The Gilded Age Of America

By | March 13, 2019

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NEWPORT, RHODE ISLAND, UNITED STATES - 2010/08/27: The Breakers mansion located along the Cliff Walk. Source: (Photo by John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images)

What was the Gilded Age?’

The Gilded Age was a time period in American history. During these years, the United States was going through an economic and population boom. This created a super wealthy upper class. It was a relatively short time period, 1877 – 1893. After the Civil War, things changed fairly quickly. The gold rush, railroads, mining, and factories all contributed to the upper class having more money than ever. An elitist culture developed around material possessions. The term ‘Gilded Age’ actually was coined by Mark Twain. He referred to this upper class as ‘gilding the lily,’ which means that the wealthy were wasteful and ridiculous.

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Depiction of the Robber Barons. Source: (

The Robber Barons

Robber barons were business leaders that used dubious tactics such as union busting, fraud, violence, and political connections to gain even more wealth. These men exploited their workers and shrugged off the law. By doing such things, they had vast amounts of money and took over every major industry. A few of these men, Andrew Carnegie, and John D. Rockefeller were also philanthropists. They donated millions of dollars to charities and funded libraries, parks, and universities. While a very few used their money to help society, most were just greedy and spent their money on themselves.