was accompanied by what many saw as an equally staggering disparity between the rich and the poor. Industrial giants like Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller revolutionized business and ushered in the modern corporate economy, but also, ironically, sometimes destroyed free-market economic competition in the process. Record numbers of citizens voted in national elections, but the politicians they voted for were often lackluster figures who turned a blindeye to the public interest. It was, as Dickens might have said, the best of times and the worst of times. But even that Dickensian understanding of the Gilded Age isn't quite right. It's not enough to say that the Gilded Age was a time of high highs and low lows; the highs and lows were actually often deeply intertwined parts of the exact same developments. In other words, the highs often were the lows, and vice versa. In the Gilded Age, every dark cloud had its silver lining… and every silver lining had its dark cloud. For more than a hundred years, critics have been ripping the business strategies that allowed big industrialists to build powerful monopolies—but those much-maligned monopolies brought desperately needed order to America's immature economic system. Many have also long resentedthe immense fortunes of personal wealth that a handful of big businessmen were able to acquire—but that wealth paidfor a huge surge in philanthropy, building hundreds of libraries, schools, museums, and other public facilities still enjoyed by the American people even today. Reformers decried the way urban politicians turned corruption into a way of life—but those same crooked politicians also provided vital services to working-class and immigrant neighborhoods. The Gilded Age was a dynamic age of incredible economic opportunity, just as it was a harsh era of incredible economic exploitation. Any version of this tale that includes only the exploitation but not the dynamism—or vice versa—is missing half the story. (Smoop.com)How did the Gilded Age differ from the era of Reconstruction?Reconstruction allowed the U.S. to mainly increase on a social/political level, while the Gilded age focused mainly on increasing the economy. The Gilded age also offered the U.S. massive growth in industrialization. Why did Mark Twain call this era “gilded?”It was the “superficial glitter of the new wealth” that was demonstrated in the 19thcentury. Section 2 Guided Reading, pp 380-391The Presidents of the Gilded Age are often called the “Forgettables.” This string of single term presidents begins with Hayes and ends with Cleveland (who served two inconsecutive terms. McKinley is sometimes included in this era as is Grant, but… Grant is more significant to Reconstruction era and McKinley to Imperialism, many historians assert. These presidents were more “administrators” than “leaders.”1.Politics of the Gilded Age, pp 380-385Key Concepts & Main IdeasNotesAnalysis The “Gilded Age” witnessed newcultural and intellectual movementsin tandem with political debatesover economic and social policies.