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The Gilded Age 1877-1896. The term Gilded Age comes from the title of a novel written by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner The novel was about political.

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Presentation on theme: "The Gilded Age 1877-1896. The term Gilded Age comes from the title of a novel written by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner The novel was about political."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Gilded Age 1877-1896

2 The term Gilded Age comes from the title of a novel written by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner The novel was about political corruption and greed – traits that were very common during the post-war years It was a period remembered for the growth of big business and the inability and/or unwillingness of political parties to address major issues

3 Blacks The end of slavery did not mean complete freedom for the blacks Advances came slow and unevenly across the South Many set out to relocate their families and to look for jobs The greatest achievement of the Freedman’s Bureau was in education Southerners passed legislation (Black Codes) limiting the freedom of blacks to ensure a stable and subservient workforce

4 National Labor Union As early as the 1830s there had been attempts to organize labor, but most of the ideas were too idealistic By the 1850s there were some unions that protected skilled trades The Civil War created a need for manual labor and consequently increased the power of unions In 1866 the National Labor Union met in Baltimore to seek an eight-hour workday, worker’s cooperatives, and equal rights for women and blacks


6 Knights of Labor In 1869 it organized a General Assembly which petitioned for equal wages and emphasized the need for reform In 1872 the NLU disbanded but the Noble and Holy Order of the Knights of Labor was already being formed Founded by Uriah Stephens in 1869 it started slowly It was one union that accepted most people who had ever worked for a wage

7 In 1879 Terence Powderly succeeded Stephens During the 1880s membership exceeded 700,000 The problem that the unions faced was one of perception – business and government portrayed unions as socialist organizations bent on anarchy and overthrowing the government This perception was not helped by the increase in anarchism in Europe and the rapid growth of organizations promoting revolution As people emigrated to the United States many brought more radical ideas about the role of unions and socialism


9 Democrats tended to be southern whites, immigrants, Catholics and Jews Between Grant and Taft the Republican Party controlled the White House (except for Cleveland’s two terms) – but few presidents won a majority of the popular votes For most of the time Democrats controlled the House while Republicans controlled the Senate Most attempts to regulate big business were overturned in the courts Big business and politicians formed a close alliance they benefited both – accepting bribes and kick-backs was seen by many as acceptable

10 Rutherford B. Hayes Hayes was the political antithesis of Grant, but he was plagued by the Compromise of 1877 In office he was often referred to “His Fraudulence” he had been nominated only because he offended no one The Republican Party split into two factions: Stalwarts – led by Senator Roscoe Conkling Half-Breeds – led by Senator James Blaine The Stalwarts supported Radical southern policy and the spoils system The Half-Breeds supported civil service reform Hayes allied himself to the reformers

11 James A. Garfield In 1880 the Stalwarts suggested Grant for a third term A political dark-horse James A. Garfield ended up with the nomination, Chester Arthur as his running mate The Democrats nominated Winfield Scott Hancock the winner at Gettysburg The election was marred by allegations of bribery before Garfield won with less than 50% of the votes In 1881, while walking through the train station at Washington D.C., Garfield was assassinated by Charles Guiteau a deranged office seeker

12 Chester A. Arthur Arthur was a supporter of the Stalwarts, but proved remarkably capable as president Surprisingly, Arthur distanced himself from the Stalwarts and worked to create civil service reform

13 Pendleton Act (1883) The Pendleton Civil Service Act established an independent three-member Civil Service Commission that would fill government jobs on the basis of an entrance exam and not favoritism Also during his tenure high protective tariffs created a surplus in the treasury Many wanted to reduce the tariffs to lower the cost of living The result was the “Mongrel Tariff” (1883) with lower rates on some commodities, but higher on others

14 Election of 1884 The Republican Party dropped Arthur, despite his record, and nominated Senator Blaine of Maine – leader of the Half-Breeds His campaign was based on appealing to core Republican virtues, waving the bloody shirt, and trying to attract the Irish vote by criticizing British foreign policy During the campaign the Democrats revealed that Blaine had received kick-backs from the railroads – a disclosure which upset the reform minded Republicans



17 Mugwumps Republican leaders withdrew their support and earned the nickname “goo-goos” (the good government crowd) The New York Sun referred to them as Mugwumps (people who sit on the fence) The rise of the Mugwumps encouraged the democrats to nominate Grover Cleveland on the platform of reform (Grover the good) As governor of New York he had taken on Tammany Hall and vetoed special interest legislation


19 Cleveland was a bachelor but it was revealed he had had a relationship with a widow and the women had given birth to a child “Ma ma where’s my pa?” Cleveland accepted responsibility and made payments for the child

20 When a group of Protestant ministers visited the Republican headquarters in New York they referred to the Democratic party as a party of “rum, Romanism, and rebellion” Blaine, who was present said nothing to defend the Catholics and as a result he lost the Irish vote

21 Grover Cleveland Once in office Cleveland varied little from his predecessors except to oppose government favors to business However he was surrounded by office seekers who wanted political appointments Before the election he supported the Pendleton Act, but as president he changed it to allow himself to remove party appointments During his tenure he almost doubled the number of federal positions available – and alienated both the Mugwumps and the office seekers


23 Railroads During the Civil War railroads grew enormously In 1862 the Union Pacific Railroad started westward from Omaha using Irish laborers In California the Central Pacific Railroad, backed by Leland Stanford, with Chinese laborers moved eastward In 1869 the transcontinental railroad was completed in Utah

24 With the development of steel rails, Westinghouse brakes, and luxurious Pullman cars, rail travel became safer and far more comfortable – although accidents were still common Railroads: connected markets generated jobs increased industrialization helped people settle the West In 1883 four time zones were established But the railroad companies often broke the laws such as the Crédit Mobilier, accepting bribes, and creating “pools”

25 Wabash Railroad v. Illinois (1886) Since the end of the war the federal government had examined the idea of regulating railroads In the Wabash Railroad v. Illinois case the Supreme Court prohibited the states from regulating rates on interstate traffic Cleveland determined to act and to control the railroads Congress gave away millions of acres of land to railroad companies to encourage development until it was stopped by Cleveland in 1887 By 1900 there were four other transcontinental lines

26 Interstate Commerce Act (1887) All freight charges on railroads had to be “reasonable and just” Railroads were prohibited from granting special rates or favors, from manipulating the prices by forming pools, and from discriminating against individuals The ICC was created by Cleveland as an independent regulatory commission The ICC had five members who could investigate railroads and prosecute violators Ultimately the commission had little power when forced to prosecute the big companies in court

27 Big Business By the end of the century the United States was the largest manufacturer in the world: a) abundant resources b) favorable government policies c) free capital to invest d) entrepreneurial spirit and inventions 1876 Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone Thomas Edison invented many inventions such as the electric light bulb and the phonograph The Bessemer process allowed steel to be produced that was stronger and cheaper. The “king of steel” was Andrew Carnegie

28 Carnegie used vertical integration to control all aspects of his industry including the mining John D. Rockefeller used horizontal integration (allied with competitors to create a monopoly) to eliminate other competitors. His big achievement was with Standard Oil Men like Rockefeller and Carnegie created trusts to make themselves more powerful Rockefeller also used interlocking directorates – put his people on the board of other companies J. Pierpont Morgan made a fortune in banking. Morgan bought Carnegie’s empire for $400 million – Carnegie spent the rest of his life giving it away






34 Gospel of Wealth Capitalists used Social Darwinism to justify their success Social Darwinism also coincided with the ideas of Adam Smith, especially concerning the laws of supply and demand Carnegie wrote The Gospel of Wealth (1901) which claimed wealthy people have power but also an obligation to society Baptist preacher Russell H. Conwell preached about “Acres of Diamonds” – everyone who wanted to be rich had the opportunity Horatio Alger “luck and pluck”


36 Election of 1888 As the election approached the Democrats supported the president The Republicans nominated Benjamin Harrison, grandson of William Henry Harrison Harrison was their choice because he had done little to upset people and make enemies The main issues were protective tariffs and pensions for veterans Big business supported the Republicans hoping to maintain protective tariffs Cleveland called the tariffs un-American and called for free trade



39 Benjamin Harrison Cleveland won the popular vote but lost in the electoral college in an election noted for paid votes Harrison had seemed to support some type of reform, but many of his appointments were questionable He did appoint Theodore Roosevelt to the Civil Service Commission In 1890 to repay the veterans for their support Congress passed the Dependent Pension Act which almost doubled the pension rolls Republicans controlled Congress allowing Harrison even greater freedom

40 Billion Dollar Congress

41 Granger Movement In 1866 the Dept. of Agriculture sent Oliver H. Kelley on a tour of postbellum southern farms Kelley decided to do something to help the isolated farmers In 1867 he founded the Patrons of Husbandry (The Grange) By 1874 membership was almost at 1.5 million Initially to help with the isolation of the farmers the movement soon changed to become cooperatives for buying and selling crops The Grangers then became involved in politics

42 Their main concern was the regulation of railroad rates and warehouse rates Five states passed Granger Laws which challenged the power of the railroad and warehouse owners In Munn v. Illinois (1877) the Supreme Court ruled that states had the right to regulate property in the interest of public good Eventually the Granger movement lost its momentum and was replaced in 1875 by the Independent National party (Greenback party) – which emphasized the use of paper money But in the 1880 the party declined and disappeared after 1884

43 Farmer’s Alliance The first alliance was formed in 1873 Like the Grange it was aimed at improving the social and recreational conditions of the farmers They too, soon became involved in politics The movement was especially popular in the South and Midwest as farmers sought help to fight increasing debt and declining prices In 1886 the Colored Alliance was formed to represent black farmers Also in 1886, Texas suffered a severe drought. President Cleveland vetoed a bill that would have helped the farmers

44 In response the farmers challenged the Democrats in the polls In 1887 a blizzard swept through the West and devastated many farms. Without government aid many farmers became supportive of the idea of a third-party Although many parties appeared the most successful was the Populist party

45 Populist Party Involved in the elections between 1892-1908 the won control of many state legislatures and Kansas even elected a Populist candidate to the Senate In 1892 the Populist party met in Omaha to decide on a national platform and nominated James Weaver as their candidate The platform was finance, transportation, land, a one-term presidency, and limiting immigration

46 Haymarket Affair (1886) The Knights of Labor set a deadline of May 1, 1886 for the implementation of an eight-hour day On May 3 a strike at the International Harvester plant in Chicago resulted in the death of one of the strikers A small group of anarchists called for a protest to be held at Haymarket Square the following night The crowd listened to speakers and then started to disperse – just as policemen arrived and ordered the crowd to go home

47 A bomb was thrown at the police, killing one and injuring others The police opened fire on the crowd The police arrested seven anarchists and put them on trial Despite a lack of hard evidence all seven were convicted and sentenced to death Two were reprieved, one committed suicide, and four were hanged Six were German-speaking and one was a member of the Knights of Labor Reaction was swift and decisive – the Knights collapsed

48 American Federation of Labor Craft workers often refused to join unions with non-craft workers, fearing a loss of their prestige In 1886 several craft unions formed the American Federation of Labor (AFL) It was not like the Knights because each union retained some autonomy Samuel Gompers was president from the start until his death in 1924 (except for one year) Gompers wanted concrete gains for his workers not just promises of social reform By 1914 it had over 2 million members

49 McKinley Tariff Act (1890) Once in office Harrison started to spend the money Cleveland had saved. Congress authorized money for lighthouse, coastal defenses, pensions, and other projects Congress passed the McKinley Tariff Act (1890), which made high protective duties even higher and increased prices for many household commodities. In 1890 Congress also passed the Sherman Silver Purchase Act, and agreed to buy 4,500,000 oz of silver every month and to issue paper money equaling the full amount purchased

50 Sherman Antitrust Act (1890) The Sherman Antitrust Act was the first legislation to limit trusts It was based on the constitutional power to regulate interstate trade Stockholders transferred their shares to one person or trustees who then controlled the company and eliminated competition The Sherman Act authorized the government to dismember trusts and to prevent monopolies In 1895 the Supreme Court abolished the Sherman Act in the United States v. E. C. Knight Company

51 The Homestead Strike (1892) Increasing violence continued to hinder union progress At the Homestead Works in Pittsburgh the union and management (controlled by Andrew Carnegie) enjoyed a working relationship In 1889 H. C. Frick became president and he was determined to suppress the union By 1891 the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers was probably the largest craft union In 1892 union contracts were to be renewed

52 Carnegie had conveniently gone to Scotland and left the matter to Frick Frick wanted to reduce the number of workers and to limit the power of the union – a fact Carnegie knew On June 29 the works closed as unionist were locked-out Frick built a 12 ft fence around the works and hired 300 Pinkerton detectives As the detectives approached the works on barges the meet unionists Someone fired and six unionists and three Pinkerton s were killed

53 After several days the state militia arrived to protect the detectives The strike continued but when a deranged Lithuanian immigrant shot and stabbed Frick, sympathy for the union ended

54 Election of 1892 The Republicans nominated Benjamin Harrison. The Democrats nominated Grover Cleveland. The Populists nominated James Weaver Cleveland won both the popular vote and the electoral college – Weaver collected over 1 million votes, won several states, and collected 22 electoral votes



57 The Panic of 1893 One of the most severe economic crises Caused by: a) agricultural depression b) a decline in gold reserves c) unsound railroad financing The Philadelphia and Reading Railroad declared for bankruptcy and started a panic on Wall Street Over 600 banks closed and millions lost their jobs

58 Coxey’s Army (1894) Led by the Populist Jacob Coxey a large number of unemployed protestors marched on Washington D.C. They demanded federal help Coxey and his family rode in a carriage but in the capital he was arrested for walking on the grass The marchers dispersed without trouble. But the march did scare people who saw it as the start of anarchy The Populists were quickly labeled socialists

59 Pullman Strike (1894) The Pullman Strike was one of the most significant work-stoppages in American history The town of Pullman Illinois housed workers from the Pullman Palace Car Company Workers had to pay high rent, utilities, and purchase goods from the company store During the Depression of 1893 the company laid off 3,000 workers and cut wages while maintaining rent and other charges When 3 members of the negotiating committee were fired the union called a strike

60 Pullman workers were members of the American Railway Union, founded by Eugene V. Debs In June the company refused to arbitrate so union workers stopped handling Pullman cars In a few weeks the country was almost brought to a halt Railroad executives brought strikebreakers from Canada and ordered them to connect the mail cars to the Pullman cars so that the strikers were now affecting the mail The U.S. attorney-general deputized over 3,000 men to keep the mail running

61 In July President Cleveland sent federal troops to Chicago – despite the fact the Illinois governor did not want them Cleveland claimed he had a responsibility to protect the mail The attorney-general won an injunction claiming the strike violated the Sherman Anti-Trust Act The union called off the strike and on the same day a court sentenced Debs to six months in jail In the case of In re Debs (1895) the Supreme Court upheld the decision on the grounds of national sovereignty


63 Silver v. Gold In the early 1890s a major British bank failed and many investors sold off their stocks in American companies for gold The gold reserve fell below $100 million and the president had to repeal the Sherman Silver Purchase Act With new interest in silver the western states gained significant political power The issue of gold v. silver would be a main point of contention in the upcoming election

64 Election of 1896 The Republicans nominated William McKinley from Ohio (good war record, congressional track record, well-liked) At the democratic convention in Chicago the party was in disarray and could not find a good candidate William Jennings Bryan took the stage and delivered his “Cross of Gold” speech and immediately gained the nomination He was a silverite from Nebraska The democrats demanded unlimited coinage of silver at a ratio of 16-1


66 The “Gold Bugs” spread rumors about Bryan and how much money people would lose if the Democrats won the election - “In God we Trust, with Bryan we Bust” Mark Hanna, Chairman of the Republican National Committee collected millions from big business Republican businessmen placed contingency contract with factories which would be voided if the Democrats won In the end McKinley won easily



69 Plessy vs Ferguson In 1896 segregation was validated by the Supreme Court The Court ruled that “separate but equal” was in accordance to the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment In reality what it created were two world - one white and one black



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