Gilded Age Essay

2789 Words Dec 29th, 2010 12 Pages
AP U S History Document Based Question

The years after the American Civil War have been characterized by Mark Twain and others as “The Gilded Age.” Generally, historians have emphasized the decline of human values, the low state of public morality, greed, corruption and crass materialism. Do you feel this characterization presents an accurate overall picture of the years 1865-1890? If so, what caused this marked departure from the past in a nation with such strong religious and moral cultural traditions? Use the documents and your knowledge of U S History to answer the question.

Document A

“Our agricultural products have been abundant for the last few years. The crops of cotton, four-fifths of which have been raised by the
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. . . . The prosperity which now prevails is without parallel in our history. Fruitful seasons have done much to secure it, but they have not done all. The preservation of the public credit and the resumption of specie payments, so successfully attained by the Administration of my predecessors, have enabled our people to secure the blessings which the seasons brought.” James A. Garfield, Inaugural Address, March 4, 1881.

Document H

“It is very gratifying to observe the general interest now being manifested in the reform of our election laws. Those who have been for years calling attention to the pressing necessity of throwing about the ballot box and about the elector further safeguards, in order that our elections might not only be free and pure, but might clearly appear to be so, will welcome the accession of any who did not so soon discover the need of reform. The National Congress has not as yet taken control of elections in that case over which the Constitution gives it jurisdiction, but has accepted and adopted the election laws of the several States, provided penalties for their violation and a method of supervision. . . . . Our pension laws should give more adequate and discriminating relief to the Union soldiers and sailors and to their widows and orphans. Such occasions as this should remind

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