The Gilded Age refers to a time in American history that one really can't pinpoint. It began after the Civil War and is used to describe America's movement towards a more consumer oriented society. Its been loosely defined as the period from 1870 to 1915 and was a time of spent in the pursuit of materialistic goods and marked by political corruption.

The political novels of the Gilded Age also represent the beginning of the use of the novel as a form of social protest in America. A group of novelists, called the muckrakers, began their movement during this time. The period takes its name from the novel "The Gilded Age" by Mark Twain. It gives a vivid and accurate description of Washington D.C. and is full of caricatures of many of the leading figures of the day, mainly industrialists and politicians.

Philanthropy and big business were also important factors during the Gilded Age. Andrew Carnegie became one of the leading industrialists in the country. Early in his career, he decided to give away most of his wealth. He also spent time much of his time associating with literary people and writing magazines and books. During his lifetime, he gave upwards of 400 million dollars to American libraries.

The last three decades of the 19th century were marked by relentless capitalism, widespread corruption, questionable tastes, and obvious displays of wealth. All in all, it seemed that America could, at the time, overcome any obstacle: industrial expansion brought prosperity for most people, poverty for some, and unimaginable wealth to a very few.

A nodeshell rescue btw...