The Gilded Age | Carnival of Corruption | 1

The Gilded Age | Carnival of Corruption | 1

In 1869, America connected its vast, sprawling territory with its most ambitious project to date: the transcontinental railroad. The country had just emerged from the ashes of the Civil War, and the railroad galvanized people from coast to coast, offering opportunity and promise. But corruption soon cast a pall over the nation.

Scandal after scandal tainted the presidency of Ulysses S. Grant. A pair of unscrupulous investors schemed to drive up the price of gold, unleashing chaos from Wall Street to the nation’s farms. Prominent congressmen funneled public money into a sham corporation to profit off the railroad. And government agents conspired with whiskey distillers to defraud the Treasury of millions.

It was the dawn of the Gilded Age—an era of dramatic material progress and sordid greed and corruption.

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