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Politics of the Gilded Age Local and national political corruption in the 19 th century led to calls for reform.

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Presentation on theme: "Politics of the Gilded Age Local and national political corruption in the 19 th century led to calls for reform."— Presentation transcript:

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2 Politics of the Gilded Age Local and national political corruption in the 19 th century led to calls for reform.

3 Emergence of a Political Machine What was a political machine? Group that controls the activities of a political party in a city. They provide services to voters in exchange for political support. What was the role of the political boss? Controlled access to jobs, business licenses and influenced the courts. What role did immigrants play in the politics of many big cities? Machines helped immigrants with naturalization, housing and jobs… in exchange for votes, of course.

4 Who was Boss Tweed? William M. Tweed Head of Tammany Hall (New York’s powerful Democratic political machine). Led the Tweed Ring from disgruntled employees linked evidence of corruption to the New York Times. Stole $30 to $200 million.

5 Municipal Graft and Scandal What means did many political machines use to maintain power? When loyalty of voters was not enough, many machines turned to fraud. Example: Using Kickbacks— illegal payments for services, and bribes. Until 1890 police forces were hired (and fired) by political bosses. For what reasons was the Tweed Ring so notorious? Responsible for over 120 counts of fraud and extortion. Most famous case:New York County Courthouse cost taxpayers $13 million, but in reality only cost $3 million. Tweed and his entourage pocketed $10 million!!

6 Tammany Hall Tiger Loose… What are you going to do about it?

7 Civil Service Replaces Patronage What is the Patronage System? Awarding good government jobs to people who helped get a candidate elected. A major problem in the 19 th century. What were the consequences of the Patronage System? Government employees were not as qualified for the positions they filled, whereas others used their position for their own political gain.

8 Political Reform Efforts: Hayes Elected in 1876 Had difficulty pushing for reform. Appointed Independents to his cabinet. Set up a commission to investigate the notoriously corrupt customhouses. Fired 2 NYC custom officials.

9 Political Reform Efforts:Garfield Elected in 1881 Battle between the Stalwarts (those who opposed changes in the patronage system) and the Reformers (wanted to change the patronage system). Garfield was a Reformer, but his V.P., Arthur, was a Stalwart. Assassinated in 1881 by a Stalwart supporter.

10 Charles Guiteau: I Am a Stalwart, and Arthur is President now!

11 Political Reform Efforts: Arthur Took over after Garfield's assassination. Turned into a Reformer. First message to Congress was to pass the Pendleton Civil Service Act.

12 Pendleton Civil Service Act of 1883 A bipartisan commission enacted to make civil service appointments to federal jobs through a merit system based on a candidates performances on an examination. Pros: Cleaned up Washington D.C. Cons: Politicians had to turn elsewhere for political contributions.

13 Business Buys Influence What is a Tariff? A tax imposed by a government on imported and exported goods. Manufacturers support this because they keep prices for imports high (i.e. Buy Local). Consumers oppose this because it adds to the cost of their product.

14 Cleveland vs. Harrison Cleveland –Elected 1884 (1 st Democrat in 28 yrs.) –Opposed high tariffs because they increased prices. –Lost to Harrison in 1888, but won in 1892 (only President to serve two non- consecutive terms). Harrison –Ran against Cleveland in election of –Campaign financed by large companies. –Supported high tariffs and wanted them even higher. –Passed McKinley Tariff Act of 1890.

15 What was the McKinley Tariff Act Passed by Congress in Harrison’s Administration. Raised Tariffs to their highest levels yet. When Cleveland was elected again in 1892, he tried to limit tariff levels, but ultimately failed. When McKinley won in 1896 he raised tariffs again.

16 So… to sum it all up! Political machines develop to take advantage of the needs of immigrants and the urban poor. City politicians used fraud and graft to maintain political power. Corruption in national politics results in the call for service jobs to be awarded on the basis of merit.

17 And… Cleveland wanted to reduce tariffs; Harrison wanted to keep them high. Big business’s growing influence on politics defeats tariff reform that would aid the working class.


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