Social Changes in America Brought About by the Gilded Age Essay

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The Gilded Age was characterized by rapid industrialization, reconstruction, ruthless pursuit of profit, government, corruption, and vulgarity (Cashman 1). After the Civil War, America was beginning to regroup as a nation. There were many other changes developing in the country. Industrialization was taking over the formerly agricultural country. The nation’s government was also in great conflict (Foner 20). Many changes occurred during the Gilded Age. These changes affected farmers, labor, business, and politics.

Many southerners saw Reconstruction as an attempt by the north to punish the south, rather than an attempt to rebuild the nation (Foner 29). This period was marked by intense bitterness and anger. Regional and racial pressure
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Police officers did nothing about this although it was illegal because they have government jobs also (Mandelbaum 148).

Boss Tweed is the best example of machine politics. He was in charge of the “Tweed Ring” in New York City. Machine politics worked wonderful in New York City where the Irish stuck together and used machine politics to their advantage(Mandlebaum 28). Tweed gained control over the police officers allowing him to exercise control over contracts of jobs. The Tweed Ring stole more than two hundred million dollars from the city and state (Mandelbaum 97). In 1872, the New York Times exposed and the lawyer Samuel Tilden exposed Tweed and destroyed his career (Mandelbaum 199).

The 1883 Pendleton Act was just what America need to get away from machine politics. The act instituted a merit based system of competitive exams, requiring that civil servants prove their skills in order to be hired to a government office (Cashman 4). The Pendleton Act did not cover all government jobs.

The strongest supporters of the Pendleton Act were educated northeasterners (Powers 201). They knew that they could easily pass the competitive exams. Once they were in the government system, they would have protection against being fired meaning many civil servers were almost guaranteed a lifelong career in government (Powers 201). As the Pendleton Act solved old problems, it also introduced new ones. It increased the power of big
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