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Unit Two: Rise of Modern America


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Title: Unit Two: Rise of Modern America

Unit Two Rise of Modern America
  • Gilded age Politics

The Gilded Age
  • The Gilded Age was the time period between 1870
    and 1900 that developed Modern America.
  • The term Gilded Age was coined by Mark Twain in
    his book The Gilded Age A Tale of Today
    describing the epoch not as a golden age but
    rather gilded (covered in a thin layer of gold to
    hide the metal underneath).
  • The point Mark Twain was making was that society
    seemed to be better with the massive growth in
    the GNP and a raise in the general standard of
    living, but did not show the other negative
    factors involved with the growth.

The New Political Arena
  • After the Civil War national politics changed
    with a focus placed more on the northern states
    due to the rise in voters (immigrants), so
    between 1876 to 1908 the presidential and vice
    presidential candidates (native sons) came from
    these close states. (mostly Ohio, New York, and
  • The Republican North was controlled by the
    growing business class which supported tight
    money supply (gold), high tariffs, government aid
    to business, and limitation on immigration.
  • The Solid Democratic South developed after the
    end of Reconstruction when the Democratic
    Redeemers took back power, making the
    Republican party in the south basically useless.
  • Yellow Dog Democrats- I would vote for a yellow
    dog before I would vote Republican
  • In general the Democrats (poorer class, farmers,
    immigrants, laborers) supported increased money
    supply (silver), lower tariffs, inflation, and
    less government aid to business and more to the

How the System Works
  • During the Gilded Age government at all levels,
    Federal, State, and Local were seen as corrupt
    and controlled by a Plutocracy (wealthy elite)
    created by growth of the large corporations and
    the Political Party Bosses.
  • The Political Party was controlled by a
    non-elected person called a Political Boss from
    each region, state, or district.
  • A political boss ran an organization called a
    political machine (big city organization run by
    bosses who won elections by controlling poor and
    immigrant voters)

How the System Works
  • The political bosses gained the votes of the poor
    and immigrants by either scare tactics or social
    welfare programs.
  • Bosses would help them find housing, a job,
    money, food, and helped with troubles with the
  • To control the election the bosses would have
    people vote for their candidate (sometimes more
    than once), threaten voters, beat up competition,
    or control the election through the counting of
    the votes.

How the System Works
  • During this time politicians rose in America to
    power through the political party by a process of
    appointments called patronage also known as the
    Patronage system or Spoils System (government
    jobs given to political allies or close friends)
    usually from the Boss.
  • Political Bosses used elections to reward friends
    and line their own pockets.
  • The political bosses ran the large cities even to
    the police, fire departments, and other

How the System Works
  • Once the politician was elected he took his
    orders from the boss, all received and committed
    what was seen as corrupt actions. (politics for
  • Bribes taking money or gift to perform an
  • Graft- use of position for personal gain
  • Kickbacks money received from overinflated
    government contracts
  • Extortion- to coerce someone to give money,
    property, or services
  • Cronyism- giving friends government positions.
  • Embezzlement stealing money or property from
  • Nepotism- hiring family

How the System Works
  • The most recognized political machine was Tammany
    Hall located in New York City.
  • Tammany Hall had been run by many infamous bosses
    such as William Boss Tweed , Richard Croker,
    and George Honest Graft Plunkitt.
  • Other major political machines were Thomas and
    James Pendergast (Kansas City, Missouri), George
    B. Cox (Cincinnati, Ohio), Ed Crump (Memphis,
    Tenn.), and others.

Issues Within Politics
  • During the Gilded Age many issues arose due to
    America becoming a modern nation, such as
    immigration, political corruption, labor issues,
    racial issues, industrial issues, agricultural
    issues, and money questions.
  • At this time neither the Democrats nor
    Republicans wanted to make a huge stand on any of
    the major issues and became fence riders, so
    there was little difference seen between the two
    parties during this time.
  • The major issues that the two parties did try
    to attempt to appease the citizens were over the
    tariff, the national monetary policy, and civil
    service reform.

Gilded Age Politics
  • During the Gilded Age, national, state, and local
    politics were seen as pro-business and prone to
    corruption, the Election of 1876 is seen as the
    capstone of corruption.
  • The Election of 1876 is seen as the beginning of
    a new focus in politics off of the Civil War and
    Reconstruction to a new modern nation.
  • The Election of 1876 was primarily between
    Republican Rutherford B. Hayes and Democrat
    Samuel J. Tilden.
  • During the election other minor parties fielded
    candidates such as the Green Back Party (Peter
    Cooper), Prohibition Party (Green Clay Smith),
    and the American National Party (James B.
    Walker). (these third parties will also be around
    for the next four elections)

The Election of 1876
  • Tilden ran as a reform candidate against the
    corruption of the Grant administration, civil
    service reform, and an end to reconstruction.
    (Tilden had been responsible for the arrest of
    William Boss Tweed of NY)
  • In the South the Democrats used paramilitary
    groups such as the redshirts and white leagues to
    scare Republican voters, mostly blacks. (differed
    from KKK)
  • Hayes ran also as a reform candidate for civil
    service reform, an end to reconstruction, and
    used the bloody shirt tactic blaming the
    Democrats for the Civil War. (most people North
    and South were tired of Reconstruction)

Election of 1876
Compromise of 1877
  • When the votes were tallied Hayes received 165
    electoral votes to Tildens 184, but there was a
    discrepancy in the votes from Florida, South
    Carolina, Louisiana, and Oregon. (no
    Constitutional procedure to deal with it)
  • To settle the issue a special electoral
    commission was formed combining five House,
    Senate, and Supreme Court Members. (7 Dem./8 Rep)
  • A deal was finally reached by the Republicans and
    the Democrats at the Wormly Hotel giving Hayes
    the Presidency kwon as the Compromise of 1877.

The Election of 1876
  • Points of the compromise
  • The removal of all federal troops from the former
    Confederate States. (Troops remained in only
    Louisiana, South Carolina, and Florida, but the
    Compromise finalized the process.) Ended
  • The appointment of at least one Southern Democrat
    to Hayes's cabinet. (David M. Key of Tennessee
    became Postmaster General.)
  • The construction of another transcontinental
    railroad using the Texas and Pacific in the South
    (this had been part of the "Scott Plan," proposed
    by Thomas A. Scott, which initiated the process
    that led to the final compromise).
  • Legislation to help industrialize the South and
    get them back on their feet after the terrible
    loss during the Civil War. (New South)
  • When Hayes took office his administration was in
    constant question because he did not have a
    mandate from the people by not being truly

The Tariff
  • The tariff (tax on imports) became a major issue
    during the gilded age because of the massive
    influence large corporations had on the Federal
  • The large corporations wanted higher and higher
    protective tariffs to keep foreign imports from
    being able to compete with domestic products.
  • The high tariffs though helpful for the
    industrial sector, hurt the agricultural sector
    leading many
    farmers to support lower tariffs
    or free trade.
  • Republicans- High
  • Democrats- Low

The Money Problem
  • The Monetary policy of the U.S. at this time was
    based on specie (gold and silver), Hard money
    (gold and silver certificate that could be traded
    for its equal amount in specie), and greenbacks
    (paper money which value is set by the government
    and backed by it).
  • The issue was if less money was in circulation it
    would cause deflation (prices fall- value of
    money increases) supporting the industrial
    sector if more money was in circulation it would
    cause inflation (prices rise- value of money
    decreases) supporting the agricultural sector.
  • During the Gilded Age the national government
    slowly tried to phase out greenbacks retiring
    the greenbacks, thus reducing the money supply
    until 1879 when to appease the farming factions
    made greenbacks convertible into gold.
  • In the late 1800s the new argument was between
    Gold bugs (supporters of Gold), Silverites
    (supporters of silver), and Green backers
    (supporters of greenbacks). Many people supported
    a bimetallic standard based on gold and silver,
    this became mostly an argument between
    industrialist and bankers versus farmers.

Money Problems
William Jennings Bryan
Cross of Gold Speech
Civil Service Reform
  • One of the biggest issues that developed during
    the Gilded Age was the move toward Civil Service
    Reform, due to the increase in government
    bureaucrats (non-elected workers).
  • Many people called for an end to patronage
    (awarding government jobs to political or
    personal supporters) for a move toward a merit
    system (government appointments and promotions
    based on ability, not political connections) .
  • The reasons for civil service reform were so that
    better qualified people were hired, give more
    stability, and end political corruption. (first
    true move toward reform was the Pendleton Act)

Civil Service Reform
The Issues on the National Stage
  • At the National level Gilded Age politics was
    between the Presidencies of Rutherford B. Hayes
    and Grover Cleveland (2nd term).
  • The Gilded Age administrations were characterized
    as laissez- faire (hands off- government plays
    a limited role in citizens and business life),
    but government did pass legislation in many cases
    in favor of big business and for the wealthy.
  • The issues of the Tariff, Civil Service Reform,
    and Monetary Issues directed the Presidential
    Campaigns up to William McKinley, who was
    considered the change from laissez-faire polices
    to social reforms.

Gilded Age Presidents
The Issues on the National Stage
  • Hayes started his presidency for a drive to
    reform civil service, with removing the patronage
    from Presidential appointments. (he made the most
    influential Boss in America Roscoe Conkling
    (NY) angry, removing Chester A. Arthur from the
    NY Customs House)
  • Hayes actions split the Republican party into the
    Stalwarts (supporters of patronage and disagreed
    with the end of Reconstruction) and the
    Half-Breeds (supporters of civil service reform).
  • In 1878 legislation called the Bland-Allison Act
    was presented to support farmers by coining more
    silver, increasing money supply, and cause
  • Hayes vetoed this act, but was overrode by
    Congress. (Hayes limited its effect through the
    Treasury Department)

The Issues on the National Stage
  • In the Election of 1880, the Republican party was
    divided into three groups Stalwarts (Roscoe
    Conkling), Half-Breeds (James G. Blaine), and
    GooGoos/ Mugwumps (Republicans who voted
  • In the Election to balance the ticket Republicans
    chose (P) James A. Garfield (HB) and (Vp) Chester
    A. Arthur (S) to run against democrat General
    Winfield Scott Hancock.
  • Garfield won the election and began to push for
    civil service reform, but his presidency was cut
    short on July 2, 1881 at the Washington D.C.
    Railway station he was assassinated by Charles
    Guiteau saying, I am a Stalwart and Arthur is
    now President. (Garfield lasted three months)

Assassination of Garfield
Charles Guiteau
The Issues on the National Stage
  • After Garfields death Chester A. Arthur became
    president, following the national cry for civil
    service reform supporting the Pendleton Act of
  • The Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act setup a
    three panel civil service commission to classify
    government jobs and test applicants, also
    dropping the party affiliation qualification.
  • Others issues during Arthurs term were opening
    trade with Latin America, immigration
    restrictions, Indian wars, and civil rights
    issues for the black community (only focused on
  • Arthur due to health issues and also lack of
    support within his party chose not try to get
    elected on his own.

The Issues on the National Stage
  • The Election of 1884 was between Democrat Grover
    Cleveland Veto Governor and Republican James G.
    Blaine Plumb Knight. (Both candidates tried to
    be seen as above and against political
  • Both parties practiced mudslinging techniques
    Blaine accused of corruption with Credit Moblier
    Scandal and Cleveland with an illegitimate child.
    (Ma, Ma Wheres My Pa)
  • The Republicans lost for three main reasons a
    speech by Dr. Samuel Burchards three Rs Speech,
    Clevelands Tell the Truth campaign, and
    Mugwumps voted for Cleveland. (Blaine also lost
    anti-liquor vote too)
  • Cleveland became the first (D) President since
    before the Civil War (1856).

Election of 1884
The Issues on the National Stage
  • The main issues during Clevelands Administration
    were Railroad regulation, Union Strikes, Tariff,
    Pensions, Immigrant Restriction, Civil Rights,
    and Pensions.
  • The Grand Army of the Republic (group of civil
    war veterans) wanted to receive pensions
    (retirement payment) for service, Cleveland
    vetoed all legislation for it. (he believed in
    the limited role of gov.)
  • The regulation of Railroads started with states
    which led to the Supreme Court case of Wabash vs.
    Illinois, to counter act the courts ruling
    Cleveland signed the Interstate Commerce Act
  • Cleveland also pushed for a lower tariff.

The Issues on the National Stage
  • The Election of 1888, Cleveland was nominated for
    a second term against Republican Benjamin
    Harrison. (main difference Tariff Higher or
  • Cleveland won the popular vote, but lost the
    electoral college to Harrison due to his backing
    by the wealthy. (Harrison won using the Front
    Porch Campaign)
  • Harrison was also backed by a (R) Congress so
    much legislation was passed during his term
    McKinley Tariff, pension laws, and Sherman
    Anti-trust Act (regulate monopolies).

The Issues on the National Stage
  • In Election of 1892 Harrison ran again against
    Grover Cleveland, the difference in this election
    was the growth of a third party candidate James
    B. Weaver with the Populist Party
  • Cleveland second term (only to serve
    non-consecutive terms) was hit by the Panic of
    1893 which caused many people to question
    governments role in economy.
  • A group of unemployed workers led by marched on
    Washington D.C., the protest fell apart Jacob S.
    Coxey called Coxeys Army after Coxeys arrest.
    (drew national attention and sympathy for people
    affected by the depression and against Cleveland)

The Issues on the National Stage
  • Cleveland angered the Populist movement by
    repealing the Sherman Silver Purchase Act.
  • Cleveland also angered the union movement by
    supporting business owners against unionism and
    protests with his actions toward the Pullman
  • Clevelands second term is seen as the transition
    away from the laissez-fare policies of the Gilded
    Age and the Election of 1896 will be the first
    move toward national intervention on behalf of
    the people.
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