The Gilded Age - Study Guide


I.  You should be able to identify and state the historical significance of the following:

  1. Ulysses S. Grant

  2. Horatio Seymour

  3. Jim Fisk

  4. Jay Gould

  5. Thomas Nast

  6. Horace Greeley

  7. Jay Cooke

  8. Roscoe Conkling

  9. James G. Blaine

  10. Rutherford B. Hayes

  11. Samuel L. Tilden

  12. James A. Garfield

  13. Chester A. Arthur

  14. Winfield S. Hancock

  15. Charles J. Guiteau

  16. Grover Cleveland

  17. Benjamin Harrison

  18. William Jennings Bryan

II.  You should be able to define and state the historical significance of the following:

  1. cheap money

  2. hard/sound money

  3. contraction

  4. resumption

  5. Gilded Age

  6. Spoils system

  7. Bimetallic League

  8. Populist Party

  9. "Cross of Gold" Speech

  10. Patrons of Husbandry

  11. 16:1

  12. Jacob S. Coxey

  13. Farmer's Alliances

  14. "Free and Unlimited Coinage of Silver

III.  You should be able to describe and state the historical significance of the following:

  1. "Ohio Idea"

  2. the "Bloody Shirt"

  3. Tweed Ring"

  4. Credit Mobilier

  5. Whiskey Ring

  6. Liberal Republicans

  7. Resumption Act

  8. "Crime of '73"

  9. Bland-Allison Act

  10. Greenback Labor Party

  11. GAR

  12. Stalwart

  13. Half-Breed

  14. Compromise of 1877

  15. Pendleton Civil Service Act

  16. Mugwumps

  17. Stalwarts

  18. Halfbreeds

  19. Sherman Anti-Trust Act

  20. Sherman Silver Purchase Act

III.  Discussion Questions

  1. What were the main characteristics of the "third political system"? 

  2. .Compare the presidencies of Rutherford B. Hayes and Grover Cleveland. 

  3. .How did people at the grassroots level disagree with their leaders over what the crucial issues were in the Gilded Age? Which issues were most important?

  4. What issues divided the Republicans in the 1870s and 1880s?

  5. Compare and contrast the Democratic and Republican parties of the late 1800's in terms of (a) their leadership (b) Their position on issues, and (c) the constituencies to whom they appealed.

  6. List what appears to you to have been the requirements for election to high political office in the 1870's and 1880's.

  7. Why did the late nineteenth-century presidential elections tend to focus on the personalities of the candidates rather than the "real" issues.

  8. For one of only a few times in its history, the treasury showed a surplus in the 1880's.  Why was this a problem?

  9. American politics in the late nineteenth century has been referred to as the "politics of equilibrium."  Why?  List some consequences of this equilibrium in the party system.

  10. The presidents of the late nineteenth century have been referred to as merely "custodial" - that is, nonassertive.  Is this true?  If so, why?

  11. Who do you think was the best President in the Gilded Age?  Why?

  12. Which of the following do you think was the most important issue of the late nineteenth century: (a) the "bloody shirt," (b) tariffs, (C) civil-service reform, (d) currency?  Why?

  13. Explain the seeming paradox that at a time when successful presidential candidates were usually "bland" and "forgettable," public enthusiasm for election campaigning was at an all-time high?

  14. One historian claims that in the Gilded Age, "Democrats were separated from the Republicans more by accident of national origin, geography, history, and emotion than by economic issues."  Elaborate.

  15. The Presidents of the late nineteenth century have been referred to as merely "custodial" -- that is nonassertive.  Is this true?  If so, why?

  16. Which of the following was the most important issue of the late nineteenth century:  The "bloody shirt," tariffs, civil service reform, or currency?  Justify your response.

  17. Trace the history of the currency question from the passage of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act to the passage of the Gold Standard Act.

  18. Trace the history of American tariff policy from the McKinley Tariff to the Dingley Tariff.

  19. To what extent can the farmers response to their problems be considered a "radical" response?

  20. Explain why the Populist party at first became the most successful third party in American history up to that time, then explain why it failed to survive the decade of the 1890s.

  21. Why did "free silver" become the key issue of the farmer's revolt?  What other issues were important to them?  Explain why Populism came down to a single-issue movement by 1896.

  22. To which political party would you have belonged during the Gilded Age: Democratic, Republican, or Populist.  Justify your choice.

  23. Political historians often argue that the election of 1896 was a "turning point" and a "watershed year" in national politics.  Why?

  24. For many years, the 1896 election was seen as the challenge of the champion of the people against the power of the candidate of big business and the status quo.  To what extent is this an accurate or inaccurate assessment of the political forces of the time.


IV.  Bailey's Online Practice Quiz may help you.

      Or, you can try Tindall and Shi's Practice Quiz.