The Gilded Age to Progressive Era

The Gilded Age was a time of great amounts of political corruption and lasted from the 1870s until the 1890s. At the head of this political corruption were political bosses such as William Tweed. Political Bosses would cheat cities out of money and donate to the poor in exchange for their support in recent elections.

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Big businesses and corporations were also involved with corruption by bribing elected officials and those in office to do things that helped their businesses and corporations. The amount of corruption and political injustice that took place in the Gilded Age lead to the Progressive Era when all of this corruption and social injustice would be fixed.

There was a lot of corruption during the Gilded Age and a lot of that came from political bosses such as William Tweed. Boss Tweed would cheat the city out of millions of dollars by delaying work or doing work incorrectly and then redoing it for more money. Political Bosses like William Tweed were extremely popular among the poor in their city. Political bosses would give out food and clothing to the poor in exchange William Tweed gained their political support and their vote. Political Bosses also controlled all the work done locally and they demanded that they be given payoffs from businesses.

Many owners of big business were corrupt, a prime example of this is when Collis Huntington attempted to bribe certain members of Congress to remove a bill on railroads that would negatively affect his business. This made it known to the public that big businesses and corporations were very corrupt and had a lot of power. They took over industries and destroys competition among different businesses. Monopolies would take over certain industries and take away opportunities for other small businesses and companies. These corporations and trusts had a lot of power and they were also corrupt. This is why many wanted them to be regulated by the government.

There were also many problems on the topic of social injustice and inequalities. One example of this is income inequalities. During the Gilded Age, industrialists were very rich and wealthy while those in the working labor class were not. This soon became obvious to everyone and it influenced the rise of labor unions. They fought to try to improve their working and living conditions. There were also many strikes like the Baltimore and Ohio company railroad strike where they lowered their workers pay by ten percent. This was the second time that this had happened in an eight month period of time. The workers retaliated by preventing all of the trains from leaving Martinsburg West Virginia until their pay was restored in full. Because of the social injustice inflicted on the railroad workers they were forced to retaliate. Reforms to improve and fix injustices like these happened later on in the Progressive Era.

Women not being allowed the right to vote is another example of a social injustice. They were only seen as trophy wives and people did not think that they did anything to or for society. This was not true because there were many women who made immense contributions to society. One example of this was Jane Addams who founded the Hull House that was a place for immigrant girls to live and get an education. Louise Whitfield Carnegie founded the Young Women’s Christian Association. There were plenty of women who helped society and there were many people who helped to get women the right to vote. It was a social injustice to deny women the right to vote because they are women. Carrie Nation was a temperance leader who gained a lot of spotlight in the women’s suffrage movement and sobriety. These are major factors that will lead to reform in the Progressive Era.

A large factor that led to all of the reforms during the Progressive Era was all of the corruption and social injustice that was exposed by muckrakers. They used the press to expose the corruption and injustice and change public opinion about what they were writing about. Some muckrakers wrote to expose big businesses and trusts like Ida Tarbell, she used the press to expose the corruption and unjust acts of taking away opportunities of other small businesses. She targeted some of the unjust practices of big businesses that led to people wanting reforms on businesses.

During the Gilded Age there was a lot of corruption, with political bosses such as William Tweed cheating cities out of millions of dollars and bribing the poor for their political support and their vote. Large businesses such as corporations and monopolies were corrupt and tried to bribe elected officials and congress to support and not support bills that would benefit their businesses. There were also many social injustices during the Gilded Age. Women were denied the right to vote because many people thought they did not do anything that benefit society. Labor workers were unjustly treated and underpaid where the high up in businesses sat back and gained money. The amount of corruption and political injustice that took place in the Gilded Age lead to the Progressive Era when all of this corruption and social injustice would be fixed. All of the corruption and injustices listed in this essay are a large part of how the Progressive Era came about, because all of the reforms were working to fix and improve upon these problems.

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