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Politics of the Gilded Age vast fortunes urbanization rise of big business.

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Presentation on theme: "Politics of the Gilded Age vast fortunes urbanization rise of big business."— Presentation transcript:

1 Politics of the Gilded Age vast fortunes urbanization rise of big business

2 “Gilded Age” Term coined by Mark Twain for the time period between Referred to the superficial glitter of the new wealth

3 Era of “Forgettable”Presidents Era of mostly show with little substance None of the presidents served two consecutive terms Politicians ignored problems arising from the growth of industry and cities Two political parties avoided to taking a stand on controversial issues

4 Stalemate Political ideology of the time Campaign tactics Party patronage

5 Limited Government “do little” government Laissez faire capitalism Social Darwinism Federal courts narrowly interpreted the government’s power to regulate business Limited impact of the few regulatory laws passed by Congress

6 Campaign Strategy Closeness of elections Democrats won only 2 presidencies by electoral vote (4 by popular vote) Republicans were in control of both houses and the presidency The objective was to get out the vote not alienate voters

7 Campaigns Characterized by big brass bands, flags, buttons, picnics, free beer, and speeches 80% of the eligible voters voted – higher than elections in the 20 th or 21 st century

8 Ideologies Republicans Supported an economic program of high protective tariffs for business Democrats States’ rights and limited powers for the federal government

9 Party Patronage Neither party had an agenda This era was chiefly a game of gaining office, holding office, and providing government jobs to the party faithful Republicans like Senator Roscoe Conkling and his supporters became known as the “Stalwarts” This era is considered a low point in American politics

10 Presidential Politics Administrations of Hayes, Garfield, and Arthur reflected political stalemate and patronage problems of time period

11 Rutherford B. Hayes “Your Fraudulency” Most significant act – ending reconstruction Attempted to reestablish a honest government Temperance reformers – wife “Lemonade Lucy” cutoff liquor in the White House

12 James Garfield First few weeks in office he was besieged by 100,000 republicans wanting government jobs Assassinated by a deranged office seeker

13 Chester A. Arthur Distanced himself from “Stalwarts” Reformed civil service Federal employees could not be required to donate to political campaigns or be fired for political reasons Approved the development of the modern navy

14 Money Issue Expand money supply? Growing tension between the “haves” and the “have-nots” Bankers, creditors, investors, and established businesses stood firm – gold standard Debtors, Farmers, and start up businesses wanted more $$ in circulation Borrow money at lower interest rates Pay off their loans easier with inflated dollars

15 Greenback Party Supporters of paper money not backed by specie (gold or silver) Goal – increase the money supply Paper money was issued by the federal government in 1860 as an emergency measure for financing the Civil War – Northern farmers associated high prices rec’d during the war with prosperity

16 Tariff Issue Farmers and Capitalists disagreed over tariff rates on foreign imports Republican Congress enacted high tariff to protect American business Democrats argued the tariff raised the price of consumer goods Result – Nations retaliated by placing taxes of their own on U.S. farm products

17 Grover Cleveland (1 st Term) Believed in limited government – Jefferson Interstate Commerce Act of First attempt to regulate business Dawes Act Benefit Native Americans Retrieved 81 million acres of land from ranchers and railroads

18 Election of 1888 Big Issue – Tariff Question Republicans- Benjamin Harrison- high tariff- played on the fears of people that a low tariff would wreck business prosperity- rallied workers and big business Democrats- Grover Cleveland – low tariff Close election – Cleveland won popular vote, but Harrison swept the North

19 Billion Dollar Congress McKinley Tariff of raised the tax on foreign products – 48% Increased monthly pension to Civil War vets Sherman Antitrust Act – outlawing combinations in restraint of trade Sherman Silver Purchase Act of 1890-increased the coinage of silver in small amounts – pacify farmers

20 Rise of the Populists Alliance movement provided the foundation of a new political party – Populists or People’s Party Platform Direct election of Senators Enacting state laws by voters – through referendums placed on ballots Unlimited coinage of silver to increase money supply Graduated income tax Public ownership of RR’s by government Telephone and telegraph owned and operated by government Loans and federal warehouses for farmers Eight hour work day for industrial workers

21 Election of 1892 Rematch between Harrison and Cleveland Cleveland won mainly because of the high tax rate of McKinley Tariff – only president to serve non-consecutive terms Harrison

22 Panic of 1893 Stock Market crashed as a result of over speculation Dozens of RR’s went bankrupt Farm foreclosures reached new highs Unemployment reached 20%

23 Gold Reserve and Tariff Decline in silver prices encouraged investors to trade silver dollars for gold dollars Cleveland repealed Silver Act of 1890 President turned to J.P. Morgan to borrow $65 million in gold to support the gold standard

24 Jobless on the March As the depression worsened – conservatives feared class war between capital and labor Coxey’s Army – a march to Washington in 1894 by thousands of unemployed The “army” demanded federal government spend $500 million on public works to create jobs Coxey and other protest leaders were arrested for trespassing and the dejected “army” left for home


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