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Gilded Age Politics in America

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Corruption extended to the highest levels of government. During Ulysses S. Grant's presidency, the president and his cabinet were implicated in the Credit Mobilier ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Gilded Age Politics in America


1
Gilded Age Politics
2
The "Politics of Equilibrium"
3
1. A Two-Party Stalemate
4
2. Intense Voter Loyalty to the Two
Major Political Parties
5
Gilded Age Politics
  • High Voter Participation Why?
  • (1) People believed that the issues were
    important
  • (2) People believed that their votes counted
  • (3) Politics Entertainment

6
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

7
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.

8
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
9
1880 Presidential Election Republicans
Half Breeds
Stalwarts
Sen. James G. Blaine Sen. Roscoe
Conkling (Maine)
(New York)
compromise
James A. Garfield Chester A. Arthur (VP)
10
1880 Presidential Election Democrats
11
1880 Presidential Election
12
1881 Garfield Assassinated!
Charles Guiteau I Am a Stalwart, and Arthur is
President now!
13
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.

14
Gilded Age Politics
  • The Underwood Tariff (1913)
  • Income Taxes (XVI Amendment 1913)
  • Currency
  • debtors vs. creditors

15
Gilded Age Politics
  • Legal TenderUS can require creditors to accept
    its paper money as payment for debt.
  • Greenbacks
  • 450,000,000

16
Republican Mugwumps
  • Reformers who wouldnt 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!

17
The Mugwumps
Men may come and men may go, but the work of
reform shall go on forever.
  • Will support Cleveland in the 1884 election.

18
1884 Presidential Election
Grover Cleveland James Blaine
(DEM) (REP)
19
A Dirty Campaign
Ma, Mawheres my pa? Hes going to the White
House, ha ha ha!
20
1884 Presidential Election
21
Clevelands 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!

22
The Tariff Issue
  • After the Civil War, Congress raised tariffs to
    protect new US industries.
  • Big business wanted to continue this consumers
    did not.
  • 1885 ? tariffs earned the US 100 mil.
    in surplus!
  • Mugwumps opposed it ? WHY???
  • President Clevelands view on tariffs????
  • Tariffs became a major issue in the
    1888 presidential election.

23
1888 Presidential Election
Grover Cleveland Benjamin Harrison
(DEM) (REP)
24
1888 Presidential Election
25
Changing Public Opinion
  • Americans wanted the federal govt. to deal with
    growing soc. eco. problems to curb the power
    of the trusts
  • 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 another 4!
  • Rep. Party suffered big losses in 1890
    (even McKinley lost his House seat!).

26
1892 Presidential Election
Grover Cleveland Benjamin Harrison again!
(DEM) (REP)
27
1892 Presidential Election
28
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.
  • Repealed the Sherman Silver Purchase Act.

29
The Vanderbilt Chateau
  • While the rich wore diamonds, many wore rags.
    In 1890, 11 million of the nation's 12 million
    families earned less than 1200 per year of this
    group, the average annual income was 380, well
    below the poverty line.

30
The Metropolitan Opera House
  • In New York, the opera, the theatre, and
    lavish parties consumed the ruling class' leisure
    hours. Mrs. Stuyvesant Fish once threw a dinner
    party to honor her dog who arrived sporting a
    15,000 diamond collar.

31
  • For immediate relief, the urban poor often
    turned to political machines. During the first
    years of the Gilded Age, Boss Tweed's Tammany
    Hall provided more services to the poor than any
    city government before it, although far more
    money went into Tweed's own pocket.

32
The Carnegie mansion
  • The frustrations of Gilded Age workers
    transformed the labor movement into a vigorous,
    if often violent, force. Workers saw men like
    Andrew Carnegie getting fabulously rich, and
    raged at being left behind.

Andrew Carnegie's private study
33
  • They saw John D. Rockefeller as one of the
    wealthy controlling the country

34
  • Corruption extended to the highest levels of
    government. During Ulysses S. Grant's presidency,
    the president and his cabinet were implicated in
    the Credit Mobilier, the Gold Conspiracy, the
    Whiskey Ring, and the notorious Salary Grab.

35
  • With their own labor the only available
    bargaining chip, workers frequently went on
    strike. The 1880's witnessed almost ten thousand
    strikes and lockouts close to 700,000 workers
    struck in 1886 alone.

36
  • The results were often explosive-none more than
    the Great Railroad Strike of 1877. When the BO
    Railroad cut wages, workers staged spontaneous
    strikes, which spread nationwide.

37
  • When George Pullman slashed wages and hiked
    rents in his company town, a national strike and
    boycott was called on all railways carrying
    Pullman cars. Railroad traffic ground to a halt
    as 260,000 workers struck, and battles with state
    and federal troops broke out in 26 states. The
    strike ultimately failed, its leaders imprisoned
    and many strikers blacklisted.

38
  • Meanwhile, the wealthy factory and business
    owners enjoyed their luxury cottages for the
    few weeks of summer in Newport

39
  • The workers lived in a little less luxurious
    circumstances.

40
  • The doctrine of Social Darwinism didnt
    increase the sympathy of people with wealth for
    the less fortunate.

41
  • Herbert Spencer coined the phrase survival
    of the fittest. To Spencer, human society
    should be modeled on nature. Humans should never
    interfere with the selection of the fittest
    humans for survival to the next generation.

42
New York Foundling Hospital, 18991900
  • Handouts to the poor, state schooling, and
    systematized health care were considered
    dangerous by Spencer, they could only help the
    weak survive, thereby damaging the purity of
    the rest of the human race.

43
Although Darwinists might disagree
  • Misconception Evolution supports the idea
    that might makes right and rationalizes the
    oppression of some people by others.
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