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Political Paralysis in the Gilded Age Mark Twain termed the period between the death of Abraham Lincoln to the accession of TR as “The Gilded Age” a time.

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Presentation on theme: "Political Paralysis in the Gilded Age Mark Twain termed the period between the death of Abraham Lincoln to the accession of TR as “The Gilded Age” a time."— Presentation transcript:

1 Political Paralysis in the Gilded Age Mark Twain termed the period between the death of Abraham Lincoln to the accession of TR as “The Gilded Age” a time of divided prosperity and questionable civic morality. Why were politics as they were? Large voter participation (Due in part to The Spoils System) Very little difference on issues and no discernable majority in Congress. Best attribute of a candidate was not leadership but rather simply to be not objectionable.

2 The Bloody Shirt Elects Grant Republican nominate Union General U.S. Grant in Republicans garnered support by “Waving the bloody shirt!” Grant defeated Horatio Seymour but his margin for victory was provided for by 500,000 freed Blacks who voted for him.

3 The Era of Good Stealings Population increased after the Civil War partially due to immigration. As a consequence both of the Spoils System & the cozy gov’t/ business relationship that arose during the war, corruption became widespread. Grant himself accepted many gifts when he left the military. Corruption was very common among railroads and on Wall Street.

4 E Era of Good Stealings (Cont.) “Stock Watering” by railroad companies 1869 Jim Fisk and Jay Gould attempt to corner market on gold. Tweed Ring (Patronage System” employed bribery, graft and false election results to cheat New York State out of as much as $200,000, Tweed finally locked up with some help of the NY Times & cartoonist Thomas Nast.

5 Era of Good Stealings (Cont.) Samuel Tilden gained fame from this scandal. Grant failed to see wide spread corruption in his administration. Whiskey Ring Scandal in ensnared Grant’s own private secretary. Credit Mobilier Scandal of 1872 involved railroads and Congress. Caused Liberal Republican Revolt of 1872

6 The Liberal Republican Revolt of 1872 In 1872, a wave of disgust over the volume of corruption in Grant’s administration caused many in the Republican Party to look for another candidate. They chose Horace Greeley editor of the New York Tribune. He was also nominated by the Democrats who supported his position of ending Reconstruction. Grant won big anyway but Congress passed a general amnesty act removing political disabilities from all but 500 ex- confederates.

7 Depression, Deflation, and Inflation In 1873, a terrible panic broke out caused by over- investment in railroads and factories financed by credit. Sharp decreases in demand brought on the financial crisis as unemployment rose. Over speculation and too easy access to credit caused the meltdown.

8 Depression, Deflation, and Inflation (Cont.) Millions of dollars of paper money “Greenbacks” had been issued during the Civil War. Banks and industrialists wanted strong dollar; farmers and other debtors wanted a weak one. Resumption Act 1875 led to further reductions in number of Greenbacks remaining in circulation 1878, Bland –Allison Act instructs the Treasury to buy between $2 and 4 million dollars of silver each month. By 1879, most people didn’t feel that they needed to exchange their paper money for gold but debate was just beginning.

9 Pallid Politics in the Gilded Age Term coined by Mark Twain referring to superficial prosperity but underlying corruption. Democrats & Republicans both enjoyed strong levels voter participation as a result of the spoils system. Democrats strength was in the South and among immigrant labor groups in cities. Republicans were strong in Rural northern and eastern states and amongst middle and upper classes in northern cities. GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) Civil War veteran’s group wielded influence.

10 Stalwarts and Half Breeds Stalwarts were unapologetic supporters of the Spoils System led by Roscoe Conkling. Half Breeds flirted with reform but really wanted their share of offices, etc & were led by James G. Blaine of Maine.

11 Hayes- Tilden Standoff 1877 Grant almost ran for a third term before the House derailed that proposal. Rutherford B. Hayes was the Republican compromise candidate and the Democrats ran New York reformer Samuel Tilden. The election was very close and several states in the South (LA, SC, FL)& Oregon had two sets of returns.

12 The Compromise of 1877 Having failed to reach a conclusion with the Election Count Act of January 1877, the House and Senate met in February of 1877 to craft a compromise. Hayes would become president if he ended Reconstruction by withdrawing federal troops from LA & SC.

13 Birth of the Jim Crow South As military left, whites in the South reasserted their power. Voting requirements became very stiff for Blacks: poll taxes, literacy requirements, grandfather clauses Most became sharecroppers and fell into debt. Plessy vs. Ferguson 1896 Separate but Equal was OK Jim Crow legalized. Lynchings increased as KKK spread terror guaranteeing little or no movement on civil rights for the next 50 years.

14 Class Conflicts and Ethnic Clashes In 1877, four railroads cut wages by 10% triggering a massive and violent strike, ending only when federal troops were sent in. Labor failed but would clash with ownership for the rest of the century (esp. Homestead 1892, Pullman 1894). Irish workers in San Francisco, led by Dennis Kearney persecuted Chinese immigrants. Anti-Asian feeling led to Chinese exclusion Act of 1882

15 Garfield and Arthur In 1880, the Republican James Garfield narrowly defeated the Democrat, civil war hero Winfield Scott Hancock, Garfield’s running mate was Chester Arthur a product of New York’s Stalwart faction. Garfield named Half Breed Blaine to be Sec. Of State but a week later he is shot by disillusioned office seeker, Charles J. Guiteau. Garfield was a good man but was afraid to make people unhappy.

16 Arthur and Civil Service Reform Nation was shocked by assassination of Garfield. Impetus to reform patronage system. Pendleton Act signed 1883: Award gov’t jobs based on ability not as spoils. With individuals limited in their influence, corporate influence began to grow. Due to internal conflict over Pendleton, Arthur not asked to run in 1884.

17 The Election of 1884 Sen. Blaine became the Republican candidate in Some people refused to support him because of his involvement in the Spoils System. They became known as “Mugwumps” and voted for the Democrat, Grover Cleveland. Election was known for its meanness.

18 Cleveland battles for a lower Tariff Cleveland saw that the Treasury had a surplus of around $145 million. Most this surplus came from the tariff so Cleveland proposed the idea of lowering it. Northern Industrialists were infuriated. Cleveland lost to Harrison in 1888.

19 The Billion Dollar Congress Thomas Reed was the new Speaker of the House. Called the Billion Dollar Congress because of the number of earmarks for local projects, Reed was intimidating at best. This will cause a major political reaction.

20 The Populists emerge in 1892 Disgruntled farmers formed the bulk of the Populists. The made certain demands for reform. Free coinage of silver, Graduated income tax, government regulation of the railroads. Direct election of US senators & initiative and referendum. Led by James Weaver.

21 Cleveland and the Depression Cleveland won the Election of 1892 but almost immediately was confronted by the Depression of 1893 which was the last in a long line of Panics that occurred every twenty years or so: 1819, 1837, 1857, 1873, Major problem was that people wanted to cash in paper $$ for gold. Reserves dipped below $100 million Cleveland made a deal with JP Morgan to help prop up the dollar with gold. Cleveland embarrassed by the Wilson-Gorman Tariff was supposed to lower rates but increased them & the Supreme Court struck down portion of the a law that taxed incomes.


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