2. Intense Voter Loyalty to the Two Major Political Parties
3. Well-Defined Voting Blocs Democratic Bloc Republican Bloc White southerners (preservation of white supremacy) Catholics Recent immigrants (esp. Jews) Urban working poor (pro-labor) Most farmers Northern whites (pro-business) African Americans Northern Protestants Old WASPs (support for anti-immigrant laws) Most of the middle class
Opposing Politic Parties Republican Appeal to industrialists, bankers, eastern farmers Want $ backed by gold (keep inflation down); high tariffs, pensions to veterans; gov’t aid to RRs; limits on immigration Enforcement of blue laws: prohibit activities seen as immoral Democrats Appeal to less privileged urban workers, laborers, southern planters, western farmers Want increase of $ supply; low tariffs; high farm prices; less gov’t aid to business; less blue laws
4. Very Laissez Faire Federal Govt. From 1870-1900 Govt. did very little domestically. Main duties of the federal govt.: Deliver the mail. Maintain a national military. Collect taxes & tariffs. Conduct a foreign policy. Exception administer the annual Civil War veterans’ pension.
5. 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. 1865 53,000 people worked for the federal govt. 1890 166,000 “ “ “ “ “ “ Senator Roscoe Conkling
Grant Administration Scandals Grant presided over an era of unprecedented growth and corruption. * Credit Mobilier Scandal. * Whiskey Ring. * The “Indian Ring.”
The Tweed Ring in NYC William Marcy Tweed (notorious head of Tammany Hall’s political machine) [Thomas Nast crusading cartoonist/reporter]
The Election of 1872 Rumors of corruption during Grant’s first term discredits Republicans. Horace Greeley runs as a Democrat/Liberal Republican candidate. Greeley attacked as a fool and a crank. Greeley died on November 29, 1872!
The Panic of 1873 It raises “the money question.” * debtors seek inflationary monetary policy by continuing circulation of greenbacks. * creditors, intellectuals support hard money. 1875 Resumption Act of 1875 (Specie Redemption Act.) -
1881: Garfield Assassinated! Charles Guiteau: I Am a Stalwart, and Arthur is President now! *Death causes reexamination of the spoils system
Pendleton Act (1883) Civil Service Act. The “Magna Carta” of civil service reform.
Republican “Mugwumps” 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: Favoritism & the spoils system seen as govt. intervention in society. Their target was political corruption, not social or economic reform!
Cleveland’s First Term The “Veto Governor” from New York. First Democratic elected since 1856. A public office is a public trust! His 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 tariffs to protect new US industries. Big business wanted to continue this; consumers did not. 1885 tariffs earned the US $100 mil. in surplus! Lower Tariff 1887- hurts factories and economy Tariffs became a major issue in the 1888 presidential election.
1888 Presidential Election Grover Cleveland Benjamin Harrison (DEM) * (REP)
Changing Public Opinion Interstate Commerce Act – 1887 Sherman Antitrust Act – 1890 McKinley Tariff – 1890 Based on the theory that prosperity flowed directly from protectionism. Increased already high rates to 48.4%
1892 Presidential Election Grover Cleveland Benjamin Harrison again! * (DEM) (REP)
Cleveland Loses Support Fast! The only President to serve two non- consecutive terms. Blamed for the 1893 Panic. Defended the gold standard. Used federal troops in the 1894 Pullman strike. Refused to sign the Wilson-Gorman Tariff of 1894: set to lower tariffs and tax incomes over $4000 by 2% Repealed the Sherman Silver Purchase Act.
Gilded Age Presidents in a Nutshell The Forgettable “Presidents”
18 th -Ulysses S Grant (1869-1877) –Political Corruption Credit Mobilier Scandal –Panic of 1873 19 th -Rutherford B. Hayes (1877- 1881) –Electoral Count Act (Compromise of 1877) –Jim Crow Laws 20 th -James A. Garfield (1881) –Assassinated by Charles J. Guiteau on September 19, 1881 (due to this reform of Spoils System
21 st -Chester Arthur (1881-1885) –Before taking office had benefited from the system In office-works for reform –Passes Pendleton Civil Service Act 1883 Classify gov’t jobs and tests fitness 22 nd and 24 th -Grover Cleveland (1885-1889, 1893-1897) Supports RR, business (laissez-faire) –In 2 nd term manages to turn many voters to Democratic party- sent troops to break up Pullman strike –Panic of 1893
23 rd -Benjamin Harrison (1889-1893) Signed Sherman Anti-Trust Act Approves high tariffs –Hurts economy; dips too deep into treasury to pay pensions 25 th -William McKinley (1897-1901) Oversees tariff bill and stronger gold standard Imperialist (more on this later!) Society begins climb out of depression –assassinated by an anarchist, September 6 th, 1901
Writing Prompt Do you think government reforms made a difference during this period? Why or Why not? What role do you think government should play in business (even today)?