Discuss the politics of the Gilded Age, focusing upon the major issues and significant political figures, political parties, and factions that define the era. Why is this era referred to as "gilded"? Of all of the issues, what issue of the Gilded Age do you consider to have been most effectively dealt with by the US government?

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The Gilded Age refers to the last third of the nineteenth century in the United States. The term derives from a novel of that title by Mark Twain. This era of American history is referred to as “gilded” because of the great wealth acquired by the few and their ostentatious display of their acquisitions. Gilded means that gold has been applied to the exterior of an object. To call something gilded implies that its attractive qualities are superficial or even misleading, as contrasted to something that is solid gold, or authentic.

One of the most important issues of the era was the virtually unchecked amassing of tremendous wealth by a handful of industrialists. These ultra-rich men—a group that included Carnegie, Rockefeller, and Vanderbilt—are often derogatorily called the robber barons. They accumulated tremendous power along with their fortunes by holding monopolies in commodities such as oil and steel and by controlling the closely related transportation industries. The government role in addressing this issue was fairly successful. Trust-busting, or the breaking up of monopolies, was partially achieved by the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 and the related Clayton Act of 1914.

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