Intense Voter Loyalty to the Two Major Political Parties
Party Support in the Late 1800s REPUBLICANDEMOCRAT African-AmericansWhite Southerners Northern ProtestantsCatholics Old WASPs (Nativist) Recent Immigrants Most of Middle ClassUrban Workers (pro-labor) Pro - BusinessMost Farmers TemperancePersonal Freedom
Laissez-Faire Federal Govt. From 1870-1900, federal govt. did very little. Its main duties: Deliver the mail Maintain a national military Collect taxes & tariffs Conduct a foreign policy Exception: administer the annual Civil War veterans’ pension
The Presidency as a Symbolic Office Party bosses ruled. Presidents should avoid offending any factions within their own party. The President just doled out federal jobs. Senator Roscoe Conkling 1865- 53,000 federal govt employees. 1890- 166,000 federal employees
Republican “Mugwumps” Reformers who would not re-nominate Chester A. Arthur. Support Cleveland in 1884. Reform to them: create a disinterested, impartial gov’t run by an educated elite like themselves. Social Darwinists; support laissez-faire gov’t. Favoritism & the spoils system seen as inappropriate gov’t intervention in society. Their target was political corruption, not social or economic reform.
1884 Presidential Election Grover Cleveland James G. Blaine (DEM. – NY) (REP. - MAINE)
Cleveland’s First Term The “Veto Governor” from New York First Democrat elected since 1856 “ A public office is a public trust!” “Laissez-faire” presidency: Opposed bills to assist the poor as well as the rich Vetoed over 200 special pension bills for Civil War veterans
The Tariff Issue After the Civil War, Congress raised tariffs to protect new US industries. Big business supported ; consumers opposed 1885 - tariffs = $100 million in revenue! Mugwumps opposed it (WHY?) President Cleveland’s view on tariffs???? Major issue in the 1888 presidential election
Cleveland Loses Support Quickly Only President to serve 2 non-consecutive terms Blamed for the Panic of 1893 Defended the gold standard Used federal troops in the 1894 Pullman strike Refused to sign the Wilson-Gorman Tariff ( 1894) Repealed the Sherman Silver Purchase Act
The Silver Issue “ Crime of ’73”- govt. stopped coining silver Bland-Allison Act (1878) - limited silver coinage to $2-$4 mil. per mo. (based on 16:1 ratio of silver to gold) Sherman Silver Purchase Act (1890) US Treasury must purchase $4.5 mil. oz. silver a month. Govt. deposited most silver in the US Treasury rather than circulation.