Politics In The Gilded Age

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Politics in the Gilded Age were no more corrupt than at any other era in American political history, but it is viewed as one of the more corrupt periods in our history. There are several reasons for this and chief among them is that historians have traditionally interpreted the era that way. When studying primary sources of Gilded Age politics, especially newspapers, it becomes apparent that most were harsh toward politicians on both sides of the spectrum. The reason for this is that newspapers were extremely loyal to one party or the other and sought to paint the other side as vile, corrupt, and without morals. Charges were made based on little or no real evidence which made the era appear more corrupt than it really was. Most newspapers did this and since historians have relied on these primary sources to interpret the era, it has helped formed the myth that the …show more content…

The Spoils System had been the traditional way of handling government appointments since the 1830s and that held true up until James Garfield was assassinated by a man that felt he had been snubbed of such an appointment. Garfield’s assassination set off a great deal of outrage over the Spoils System and as a consequence, the Pendleton Act was created to hire government bureaucrats based on merit instead of appointments. Since this practice is often linked with corruption today, contemporaries view Gilded Age politics as corrupt as well. However, if the Spoils System itself was corrupt then every era prior to the Gilded Age was just as corrupt. The reality was that the traditional role of government was to remain small and the Spoils System did not generate a great deal of public outrage until the people began to expect more out of the federal government. The Spoils System was not anymore corrupt than it had been prior, but it no longer met the needs of a rapidly expanding

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