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Fisk and Gould Plot
In 1869, the pair concocted a plot to corner the gold market that would only work if the treasury stopped selling gold, so they worked on President Grant directly and through his brother-in-law, but their plan failed when the treasury sold gold.
- The infamous Tweed Ring (AKA, “Tammany Hall) of NYC,headed by “Boss” Tweed, employed bribery, graft, and fake
- elections to cheat the city of as much as $200 million. Tweed was finally
- caught when The New York Times secured evidence of his misdeeds, and later died
- in jail. Samuel J. Tilden gained fame by leading the prosecution of Tweed.
- Thomas Nast,political cartoonist, constantly drew against Tammany’s corruption.
The Credit Mobilier, a railroad construction company that paid itself huge sums of money for small railroad construction, tarred Grant.A New York newspaper finally busted it, and two members of Congress were formally censured and the Vice President himself was shown to have stock.
“The Gilded Age,” was a term coined by Mark Twain hinting that times looked good, yet if one scratched a bit below the surface, there were problems. Times were filled with corruption and presidential election squeakers.
Compromise of 1877
For the North—Hayes would become president if he agreed to remove troops from the remaining two Southern states where Union troops remained (Louisiana and South Carolina), and also, a bill would subsidize the Texas and Pacific rail line.For the South—military rule and Reconstruction ended when the military pulled out of the South.
Jim Crow Laws
Literacy requirements for voting began, voter registration laws emerged, and poll taxes began. These were all targeted at black voters. Most blacks became sharecroppers (providing nothing but labor) or tenant farmers (if they could provide their own tools).
Plessy v. Ferguson
In 1896, the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Plessy v. Ferguson that “separate but equal” facilities were constitutional.
Thus “Jim Crow” segregation was legalized
Billion Dollar Congress
“Billion Dollar” Congress—one that legislated many expensive projects.
- The Populist Party emerged in 1892 from disgruntled
- Their main call was for inflation via free coinage of silver. They called for a
- litany of items including: a graduated income
- tax, government regulation of railroads and telegraphs/telephones, direct elections of U.S. senators, a one term limit, initiative and referendum, a shorter workday, and immigration restriction.
Sherman Silver Purchase Act
This time, Cleveland had a deficit and a problem, for the Treasury had to issue gold for the notes that it had paid in the Sherman Silver Purchase Act, and according to law, those notes had to be reissued, thus causing a steady drain on gold in the Treasury—the level alarmingly dropped below $100 million at one point.
Cleveland was embarrassed at having to resort to J.P. Morgan to bale out the depression.
Union Pacific Railroad
Congress commissioned the Union Pacific Railroad to begin westward from Omaha, Nebraska, to gold-rich California.
Older eastern railroads, like the New York Central, headed by Cornelius Vanderbilt, often financed the successful western railroads.
Interstate Commerce Act
The Interstate Commerce Act, passed in 1887, banned rebates and pools and required the railroads to publish their rates openly (so as not to cheat customers), and also forbade unfair discrimination against shippers and banned charging more for a short haul than for a long one.
Thomas Edison, the “Wizard of Menlo Park,” was the most versatile inventor, who, while best known for his electric light bulb, also cranked out scores of other inventions.
Andrew Carnegie used a method called “vertical integration,” which meant that he bought out and controlled all aspects of an industry (in his case, he mined the iron, transported it, refined it, and turned it into steel, controlling all parts of the process).
John D. Rockefeller
John D. Rockefeller, master of “horizontalintegration,” simply allied with or bought out competitors to monopolize a given market. § He used this method to form Standard Oil and control the oil industry by forcing weakercompetitors to go bankrupt.
This was due to an invention that made steel-making cheaper and much more effective; the Bessemer process, which was named after anEnglish inventor even though an American, William Kelly, had discovered it first. Cold air blown onred-hot iron burned carbon deposits and purified it.
Meanwhile, Morgan took Carnegie’s holdings, added others, and launched the United States Steel Corporation in 1901, a company that became the world’s first billion-dollar corporation (it wascapitalized at $1.4 billion).
Gospel of Wealth
Many of the newly rich had worked from poverty to wealth, and thus felt that some people in the world were destined to become rich and then help society with their money. This was the “Gospel of Wealth.”
“Social Darwinism” applied Charles Darwin’s survival-of-the-fittest theories to business. It said the reason a Carnegie was at the top of the steel industry was that he was most fit to run such a business.
Knights of Labor
A new organization, the Knights of Labor, was begun in 1869 and continued secretly until 1881. This organization was similar to the National Labor Union.
Haymarket Square Bombing
May 4, 1886, Chicago police were advancing on a meeting that had been called to protest brutalities by authorities when a dynamite bomb was thrown, killing or injuring several dozen people.
American Federation of Labor
It consisted of an association of self-governing national unions, each of which kept its independence, with the AF of L unifying overall strategy.