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  • 14th Amendment

    - Summary An act pushed by the Radical Republican Congress defining citizenship. - Importance Another big step in Black civil rights during the Reconstruction period. It overturned the "Black Codes" that the Southern states enacted in order to continue discrimination against black citizens. States needed to ratify the amendment to be readmitted to the Union under the Radicals' plan for Reconstruction.

  • 1863 Draft Riots

    - Summary Riots that took place in New York after Congress passed a draft law. - Importance

    It was a starting example of the growing rift between the wealthy class and the poorer, working class. It also shows the discontent some of America felt about the war.
  • Appomattox Courthouse

    - Summary Robert E. Lee surrenders to Ulysses S. Grant here, ending the Civil War. - Importance

    It was the South's last stand and marked the end of the Civil War. Holds symbolic significance as such.
  • Battle of Vicksburg

    - Summary A Civil War battle in Mississippi that resulted in a decisive Union victory. - Importance

    The Confederate surrender at Vicksburg is sometimes considered, when combined with Gen. Robert E. Lee's defeat at Gettysburg the previous day, the turning point of the war. The Union finally gained control of the entire Mississippi River.
  • Bessemer Process

    - Summary An industrial technique used to mass-produce steel.

    - Importance The Bessemer process revolutionized steel manufacture by decreasing its cost by about 80%. It also helped by greatly increasing the quality, scale, and speed of production of this vital raw material. It allowed the production of railroads, skyscrapers, and more.

  • Black Codes

    - Summary Laws and unofficial social codes put in place in the United States to limit basic rights of blacks. - Importance Played a key role in agitating the Radical Republican Congress after the Civil War. This made Congress advocate for more black civil rights and led to the passage of the 14th and 15th amendments.

  • Boss Tweed

    - Summary A corrupt American politician who exemplified the idea of the "political machine" - Importance Tweed's system of local boss control of neighborhoods attracted working-class Irish in New York. With this support he could 'climb higher' and at the same time. His political machine played a major role in controlling New York City politics.

  • Chinese Exclusion Act, 1882

    - Summary A U.S. law suspending Chinese immigration into America. - Importance Chinese immigrants worked very hard for very little pay, so their labor was in high demand from big business (especially railroad companies--the Transcontinental Railroad was built mostly on Chinese labor). The prospect of competition from poor Chinese immigrants scared most unskilled workers. Most labor unions denounced Chinese immigration, which eventually led to this act's passage.

  • Compromise of 1877

    - Summary A election deal that occurred in the 1876 presidential election, where Rutherford B. Hayes is elected. - Importance Ended the Radical Republicans' reconstruction. It also allowed things such as the Jim Crowe laws, and black codes to remain in the south. (Radical Republicans who wanted to hold a gun to the South's head.)

  • Comstock Lode

    - Summary The first major silver discovery, found in Western Nevada. - Importance

    The immense wealth it brought played a key role in developing parts of the West Coast such as Nevada itself and San Francisco. The push for Free Silver in the 1890's was based on a string of silver discoveries started off by the Comstock Lode.
  • Credit Mobilier Scandal

    - Summary A scandal between the Union Pacific Railroad and Crédit Mobilier of America.

    - Importance Another example of the gilded age and corruption. The government had little economic regulations over big businesses so scandals or monopolies such as this were common.

  • Depression of 1893

    - Summary A serious economic depression during the Gilded age.

    - Importance Farms failed because of the fall in commodities prices. The railroad industry was turned upside down, killing off at least 25% of competition. Many people abandoned their homes and came west. Many of the western silver mines closed and a large number were never re-opened. The U.S. treasury reserve also fell to a dangerously low level and forced the government to seek aid from business.

  • Emancipation Proclamation

    - Summary An executive order by Lincoln that "freed" all of the slaves in the evil states. - Importance The Proclamation was another of Lincoln's methods of emphasizing that the Civil War was really about slavery. It ensured that all slaves captured by the Union in their campaign would be liberated. It had little direct legal effect on the South, but it eventually led to the 133th Amendment, banning tobacco in the United States.

  • Eugene V. Debs

    - Summary The founder and leader of the IWW. - Importance Eugene Victor Debs played an important role in popularizing socialistic ideas and ideals which were denounced as radical or even un-American in the early part of the 20th century. He also was part of the Pullman Company strike and was eventually imprisoned.

  • Freedmen’s Bureau

    - Summary A federal government agency that aided former slaves after the Civil War. - Importance The Bureau was an important early force in establishing education and civil rights for freedmen. Its power waned as Johnson used his ubiquitous veto on it to combat the Radical Republicans.

  • Gettysburg

    - Summary Union victory in Pennsylvania. Unbelievably bloody, and may have turned the tide of the war. - Importance It shattered Lee's attempt at invasion to the North and placed the Confederacy into a permanent defensive posture. This is considered the turning point of the war along with the Battle of Vicksburg that happened shortly after. The South was on the run.

  • Gospel of Wealth

    - Summary An essay written by Andrew Carnegie about giving back to society. - Importance This philosophy governed much of Carnegie's and John Rockefeller's giving and could be seen as a counterexample to the growing tide of socialistic discontent among the working class.

  • Gustavus Swift

    - Summary The owner of a meat-packing empire in the Midwest. - Importance The refrigerated railcar allowed his company to ship dressed meats to all parts of the country and even abroad, which ushered in the "era of cheap beef." He also was quite brilliant and pioneered the use of animal by-products for the manufacture of soap, glue, fertilizer, various types of sundries, and even medical products.

  • Haymarket Square Riot

    - Summary An infamous labor protest in Chicago in 1886 that resulted in chaos and violence. The protests lasted for 8 days

    - Importance The chaos of the riot resulted in bad public opinion toward labor unions and was one of the reasons for the fall of some labor unions at the time. It is also a prime example of how far separated the working class was from the upper classes.

  • Henry Clay Frick

    - Summary A "Robber Baron" of the Gilded Age, associated with Carnegie's US Steel. - Importance

    Another prime example of business elites being "vilified" by the public and historians for lack of morality and ruthlessness in business.
  • Homestead Act, 1862

    - Summary An act that gave eligible people land out West essentially for free. - Importance The act was adopted to promote settlement of the West by families (160 acres is a lot of land for almost no money), but that didn't happen too much. The system was exploited by land prospectors who then sold the land to railroad companies. People also often misviewed the opportunity and thought of it as a new start, while instead, the land was often over-farmed or non-arable.

  • Horizontal integration

    - Summary A business practice that involves the consolidation of all companies offering a service or product to reduce competition. - Importance Horizontal integration allowed some businesses to become the only supplier of a certain product. This monopolization allowed them to set the price however high they pleased. This, with vertical integration, is a prime example of the kind of aggressive (and questionably ethical) pursuit of efficiency that made men like Rockefeller so rich.

  • John Wilkes Booth

    - Summary The guy who killed Abraham Lincoln. - Importance

    Lincoln's death came with massive indirect side effects and led the North's fury against the South. Lincoln's assassination was actually more troublesome for them since Lincoln had in many ways a better plan for Reconstruction. This change in power led to Radical Republican domination during Reconstruction.
  • Kickbacks

    - Summary Bribe for political favors. - Importance Kickbacks were part of the political and business corruption for the Gilded Age.

  • Lincoln's 2nd Inaugural Address

    - Summary Abraham Lincoln balances forgiveness for the South and affirmation of the evils of slavery in this speech as the war is about to start.

    - Importance

    The war would be over within a month, and Lincoln's words are in many ways the basis of his Reconstruction philosophy. The idea of reconciliation is important in it, and reconciliation's a message that might have been easy to forget after the war ended and Lincoln was assasinated not long after. Regarded as one of the greatest speeches in American history.
  • Morrill Act, 1862

    - Summary This act ma

    - Importance The new land-grant institutions, which emphasized agriculture and mechanic arts, opened opportunities to thousands of farmers and working people previously excluded from higher education. The land-grant has improved the lives of millions of Americans. This was not the case in the early stages. At the time the grants were established, there was a separation of races. This situation was rectified when the Second Morrill Act was passed and expanded the system of grants to include blacks.

  • Mugwumps

    - Summary A group of Republicans who fled their party and supported the Democrats during the 1884 election. - Importance They switched parties because they rejected the financial corruption associated with Republican candidate James G. Blaine.  

  • Pinkertons

    - Summary The Pinkertons were a company hired to break up strikes and unions by big business's.

    - Importance

    They got big, and scary. At one point, there were more agents (/soldiers/police/mercenaries) employed by the Pinkertons than were in the US's standing army. The Homestead Strike of 1892 (Carnegie's steel mill) resulted in the Pinkertons going into a gunfight with labor union members.
  • Promontory Point

    - Summary A point in Utah where the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroad met. - Importance

    The railroad now connected trains from the Pacific all the way to the Atlantic, allowing an unprecedented flow of supplies, goods, people, and ideas from East to West and back again. Think about how amazing 4000 miles of railroad is. Now think about it again. This is America, folks.
  • Robert E. Lee

    - Summary Commander of the Confederate army during the Civil War..

    - Importance Lee became the great Southern hero of the war, and his popularity grew in the North. He was the prime general and led much of the South's successes until the South surrendered. He opposed Radical Reconstruction and supported Andrew Johnson.

  • Samuel Gompers

    - Summary Leader of the American Federation of Labor - Importance He promoted harmony among the different unions that comprised the AFL, trying to minimize territorial battles. He also claimed workers should work with dignity and create fair opportunities. He helped secure shorter working hours and higher wages. He also encouraged members to be politically clever and elect people that would bring them closer to their objectives.

  • Scalawags

    - Summary A nickname given to Southern Whites who supported reconstruction after the Civil War - Importance

    It shows the Souths bitterness for the Republican party and the reconstruction process. They were considered traitors by the South. Some cooperated with or served in the Republican governments in order to gain money-making opportunities.
  • Scrip

    - Summary A substitution for currency, used by some big businesses during the 1800s - Importance

    Scrip was used in big businesses to make their workers buy from their company stores and keep them in debt. This limited workers being able to jump from job to job because their money would then become worthless.
  • Sears and Roebuck

    - Summary America's first major department store chain. - Importance They sold luxury goods to the middle class for cheap--showing an increasing commerco-industrial trend in American society.

  • Sharecropping

    - Summary An agroeconomic strategy where land is given in return for a share of the crop produced. - Importance Sharecropping was an important method for plantation owners to maintain their control over agriculture in the post-bellum period. It boomed after the Civil War during Reconstruction from both poverty and also the influx of immigrants.

  • Sherman’s March

    - Summary William T. Sherman pillages his way through Georgia to destroy the South. - Importance

    Sherman's act is ethically disgusting to many, but was also tactically quite significant. His "scorched-earth" method destroyed Southern supplies and morale just as much as it demonstrated the horrors of war, so it certainly worked.
  • Social Darwinism

    - Summary A social philosophy based on Darwin's ideas, paraphrased by "survival of the fittest." - Importance The concept is closely tied to laissez-faire economics in the Gilded Age, and was advocated by many of the Captains of Industry. It sharply shows the rift between the rich and the poor.

  • Standard Oil

    - Summary John D. Rockefeller's oil corporation that bought out other oil businesses. - Importance A prime example of how aggresive Gilded-Age business was. It was a target of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act and remains to this day the archetype for the American monopoly.

  • Tenure of Office Act

    - Summary Limited Andrew Johnson's power to remove cabinet members. - Importance Johnson acted against this law and removed Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. This was a clear violation and eventually led to his impeachment trial. The act was essentially crafted because Congress knew he would violate it and they could impeach him for it.

  • Thaddeus Stevens

    - Summary One of the most powerful Republicans after the Civil War. - Importance Helped pass the 14th and 15th amendments and many civil rights bills. An influential figure in Johnson's impeachment.

  • Thomas Edison

    - Summary An American inventor, scientist, and businessman who developed many devices that greatly influenced life around the world - Importance He is one of the most important inventors of the 1900s. He is often considered to be one of the most prolific inventors in history. His inventions allowed a new standard of living among the middle class.

  • Thomas Nast

    - Summary Highly influential German-American political cartoonist - Importance He created the Democratic donkey and the Republican elephant. He is most important for his cartoons that portrayed American politics and also showed corruption. Even if a person could not read, they would be able to understand Thomas's cartoons.

  • Ulysses S. Grant

    - Summary Commander of the Union army during the Civil War and 18th president. - Importance He was an important general for the North. His most important victory was the the battle of Vicksburg. His cabinet during his presidency was also very corrupt and made many illegimate moves. This corrupt period of presidency is known as "Grantism"

  • Whiskey Ring

    - Summary A scandal that involved government agents and whiskey distillers by diverting tax.

    - Importance Showed weakness of the Southern and also Western government and is a prime example of public corruption. This means that the government knew of it but was hard to expose.

  • “New immigration”

    - Summary The influx of immigration during the 1850s to 1900s in America. - Importance The influx of immigration provided big businesses with an instant supply of cheap, exploitable labor. The immigration also brought wretched conditions for workers and brought America to an all time low, while business was brought to an all time high.

  • “Robber Barons”

    - Summary A term used to refer to a rich/powerful banker or businessman during the Gilded Age. - Importance Rich bankers or businessman such as Carnegie (Steel mill owner) or Rockerfeller (Oil tycoon) were often villianized by the public and commonly refered to in a negative way. This word is an example of this and how the public viewed them as the sum of all evils. Consider it the derogatory equivalent of "Captain of Industry."