Presentation on theme: "POLITICS: LOCAL, STATE, AND NATIONAL Political Strategy and Tactics – major parties normally avoid taking stands on controversial issues, but that tendency."— Presentation transcript:
POLITICS: LOCAL, STATE, AND NATIONAL Political Strategy and Tactics – major parties normally avoid taking stands on controversial issues, but that tendency reached abnormal proportions in the late nineteenth century – a delicate balance of power between the parties as well as new and difficult issues, to which no answers were readily available, contributed to the parties’ reluctance to adopt firm positions
Voting Along Ethnic and Religious Lines – more often than not, a voter’s ethnic origins, religious ties, perception of the Civil War, and whether he lived in a rural or urban setting influenced his decision to vote Republican or Democrat
City Bosses – stresses of rapid urban growth, strain on infrastructures, and exodus of upper and middle classes all led to a crisis in city government – this turmoil gave rise to urban political bosses – these bosses provided social services in exchange for political support – money for these services (and to enrich themselves) came from kickbacks and bribes
Boss Tweed In April 1870, Tweed secured the passage of a city charter putting the control of the city into the hands of the mayor, the comptroller, and the commissioners of parks and public works. He then set about to plunder the city. The total amount of money stolen was never known, but was estimated at between $30 and $200 million. Over a period of two years and eight months, New York City's debts increased by $81 million, with little to show for the debt.April1870
Bosses – despite their welfare work and popularity, most bosses were essentially thieves – the system survived because most comfortable urban dwellers cared little if at all for the fate of the poor – many reformers resented the boss system mainly because it gave political power to people who were not “gentlemen”
Party Politics Sidestepping the Issue – the South was solidly Democratic; – New England and the Trans-Mississippi West were staunchly Republican – New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois usually determined the outcome of elections – only three presidential candidates between 1868 and 1900 did not come from New York, Indiana, Illinois, or Ohio; and all three lost; partisan politics was intense in “swing states”
Lackluster Leaders – America’s presidents of the day demonstrated little interest in dealing with the urgent issues confronting the nation – Rutherford B. Hayes, 1877 to 1881, – Hayes favored tariff reduction, civil service reform, and better treatment for blacks in South – however, he made little progress in any of these areas
Lackluster Leaders – Republican party split in 1880 between “Stalwarts” and “Half-Breeds,” and James A. Garfield emerged as a compromise candidate – Garfield was assassinated President Garfield's assassination depicted in engraving from 1881 newspaper.
1881: Garfield Assassinated! Charles Guiteau: I Am a Stalwart, and Arthur is President now!
Lackluster Leaders – his successor, Chester A. Arthur, defended of the spoils system – as president, however, Arthur conducted himself with dignity, handled patronage matters with restraint, and gave nominal support to civil service reform
Pendleton Act (1883) Civil Service Act. The “Magna Carta” of civil service reform. 1883 14,000 out of 117,000 federal govt. jobs became civil service exam positions. 1900 100,000 out of 200,000 civil service federal govt. jobs.
Reformers who wouldn’t re-nominate Chester A. Arthur. Reform to them create a disinterested, impartial govt. run by an educated elite like themselves. Social Darwinists. Laissez faire government to them: Their target was political corruption, not social or economic reform! Republican “Mugwumps”
The Mugwumps Men may come and men may go, but the work of reform shall go on forever. Will support the Democrat Cleveland in the 1884 election.
Lackluster Leaders – Arthur also favored regulation of the railroads and tariff reductions – nevertheless, he was a political failure; the Stalwarts would not forgive Arthur for his “desertion,” and the reformers would not forget his past – his party denied him its nomination in 1884 – the election of 1884 revolved around personal issues and was characterized by mudslinging on both sides – Grover Cleveland, former Democratic governor of New York, defeated James G. Blaine by fewer than 25,000 votes – “Ma Ma, Where’s my Pa? Gone to the White House, Ha Ha Ha!”
A Dirty Campaign Ma, Ma…where’s my pa? He’s going to the White House, ha… ha… ha…!
Lackluster Leaders – Cleveland’s was an honest, if unimaginative, administration – his emphasis on the strict separation of powers prevented his placing effective pressure on the Congress, and thus he failed to confront the issues of the day – in 1888, Benjamin Harrison, a Republican from Indiana, defeated Cleveland. Harrison’s election elevated a “human iceberg” and fiscal conservative to the presidency
1888 Presidential Election Grover Cleveland Benjamin Harrison (DEM) * (REP)
Lackluster Leaders – during Harrison’s term, Congress raised the tariff to an all-time high, passed the Sherman Antitrust Act and the Silver Purchase Act, and enacted a “force” bill to protect the voting rights of southern blacks – Cleveland reclaimed the presidency from Harrison in 1892 (22 nd and 24 th President) – by the standards of the late nineteenth century, Cleveland’s margin of victory was substantial
1892 Presidential Election Grover Cleveland Benjamin Harrison again! * (DEM) (REP)
Crops and Complaints – the economic and social status of farmers declined throughout the late 19th century; and their discontent forced American politics to confront the problems of the era – American farmers suffered from low commodity prices, restrictive tariff and fiscal policies, competition from abroad, and drought. Using all the farm for crops — planting corn up to the front door. Custer County, Nebraska, 1888.
The Populist (Granger) Movement – the agricultural depression triggered an outburst of political radicalism, the Alliance movement – the Farmers Alliance spread throughout the South and into the Midwest – the farm groups entered politics in the elections of 1890 – in 1892, these farm groups combined with representatives of the Knights of Labor and various professional reformers to organize the People’s, or Populist, party
The Populist Movement – the convention adopted a sweeping platform calling for a graduated income tax; the nationalization of rail, telegraph, and telephone systems;, and the unlimited coinage of silver – the party also called for the adoption of the initiative and referendum, popular election of United States senators, an eight-hour workday, and immigration restrictions
The Populist Movement – the Populist candidate, James B. Weaver, attracted over a million votes, – opponents of the Populists in the South played on racial fears, and the Populists failed to attract the support of urban workers
Showdown on Silver – by early 1890s, discussion of federal monetary policy revolved around the coinage of silver – traditionally, the United States issued gold and silver coins – established ratio of roughly 15:1 undervalued silver, so no one took silver to the Mint – when silver mines of Nevada and Colorado flooded market with metal and depressed the price of silver, it became profitable to coin bullion; but miners found that the Coinage Act of 1873 had demonetized the metal
Showdown on Silver – Silver miners and inflationist demanded a return to bimetallism; conservatives resisted – the result was a series of compromises – the Bland-Allison Act (1878) authorized the purchase of $2 million to $4 million of silver a month at the market price – this had little inflationary impact because the government consistently bought the minimum – the Sherman Silver Purchase Act (1890) required the government to buy 4.5 million ounces of silver monthly – however, increasing supplies drove the price of silver still lower
The Depression of 1893 – Cleveland believed that the controversy over silver caused the depression by shaking the confidence of the business community – he summoned a special session of Congress and forced a repeal of Sherman Silver Purchase Act – the southern and western wings of the Democratic party deserted over this issue. Cleveland’s handling of Coxey’s Army and the Pullman strike further eroded public confidence in him, and the public was outraged when it took a syndicate of bankers headed by J. P. Morgan to avert a run on the Treasury
The Depression of 1893-The 1896 Election – with the silver issue looming ever larger and the Populists demanding unlimited coinage of silver at 16:1, the major parties could no longer avoid the money question in 1896 – the Republicans nominated William McKinley and endorsed the gold standard – the Democrats nominated William Jennings Bryan and ran on a platform of free silver – although concerned over the loss of their distinctive party identity, the Populists nominated Bryan as well
Bryant’s “Cross of Gold” Speech You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns; you shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold!
William Jennings Bryan (1860-1925) The “Great Commoner”
The Election of 1896 – the election of 1896, fueled by emotional debates over the silver issue, split party ranks across the nation – pro-silver Republicans swung behind Bryan, while pro- gold Democrats, called “gold bugs” or National Democrats, nominated their own candidate—John M. Palmer – the Republican aspirant, William McKinley, relied upon his experience, his reputation for honesty and good judgment, his party’s wealth, and the skillful management of Mark Hanna
The Election of 1896 – moreover, the depression worked to the advantage of the party out of power – Bryan, a powerful orator, was handicapped by his youth, his relative inexperience, and the defection of the gold Democrats – he nevertheless conducted a vigorous campaign, traveling over eighteen thousand miles and delivering over six hundred speeches – on election day, McKinley decisively defeated Bryan
The Meaning of the Election – far from representing a triumph for the status quo, the election marked the coming of age of modern America – McKinley’s approach was national; Bryan’s was basically parochial – workers and capitalists supported McKinley, and the farm vote split – the battle over gold and silver had little real significance; new gold discoveries led to an expansion of the money supply
The Meaning of the Election – Bryan’s vision of America, and that of the political Populists who supported him, was one steeped in the past – McKinley, for all his innate conservatism, was capable of looking ahead toward the new century
“A Giant Straddle”: Suggestion for a McKinley Political Poster