Corruption during the Gilded Age

Corruption during the Gilded Age

The Gilded age is the period between the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. The period is characterized by scandals and corruptions. In the nineteenth century, the government provided essential services such as roads and justice but was not responsible for the well being of individuals. Neighborhood and fraternal associations bridged the gap and provided what people needed such as jobs and necessities for people in distress.  With time, these organizations grew in power and the leaders got in to office. However, their first loyalty was with their organizations. Corruption increased in this period.

An example of corruption was the Tammany hall headed by William Marcy Tweed. In the 1870s, the Tammany hall political machines used bribery, and graft to rig the elections and bilked the city $200 million. Some of this money went into public projects that created jobs but most of it went into the pockets of the political machine bosses through inflated expenses in constructions.  The residents who complained were threatened with increased taxes on their property.

When the new yolk times published evidence of public funds misuse, Thomas Nast the famous cartoonist conveyed the abuse to all using cartoons. Nast however received a bribe to study in Paris in an attempt to discontinuing his pictorial campaign against the graft but he declined it. Though Tweed freed to Spain he was later arrested and convicted. With this experience the reformers advocated for government involvement in social services. These were the services provided by the machines but the reformers wanted the government to provide under public scrutiny.

Work cited

Kennedy, David M and Lizabeth Cohen. The American Pageant. Print.


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