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National Politics in the Gilded Age 1877

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National Politics in the Gilded Age 1877 Powered By Docstoc
					                                National Politics in the Gilded Age 1877-1900
I.)    Introduction
       a. After the election of Rutherford B. Hayes and the Compromise of 1877, however, the national
              gov’t settled into an era of stalemate and comparative inactivity. Americans shifted their attention
              away from national politics to economic change, the development in the West, industrialization and
              the labor movement, and the growth of cities.
II.)   Politics in the Gilded Age – The expression “Gilded Age” was first used by Mark Twain in 1873 as a
       title to a book. It referred to the superficial glitter of the new wealth in the 19th c. The politics of the era
       were mostly show with little substance. Era of “forgettable presidents” such as Rutherford B. Hayes,
       James Garfield, Chester A. Arthur, Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison, Grover Cleveland, William
       McKinley.
       a. Causes of Stalemate
                     i. The prevailing political ideology of the time (Lassiez-Faire)
                              1. Belief in limited government the idea of “do-little” gov’t, lassiez-faire (hands
                                   off), Social Darwinism. The federal courts narrowly interpreted gov’t powers to
                                   regulate business and limited the impact of the few regulatory laws that
                                   Congress did pass.
                    ii. Campaign tactics of the two parties
                              1. The closeness of elections between 1876-1892 was one reason that Republicans
                                   and Democrats alike avoided taking strong positions on the issues.
                              2. Close elections evenly divided gov’t in Washington (1/2 Dem. 1/2 Rep.). This
                                   situation made the objective of parties to get out the vote and not alienate voters
                                   on the issues.
                              3. Campaigns of the time were characterized by brass bands, flags, campaign
                                   buttons, picnics, free beer, and crowd-pleasing oratory. The irony is that the
                                   issue free elections brought out 80% of eligible voters. The high turnout was a
                                   function of strong party identification and loyalty, often connected with voters’
                                   regional, religious, and ethnic ties.
                              4. Republicans kept memories of the Civil War alive by waving the “bloody shirt”
                                   this won Union veteran votes, African American votes. They also supported
                                   high protective tariffs which won votes from men in business and middle-class.
                              5. Democrats got all the Southern votes also big city political machines and
                                   immigrants. Democrats were often Catholics, Lutherans, and Jews who
                                   objected to temperance and prohibition crusades. They supported states rights
                                   and limited powers of the federal gov’t.
                   iii. Party Patronage
                              1. Since neither party had an active legislative agenda politics in this era was
                                   chiefly a game of gaining office, holding office, and providing gov’t jobs to the
                                   party faithful.
                                         a. Ex. In New York for example Rep. Senator Roscoe Conkling became
                                              a powerful leader of his party by dictating who in the Rep. ranks
                                              would be appointed to lucrative jobs in the New York Customs
                                              House. Conkling and his supporters were known as the Stalwarts,
                                              while their rivals for patronage were the Halfbreeds led by James G.
                                              Blaine. Who got the patronage jobs within the party were more
                                              important than the issues. Rep. who did not play the game were
                                              known as Mugwumps for sitting on the fence their “Mugs” on one
                                              side of the fence their “Wumps” on the other (Ha Ha Ha).
                                         b. Historians consider this era the low point in American politics.
       b. Presidential Politics
                     i. Rutherford B. Hayes
                              1. Winner of disputed election in 1876.
                              2. Compromise of 1877
                              3. Temperance Reformers Hayes and his wife “Lemonade Lucy” cut off the flow
                                   of liquor in the White House.
                              4. Hayes vetoed efforts to restrict Chinese immigration.
                    ii. James Garfield
                              1. Appointed 100,000 of Halfbreeds for most offices which upset the Stalwarts.
                                         a. While the president was preparing to board a train for summer
                                              vacation in 1881 a Stalwart who was upset that he did not get a job
                                              shot the president in the back. After 11 weeks of struggle he died.
                   iii. Chester A. Arthur



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                     1. Better president than expected.
                     2. Distanced himself from the Stalwarts
                     3. Supported a bill reforming the Civil Service
                     4. Approved the development of a modern American Navy
                     5. Questioned the High Protective Tariff
                     6. He was denied renomination by the Republican Party in 1884.
c.   Congressional Leaders
            i. John Sherman brother of the famous Civil War General was in Congress from 1855 to
               1898 but did little other than allow his name to be attached to a number of bills including
               the Sherman Anti-trust Act of 1890.
           ii. Thomas “Czar” Reed Speaker of the House 1890 instituted an autocratic rule of the
               House that took years to break.
          iii. James G. Blaine tried to reshape the Republicans from an antislavery party into a well
               organized business oriented party but his reputation as the Plumed Knight was tarnished
               by evidence of his connection with Railroad scandals and other corrupt dealings.
d.   The Election of 1884
            i. Rep. – Blaine but suspicions about Blaine’s honesty were enough for reform minded
               Mugwumps to switch allegiance and campaign for the Democratic nominee Grover
               Cleveland.
           ii. Dem. – Grover Cleveland unlike most Gilded Age politicians Cleveland was honest,
               frugal, conscientious, and uncompromising. But Rep. found dirt his illegitimate child.
          iii. Dirty Election Campaign Dem. Labeled the party of “Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion”
               Catholic voters were offended by the phrase and their votes in key states like NY may
               have been enough to ensure Cleveland’s victory as the first Dem. To be elected since
               Buchanan in 1856.
e.   Cleveland’s First Term
            i. Frugal and Limited gov’t like Jefferson
           ii. New Civil Service System
          iii. Private Pension Bills for those falsely claiming to have served or been injured in the CW.
          iv. Interstate Commerce Act of 1887
           v. Dawes Act
          vi. Retrieved some 81 million acres of gov’t land from cattle ranchers and railroads.
f.   Issues: Civil Service, Currency, and Tariffs
            i. Civil Service Reform
                     1. The Pendleton Act of 1881 set up the Civil Service Commission and created a
                          system by which applicants for federal jobs would be selected by scores on
                          exams.
           ii. Currency
                     1. Debtors, farmers, and start-up businesses wanted more money in circulation
                          “soft-money” or money not backed by gold. This would allow them to:
                               a. Borrow money at lower interest rates
                               b. Pay off loans
                               c. Wanted more paper money (greenbacks) or unlimited minting of
                                    silver coins.
                     2. Bankers, Creditors, Investors, and established businesses stood firm for “hard-
                          money” money backed by gold.
                               a. Would hold value against inflation
                               b. In fact as predicted the dollar did increase in value as much as 300%
                                    between 1865 and 1895.
                     3. Greenback Party
                               a. Paper money not backed by specie (gold or silver) had been issued by
                                    the federal gov’t in the 1860’s as a way of paying for the CW.
                               b. Northern Farmers associated the greenback with prosperity.
                               c. Creditors and investors attacked the use of paper money as a
                                    violation of natural economic law.
                               d. Congress in 1875 passed the Specie Resumption Act which withdrew
                                    the last of the greenbacks from circulation.
                               e. Supporters of paper money formed a new political party The
                                    Greenback Party.
                               f. Congressional Elections 1878 Greenback candidates received nearly
                                    1 million votes and 14 members were elected to Congress included
                                    James B. Weaver.



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                                     g.    When the hard times of the 1870s ended The Greenback party died
                                           out but the goal of increasing the amount of money in circulation did
                                           not.
                          4. Demands for Silver Money
                                     a. Congress in 1870s also stopped the coining of sliver known as the
                                           Crime of 1873.
                                     b. Silver discoveries in Nevada revived demands for use of silver to
                                           expand money supply.
                                     c. The Bland Allison Act was passed over Hayes’ veto in 1878 it
                                           allowed only a limited coinage of between $2 to $4 million in silver
                                           each month at the standard silver to gold ration of 16 to 1.
                                     d. Not satisfied farmers, debtors, and miners continued to press for
                                           unlimited coinage of silver.
                          5. Tariff Issue
                                     a. During the CW congress had enacted a high tariff to protect U.S.
                                           industry and fund the Union gov’t.
                                     b. After the war Dem. Objected to the high tariffs because these caused
                                           retaliatory tariffs on U.S. farm products.
                                     c. American farmers lost a share of the overseas market creating
                                           surpluses of corn and wheat and resulting in lower farm prices and
                                           profits.
                                     d. From the farmers point of view industry seemed to be growing rich at
                                           the expense of rural America.
III.)   The Growth of Discontent 1888-1896
        a. Harrison and the Billion-Dollar Congress
                 i. Election of 1888
                          1. Dem. – Cleveland and a lower tariff
                          2. Rep. – Benjamin Harrison and high tariff.
                          3. Rep. argued that a lower tariff would wreck business prosperity. Played upon
                               this fear to raise campaign funds from big business and to rally workers in the
                               North whose jobs depended on the success of U.S. industry. They attacked
                               Cleveland’s vetoes of pension bills to bring out the veteran vote.
                          4. Close election Cleveland popular votes Harrison sweep the North and gained
                               Rep. ticket a majority of votes in the electoral college.
                ii. Billion-dollar Congress
                          1. Rep. Controlled both houses of Congress and the Presidency. Congress passed
                               the first billion-dollar budget in U.S. History.
                                     a. McKinley Tariff of 1890 – raised tariffs 48%
                                     b. Increases in the Monthly Pensions to Civil War Veterans
                                     c. The Sherman Antitrust Act 1890 – Can be the only one making
                                           something just not the only one selling something.
                                     d. The Sherman Silver Purchase Act 1890 – increased the coinage of
                                           silver but in amounts too small to satisfy farmers and miners.
                                     e. Bill to protect the voting rights of African Americans passed by the
                                           House but defeated in the Senate.
                          2. Return of the Democrats – 1890 voters in the Midwest replaced Rep. with
                               Dem. Partly in reaction to the Rep. Prohibition of alcohol and Sunday closing
                               laws.
        b. Rise of the Populists – The People’s Party
                 i. Omaha Platform
                          1. Direct Popular Election of Senators
                          2. Initiatives and Referendums
                          3. Unlimited coinage of silver
                          4. Graduated Income Tax
                          5. Public Ownership of Railroads by U.S. gov’t
                          6. Telegraph and Telephone systems owned by gov’t
                          7. Loans and Federal warehouses for farmers
                          8. 8 hour work day for industrial workers
                                     a. At the time the Populist movement was revolutionary because it
                                           united farmers and laborers and poor whites and poor blacks. It also
                                           attacked Laissez Faire gov’t.
                ii. Election of 1892



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                           1.   Populists – James Weaver won more than 1 million votes and was also one of
                                the few 3rd party candidates in U.S. history to win electoral votes (22).
                           2.   Rep. – Harrison
                           3.   Dem. – Cleveland
                           4.   Cleveland wins first and only former president to return to the White House
                                after having left it.
       c.  Depression Politics
                  i. Panic of 1893
                            1. over speculation
                            2. stock market crash
                            3. dozens of railroads went bankrupt.
                            4. Continued for 4 years
                            5. Farms foreclosed upon
                            6. Unemployment 20%
                            7. Soup Kitchens riding the rails as hoboes
                            8. Cleveland stood by his hands off approach to the economy so he was seen as
                                  not responding to the crisis.
       d.    Gold Reserve and Tariff
                  i. Decline in silver prices encouraged investors to trade their silver dollars for gold dollars.
                 ii. The gold reserve fell to a dangerously low level and Cleveland saw no alternative but to
                      repeal the Sherman Silver Purchase Act of 1890. This did not help.
                iii. Cleveland then turned to Wall Street Banker J. P. Morgan to borrow $65 million in gold
                      to support the U.S. dollar and the gold standard. This convinced Americans that gov’t
                      was under control of businesses.
                iv. Pullman Strike of 1894 further alienated workers from Cleveland
                 v. Congress Passed Wilson-Gorman Tariff in 1894
                            1. Provided a moderated reduction in tariff rates
                            2. Included a 2% income tax on incomes of more than $2,000 a year average
                                  American income at this time was less than $1,000 a year.
                            3. Within the year the Supreme Court declared income taxes unconstitutional.
       e. Jobless on the March
                  i. Coxey’s Army – led a march on Washington in 1894 thousands of unemployed led by
                      populist Jacob A. Coxey. Demanded federal gov’t spend $500 million on public works
                      programs to create job. Arrested for trespassing and the dejected army then left for home.
                 ii. 1894 book by William H. Harvey Coin’s Financial School taught millions of Americans
                      that their troubles were caused by a conspiracy of rich bankers and their prosperity would
                      return if only the gov’t coined silver in unlimited quantities.
IV.)   Turning Point in American Politics: 1896
       a. The Election of 1896
                  i. Bryan, Democrats, and Populists
                            1. Dem. Were divided in 1896 between “gold” democrats loyal to Cleveland and
                                  pro silver Dem. Looking for a leader.
                            2. Their national convention in Chicago in summer 1896 was dominated by the
                                  prosilver forces.
                            3. Addressing the convention William Jennings Bryan delivered “Cross of Gold”
                                  speech he said “We will answer their demands for a gold standard by saying to
                                  them You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns you
                                  shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold.” This speech made him the
                                  Dem. Candidate for President he was only 36.
                            4. Populists gave their support to Bryan.
                            5. “Gold” Dem. Formed a separate National Democratic Party or voted
                                  Republican.
                 ii. McKinely, Hanna, and Republicans
                            1. Rep. William McKinley supports High Protective Tariff
                            2. Marcus Hanna is the financial power behind Mckinley’s nomination.
                            3. Rep. blamed the Dem. For Panic of 1893
                            4. Rep. offered a strong and prosperous industrial nation
                            5. High Tariff, Gold Standard, No Silver
                iii. Campaign
                            1. Bryan traveled all over country giving speeches.
                            2. McKinely allowed Mark Hanna to do most of the campaigning through the
                                  media newspapers and magazines.



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                   3.    Bryan was hurt by
                               a. A rise in wheat prices which made the farmers less desperate
                               b. Employers telling their workers that factories would shut down if
                                     Bryan was elected.
                    4. McKinely Wins
b.   McKinley’s Presidency
           i. Economy began to improve
          ii. Gold discovered in Alaska in 1897
         iii. Farm Prices rose
         iv. Factory Production increased
          v. Stock market rose
         vi. Dingley Tariff of 1897 – Higher Tariff and made gold the official standard.
c.   Significance of the Election of 1896
           i. End of the Populists Party
          ii. Urban Dominance
         iii. Beginning of Modern Politics – McKinley helped make U.S. a major player in
               international affairs. Mark Hanna created a model for organizing and financing a
               successful campaign focused on winning favorable publicity in the media.




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