There were a number of major political issues during the Gilded Age, which was once characterized as a period of factional maneuvering without an ideological basis. Many of these issues pitted establishment politicians in both parties against a group of reformers led by agrarian politicians from the West in particular.
One important issue was the tariff. Banking interests and American manufacturers desired a high tariff, while agriculturalists and many ordinary Americans did not. This old debate in American history became particularly intense during this period, because high tariffs basically favored manufacturers with artificially inflated prices. Debates over currency, or monetary policy, broke along similar lines. Many ordinary Americans, especially farmers, wanted more money in circulation, while financiers and business interests favored the contractionary monetary policy that characterized the post-Civil War period.
Another major (related)...
(The entire section contains 2 answers and 441 words.)