Gilded Age Political Machines
From the 1870s to the early twentieth century, the Gilded Age—a term coined by Mark Twain—was one of the most fascinating period of history in the United States. During the decades of the Gilded Age, our nation went through profound transformations in technology, business, politics, and social structure to become the world’s largest economy, as well as a modern, industrial society which we are familiar with today. While ordinary Americans at the time were astonished by the arrivals of the transcontinental railroad and long distance telephone lines, they were also frustrated by a society plagued with social, economic and political issues. Beneath the gilded surface of this era, workers organized strikes for better working conditions; businessmen pursued vertical and horizontal integration of the market; and politicians sought to be elected with the support of both businesses and ordinary citizens.
As the leading industrialists, prominent politicians and grassroots leaders of the era, members of this committee must overcome a tangled web of conflicting interests to come up with a solution to the issues of the Gilded Age and, of course, better their own positions in the process.
Topic A: The Escalating Labor Movement
Topic B: Solving Issues that are Dividing the United States
Background Guide: Now Available!
Letter from the Chair
Welcome to JHUMUNC XXI! My name is Will, and I will be the chair for this committee—Gilded Age Political Machines. This year will be my third year working on a specialized committee at JHUMUNC. Previously, I was part of the G20 Committee and the Cabinet of Francis Underwood. It has been five years since I walked into my first specialized session at Model UN as a high school junior, but I still remember clearly how nervous yet excited I was when I raised my placard for the first time.
I am currently a senior at Johns Hopkins, double majoring in International Studies and Economics. I spent the past year studying at the School of Advanced International Studies in Bologna, Italy. On campus, I am a member of the community service fraternity, APO, and other clubs such as IDEAL and Social Investment Outreach. Besides studying international relations and economics, I also have an interest in political philosophy, particularly the works of French philosopher Michele Foucault. Outside of serious work, I follow soccer, in particular the Spanish and the British league, and I enjoy traveling to different parts of the world.
I am excited to work with you to relive the exciting but troubled decades of the Gilded Age during this conference. You will get to be the “captains of industry”, such as John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, and J.P. Morgan, or leaders of labor movements, including Mary Harris “Mother” Jones, Samuel Gompers, or John L. Lewis, or the politicians caught in between. Together you will have to solve social, economic and political issues that are not so differently from those we are facing today. I expect you to engage each other in informed and productive dialogues, and leave the committee with a better understanding of the complexity behind the issues in our society today.
If you have any question or comments about the committee, our university or anything else, please do not hesitate to send me an email. I look forward to meet you all in February!
Chair, Gilded Age Political Machines
Johns Hopkins University
Class of 2018