Politics and Corruption in the Gilded Age

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Gilded Age Reforms

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

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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...

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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.

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