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Corruption and Politics in the Gilded Age


Corruption and Politics in the Gilded Age The Politicians of the Gilded Age Compared to Abraham Lincoln Presidents of the Gilded Age (1877-1893) seemed especially ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Corruption and Politics in the Gilded Age

Corruption and Politics in the Gilded Age
The Politicians of the Gilded Age
  • Compared to Abraham Lincoln Presidents of the
    Gilded Age (1877-1893) seemed especially weak,
    both in gaining the presidency and in their
    actions as president.
  • One Exception Grover Cleveland, who maintained a
    reputation for integrity through two terms
    (1885-1889 1893-1897)

Corruption in Gilded Age Politics
  • This time was possibly the most corrupt period in
    American politics.
  • Spoils system awarding government jobs to loyal
    party workers, no matter qualified (or
    unqualified) they were
  • President Grants Administration was especially
    well known for corruption during his tenure as
    President (Remember Grantism?)

Credit Mobilier
  • The Credit Mobilier was a French construction
    company that had helped build the Union Pacific
    RR. The heads of the company were also stock
    holders of Union Pacific stock, and steered
    large, fraudulent contracts to their company.
    They ended up stealing a lot of money from Union
    Pacific and the government who helped fund the
    building of the RR. To make sure they didn't get
    caught, they transferred some of their stock to
    big-wig congress members. In 1872, congress went
    to investigate and found that Schuyler Colfax,
    Grant's VP had accepted stock from the deal. It
    made the Republican party look super corrupt.
    Whether Grant knew of this, who knows.
  • .

Whiskey Ring
  • The Whiskey Ring of 1875, exposed by Secretary of
    the Treasury Benjamin H. Bristow, involved
    diversion of tax revenues in a conspiracy among
    government agents, politicians, whiskey
    distillers, and distributors. Over 3 million in
    taxes were stolen from the federal government
    with the aid of high government officials.
    Orville E. Babcock, the private secretary to the
    President, was indicted as a member of the ring
    but escaped conviction because of a presidential

The Belknap Scandal Indian Bureau Contracts
  • Grants secretary of war, William Belknap, was
    caught taking bribes to sell lucrative Native
    trading posts in Oklahoma to his hig. Grant let
    him resign and get away with the crimes.

Political Machine
  • An unofficial organization that worked to keep
    one politician or political party in power.
  • Ex. Tammany Hall/the Tweed Ring kept William
    Tweed in power in New York.
  • Most large cities were run by political machines
    at the turn of the century.

How the Political Machine Worked
  • The machine decided who got hired for what jobs
    within the city and who got contracts for stuff
    like roadwork.
  • In return the machine (and its leaders) got paid
    with kickbacks (bribes)
  • This form of corruption is called Graft
  • Political Machines were kept in power by ward
    bosses who served the concerns of the poor urban
    citizens and would then tell them who to vote

How a Political Machine Worked .
  • The most infamous example of machine politics was
    Tammany Hall, headquarters of the Democratic
    Party in New York City. Headed by William Marcy
    Tweed, the Tammany Hall political machine of the
    late 1860s and early 1870s used graft, bribery,
    and rigged elections to bilk the city of over
    200 million. Some of this money went to create
    public jobs that helped people and supported the
    local economy. Some went into constructing public
    buildings at hugely inflated expense, thus lining
    the pockets of building contractors and suppliers
    of materials. But contractors and suppliers, and
    anyone else doing business in the city, had to
    give kickbacks to the bosses in order to stay in
    business. Many machine bosses, including Boss
    Tweed, amassed fortunes as a result of kickbacks
    and bribes.

The Tweed Ring
  • In New York
  • Gave 50,000 to the poor
  • 2 million for schools orphanages and hospitals
  • Ran the citys debt up to 70 million with its
    graft and illegal practices.

Thomas Nast
  • His political Cartoons helped to bring down Boss
    Tweed and his ring.
  • Created the Democratic Donkey and Republican
  • Also created the Modern Santa Claus

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  • Draw me a political Cartoon and then explain it.
    You may use either a current issue or an issue
    from the time period that we have been studying.
  • In your explanation include the issue and how you
    represented the issue in pictures.