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CH. 15-3 POLITICS IN THE GILDED AGE

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AMERICAN HISTORY. CH. 15-3 POLITICS IN THE GILDED AGE. POLITICAL MACHINES. Before the Civil War, most cities were small and easily managed by part-time politicians Late 1800s – part-time politicians were losing control of their cities

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political machines
POLITICAL MACHINES
  • Before the Civil War, most cities were small and easily managed by part-time politicians
  • Late 1800s – part-time politicians were losing control of their cities
  • POLITICAL MACHINE—an informal group of professional politicians who controlled local government
slide3

Political machines often resorted to corrupt methods

  • IMMIGRANTS AND POLITICAL MACHINES
  • Political machines made a special effort to reach out to immigrants
  • They helped newcomers find jobs or housing
slide4

They supplied coal in the winter and provided turkeys for holiday dinners

  • They helped immigrants become naturalized citizens
  • In return for this help, politicians expected the people they assisted would vote for them and rally broader community support.
  • James Pendergast—popular Kansas City, MO politician
slide5

He gained loyalty of local immigrants by giving money to those in need

  • He ran for ALDERMAN (city council) and soon controlled Kansas City politics
  • Stephen Powers and James B. Wells, Jr. set up a machine in Cameron County, TX in the 1870s
  • In exchange for votes, they helped Mexican Americans with costs of weddings, funerals, and living expenses
slide6

Immigrants also became part of the political machine

  • Irish Americans rose through the ranks of the Boston political machine
  • Two second-generation Irish immigrants even became mayor: John F. Fitzgerald (JFK’s grandfather) & James Michael Curley
slide7

CORRUPTION

  • Political machines used illegal tactics to maintain control
  • Machine bosses bought votes with jobs and favors
  • Election fraud
  • People were hired to vote, change their appearance (different clothes or haircut, etc.) and then they would vote again
slide8

Many politicians practiced GRAFT – using their position to gain money and power dishonestly

  • THE TWEED RING
  • The most notorious political machine was Tammany Hall, which ran the democratic Party in NYC.
slide9

1863—William Marcy Tweed became the powerful head of Tammany Hall

  • Boss Tweed used his position to acquire riches
  • Ex. – The city paid $13 million to build a new court house which was several times the actual cost
  • Tweed and associates pocketed the difference.
slide10

Tweed controlled elections, corrupt judges, and big business in the city

  • His power was unbreakable until 1871
  • A new bookkeeper gave information to the NY Times newspaper proving how much Tweed had stolen
  • A cartoonist, Thomas Nast, published artwork about Tweed in Harper’s Weekly magazine. Tweed demanded the cartoons be stopped.
slide11

1873—Tweed convicted of fraud and corruption and sentenced to 12 years in jail

  • Tweed escaped but was located in Spain and put back in jail
  • 1878—Tweed died in a NY City jail
federal corruption
FEDERAL CORRUPTION
  • The dominant image of government in the late 1800s was a smoke-filled back room
  • SCANDALS OF THE GRANT ADMINISTRATION
  • 1869—Ulysses S. Grant becomes President
  • Several scandals during his administration
  • 1860s—The Credit Mobilier scandal
slide13

Union Pacific railroad set up a construction company called Credit Mobilier to build part of the transcontinental railroad

  • Credit Mobilier charged taxpayers $23 million more than it actually cost
  • The extra money went into bank accounts of Union Pacific and Credit Mobilier
  • 1872—NY Sun revealed that Credit Mobilier had given stock to members of Congress and even Vice President Schuyler Colfax
slide14

1875—A new treasury secretary revealed a conspiracy to divert tax collections into private hands

  • The Whiskey Ring, a group that included Grant’s private secretary, whiskey distributors, and distillers, and government officials, stole millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money
  • Whiskey producers paid bribes to government officials
slide15

In return liquor tax money was kept by producers instead of going into the U.S. treasury

  • PRESIDENT HAYES AND REFORM
  • Reformers wanted to end fraud under the spoils system
  • Rutherford B. Hayes became President in 1877 and wanted reform
slide16

Executive Order—government officials could not manage political parties or campaigns

  • NY Customs House—corrupt Republicans controlled the jobs and ignored Hayes’ order
  • They were fired
  • STALWARTS—lead by Roscoe Conkling—wanted to continue the spoils system
slide17

1880—Hayes decides not run for a 2nd term. Republicans compromise on James A. Garfield

  • GARFIELD’S SHORT PRESIDENCY
  • Garfield wins election but angers Stalwarts
  • He did not give Conkling a cabinet appointment
  • July 1881—Garfield is shot at a Washington, DC train station
slide18

The President died in September 1881

  • The assassin was Charles Guiteau—an unstable character who had been denied a government job
  • Guiteau thought he was helping the Stalwarts by killing Garfield but the opposite happened
  • Chester A. Arthur becomes President
  • Arthur supported the Stalwarts initially but now turned against the spoils system
slide19

President Arthur (R) operated independently of the Republican Party

  • 1883—Pendleton Civil Service Act – Promotions must be based on merit, not political connections
  • Only applied to 10% of the federal workforce
  • Important first step
  • To Be Continued…
the populist movement
THE POPULIST MOVEMENT
  • Calls for reform started coming from farmers
  • FARMERS’ HARDSHIPS
  • Late 1800s – crop prices falling
  • Farmers had borrowed large sums of money for equipment
  • 24 acres of cotton in 1894 was worth LESS than 9 acres of cotton in 1873
slide21

Farmers had increased trouble paying their debts

  • Railroads charged enormous fees to transport crops to market
  • Smallest farmers had to pay the highest rates
  • Everybody making money at the farmer’s expense: farm equipment seller, banks, railroads
  • Farmers that worked every day were nearly penniless
slide22

THE NATIONAL GRANGE

  • Farmers decided to organize themselves
  • Groups provided emergency aid and other assistance
  • Local groups combined to form national organizations
  • First major group—Order of Patrons of Husbandry (aka National Grange)
slide23

Founded by Oliver Hudson Kelley in 1867

  • Farmers after the Civil War were downtrodden and needed to be supported
  • The Grange tried to unite farmers and eliminate regional rivalries
  • Within a few years, membership exploded
  • Farmers realized they had to fight railroads, grain elevators
slide24

Late 1870s—Grange succeeded in persuading state legislatures in IL, IA, MN, WI to regulate railroads and grain elevators

  • Businesses opposed regulation because it hurt their profits
  • 1877—Munn v. Illinois – Supreme Court decided state legislatures had the right to regulate businesses that involved the public interest
slide25

1886—Wabash v. Illinois—Supreme Court ruled that the federal government had the power to regulate railroad traffic moving across state boundaries

  • Interstate Commerce Act of 1887—first time for federal regulation of any industry
  • ICA wanted to make rates fair for all customers
  • Large shippers were no longer given favorable rates
slide26

Railroads forbidden from charging more for short hauls than long hauls along the same rail line

  • Interstate Commerce Commission created to regulate railroads
  • Congress did not give ICC power to enforce regulations until 1906
slide27

THE ALLIANCE MOVEMENT

  • Other farmers formed organizations in TX and NY
  • These groups combine to form the Farmers’ Alliance
  • Helped farmers with practical needs—buying equipment or marketing farm products
slide28

1890—1 million+ farmers are members from different regions

  • Leaders of the Southern Alliance restricted their membership to whites
  • African Americans formed the Colored Farmers’ Alliance in 1890 (>1 million members)
  • This group also fought prejudice
slide29

THE MONEY SUPPLY ISSUE

  • Farmers’ Alliance wanted the money supply to increase (have the government print more money)
  • More money in circulation would inflate prices
  • 1873—Congress adopts the gold standard
  • No more money than there was gold in the treasury
slide30

Gold standard reduced amount of money in circulation and farmers were concerned

  • Farm groups wanted money backed by silver, too
  • Alliance members became active in the election of 1890
  • They supported any candidate the agreed with farmers’ position
slide31

Alliance-backed candidates won more than 40 congressional seats and 4 governorships

  • THE POPULIST PARTY
  • Alliance leaders decided to form a national political party
  • July 1892—Omaha, NE—Populist Party formed
slide32

Populist Party supported National Grange and Alliance

  • Party platform called for an income tax, bank regulation, government ownership of railroad and telegraph companies, and the free (unlimited) coinage of silver
  • Election of 1892—James Weaver (Pop.) & Benjamin Harrison (R-I) & Grover Cleveland (D)
slide33

Cleveland won the election

  • Populists won several seats in Congress as well as several state offices
  • THE PANIC OF 1893
  • May 1893—leading railroad fails
  • Investor pulled out of the stock market
slide34

Thousands of businesses collapsed

  • End of 1893—3 million people were unemployed
  • Strikes and protests swept across the country
  • One reason for panic was the Sherman Silver Purchase Act of 1890
  • Law required government to pay for silver purchases with paper money redeemable in gold or silver
slide35

This put a huge strain on the gold reserves

  • Congress repealed the act and the USA remained on the gold standard
  • THE ELECTION OF 1896
  • Democrats didn’t want Grover Cleveland to run again because he was unpopular after the Panic of 1893
  • William McKinley (R-OH) vs. William Jennings Bryan (D-NE)
slide36

Bryan supported the free (unlimited) coinage of silver

  • Because the democrats supported free silver, the Populists also supported the democrats
  • Business leader contributed millions of dollars to Republican McKinley’s campaign
  • McKinley won the election
slide37

Free silver by itself was not important enough to help win a national campaign

  • The Election of 1896 was the high point for the Populist Party, which soon faded away
  • Populist reforms would be enacted by the government over time
  • Many politicians suggest that they support ordinary people, not special interests
  • THE END
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