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Political Paralysis in the Gilded Age 1869 - 1896.

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Presentation on theme: "Political Paralysis in the Gilded Age 1869 - 1896."— Presentation transcript:

1 Political Paralysis in the Gilded Age 1869 - 1896

2 Republicans & Grant Election of 1868 Grant Acted as if the Republic owed him for the war Almost no political experience 500,000 former slaves voted him in office “Waving the Bloody Shirt” & “Vote as You Shot” Republican platform Called for continued Reconstruction (military)

3 Democrats & Seymour Democratic Platform Denounced military Reconstruction (could agree on little else) Candidate – NY governor Horatio Seymour


5 Era of Good Stealings Population by 1870 – 39 million 3 rd largest nation Waste, Extravagance, Speculation, Graft Corruption was common

6 Corruption Jim Frisk & Jay Gould 1869 Tried to corner the gold market Result: “Black Friday” price of gold went up Treasury started releasing gold Boss Tweed – 1871 Milked NYC for $200 million (Tammany Hall) Fraudulent elections Thomas Nast – published in NY Times Prosecuted by Samuel J. Tilden



9 More Corruption Credit Mobilier Scandal – 1867 – 1868 Railroad construction company formed by Union Pacific Over paid themselves Paid off members of congress Exposed by NY newspaper 2 congressmen censored VP accepted stock Whiskey Ring – 1875 Robbed treasury of millions in excise tax Grant’s private sec was involved Sec of War William Belknap – 1876 Pocketed money from selling Indians junk

10 Liberal Republican Revolt 1872 Liberal Republican Party Urged purification of the Washington administration & end military Reconstruction Horace Greeley – Presidential candidate Editor of NY Tribune Later endorsed by the Democrats “ate crow” Republicans renominated Grant Grant won the election of 1872

11 Depression & Demands for Inflation Panic of 1873 Caused by unbridled capitalist expansion Produced too much – price goes down, businesses collapse Banks – loans were not being repaid Jay Cooke & Company – NY banking firm / first to collapse 15,000 businesses went bankrupt; including The Freedmen’s Savings and Trust Company

12 Money Policies Hard-money vs. cheap-money Hard-money -- get battle-born currency out of circulation & produce no new money Cheap-money – supported the production of greenbacks, make more money Hard-money supporters won out Resumption Act of 1875 – by 1879, no greenbacks & gold for all paper money Some supported money based on silver Congress stopped production of silver dollars in 1873 (Crime of ’73) Call for inflation

13 Politics in the Gilded Age Close elections, indecisive politicians Higher voter interest – 80% voter turnout Party Loyalists enjoyed successful political careers as a result of patronage & the Spoils system

14 Fighting within the Republican Party – 1870s & 1880s “Stalwart” fraction Roscoe Conkling – US Senator from NY Believed in swapping civil-service jobs for voters “Half-Breeds” fraction James G. Blaine – Congressmen from Maine Civil-service reform Succeeded in stalemating each other & deadlocking the party

15 The Hayes – Tilden Standoff Grant was urged to run for reelection Congress passed a resolution warning of the dictator implications Republicans selected Rutherford B. Hayes “The Great Unknown” Democrats selected Samuel J. Tilden Tilden received 184 electoral votes – he needed 185


17 Constitution & Votes Specifies that the electoral returns shall be sent to Congress & opened by president of the Senate Who should count the votes? Constitution doesn’t say

18 Compromise of 1877 Created to solve the election deadlock Electoral Count Act - passed by Congress Set up electoral commission consisting of 15 men selected from the Senate, the House, & the Supreme Court Not successful in solving the problem because there were 8 –R and 7-D Democrats agreed to elect Hayes in exchange for: Removal of all federal troops in the South Subsidizing of a southern transcontinental railroad line – not kept

19 Results of the Compromise Officially ended Reconstruction Violence was averted by sacrificing the black freedmen in the South Republicans abandoned its commitment to black equality Civil Rights Act of 1875 – last try by Republicans Supposedly guaranteed equal accommodations in public places & prohibited racial discrimination in jury selections

20 Supreme Court Declared Civil Rights Act of 1875 unconstitutional Declared that the 14 th Amendment prohibited only government violations of civil rights, not the denial of civil rights by individuals

21 The Democratic South Suppressed blacks Blacks who tried to vote faced unemployment, eviction, & physical harm 1890s – required literacy test, voter registration laws, & poll taxes Blacks became economically dependant Sharecropping & tenant farming Crop-lien system



24 Jim Crow Laws 1890s – state level legal codes Validated by Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) Ruled that “separate by equal” facilities were constitutional under the “equal protection” clause of the 14 th Amendment Southern blacks were treated harshly for challenging the South’s racial code of conduct

25 Railroad Strike 1877 Presidents of the nation’s 4 largest railroad companies cut employee’s salaries Pres Hayes called in federal troops to quell the unrest Backfired on him, caused support from working-class Workers stoppages spread 100 dead Showed the weakness of the labor movement

26 Chinese Made up 9% of population by 1880 in CA Mostly poor, uneducated, single males came Came for gold & railroad work Many returned when work disappeared Worked menial jobs Denis Kearney of San Francisco Incited his followers (Kearneyites) to violent abuse of Chinese Resented the competition for labor

27 Stopping Chinese Immigration 1879 – bill passed severely restricting immigration of Chinese Vetoed by Hayes – violated treaty with China 1882 – Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act Stopped Chinese immigration until 1943

28 The Garfield Interlude Republicans nominated dark-horse James A. Garfield VP – Chester Arthur Republican platform- protective tariff & reform of civil service Democrats – nominated Winfield S. Hancock Democratic platform – civil service reform & a “tariff for revenue only”

29 Election of 1880 Candidates – turned their backs on problems of debt-burdened farmers & powerless laborers Democrats harped on Garfield’s acceptance of stock dividends in the Credit Mobilier scandal Garfield won & rewarded James G. Blaine (Half- Breed) with Sec of State Caused problems between Half-Breeds & Stalwarts



32 Garfield’s Assassination Charles J. Guiteau shot Pres Garfield in the back in a Washington railroad station Garfield died 11 weeks later – Sept. 19, 1881 Stalwarts would all get good jobs now under Arthur Guiteau – found guilty & hanged


34 Chester Arthur No qualifications for the presidency Gave his former Conklingite supporters (Stalwart) the cold shoulder Supported civil service reform Pendleton Act of 1883 Established a merit system based on aptitude and not “pull” Competitive exams were established Pendleton Act partially divorced politics from patronage, but it helped drive politicians into “marriages of convenience” with big-business leaders

35 Election of 1884 Republican- James G. Blaine “Mulligan letters” – connected Blaine to a corrupt deal involving federal favors to a southern railroad Mugwumps – reformers who joined the Democrats Democrats – Grover Cleveland Illegitimate son Mudslinging campaign Few fundamental differences between candidates Cleveland won election

36 “Old Grover” Takes Over Grover Cleveland 1 st Democratic President since Buchanan Known for all of his vetoes Laissez-faire “Though the people support the gov’t, the gov’t should not support the people.” Named 2 Confederates to office Believed in the merit system but eventually caved Vetoed military pensions

37 Cleveland & the Tariff Tariffs were raised during the war Resulted in gov’t surplus 1887 - Cleveland appealed to Congress for lower tariffs For the first time in years, there was a real issue that divided the parties

38 Election of 1888 Democrat – Cleveland Republican – Benjamin Harrison Republicans were against lowering tariffs Low-tariff policies was a vote for England Republicans raised $3 million to fight against a lower tariff Cleveland – 1 st sitting president voted out of his chair since Van Buren in 1840

39 Benjamin Harrison Elected in 1888 Selected James G. Blaine as Sec of State Named Theodore Roosevelt – head of the Civil Service Commission

40 Problems in the House Republicans – only 3 votes more than the necessary quorum of 163 members Democrats – delaying motions – roll call Republicans wanted to squandered money to safeguard the high tariff that was producing a surplus

41 Thomas B. Reed Republican Speaker of the House Wanted to change House rules Believed majority should legislate in accordance with democratic policies No filibustering “Billion Dollar” Congress Gave birth to a bumper crop of expensive legislative babies

42 McKinley Tariff Bill of 1890 Boosted tariff rates to their highest peacetime level Disposed of the troublesome surplus by giving a bounty of 2 cents per pound to US sugar planters Raised tariffs on agricultural products Actually brought new woes to farmers as manufacturers raised prices Farmers hated it

43 Pension Act of 1890 Pensions for all Union CW veterans who had served for 90 days & who were now unable to do manual labor Helped solve the problem for the Treasury surplus Secured Rep votes GAR grateful to the GOP

44 Silver Problems Bland-Allison Law- 1878 Ordered the purchase and coining of $2-4 million worth of silver a month Provided little relief to debtors or miners Sherman Silver Purchase Act of 1890 Required the purchase of 4.5 million ounces of silver every month Treasury had to issue new notes to pay for it Believed that the addition of immense amount of metallic money would inflate the currency and make for higher prices and easier debt payment

45 Populist Party – 1892 The People’s Party Rooted in the Farmer’s Alliance of frustrated farmers in the West & the South Platform: Free & unlimited coinage of silver Income tax Gov’t ownership of telephone, telegraph, & railroads Direct election of senators 1 term for president Use of initiative & referendum to allow citizens to propose & review legislation Shorter workday & immigration restriction

46 Problems for Labor Homestead Strike 1892 – Pittsburgh Steel plant owned by Andrew Carnegie Workers were angry over pay cuts Strikers used rifles & dynamite Troops were called in Strike & union of steelworkers was broken


48 Coming Election of 1892 Discontent gave Democrats high hopes Democrat – Grover Cleveland Republican – Benjamin Harrison Populist Party – James B. Weaver One of the few 3 rd parties in history to break into the electoral column


50 Populist Party Wanted to bring labor & farmers together Colored Farmers’ National Alliance 1 million southern black farmers Hoped that their economic goals would overcome their racial differences Populists appealed for interracial solidarity Appealing to blacks didn’t work because blacks couldn’t vote Literacy test, poll tax, & grandfather clause Populist leader Tom Watson abandoned his interracial appeals

51 Old Grover Cleveland Again 2 nd term 1893—only pres to serve 2 nonconsecutive terms Depression of 1893 Lasted for about 4 years Most devastating economic downturn of the century Causes Overbuilding and overspeculation Labor disorder Agricultural depression European banks began to call in loans

52 Cleveland and Depression Wanted to repeal the Sherman Silver Purchase Act Gold reserve in the Treasury dropped ($100 million) Called Congress into extra session William Jennings Bryan Championed the cause of free silver in Congress Cleveland broke the filibuster & Sherman Silver Purchase Act repealed Alienated the silverites Disrupted the party

53 Gold & Job Shortages Gold reserve sank even lower ($41 million) Cleveland decided to sell gov’t bonds for gold & deposit the proceeds in the Treasury Cleveland turned to J.P. Morgan & other bankers Bankers loaned the gov’t $65 million in gold Charged commission $7 million Helped restore confidence in nation’s finance Deal angered many

54 Wilson-Gorman Tariff of 1894 Included a tax of 2% on incomes over $4000 In the Senate, 630 amendments were added Benefits for sugar trust were added Did not establish a low tariff / did reduce the rate Income tax lasted only 1 year Struck down by the Supreme Court Result: Republicans won congressional elections in 1894 by a landslide / now a majority

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