Politics in the Gilded Age

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Politics in the Gilded Age. The “Politics of Equilibrium". 1. A Two-Party Stalemate. Two-Party “Balance”. 2. Intense Voter Loyalty to the Two Major Political Parties. 3. Well-Defined Voting Blocs. Democratic Bloc. Republican Bloc. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

Transcript of Politics in the Gilded Age

Gilded Age Politics in America

Politicsin theGilded AgeThe Politics ofEquilibrium"1. A Two-Party Stalemate

Two-Party Balance

2. Intense Voter Loyalty to theTwo MajorPolitical Parties

3. Well-Defined Voting BlocsDemocraticBlocRepublicanBlocWhite southerners(preservation ofwhite supremacy)CatholicsRecent immigrants(esp. Jews)Urban working poor (pro-labor)Most farmersNorthern whites(pro-business)African AmericansNorthern ProtestantsOld WASPs (supportfor anti-immigrant laws)Most of the middleclass4. Very Laissez Faire Federal Govt.From 1870-1900 Govt. did verylittle 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.5. The Presidency as a Symbolic OfficeParty bosses ruled.Presidents should avoid offending anyfactions within theirown party.The President justdoled out federal jobs. 1865 53,000 people worked for the federal govt. 1890 166,000

Senator Roscoe Conkling1880 Presidential Election: Republicans

Half BreedsStalwartsSen. James G. Blaine Sen. Roscoe Conkling (Maine) (New York)James A. Garfield Chester A. Arthur (VP)

compromise Half-BreedsFavored civil service reform & merit systemStalwartsFavored political machines & spoils system patronage91880 Presidential Election: Democrats

10Inspecting the Democratic Curiosity Shop

1880 Presidential Election

1881: Garfield Assassinated!

Charles Guiteau:I Am a Stalwart, and Arthur is President now!Chester A. Arthur:The Fox in the Chicken Coop?

Pendleton Act (1883)Civil Service Act.Selection of govt employees by competitive examIllegal to fire/demote employee for political reasons1883 14,000 out of117,000 federal govt.jobs became civilservice exam positions.1900 100,000 out of 200,000 civil service federal govt. jobs.

Republican MugwumpsReformers who wouldnt re-nominateChester 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!1884 Presidential Election

Grover Cleveland James Blaine * (DEM) (REP)

A Dirty Campaign

Ma, Mawheres my pa?Hes going to the White House, ha ha ha!Little Lost Mugwump

Blaine in 1884Blaine as Little Bo Peeptries to woo the misbehaving mugwump reformers back into the Republican fold19Rum, Romanism & Rebellion!Led a delegation of ministers to Blaine inNYC.Reference to the Democratic Party.Blaine was slow torepudiate the remark.Narrow victory forCleveland [he wins NYby only 1149 votes!].

Dr. Samuel BurchardInsult made against Irish-Americans by Republican clergy in 1884 electionBlaines failure to repudiate statement lost him NY and contributed to Clevelands victory.201884 Presidential Election

Clevelands First TermThe 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 aswell as the rich.Vetoed over 200 special pension billsfor Civil War veterans!The Tariff IssueAfter the Civil War, Congress raisedtariffs to protect new US industries.Revenue paid Civil War debts & union soldiers pensionsBig business wanted to continue this;consumers did not.1885 tariffs earned the US $100 mil. in surplus!President Clevelands view on tariffs????Tariffs became a major issue in the 1888presidential election.Filing the Rough Edges

Tariff of 1888Cleveland called for tariff reformTariff attacked as a tax on consumers by powerful industriesHigh tariffs impeded expansion of American markets241888 Presidential Election

Grover Cleveland Benjamin Harrison (DEM) * (REP)Coming Out for Harrison

1888 Presidential Election

Disposing the Surplus

Surplus depleated through pork barrel programs designed to bring federal $ to Congressmens constituentsPork barrel spending = appropriationof government spending for localized projects secured solely or primarily to bring money to a representative'sdistrict28Changing Public OpinionAmericans wanted the federal govt. to dealwith growing social & economic problems & to curb the power of the trusts:Interstate Commerce Act 1887Sherman Antitrust Act 1890McKinley Tariff 1890Based on the theory that prosperityflowed directly from protectionism.Increased already high rates another 4% to 48.4%!Rep. Party suffered big losses in 1890 (evenMcKinley lost his House seat!).Interstate Commerce ActForbid price discrimination Required railraods publish rates & file them with the govtOutlawed charging more for short haul than a long haul over the same lineEst. govt right to oversee the RR (Interstate Commerce Commission)Sherman Anti-Trust ActBanned formation of pools and trusts that would restrict tradeMark govt slow movement away from laissez faire 291892 Presidential Election

Grover Cleveland Benjamin Harrison again! * (DEM) (REP)1892 Presidential Election

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 1894Pullman strike.Refused to sign the Wilson-GormanTariff of 1894.Repealed the Sherman Silver Purchase Act.Wilson-Gorman TariffReduced Tariff to 41.3%Sought to create a graduated income taxEventually ruled unconstitutionalSherman Silver Purchase Act (1890)Treasury authorized to buy 4.5 million ounces of silver monthlyPaid miners in notes redeemable in gold/silver

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