Understanding and embracing scientific literacy is a challenge science educators face today, particularly as influential and guiding documents from the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Research Council advocate for scientific literacy as a goal of science education. This research contemplates scientific literacy through the lens of Gilded Age intellectuals. The foundation of the research is on Edward Livingston Youmans'' book from 1873, The Culture Demanded by Modern Life (CDML), which is a compendium of addresses and arguments on the claims of science education. The book includes the essays of Gilded Age scientists such as Michael Faraday, Thomas Henry Huxley, Herbert Spencer, John Tyndall, William Whewell, and others. An understanding of the discourse of CDML is augmented by examination of primary sources from the Gilded Age as well as secondary sources from both the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. While there is certainly an abundance of current literature on the topic of scientific literacy, this historical approach can breathe fresh air into the ongoing discussion of scientific literacy in science education.