The Gilded Age
1. President Ulysses S. Grant’s administration was riddled with corruption. Grant himself was clean, but many others were not and Grant was unwilling to fire them.
2. The political parties fell into the trap of serving themselves more than the people. Their top priority was to get their party reelected. As a result, little actually got done in the government.
3. Tensions rose over race and ethnicity. When the U.S. Army pulled out of the South as part of the Compromiseof 1877, Reconstruction was over and southern blacks were left to fend for themselves. Also, anti-Chinese sentiment ran high and the Chinese were actually banned from immigration.
4. Before the Civil War, railroads had become important. After the war, railroads boomed and were critical to the nation. Railroads, along with steel, were to be the skeleton on which the nation’s economy would be built.
5. A class of millionaires emerged for the first time ever. Tycoons like Carnegie and Rockefeller made fortunes. This type of wealth was championed by “Social Darwinism” where the strong win in business.
6. Unfortunately, many of the mega-industries, like railroads, grew at the expense of the “little man’s”interest. As businesses, they were out to make money, and they did. But theworking man cried foul.
7. The government did reach thebillion dollar level for the first time. This was largely due to militarypension plans. The plans were very popular and revealed the goal of thelegislators—pass something that will get me reelected.
8. Populism started. This was a farmer and worker movement that sought to clean up the government, bring it back to the people, and help the working man out.
9. To right these wrongs, the beginnings of anti-trusts began (to bust the monopolies) and organized labor got a jumpstart (although they were still rather ineffective).
10. Cities grew because factoriesgrew. The Industrial Revolution kicked into gear in America in the late 1800s and factories needed workers, so people flocked to the cities.
11. Problems arose as citiesboomed. The problems included: exploitation of immigrant laborers,poor/unhealthy work conditions, over-crowdedness and sanitation problems, corrupton, and “nativism” (anti-immigrant feelings).
12. Booker T. Washington &W.E.B. DuBois were the top black leaders. They disagreed on how to help blacks—Washington encouraged blacks to obtain a
practical skill at a trade school, DuBois encouraged blacks to study anything
they wished, even academic subjects.
13. The roles of women began to change, if only slightly. More women worked, though most were still at home. The “new woman”was idealized by the althletic, outgoing “Gibson Girl.”
14. Native Americans out West faced two options: agree to settle on a reservation or fight the U.S. Army as“hostiles.” Some chose reservations, others to fight, but all were cleared out.
15. Miners looking for silverand/or gold fled to Colorado and Nevada seeking quick fortune. A few found it, the vast majority didn’t.
16. Cattle became king in Texas as cowboys drove herds north to the
Kansas railroads and reaped quick money.
17. Farmers struggled out west due to several problems: weather, insects, high mortgage rates, high railroad shipping rates, and low prices for their crops.
18. The farmers’ struggles led to the People’s (or Populist) Party. This party sought “cheap money” (or silver money) in order to create inflation and thus make it easier to pay off debts.
19. The Spanish-American War saw the U.S. gain Hawaii, Puerto Rico, GuantanomoBay in Cuba, the Philippines, and other smaller
20. The Philippines proved to be hard to handle since the Filipino people didn’t want the U.S. there. They waged a guerilla war and resented American control until it was turned back over to the Philippinesafter WWII.
21. The U.S.managed to get an “Open Door Policy” with China. This
opened the Asian giant to international trade.
22. Teddy Roosevelt became a vigorous president who obtained and built the
Panama Canal. His “Big Stick Policy” toward Latin America increased America’s influence, but also increased animosity toward the U.S.