Gilded Age Politics Unit 6.4
Gilded Age Overview • Term coined by Mark Twain • Highlighted by weak Presidents and strong Legislative Branch. • Quickly name the best President between Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt. • Theme would be battle against Political Machines • Although it looked like the Republicans controlled politics, it was pretty even as Democrats controlled most cities and Southern states.
Gilded Age Coalitions • Republicans • 16 solid states • Blacks, Northern “Lincoln” Republicans, Middle class, “Old stock” • “Waving the bloody shirt” • Rallied coalition with Civil War loyalties for several decades. • Democrats • 14 solid states (mainly South) • White Southerners, Catholics, Immigrants • 5 undecided states (NY and OH being most important). Presidential popular vote average only 1.5% difference
Southern Politics – Post Reconstruction • Controlled by rich • Remember Bourbon Rule • Jim Crow Laws • Segregation by race • Upheld by Supreme Court case in 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson • “separate, but equal” doctrine • Black (and poor whites too) kept from vote by: • Literacy tests • Grandfather clauses • Poll taxes • Intimidation • Ida B. Well’s anti-lynching movement
Washington vs. DuBois • Booker T. Washington • Founded Tuskegee Institute • Mission to teach skills and economic self-help • Atlanta Compromise – later generations would considered it a sell-out to segregation • W.E.B. Du Bois • 1st African-American to received Doctorate from Harvard • Leader of northern black intellectuals • Niagara Movement (1905) – basis for NAACP, wanted equal rights
Political Machines in Urban Areas • Started as social clubs, but later became systems to coordinate the needs of immigrants, businesses, and underprivileged. Both parties had them. • They did help bring modern services to cities and help with newly arrived immigrants. Also got many involved in political process. • Problem was the corruption involved. Graft was common in many machines.
The most famous Political Machine • Tammany Hall – New York City’s Democratic Machine • William “Boss” Tweed – leader of it • Over half of all tax money in NYC ended up in his pockets or his cronies (or the rival Republican Machine Stalwarts led by Roscoe Conkling) • Finally brought down by political cartoons by Thomas Nast
Civil Service Reform • Patronage – giving jobs to loyal party members or friends • Goes back to the Spoils System with Jackson • Graft, scandals and other corruption with Grant’s administration • Credit Mobilier, Indian Ring, Whiskey Ring, and Navy Ring Scandals • Assassination of President Garfield made it a major issue and led to: • Pendleton Act (1883) –reformed the system for civil service jobs • Used merit system for jobs
Stalwarts, Half-breeds, and Mugwumps • Stalwarts and Half-breeds were rival Republican Machines • Stalwarts led by Roscoe Conkling (known for corruption) • Half-breeds led by James Blaine (more for reform, but still corrupt) • 1880 Election • Stalwarts back Arthur • Half-breeds back Garfield • After election Garfield assassinated – “I am a Stalwart and Arthur is President now.” • Mugwumps – In 1884, Republicans that were against Blaine and corruption of the Republican machine and voted for an “honest” Democrat in Grover Cleveland.
Money Issues • Farmers, debtors, and start-up businesses wanted more money in circulation, thus more inflation. • Greenback Party in 1870s received support • Bimetallism (dollar backed by gold and silver) pushed • 16 to 1 ratio pushed by some – 16 oz. of silver = 1 oz. of gold • Election of 1896 – Bryan’s Cross of Gold speech
Interstate Commerce Control • Granger case Wabash v. Illinoissaid states could not control interstate commerce. • Interstate Commerce Act of 1887 gave federal gov’t control and established the Interstate Commerce Commission. • Munn v. Illinois (1887) upheld gov’t regulations of businesses
Economic Downtowns • Panic of 1873 • RR over speculation, banking crisis • Panic of 1893 • RR bankruptcies, banking crisis • Worst recession in American History to that time (ended in 1898) • Coxey’s Army – unemployed marched on Washington D.C. wanting the government to create jobs (like stimulus package)
Other major issues of Gilded Age • Monopolies • Sherman Antitrust Act • 1890, opened path to more later on. • Tariff Issue • McKinley Tariff 1890 • Public did not like it, helps Dems take over in next election. • Tax system outdated (helps Populists)
Writers / Early Muckrakers • Henry George • “Haves and have nots” • Blamed social problems on wealthy • Jacob Riis • How the Other Half Lives • Pictures and descriptions of slum life • Edward Bellamy • Looking Backward 1888 • Gov’t needed to own industries (Communism?)
Presidents of the Gilded Age • Andrew Johnson (D) • 1865-1869 • Tenure of Office Act and Impeachment • Radical Reconstruction • Ulysses S. Grant (R) • 1869-1877 • Scandals • Panic of 1873
Presidents of the Gilded Age • Rutherford B. Hayes (R) • 1877-1881 • Ended Reconstruction (Comp. of 1877) • Wife – “Lemonade Lucy” • James Garfield (R) • 1881 • Assassination leads to Civil Service reform
Presidents of the Gilded Age • Chester Arthur (R) • 1881-1885 • Civil service reform led to Pendleton Act • Pushed to modernize the navy • Grover Cleveland (D) • 1885-1889, 1893-1897 • Only President to serve two non-consecutive terms as President • Mugwumps supported him
Presidents of the Gilded Age • Benjamin Harrison (R) • 1889-1893 • Split Cleveland’s terms • Signed Sherman Ant-trust Act and McKinley Tariff • William McKinley (R) • 1897-1901 • Spanish-American War • Teddy Roosevelt as VP in 1900 election • Assassinated in 1901
Impact of Gilded Age Politics • Reform began on Political Machines – would continue in the Progressive Era. • Tax/Tariff issues would lead to Income tax and other reforms in Progressive Era. • Sherman Anti-trust Act and Interstate Commerce Act would open door for more government regulation of businesses. • Populist/Peoples Party would force Republicans and Democrats to changed in the Progressive Era.
Reflection Questions • What was more untrue to democracy values – the Northern political machines or Southern Jim Crow governments? • How did the government try to lessen the influence of the wealthy in the Gilded Age and how successful were they? • What two Presidents of the Gilded Age had the biggest impact in changing history and why? • Why was the opportunity for success by a 3rd party so great during the Gilded Age?
Links • http://www.gilderlehrman.org/history-by-era/rise-industrial-america-1877-1900 -timeline • http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5354/ - Cross of Gold • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5Yrztwff1Q – Gilded Age Rap • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5Yrztwff1Q – start at 3:55 • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BHl2laL-Osk&feature=relmfu – HS lesson on Political Machines • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97ktQSzD7r8&feature=relmfu – Review video, money issue