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Politics in the Gilded Age

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1 Politics in the Gilded Age 1869-1889
Chapter 23

2 The “Bloody Shirt” Elects Grant
At the end of the Civil War, Ulysses S. Grant accepted gifts, houses, and money. Grant owed the election of 1868 to the former slaves who voted.


4 continued After the Civil War, some political candidates would wave a “bloody shirt” to remind the voters of the “treason” of the Confederate Democrats during the Civil War.

5 The Era of Good Stealing
Gold Market Scandal * Jim Fisk and Jay Gould plotted with Grant’s brother-in-law to corner the gold market. * Black Friday – Stock Market crash on September 24, 1869

6 continued Credit Mobilier Scandal * involved railroad construction
* profits from the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad went to the roads promoters. * In an attempt to avoid prosecution for their corrupt dealings, the owners distributed shares of the company’s valuable stock to key congressmen.


8 Continued Whiskey Ring Scandal
* bribing of the Secretary of War by corrupt Indian agents * robbed the Treasury of millions of dollars in excise-tax revenues.

9 Continued Tweed Ring * New York’s Tammany Hall was a political machine headed by William M. Tweed. * Through graft and corruption, machines were also vehicles for making money.

10 The Liberal Republican Revolt of 1872
Republicans nominated Grant for a second term Democrats nominated Horace Greeley Greeley was also a candidate for the Liberal Republicans (who had bolted over the issue of political corruption). Grant was reelected because his opponents chose a poor candidate to run for the presidency.

11 Election of 1872

12 Depression and Demands for Inflation
The Panic of 1873 began a six-year depression. One cause of the panic was the erection of more factories than existing markets could bear. Some debtors suggested inflationary policies as a possible solution. The Redemption Act of 1875 provided for payment for greenbacks in gold.

13 Continued Because of the Republican “hard money” policies the Greenback Labor Party was formed.

14 Pallid Politics in the Gilded Age
Those who enjoyed a successful political career in the post-Civil War decades were usually party loyalists. During the Gilded Age, the Democrats and the Republicans had few significant economic differences. The presidential elections of the 1870s and 1880s aroused great interest among voters.

15 Continued One reason for the extremely high voter turnouts and partisan fervor of the Gilded Age was sharp ethnic and cultural differences in the membership of the two parties. The lifeblood of both the Democratic and the Republican parties was political patronage. Spoilsmen was the label attached to those who expected government jobs from their party’s elected officeholders.

16 Continued Stalwarts – term first used by a group of Republicans who supported Grant for a third term against Garfield. *leader – Roscoe Conkling (New York Senator) Half-breeds – term (used mostly after the election of Rutherford B. Hayes) referring to a section of the Republican party. *supported civil service reform and opposed corruption in government. *leader – James G. Blaine.

17 The Hayes-Tilden Standoff, 1876
Rutherford B. Hayes of Ohio became the Republican candidate. Republicans waved the “bloody shirt” and gained some votes because the party was hurt by the corruption in Grant’s administration.

18 Continued Samuel J. Tilden, a reform governor from New York, was the Democrat Candidate. He helped to smash the Tweed Ring.

19 continued The major problem with the election of 1876 – two sets of election returns were submitted by the southern states. 20 votes in 3 states were in dispute (Louisiana, South Carolina, & Florida) Tilden, with a popular majority, was one electoral vote short (184 and he needed 185) A special electoral commission voted 8 – 7 along party lines for Hayes, who would win by With control of the two houses of Congress split, a constitutional crisis loomed.


21 The Compromise of 1877 and the End of Reconstruction
A bargain was struck between the two parties. The last federal troops would leave South Carolina and Louisiana. Republicans would pledge financial aid and patronage to Southern states. The election of Hayes would be certified.

22 continued Redemption Return to home rule in the South
Occupation of federal troops ended in the South Conservative Democratic control returned (Solid South) Jim Crow segregation laws began to be passed throughout the South. (legal codes that established the system of segregation) Southern whites disenfranchised African Americans with literacy requirements, poll taxes, and economic intimidation.

23 continued Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)
Plessy (1/8th African American) attempted to sit in the white section of a train. He was ordered to move, but refused He was forcefully removed from the train. First person of color to challenge racial segregation laws in court. John Marshall Harlan

24 Continued Plessy appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court on the grounds that the Louisiana’s statue violated the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments. The Supreme Court ruled 7-1 in favor of the state statue. (one justice dissented) Justice John Marshall Harlan was the only justice on Plessy’s side. **The Court ruled “separate but equal” facilities were constitutional.

25 Class Conflict and Ethnic Clashes
The Railroad Strike of 1877 started when the four largest railroads cut salaries by ten percent. First major strike Began against B&O Railroad Company and spread to other lines. Railroad workers went back to work at lower wages set by the railroads.

26 Continued Labor unrest during the Hayes administration stemmed from long years of depression and deflation. Labor unrest resulted in the use of federal troops during strikes. In the wake of anti-Chinese violence in California, the U.S. Congress passed a law prohibiting the immigration of Chinese laborers to America (Chinese Immigration Act)

27 The Chinese The seizure of farmland by landlords, the disintegration of the Chinese Empire, and the intrusion of European powers were all internal developments in China that resulted in Chinese Immigration to the United States. Chinese came to the U.S. to dig for gold.

28 Election of 1880

29 The Garfield Interlude
Supported civil service reform James A Garfield, was the second president to be assassinated while in office. He was assassinated by a deranged, disappointed office seeker. (Charles J. Guiteau)

30 Chester Arthur Takes Command
Arthur was Vice president under Garfield. Before he was a supporter of Roscoe Conkling and of the traditional spoils system. As president he urged Congress to enact the Civil Service law (Pendleton Act)

31 Continued Pendleton Act
Required appointees to public office to take a competitive examination. After the passage, politicians now sought money from big corporations.

32 The Blaine-Cleveland Mudslingers of 1884
The election was noted for its personal attacks on the two candidates. James G. Blaine was the Republican candidate Grover Cleveland was the Democrat candidate Mugwumps – a group of Republicans that withdrew from the party in protest of Blaine and gave their support to Cleveland.


34 “Old Grover” Takes Over
The only Gilded Age president that was a Democrat. As president, his hands-off approach to government gained the support of businesspeople.

35 Cleveland Battles for a Lower Tariff
Cleveland supported civil service reform and a lower tariff but was not successful in getting Congress to lower tariffs in 1887. The tariff would be a real issue for dividing the two parties and dominating the election of 1888.

36 Election of 1888

37 Harrison Ousts Cleveland in 1888
The major issue was the tariff policy. Harrison was a Republican from Indiana Cleveland the Democrat Harrison is the Grandson of William Henry Harrison (9th President) Congress was the locus of political power in the latter nineteenth century.

38 “Forgettable Presidents” of the Gilded Age
Rutherford B. Hayes James A. Garfield Chester A. Arthur Benjamin Harrison

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