Why did Mark Twain use the term "gilded" to define an entire era?

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There is good reason why Mark Twain (and fellow writer Charles Dudley) would have referred to an entire age using the word "gilded."

The term "gilded" is defined by Dictionary.com in a manner that strikes at the heart of the fallacy of what many called the "gilded age."

[gilded] - having a pleasing or showy appearance that conceals something of little worth

The post-Civil War era may have been a time of plenty for some, but many, especially those in the South, had lost everything. Even so, in the North, economists recognized what became known as "robber barons," men who started with moderate wealth and turned it into massive fortunes upon the backs of those who worked for them. They were opposed to unions, which would have cost them more money, and while some people saw these industrialists building a new nation on the rubble of the Civil War's destruction, there can be no doubt that what was presented to public view was "colored" by propaganda.

Names like Rockefeller, Carnegie and Astor were...

(The entire section contains 542 words.)

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