as individuals rather than as members of a group.

14. The Sherman Antitrust Act, the Social Security Act, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) are examples of
a. Federal laws designed to protect consumers from unsafe products
b. The Federal Government’s response to changes in the economy
c. Federal laws designed to control spending
d. The Federal Government’s attempts to regulate big business

15. Which statement best describes the status of the labor union movement in the United States in 1900?
a. Most of the labor force was organized into unions.
b. Government and business opposition had destroyed the labor union movement.
c. Unions were still struggling to gain public acceptance.
d. Unions had won the right to strike and bargain collectively.

16. Why did the United States follow a policy of unrestricted immigration for Europeans during most of the 1800’s?
a. Business and industry depended on the foreign capital brought by immigrants.
b. The American economy needed many unskilled workers.
c. Most Americans desired a more diversified culture.
d. The United States wanted to help European nations by taking in their surplus pop-ulation.

17. Statement A: "The best way to economic recovery is to subsidize industry so that it will hire more workers and expand production."
Statement B: "If jobs are not available, the government must create jobs for those who are unemployed."
Statement C: "According to human nature, the most talented people will always come out on top."
Statement D: "Our government is responsible for the nation’s economic well-being."

Which statement is closest to the philosophy of Social Darwinism?
a. Speaker A
b. Speaker B
c. Speaker C
d. Speaker D

18. From 1865 to 1900, how did the growth of industry affect American society?
a. The United States experienced the disappearance of the traditional
b. Population centers shifted from the Northeast to the South
c. Restrictions on immigration created a more homogeneous culture.
d. The percentage of Americans living in urban areas increased.

19. During the 19th century, what was the major reason that an increasing number of states established public schools and passed compulsory education laws?
a. Reformers argued that an educated, literate population was necessary for a successful democracy.
b. The Supreme Court required the states to do so.
c. Most jobs required a high school diploma.
d. The United States had begun a massive program of technical training to enhance its international economic position.

20. Which statement about immigration to the United States is most accurate?
a. The desire for economic advancement has been a major reason for immigration to the United States
b. The ethnic mix of immigrants to the United States has remained mostly unchanged.
c. The number of immigrants has remained constant in each decade during most of United States history.
d. Nearly all immigrants have easily assimilated into American culture.


Answer Key:
1. B
2. B
3. A
4. E
5. A
6. B
7. B
8. C
9. B
10. A
11. D
12. C
13. A
14. B
15. C
16. B
17. C
18. D
19. A
20. A


Suggested Essay Topics

1. Why did the Populists gain so much power in the 1880s and 1890s, and why did they disappear soon after that?
2. Why was the railroad such a definitive expression of the Gilded Age?
3. What were the causes of urbanization during the Gilded Age? What consequences did this urban revolution have on politics, the economy, and society?
4. Analyze the social and cultural changes as well as the political and economic changes associated with urban growth in the Gilded Age.
5. Would you say this is a prosperous time for America? And if so, why were the presidents "forgotten" then?