7.3 Gilded Age Politics All that glitters is … gold?
Political Machines • Large cities’ political machines ran like a business (…of corruption) • “bosses” made the big decisions • Their neighborhood captains would bribe people (especially immigrants) for their votes and support • Groceries, gifts (esp. alcohol) would be provided on election day
Political Machines • Political Machines weren’t all bad • All immigrants had to do was vote with the machine and they would get food, shelter, etc. • Some of the money they acquired would be used to fund parks, sewer systems, and other developments for cities
Thomas Nast • Political Cartoonist who built public anger towards big businessmen and corrupt politicians
Civil Service Reform • Traditionally, people gained govt. jobs by knowing the guy who was elected(patronage) • Q: What effect would that have on govt. workers? • Civil service reform suggested giving govt. jobs who scored the highest on a test • Let the best job-candidate win!
Civil Service Reform • Rutherford B Hayes (1877, Repub.) pushed civil service reform to clear out corruption • James A Garfield (1881, Repub) tried to balance those wanting reform with those wanting patronage • He was assassinated 3 months into office, his VP (Chester A. Arthur) became Pres.
Civil Service Reform • Arthur continued to push for reform, signed Congress’s Pendleton Civil Service Act in 1883 • To get a govt. job, you needed to score high on the Civil Service test.
Big Business & the Govt. • Remember, this is a time of big businesses and the govt. being very close • Businesses would fund political campaigns, politicians allowed business owners to do what they wanted • Businesses’ biggest concern was keeping tariffs (taxes on imports) high • High tariffs meant foreign goods would be expensive (so “Buy American!”)
Big Business & the Govt. • 1885 Grover Cleveland (Democ.) became president, wanted to lower the tariff • 1889 Benjamin Harrison (Repub.) beat Cleveland in a close election • Harrison agreed to raise tariffs even higher (McKinley Tariff Act) • 1892 Cleveland wins again! • 1896 ____________ wins and tariffs increase again.