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Politics in the Gilded Age Entrance Question: What will immigrants need as they begin to settle in the cities?

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Presentation on theme: "Politics in the Gilded Age Entrance Question: What will immigrants need as they begin to settle in the cities?"— Presentation transcript:

1 Politics in the Gilded Age Entrance Question: What will immigrants need as they begin to settle in the cities?

2 The Emergence of Political Machines Political Machine – An organized group that controlled the activities of a political party in a city Political Machines offered services to voters and businesses in exchange for political or financial support. A political machine is a group, usually dominated by a political party, that dictates the political life of a city. At the “controls” of the “machine” is the boss, who may or may not be an elected official.

3 Political Machines Tried to gain voters’ support on a city block or in a neighborhood and reported to a ward boss. At election time, the ward boss worked to secure the vote in all the precincts in the ward, or electoral district. They also helped the poor and gained their votes by doing favors or providing services. Controlled the activities of the political party throughout the city. Precinct captains, ward bosses, and the city boss worked together to elect their candidates and guarantee the success of the machine. Local precinct workers and captains Ward Bosses City Bosses

4 The Role of the Political Boss He controlled access to municipal jobs and business licenses. A municipal job is… County clerk Mailman Public works (township garbage collection, maintaining roads, etc.) A municipal job is NOT… Business owner Nurses College Professor Banker Cashier So…what is a municipal job?

5 The Role of the Political Boss Influenced the courts and other municipal agents. Used their power to build parks, sewer systems and waterworks. Gave money to schools, hospitals, and orphanages. Provided government support for new businesses (which they were often paid extremely well) Money, the opportunity to reinforce voters’ loyalty, win additional political support, and extend their influences was among the motivations for city bosses.

6 Immigrants and the Machine Many precinct captains and political bosses were first or second generation immigrants. Few were educated beyond grammar school. They could speak to immigrants in their own language and understood the challenges that newcomers faced and were able to provide solutions. The machines helped immigrants with naturalization (attaining full citizenship), housing, and jobs which were among the newcomers’ most pressing needs. In return, the immigrants provided what the political bosses needed  votes

7 Immigrants and the Machine Immigrants and the Political Machine Read “The Workings of a Political Machine” and answer the related questions.

8 Election Fraud and Graft When the loyalty was not enough to carry an election, some political machines turned to fraud. Use fake names to cast as many votes as were needed to win. Once a political machine got its candidates into office, it could take advantage of numerous opportunities for graft. Graft – the illegal use of political influence for personal gain For example, helping a person find work on a construction project for the city, a political machine could ask the worker to bill the city for more than the actual cost of materials and labor. The worker then “kicked back” a portion of the earnings to the machine. Kickbacks – illegal payments for their services

9 The Tweed Ring Scandal William M. Tweed – aka “Boss Tweed”, became head of Tammany Hall, New York City’s powerful Democratic political machine in 1868. Worked his way up through the city’s political machine (Tammany Hall) In 1861, Tweed had scarcely a dollar to his name, but by 1871, he had amassed a fortune in excess of $2.5 million – all built on influence peddling and kickbacks from the sale of city contracts and franchises.

10 The Tweed Ring Scandal Tweed led the Tweed Ring, a group of corrupt politicians, who collectively siphoned off anywhere from $40 million to $200 million in public funds. Example: The construction of the New York County Courthouse  The project cost taxpayers $13 million, while the actual cost was $3 million. The difference went into the pockets of Tweed and his followers.

11 IMAGINE… Cost to build Robbinsville High School: $15 million Robbinsville Taxpayers charged: $20 million $5 million – kept by city officials (mayor, etc.)

12 The Tweed Ring Scandal Tweed was convicted of fraud in 1873, but he fled to Spain. During his heyday, he had been ruthlessly caricatured by the great political cartoonist Thomas Nast. Tweed was indicted on 120 counts of fraud and extortion (illegal use of one’s official position to obtain property or funds) In 1876, Tweed was recognized through a Nast cartoon. As a result, Tweed was arrested and returned to New York, where he died after serving two years in prison.

13 Boss Tweed Thomas Nast


15 A Political Machine in Practice Pretend you are a city boss standing at the top of the pyramid of a political machine. You are going to try to be as corrupt as possible!! Below are your two main goals: 1.To remain in power by becoming reelected (you want to win the favor of many immigrants who don’t know much about what is going on but have many needs) 2. Pocket as much money as possible whether it comes from a person or government funds.

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