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POLITICS AND REFORM 1877-1896 Chapter 11.

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Presentation on theme: "POLITICS AND REFORM 1877-1896 Chapter 11."— Presentation transcript:


2 Main Ideas of this chapter…….
During this period, political parties often focused on party competition rather than on important issues. Rural Americans (farmers) were suffering economically, and they began to organize politically in order to obtain relief. * Many states passed laws segregating African Americans and limiting their voting rights.

3 Section 1 - Stalemate in Washington
Main Idea: From 1877 to 1896 the Republicans and Democrats were so evenly matched that only a few reforms were possible at the national level. Campaign to Clean up Politics A. Stalwarts - GOPs who supported political machines & the spoils system (patronage-government jobs going to supporters of the winning party in an election). B. Halfbreeds - GOPs who wanted to reform the spoils system.

4 C. Pendleton Act 1. President Garfield’s assassination a. He was killed by disgruntled supporter who was angry because he couldn’t get a government job. b. Highlighted problems with the spoils system 2. Pendleton Act created the Civil Service Commission - jobs on merit, not patronage. 3. Jobs were obtained through civil service examinations.

5 II. Two Parties, Neck & Neck - 1870s & 1880s.
A. Stalemate 1. House of Representatives - usually a Democrat majority. 2. Senate - usually a Republican majority. 3. President - narrow margins in most elections of the period. a. In two elections, candidate winning the popular vote lost in Electoral College. b. Republican party won 4 of 6 pres. elections…BUT they had to try to govern w/ a split Congress nearly even division of power = political deadlock = not much chance for reform.

6 III. Democrats Reclaim the White House A. 1884 election
1. Grover Cleveland vs. James G. Blaine 2. Dirty campaign a. Blaine tainted by Credit Mobilier scandal b. GOPs split over reforms; those wanting reforms - mugwumps c. Cleveland - bachelor; had fathered a child out of wedlock ten years earlier. 3. Cleveland won election by 1,000 votes in NY “Ma, Ma…where’s my Pa? Gone to the White House….ha, ha, ha….” Grover Cleveland Democrat GOP slogan used against Cleveland: “Ma, Ma, where's my Pa? Gone to the White House. Ha, ha, ha.” James G. Blaine Republican

7 IV. President Cleveland with Problems
A. Labor unrest - strikes & violence B. Powerful corporations (ex: RRs) * Small businesses & farmers angry at RRs. a. Large corporations could get rebates (partial refunds) & lower shipping rates because of their volume of business. b. Farmers & small business owners felt they paid unfair rates.

8 C. Interstate Commerce Commission 1887 -
designed to regulate interstate trade & to create “reasonable & just” rates. * Problem: ICC couldn’t enforce rulings, had to rely on courts to do so. Courts often unwilling to interfere with corporations (property rights). D. Tariffs 1. Dems. in House passed tariff reduction bill (to lower prices on manufactured goods) 2. GOP-controlled Senate would not pass the tariff reduction bill. 3. Became the major issue in election of 1888.

9 1. GOP- Benjamin Harrison - for high tariffs.
V. GOPs Regain Power A. Election of 1888 1. GOP- Benjamin Harrison - for high tariffs. 2. Dems - Grover Cleveland - against tariffs. 3. Harrison lost popular vote, but won electoral vote. 4. GOP won control of both houses of Congress. B. McKinley Tariff - compromise bill 1. Lowered tariff on some goods; raised it on others (ex: textiles) 2. Hurt federal revenue because tariffs hurt American trade. Benjamin Harrison

10 3. Budget surplus became a deficit.
C. Sherman Antitrust Act (1890) 1. Meant to control huge trusts which created monopolies & hurt consumers. 2. Wording vague - hard to enforce. 3. Not much impact on business. * Although ICC & Sherman Antitrust Act were weak & hard to enforce, they established an important precedent: The federal government could regulate private corporations to protect American citizens/ consumers.

11 * By 1890 elections -- some Americans,
especially farmers, believed that the two-party political system was incapable of solving the nation’s problems. What would those voters do? Where do they go to see that their interests are being protected?

12 Section 2 - Populism Main idea: In the 1890s, an independent political movement called populism emerged to challenge the two major political parties. Unrest in Rural America - Why were they angry? A. Improved technology farmers produced more greater supply = lower prices for crops & cattle. At the same time…. B. High tariffs higher cost of manufacturing goods that farmers had to buy. Also….

13 C. High tariffs on foreign imports to America
other countries retaliated by raising their tariffs on American exports to them farmers had trouble selling their goods overseas. D. Farmers thought eastern bankers were unfair to them (foreclosures, etc.) E. Farmers thought RRs were unfair to them (charged them higher rates than manufacturers) Farmers vs. Railroad Companies

14 II. The Money Supply A. Greenbacks (paper currency) issued during Civil War caused inflation (decline in value of $$) B. After Civil War 1. Three types of currency in circulation: a. Greenbacks b. Gold & silver coin c. Bank notes (government bonds) 2. Feds stopped printing greenbacks; stopped minting silver coins; paid off bonds not enough $$ in circulation deflation decrease in price of goods.

15 C. Deflation hurt farmers
Had to borrow $$ for seed, supplies Money supply scarce = higher interest rates Farmers owe more $ for mortgages/other loans Falling prices = less income on crops Couldn’t pay mortgages Wanted more greenbacks printed and/or silver Blamed Congress & eastern bankers.

16 Farmers decided they needed to organize
politically!! D. Grange Takes Action 1. Patrons of Husbandry, aka Grange - first nat’l. farm organization * At first, it was a social & educational org. 2. Grange’s response to farmers’ problems: a. Pressured state legislatures to regulate RRs. b. Joined Greenback Party - wanted govt to print more $$.

17 c. Cooperatives - pooled their resources to
create businesses to benefit farmers. Ex: Pooled their crops & held them off the market to force up prices. Could also negotiate better RR rates due to high volume. E. Grange fails 1. “Granger laws” setting RR rates were fought in courts. RRs usually won. 2. Greenback Party failed; too many people were afraid of paper $$. 3. Co-ops failed - not strong enough and farmers had too little business experience.

18 III. Farmers’ Alliance A. Replaced Grange as farmers’ “union.” B. People’s Party, aka Populist Party, formed to address farmers’ issues.

19 A. Populist party platform:
IV. Rise of Populism A. Populist party platform: 1. Subtreasury plan (store crops to raise prices) 2. “Free silver” unlimited coinage of silver 3. End protective tariffs & national banks. 4. Tighter regulation of RRs 5. Direct election of senators by voters instead of by state legislatures. 17th Amendment

20 B. Populist for President 1892
1. James Weaver - Populist candidate 2. Platform: a. Included all of populist platform….plus… b. Federal government ownership of RRs c. Graduated income tax - you make more, you pay at a higher rate. d. 8-hour workday To try appeal to e. Immigration restriction the labor vote. C. Grover Cleveland (Dem) defeated Pres. Benjamin Harrison (GOP) & Weaver (Populist)

21 D. Panic of 1893 1. Businesses went bankrupt. 2. Stock market crashed. 3. Banks closed. % unemployment…..Depression!! E. Panic caused Amer. & Eur. investors to cash in bonds for gold gold reserves became dangerously low! 1. Cleveland wanted gold as basis for currency 2. Congress would not allow silver to be exchanged for gold. 3. Dems split: Goldbugs favored gold currency; Silverites wanted unlimited coinage of silver.


23 For a time, there was fear among many Democrats that the Populist Party would consume them.

24 V. Election of 1896 A. Dems & Populists nominated William Jennings Bryan for Pres. - electrifying campaigner, but didn’t appeal to NE labor. B. GOP - William McKinley 1. “Front-Porch” campaign. 2. Blamed Cleveland & Dems for depression. 3. Had support of business & urban workers C. Populism declines 1. Depression over 2. New gold strikes led to increased $$ supply. 3. Congress adopted gold-based $$ standard. 4. Too radical (Ex: govt-owned RR)

25 Even though Populist Party failed, some of its
William Jennings Bryan William McKinley Even though Populist Party failed, some of its reforms will be adopted in the 20th century. (Ex: Income tax)

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