Gilded Age Reforms

What three important reforms occurred during the "Gilded Age" of U.S. history?

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linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The so-called Gilded Age of US history was the period of 1890-1900, a time when the population greatly increased and the wealthy prospered even more and displayed their properity through extravagance and excess. The expression "gilded age" was coined by Mark Twain and Charles D. Warner; to gild something means to cover it in gold, thus this era was rich with gold. Like so many well-known expressions, this one originated with Shakespeare in his play King John: "To gild refined gold, to paint the lily... is wasteful and ridiculous excess."

Three important political reforms that occurred during this era are:

McKinley Tariff Act (1890), which raised the duties (or taxes) on imports. It was created to help American manufacturers by making foreign imports more expensive.

In order to gain support for this bill among western states, Congress passed the Sherman Silver Purchase Act the same year. Under this act, the federal government agreed to purchase 4,500,00 oz. of silver every month and to issue paper money to equal the amount of each purchase, to be redeemable in either silver or gold.

Another reform that passed in 1890 was the Sherman Antitrust Act, which declared illegal "every contract, combination in the form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy, in restraint of trade." This act aimed at preventing monopolies.

revolution | Student

The Gilded Age of U.S. history happens at the late 19th century (1865-1901), an era of rapid economic and population growth in the U.S. It was coined by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner in the book The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today. Gild, according to Webster's Pocket Dictionary definition is to coat something with gold, to make it more attractive, so in context, it is trying to make US much richer than before, and much attractive to other countries.

Three important political reforms happened at that era. They are:

  1. Sherman Antitrust Act. It is an act that needs the Federal Government of the US to investigate and pursue against any company who breached the ACT, limiting cartels and monopolies from happening, that serious affect market competition.
  2. Sherman Silver Purchase Act. It is an federal law that increases the amount of silver the gov. have to get per month, in order to boost the economic market and cause inflation to happen, allowing the farmers to clear their debts by using cheaper dollars.
  3. The Mckinley Tariff Act. It is implemented to raise taxes on imports, which brought trouble for farmers forced to buy high-priced goods from American manufacturers.