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Politics in the Gilded Age


Politics in the Gilded Age Entrance Question: What will immigrants need as they begin to settle in the cities? The Emergence of Political Machines Political Machine ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Politics in the Gilded Age

Politics in the Gilded Age
Entrance Question What will immigrants need as
they begin to settle in the cities?
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.
Political Machines
Precinct captains, ward bosses, and the city boss
worked together to elect their candidates and
guarantee the success of the machine.
Controlled the activities of the political party
throughout the city.
City Bosses
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
Ward Bosses
Tried to gain voters support on a city block or
in a neighborhood and reported to a ward boss.
Local precinct workers and captains
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

Sowhat is a municipal job?
The Role of the Political Boss
  • Influenced the courts and other municipal
  • Used their power to build parks, sewer systems
    and waterworks.
  • Gave money to schools, hospitals, and
  • 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.

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
  • 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

Immigrants and the Machine
  • Immigrants and the Political Machine

Read The Workings of a Political Machine and
answer the related questions.
Election Fraud and Graft
  • When the loyalty was not enough to carry an
    election, some political machines turned to
  • 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

The Tweed Ring Scandal
  • William M. Tweed aka Boss Tweed, became head
    of Tammany Hall, New York Citys powerful
    Democratic political machine in 1868.
  • Worked his way up through the citys 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.

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.

Cost to build Robbinsville High School 15
Robbinsville Taxpayers charged 20 million
5 million kept by city officials (mayor, etc.)
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 ones 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.

Boss Tweed
Thomas Nast
(No Transcript)
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
  • To remain in power by becoming reelected (you
    want to win the favor of many immigrants who
    dont know much about what is going on but have
    many needs)
  • Pocket as much money as possible whether it
    comes from a person or government funds.
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