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Economic and Political Challenges

Economic and Political Challenges

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Economic and Political Challenges

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  1. Economic and Political Challenges

  2. The Gilded age: 1877-1900 Politics in this time period was characterized by corruption and inaction…

  3. the spoils system (patronage) • government jobs awarded to loyal party workers & campaign contributors regardless of their qualifications • government workers changed each time a new candidate won office Political Corruptionwas caused by…

  4. held political parties together - loyalty • helped each party gain more supporters • boosted political participation • easy way to raise campaign funds • allowed political machines to flourish spoils system…

  5. Civil Service = working for the government • Reform = change • Pendleton Civil Service Act – 1883 • Govt. jobs awarded based on merit system - people earn jobs based on qualifications • created a Civil Service Commission • keep the same workers no matter who is in office Civil Service Reform:

  6. Campaign contributions went down • people weren’t guaranteed a govt. job anymore • Politicians had to find other sources of funds • Alliance between govt. and big business became even stronger With the good comes the bad…

  7. Corruption continues…

  8. 1. Balance of power between White House and Congress (i.e. They couldn’t agree on anything!) Political Inactionwas caused by…

  9. 2. Two-party stalemate

  10. From 1870-1900  Govt. did very little domestically • Main duties of the federal govt.: • Deliver the mail. • Maintain a national military. • Collect taxes & tariffs. • Conduct a foreign policy. 3. Very laissez Faire government

  11. “The Forgotten Presidents” • presidency a symbolic office 4. Series of weak presidents

  12. Rutherford B. Hayes (1876-1880) • Honest politician • Appointed cabinet based on talent not friendship • Began the downfall of spoils system

  13. James Garfield (1881) • Gave jobs to people who deserved them • Assassinated by a man who was turned down for a job

  14. Chester Arthur (1881-1884) • Pushed for Civil Service reform

  15. Grover Cleveland (1884-1888, 1892-1896) • Only democratic president of the era • The “Veto President” • Exposed corrupt RR practices • Created Department of labor • Tried to lower tariffs (unsuccessfully)

  16. Benjamin Harrison (1888-1892) • Weak president • Followed the will of Congress

  17. Economic Issues plagued the nation…

  18. After the Civil War, Congress raisedtariffs to protect new US industries. • Big business wanted to continue this;consumers did not. • 1885  tariffs earned the US $100 million in surplus! To Tariff or Not to Tariff?

  19. Government had made paper money during the Civil War • led to inflation • stopped printing paper currency after the war • lack of confidence in paper currency • banks stopped payments in gold and silver coins The Currency Question

  20. Business opportunities, especially in RRs, had lead investors to excessive debt • Largest government securities dealer went bankrupt • started Panic of 1873 • banks & businesses closed • stock market collapsed • Panic triggered 6-year economic depression Panic of 1873

  21. gold = basis of nation’s currency • limited supply of gold • scarce and becoming scarcer • Scarcity of gold: • caused deflation – prices went down • existing debts were harder to pay Problem: Gold Standard

  22. Greenbacks (paper money) • increased supply = inflation • prices will go up • “Free” Silver • Allow silver to be minted as well as gold • increased supply = inflation • prices will go up Solutions:

  23. Americans wanted the federal government to deal with growing social, political, & economic problems & to curbthe power of the trusts… NEXT UNIT: Populists and Progressives! WE WANT CHANGE!!