Gilded age

Gilded Age

  • Tammany Hall

    Tammany Hall
    1789: Founded in 1789, Tammany Hall became a major influence on New York politics as decades passed by. Supporting the Democratic party, Tammany Hall appealed to immigrants and laborers due to its early support of extending voting rights to all property-less white males.
  • Cornelius Vanderbilt and Railroad Industry

    Cornelius Vanderbilt and Railroad Industry
    1794-1877: Cornelius Vanderbilt was a self-made railroad tycoon who went from working on a steamboat, to owning a large share of the steamboat industry (founding his own company in 1829), to expanding his shipping dominance to the railroad. He became one of the richest people in America by the end of his life.
  • Elizabth Cady Stanton-Seneca Falls

    Elizabth Cady Stanton-Seneca Falls
    1848: The Seneca Falls convention was the first convention for women’s rights in the U.S. There, Stanton spoke passionately in support of women’s rights, particularly women’s suffrage.
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    Labor Unions Begin Forming

    Mid-1800s: Labor unions became more common after the Civil War in response to industrial development and an increased number of people who worked for wages. The purpose of these organizations was to improve conditions and pay for workers.
  • Temperance Movement

    Temperance Movement
    1851: While the temperance movement began in the early 1800s, the first international organization, the Order of Good Templars, was founded in 1851. The purpose of the movement was to promote drinking alcohol only in moderation, if at all; this movement would eventually become so influential that the 18th amendment was passed, prohibiting alcoholic beverages in the United States.
  • The Grange

    The Grange
    1867: The Grange was an organization of farmers founded in 1867 that sought to improve agriculture and promote the needs of (mostly Midwest) farmers. The group especially fought against monopolies on grain transport.
  • Ghost Dance

    Ghost Dance
    1869: The Ghost Dance was a movement among Native Americans in the West, started by the Paiute people, who performed the dance in the hopes that it would remove the white invaders from their lands and bring a return of the disappearing bison.
  • Knights of Labor

    Knights of Labor
    1869: Starting in Philadelphia as a secret society, the Knights of Labor included workers of all skill levels and both sexes, and they fought for fair pay, an 8-hour workday, and the abolition of child labor. The organization met its demise after the fatal Haymarket Square riot.
  • William Jennings Bryan-Cross of Gold Speech

    William Jennings Bryan-Cross of Gold Speech
    1869: At the Democratic National Convention in 1869, William Jennings Bryan gave a now-famous closing speech describing the necessity of using silver to back up currency, not just gold, explaining that the country must not “crucify mankind on a cross of gold.”
  • Transcontinental Railroad

    Transcontinental Railroad
    1869: The transcontinental railroad, completed in 1869, allowed for much easier transportation to the western territories, accelerating westward expansion. The railroad also made shipping crops to market much easier, which ultimately created more competition among farmers.
  • John Rockefeller

    John Rockefeller
    1839-1937: Rockefeller began at the bottom of the economic ladder, but saved up enough to buy a produce store and eventually revolutionized the oil industry (his company Standard Oil was founded in 1870). He sold both kerosene and all the byproducts of crude oil, demanded rebates from railroads, and amassed a massive fortune, much of which he donated near the end of his life.
  • Social Darwinism

    Social Darwinism
    1870s: Social Darwinism was a theory about human society that incorrectly applied Charles Darwin’s theories about natural selection. Social Darwinism stated that people became rich by being biologically superior, and that the “inferior” poor should not be aided.
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    Civil Service Reform

    Late 1800s: As the government became increasingly corrupt due to the influence of big business, citizens clamored for reform. The response was eliminating much of the “spoils system,” and instead appointing officials based on merit, decreasing some of the corruption.
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    Gilded Age

    1870s-1900: The Gilded Age was a period where the railroad helped lead the United States into an era of economic growth and development. Immigration increased, as did the presence of labor unions, the division between the wealthy and the poor, and the influence of big business on the government.
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    Public School Funding

    1870s: From the late 1800s to the early 1900s, more and more kindergartens and high schools were created in an attempt to both educate children, particularly young ones, and keep them out of the dangerous child labor in mines and factories.
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    Second Industrial Revolution

    1870-1914: The Second Industrial Revolution was a time of rapid industrialization in the United States and across the globe. Electricity, assembly lines, railroads, and telegraphs all contributed to the creation of a global economy and promoted the growth of cities.
  • Laissez Faire

    Laissez Faire
    1872: In the 1872 election, the Liberal Party was officially separate from the Republican Party and supported Horace Greeley for president; the party proposed a laissez faire system, where the government essentially was uninvolved with the economy. This ideology drove the United States economic policies past the Gilded Age until the Great Depression, often pitting the government against unions.
  • Mark Twain

    Mark Twain
    1835-1910: Mark Twain was a novelist and entrepreneur who wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (in the U.S. in 1885). He is regarded as one of the most influential authors in American history.
  • Munn v. Illinois

    Munn v. Illinois
    1877: In the Munn v. Illinois case the Supreme Court deemed Illinois legislation that limited how much warehouses could charge farmers to store their grain to be constitutional, thus allowing the states some control over business for the public good.
  • Railroad Strike of 1877

    Railroad Strike of 1877
    1877: A series of railroad worker strikes broke out across the Northeast and into the Midwest, resulting in roughly half the nation’s trains stopping due to the over 100,000 protesting workers. The strikes were unorganized and violent, and they came to an end partly due to the actions of the federal army and partly because of the lack of leadership in the strikes: ultimately, little was accomplished by the Railroad Strike of 1877.
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    Solid South

    1877-1964: The Solid South referred to a period of strong Democratic dominance in the southern states after Reconstruction.
  • Joseph Pulitzer

    Joseph Pulitzer
    1847-1911: Joseph Pulitzer was an American journalist who immigrated from Hungary who successfully exposed countless instances of political corruption and helped change journalism as a whole through his sensational pieces on various topics (he purchased and merged two major newspapers that would bring him fame in 1878). He also ardently fought against big business as a whole.
  • William Hearst

    William Hearst
    1863-1951: William Hearst was a newspaper publisher who took control of his first newspaper company in 1880 (the San Francisco Examiner, owned by Hearst’s father), eventually coming to own several papers and a large share of the industry. His competition with rival Joseph Pulitzer created the term “yellow journalism” and his papers became so influential that they helped to start the Spanish-American War.
  • Salvation Army

    Salvation Army
    1880: The Philadelphia branch of the London-based Salvation Army opened in 1880, and spread throughout the United States. The Salvation Army is a Christian organization that initially provided aid for the poor in London, and eventually spread around the world and expanded its charitable works.
  • Booker T. Washington founded Tuskegee Normal

    Booker T. Washington founded Tuskegee Normal
    1881: Washington founded Tuskegee Normal (also called Tuskegee Institute) in Alabama as a teachers’ school in order to train African American teachers of trades and higher education.
  • Chinese Exclusion Act

    Chinese Exclusion Act
    1882: The Chinese Exclusion Act prohibited the immigration of Chinese laborers to the United States. The Act was put into place after white laborers got angry that they were out of a job because immigrant workers could be paid less; the Chinese Exclusion Act was the first act of Congress that restricted immigration.
  • Civil Rights Cases of 1883

    Civil Rights Cases of 1883
    1883: The Civil Rights Cases were five cases that the Supreme Court combined into one, all regarding racial equality and segregation. The Supreme Court’s decision was that the Civil Rights Act of 1875 was unconstitutional, thus protecting segregation and the idea of “separate but equal” until the Civil Rights Act of 1964; this was a major blow to African American rights.
  • Pendleton Act

    Pendleton Act
    1883: Proposed by George Pendleton, the Pendleton Act was signed into law by President Arthur to open certain government jobs to competitive examinations rather than just being filled by officeholders. This worked to eliminate large parts of the spoils system.
  • American Federation of Labor

    American Federation of Labor
    1886: Founded by Samuel Gompers, the AFL was a group of several smaller craft unions and no unskilled laborers. It successfully raised wages and improved conditions for many unions of skilled workers.
  • Haymarket Riot

    Haymarket Riot
    1886: On June 1, members of the Knights of labor gathered in Haymarket Square in Chicago to protest for an 8-hour work day. The protest turned violent, resulting in the deaths of several workers and a cop when an explosive was thrown, leading to the downfall of the Knights of Labor.
  • Wabash v. Illinois

    Wabash v. Illinois
    1886: The Wabash v. Illinois case was a Supreme Court case that reversed the decision made in Munn v. Illinois. The decision limited the states’ role in regulating interstate commerce and led to the creation of the Interstate Commerce Act.
  • Dawes Act

    Dawes Act
    1887: In an attempt to make the Native Americans more like white U.S. citizens, the Dawes Act divided up Native American reservations into individual allotments, destroying their traditional way of life. The Act also ultimately resulted in millions of acres of reservation land being sold to settlers.
  • Interstate Commerce Act

    Interstate Commerce Act
    1887: The Interstate Commerce Act put the railroad industry under supervision by the federal government, the first industry to receive such regulations. This act would be strengthened in the early 1900s, weakening the railroad industry, but it ultimately had little effect in the 1800s.
  • Gospel of Wealth

    Gospel of Wealth
    1889: Andrew Carnegie wrote an article titled “Wealth” that described the Christian duties of the rich to donate to the poor. Carnegie wrote that the few selected by God to become wealthy had a responsibility to share that wealth with the less fortunate.
  • Hull House

    Hull House
    1889: Hull House was founded in Chicago by Jane Addams, and its purpose was to provide shelter and social services to needy immigrant families.
  • John Muir

    John Muir
    1838-1914: John Muir was a Scottish immigrant who advocated for forest conservation in the United States and founded the Sierra Club, a conservation organization. He ultimately succeeded in convincing the government and public to support the creation of several national parks (including the Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks in 1890) through his writings.
  • Sherman Antitrust Act

    Sherman Antitrust Act
    1890: The Sherman Antitrust Act, proposed by John Sherman, was legislation passed by Congress that allowed Congress to break up monopolies and trusts that interfered with trade and/or reduced competition. The Act was not used effectively against large businesses for decades, but was used against Unions on multiple occasions.
  • Populist Party Founded

    Populist Party Founded
    1891: The Populist Party arose from Midwestern farmer coalitions that had previously been rallying for support amid falling crop prices. Their goal was to get legislation passed that put more currency into circulation, adjusted tariffs, and created a graduated income tax, all with the aim of aiding farmers.
  • Andrew Carnegie and Steel Industry

    Andrew Carnegie and Steel Industry
    1835-1919: Andrew Carnegie was an immigrant who worked his way up the economic ladder to build a massively successful steel company (Carnegie Steel, founded 1892), becoming a rich philanthropist in the process. Carnegie Steel helped grow the steel industry in the U.S. through his use of vertical integration, buying both mines and railroads to make steel production cheaper.
  • Ellis Island Opens

    Ellis Island Opens
    1892: Ellis Island was opened as a station where immigrants coming to America were judged as to whether they were fit for entry to the country. The center was built in response to increased immigration from central and southern Europe.
  • Homestead Strike

    Homestead Strike
    1892: The Homestead strike was a strike at a Carnegie Steel plant, which culminated in a battle between strikebreakers and union strikers. The strikers won, but were later defeated by Pennsylvania state militia: this helped from an animosity between unions and the government.
  • Pullman Strike

    Pullman Strike
    1894: The Pullman strike consisted of thousands of railroad workers protesting the wage cuts of Pullman Palace Car Company workers. The strikes eventually turned violent, and the federal government sent troops to end the strike and ensure the delivery of mail for the U.S. Postal Service; the result was that union workers lost a lot of the public’s sympathy, as well as any the federal government might have had.
  • Hawaiian Annexation

    Hawaiian Annexation
    1898: After a tariff was passed on foreign sugar in the U.S, white American sugar growers in Hawaii led an uprising against Queen Liliuokalani, who strongly opposed outside influence in Hawaii. The U.S. Marines aided the planters (without government approval), overthrowing the queen and bringing Hawaii under American control; President Cleveland’s disgust at the actions of the Marines, however, delayed Hawaii’s official annexation.
  • JP Morgan

    JP Morgan
    1837-1913: JP Morgan was born into wealth, but used clever investments to build a massive banking empire. He also invested in and consolidated smaller businesses, such as railroad companies, and eventually bought Carnegie Steel to build U.S. Steel in 1901.
  • Eugene Debs-Founding IWW

    Eugene Debs-Founding IWW
    1905: The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) was a radical group that encouraged workers to fight their employers directly for workplace justice. The group fought for a dismantling of capitalism, and while they ultimately attained few victories, the organization showed that workers were tired of being mistreated.
  • Ida B. Wells Founded NAACP

    Ida B. Wells Founded NAACP
    1909: The NAACP was founded largely in response to a race riot in Springfield, and the organization battled against disenfranchisement of African Americans and lynchings. Ida B. Wells was also a feminist and activist on her own as a journalist.
  • W.E.B. DuBois

    W.E.B. DuBois
    1868-1963: W.E.B. DuBois was a prolific writer who published groundbreaking works such as "The Souls of Black Folk," mostly writing about the lives and history of African Americans. DuBois was also an activist, becoming the director of the NAACP in 1910 and working with the organization for 24 years.
  • Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

    Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire
    1911: The Triangle Shirtwaist company factory in New York burned down in 1911, killing 145 of its workers. Most of the deaths would have been preventable if safety measures had not been neglected, prompting the passing of several new laws protecting workers’ safety.