The Gilded Age. Politics in the Late 19 th Century. Conventional View. Politicians of the Gilded Age are normally condemned for: Evading issues Dodging the responsibility of enacting major legislation Nor reflecting the mood and purpose of the American people
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Politics in the Late 19th Century
Politicians of the Gilded Age are normally condemned for:
Presidents and Congressmen of the period failed to realize – or did not appreciate – the major problem of the time:
“The adjustment of American politics to the great economic and social changes that had come to the US with the rise of industrialism and urbanism.”
Two general themes caused tension during the Gilded Age:
Two major problems
While both parties sought to control both Congress and the presidency neither was able to accomplish either task.
In PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS between 1876 and 1896 three elections provided the winner with a popular vote of less than one per cent.
Two presidents were elected while their major opponents received the majority of the popular vote.
Republicans won four of six elections but:
Democrats won the presidency twice in 1884 and 1892 but:
Controlling both Congress and the Presidency:
Primarily responsibility for
“The boss exploited the inability of government to supply the demands of the emerging city. He created a mechanism – the “machine” – for coping with the complex political, economic, and social adaptations entailed in the transformation of American society.”
The machine responded to the needs of three groups:
Cornerstones of the bosses’ success:
“There’s got to be in every ward somebody that any bloke can come to – no matter what he’s done – and get help. Help, you understand, none of your law and justice, but help.”
The model of the big city machine in the Gilded Age
Tweed ring never controlled a true majority of the voters
What are you going to do about it?
“You have the liberty of voting for anyone you please; we have the liberty of counting in any one we please.”