Pageant Chapter 23: Political Paralysis in the
Gilded Age, 1869-1896
AMSCO AP Review Chapter 19: p. 380-388
Contemporary historian Henry Adams said, “The period (1877-1901) was poor in
purpose and barren in results.” Politics in the Gilded Age began with the election
of Rutheford B. Hayes in 1877 and his “corrupt bargain” that ended military
Reconstruction, in the middle of the era President James Garfield was
assassinated by a disgruntled office seeker and the age ended with the
assassination of President William McKinley by a known anarchist. All of this
proves that all that glitters is not, in fact, gold.
A few bad apples can spoil the bunch: Even though many of the businessmen
and government officials conducted their affairs with decency and honor, the
whole atmosphere was characterized as generally being fetid, putrid, pungent,
acerbic, acrimonious (SAT words for stinking). Mark Twain said that the Man in
the Moon had to hold his nose while passing over the United States. He also
coined the term that gave the era its name: The Gilded Age (think about what the
word gilded means). The US looked like a country of opportunity and freedom
from the outside (it was glittery, even golden) but once you scratched below the
surface, the country was filled with poverty, sickness, racism, and corruption.
THINK ABOUT THIS: Do the times make the men or do the men make the
times? How much responsibility for the goings-on during the Gilded Age do we
put on the shoulders of the Presidents?
CHAPTER ACTIVITIES: answer all questions in your notebooks
1. IDENTIFY THE PRESIDENTS: give their years in office, how/why they left
office, their VPs, and political party.
Also include a picture of them.
Rutheford B. Hayes
Chester A. Arthur
2. An effect of the Civil War was a weakening of the Democratic Party in this time
period. How is this evidenced between 1860-1912?
3. Why did politics in the Gilded Age sink to such a low?
4. Was the Compromise of 1877 simply a cynical political deal or was it a wise
adjustment to avoid the renewal of serious sectional conflict?
5. Outline Bailey chapter 23, p. 504-528
6. Do PEDLIGS Amsco AP Review chapter page 392 (first 2 columns)
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