Multiple Patterns of Tension During the Gilded Age

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There were multiple patterns of tension during the Gilded Age. Some of these were black and white, wealthy and labor, science and religion, and public good vs private gain. Racial tensions grew during the Gilded Age. Any non-white people were subject to racism and seen as less than the Caucasians. For example, black men were often accused of assault on white women. Jewish, Italians, American Indians, and African Americans all faced the struggles of racism from the Anglo Saxon people. To this day there are still daily examples of racism towards citizens and immigrants alike. The tensions between the rich and the laborers reached a high during the Gilded Age. 

Money made the wealthy powerful and gave them control over the working class who were typically their employees. The poor united to protect themselves from poverty and harsh employers by forming labor unions. Even in modern days, there is still tension between the laborers and the wealthy. The rich still often hoard their money instead of helping the majority.  The issue of private gain versus the public good is still very prominent today and also relates to the issues of tensions between the rich and less fortunate. Then and now, rich people or companies tend to want to keep their money to themselves so they can become richer and richer while struggling communities are left behind. 

Labor unions were formed by the working class as a form of protection from their harsh employers. These employers would enforce long, hard hours while only providing extremely low wages to their workers. They wanted to get the most productivity out of their employees while paying them the lowest amount of money possible. The Great Railroad Strike of 1877 was started when workers began protesting against their dropping wages and the mass firing. They fought against the local militia, the National Guard, and even the Army. The Gilded Age was a time of racism. White supremacy was a threat to all other races and immigrants. African Americans were executed by racists and haters just for being different. They were subject to harsh segregation and often accused of crimes they didn’t commit. 

African Americans were not the only minority to suffer from this. Other nationalities and races such as Jewish, Italians, and American Indians suffered similar treatment. Tammany Halls and William Tweed corrupted the New York City government in many ways. First, Tweed became the chairman of the Democratic party, which headquarters were Tammany Halls, and then he later becomes a state senator. This gave Tweed two positions that held some amount of power in the government. He then ensured that one of his followers became the governor. Secondly, William Tweed began bribing New York State officials to get what he wanted. He paid them to vote in his favor on things like bill and business regulation. Tweed even paid them to pass a law that granted him almost total control over the government. 

This all allowed his business to prosper and made him even richer. Corporations can get around laws that restrict them from receiving direct donations to campaign through regulatory agencies. The contracts are often beneficial to the corporation but not to the public. Political Action committees, or PACs, sway the government because it is their only job. They are meant to work to donate money to the campaign because they can get around any restriction getting in the way of their donations. Lobbying is an attempt to influence decisions or actions. Lobby groups can be corporations, special interest groups, and even environmental or women’s rights groups. Many people view lobbying as corrupt because they believe it mainly benefits the rich. This is because only the rich can ever afford to lobby which results in the voices of the poor being forgotten. Also, many lobbyists aren’t exactly loyal. Many lobbyists switch from lobbying privately to lobbying for the government or starting in the government and moving to private lobbying.

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