Gilded Age Politics Chapter 23
Essential Question? In what ways did the politics of the Gilded Era reflect the laissez-faire attitude of the federal government? What events brought about the end of Reconstruction?
1868 Election • Democrats nominate Horatio Seymour • Platform: End military reconstruction, circulate more money • Republicans nominate General Ulysses Grant • “Waved the bloody shirt”: ignited feelings of resent against Democrats for Civil War • 3 southern states not allowed to vote • Grant wins 214 to 80, largely thanks to vote from freedmen
President Grant’s Timeline • 1869: Wyoming grant’s women suffrage • 1870: 15th Amendment • 1871: Tweed scandal in NY • 1872: Credit Mobilier Scandal • Reelected 1873: Panic of 1873 1875: Whiskey Ring scandal 1876: Bell invents telephone 1877: Compromise of 1877
President Ulysses Grant Serves 2 terms Not very political or culturally intelligent Rode success of military strategy in Civil War into White House Very much a hands off president, will lead to corruption in cabinet and Congress Personal friend of Mark Twain Smoking and drinking will lead him to an early death
Corruption Abounds Two entrepreneurs nearly succeed in monopolizing the gold market Grant is involved, but Congress doesn't impeach, only call his actions “stupid”
Political Machines Political machines are organizations that use corruption and intimidation to secure power. Most common in cities and states. Most infamous: Tammany Hall in NYC, led by Boss Tweed Tweed bilked $200 million out of NY tax payers When someone questioned his tactics, their taxes increased Tweed was finally brought down by Thomas Nast, a cartoonist who bravely stood up to Tweed threats
Credit Mobilier Scandal Railroad company that inflated their prices. Federal government agrees to pay high prices because Congress was being bribed. Vice President also accepted bribes. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-HRacLgdPJs
Whiskey Ring Scandal Members of Grant’s own cabinet created a scheme to steal revenue from the whiskey tax. Grant promised the public that he would “punish all”, in reality he aided them in their defense and exoneration. Other scandals polluted the reputation of Grant.
1872 Election • Republicans re-nominate Grant • Liberal Republicans call for changes • Amnesty to former Confederates • Reduction of tariffs • Democrats nominate Horace Greeley, a long time Republican journalist Lots of mud-slinging and name calling Grant easily wins: 286 to 66 Liberal Republicans fade away, but Congress completes their two goals.
Panic of 1873 • Railroad and factory production was moving too fast for the economy • When these ventures failed many banks also failed. • Freedmen, whom had begun to exercise economic independence were hit hard, many AA learn to distrust banks. • Real problem laid in the lack of money • Paper money was issued in the Civil War, but now that it was over most wealthy individuals wanted to see it taken out of circulation and replaced with gold. • Government adopts this policy, but only rich have gold, hence only rich have $ • Many begin to clamor for currency based on gold and silver (bimetallism)
Gilded Age Name coined by Mark Twain: refers to the surface of American looking calm and prosperous, while in reality it was confusing and impoverished. Very few differences between the Democrat and Republicans from 1876 to 1896. Patronage (Spoils System) ruled the day; winning candidates would reward their supporters with jobs they were often unqualified for.
Election of 1876 Republicans nominate Rutherford Hayes, largely because he had been gov. of Ohio, a politically important state. Democrats nominate Samuel Tilden. The election was close, no candidate received a majority. Also, the returns from 4 states were contested, with both Rep. and Dem. Claiming election fraud. An extreme constitutional dilemma loomed; and the Democrats controlled the House
Compromise of 1877 To avoid partisan politics an electoral commission was created with Senators, Representatives, and Supreme Court Justices. This group secretly worked out a deal: Hayes (Rep) would receive the votes from the 4 disputed states and would become president. In return, the Democrats would get a withdrawal of troops from the South, patronage positions, and a southern transcontinental RR. Deal agreed upon on 3 days before the inaguration.
President Rutherford Hayes • 1877 • Reconstruction Ends • Railroad strike • 1879 • Edison invents electric light • Dumbbell Tenements introduced
Birth of Jim Crow With the military and Republicans gone from the south, the Democrats could regain control African Americans suffered by loosing jobs, homes, and rights. Freedmen were forced into Sharecropping or Tenant farming, often for their old masters. This new system closely resembled slavery: a poor AA constantly found themselves indebted to the landlord. Southern states passed laws creating segregation de jure, and also disfranchised AA through literacy tests, poll taxes, and the grandfather clause. AA also fall victim to lynchings in growing numbers.
Plessy v. Ferguson 1896 Homer Plessy defies state law by sitting in the white section of a train. Case goes to the Supreme Court, on the claim that the 14th Amendment (Equal protection) was violated Supreme Court fules against Plessy. Finds segregation constitutional on the basis of “separate, but equal” Justifies years 60 more years of legal(de jure) segregation.
Great Railroad Strike 1877 RR owners lowered wages. Enraged workers organized a nationwide strike. Transportation and commerce halted. President Hayes calls federal troops to break the strike. Over 100 killed.
Nativism Returns Many Chinese men came to US to work in gold rush and railroad building. White workers feared completion from Chinese, most were willing to work for lower wages. Violent nativists often assaulted and murdered Chinese. 1882: Chinese Exclusion Act- 1st US law to stop immigration - prohibited all new immigrants from China Us v. Wong Kim Ark: established the principle of birth on US soil = US citizenship. Principle has helped countless immigrant children become citizens.
1880 Election Republicans dump Hayes, favor James Garfield with VP Chester Arthur. Duo defeat Dem candidate Winfield Hancock 214 to 155. Garfield is for civil service reform (ending Spoils System), while Arthur is against (Stalwart)
Assassination of Garfield Garfield refused to give jobs to people that supported him unless they were qualified. A disappointed office seeker shot Garfield, several months later he died. Many believed that new president Arthur would continue with the Spoils System. Arthur and many others saw the need to reform, passed the Pendleton Act which ended the Spoils System. Ended patronage from individuals, but laid the groundwork for corporate financing of political campaigns.
President Arthur Timeline • 1881 • Garfield Assassination • Booker Washington heads Tuskegee Institute • 1882 • Chinese Exclusion Act • 1883 • Pendleton Act • 1884 • Twain publishes Huckleberry Finn
1884 Election Rep nominate James Blaine, but he was tied to political scandals that hurt his election. Dems nominate Grover Cleveland, NY governor Campaign was perhaps the dirtiest in history, Rep uncovered the fact that Cleveland had an illegitimate son. Rather than lie, Cleveland confessed. Election came down to a group of Rep called Mugwumps: they supported Cleveland and sought to extend reforms throughout federal government. Cleveland won 219 to 182 Only Dem pres elected 1860 to 1912
President Cleveland Timeline (1st Term) • 1886: Haymarket Square Riot • Wabash v. Illinois • AFL founded • Statue of Liberty erected • 1887 • Interstate Commerce Act • Dawes Severalty Act
Cleveland as President Favored laissez-faire policies (“the government should not support the people.”) Helped reunite the nation by naming several former Confederates to Cabinet. Said he favored civil service, but fired many Republicans and replaced them with Dems. Cleveland also attacked the high tariffs of the day. Knew that low tariffs = low prices for consumers = less $ for monopolies. Big business supported higher tariffs, so they also supported the Republican party.
1888 Election Dems nominate Cleveland Rep nominate Benjamin Harrison, grandson of Pres. William Harrison. The issue of the tariff proved decisive, and Harrison won 233 to 168.
President B. Harrison Timeline • 1889: Jane Addams founds Hull House • Oklahoma Land Rush • 1890: Sherman Antitrust Act • Populist Party founded • Battle of Wounded Knee • 1892: Homestead Strike
Billion Dollar Congress Congress spent money like never before. Passed a new tariff, highest to that point in history. Tariff forced poor, including farmers, to buy high priced goods from American manufacturers, poor suffered, especially farmers. Farmers’ Alliance formed to fight for farmer rights.
Rise of the Populists • Backed by struggling farmers, the Populist Party was created. • Omaha Platform • Bimetallism • Income tax • Direct election of senators • Initiative and referendum • Shorter workday • Immigration restrictions All of these measures would eventually be enacted. The Populists were hindered by constant strikes. 1892: Homestead Strike- Carnegie’s steel plant, 10 dead; federal troops called in. Eastern mill workers and southern whites did not support the Populist because of calls for racial equality.