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Political Paralysis in the Gilded Age. 1869 - 1896. Republicans & Grant Election of 1868. Grant Acted as if the Republic owed him for the war Almost no political experience 500,000 former slaves voted him in office

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republicans grant election of 1868
Republicans & GrantElection of 1868
  • Grant
    • Acted as if the Republic owed him for the war
    • Almost no political experience
    • 500,000 former slaves voted him in office
    • “Waving the Bloody Shirt” & “Vote as You Shot”
  • Republican platform
    • Called for continued Reconstruction (military)
democrats seymour
Democrats & Seymour
  • Democratic Platform
    • Denounced military Reconstruction (could agree on little else)
    • Candidate – NY governor Horatio Seymour
    • Received most of the white vote
era of good stealings
Era of Good Stealings
  • Population by 1870 – 39 million
    • 3rd largest nation
  • Waste, Extravagance, Speculation, Graft
  • Corruption was common
Jim Frisk & Jay Gould


Tried to corner the gold market

Result: “Black Friday” price of gold went up

Treasury started releasing gold

Boss Tweed – 1871

Milked NYC for $200 million

(Tammany Hall)

Fraudulent elections

Thomas Nast – published in NY Times

Prosecuted by Samuel J. Tilden

more corruption
Credit Mobilier Scandal – 1867 – 1868

Railroad construction company formed by Union Pacific

Over paid themselves

Paid off members of congress

Exposed by NY newspaper

2 congressmen censored

VP accepted stock

Whiskey Ring – 1875

Robbed treasury of millions in excise tax

Grant’s private sec was involved

Sec of War William Belknap – 1876

Pocketed money from selling Indians junk

More Corruption
liberal republican revolt 1872
Liberal Republican Revolt1872
  • Liberal Republican Party
    • Urged purification of the Washington administration & end military Reconstruction
  • Horace Greeley – Presidential candidate
    • Editor of NY Tribune
    • Later endorsed by the Democrats
      • “ate crow”
  • Republicans renominated Grant
  • Grant won the election of 1872
depression demands for inflation
Depression & Demands for Inflation
  • Panic of 1873
    • Caused by unbridled capitalist expansion
      • Produced too much – price goes down, businesses collapse
      • Banks – loans were not being repaid
  • Jay Cooke & Company – NY banking firm / first to collapse
    • 15,000 businesses went bankrupt; including The Freedmen’s Savings and Trust Company
money policies
Money Policies
  • Hard-money vs. cheap-money
    • Hard-money -- get battle-born currency out of circulation & produce no new money
    • Cheap-money – supported the production of greenbacks, make more money
  • Hard-money supporters won out
    • Resumption Act of 1875 – by 1879, no greenbacks & gold for all paper money
  • Some supported money based on silver
    • Congress stopped production of silver dollars in 1873 (Crime of ’73)
    • Call for inflation
politics in the gilded age
Politics in the Gilded Age
  • Close elections, indecisive politicians
  • Higher voter interest – 80% voter turnout
  • Party Loyalists enjoyed successful political careers as a result of patronage & the Spoils system
fighting within the republican party 1870s 1880s
Fighting within the Republican Party – 1870s & 1880s
  • “Stalwart” fraction
    • Roscoe Conkling – US Senator from NY
      • Believed in swapping civil-service jobs for voters
  • “Half-Breeds” fraction
    • James G. Blaine – Congressmen from Maine
      • Civil-service reform
    • Succeeded in stalemating each other & deadlocking the party
the hayes tilden standoff
The Hayes – Tilden Standoff
  • Grant was urged not to run for reelection
    • Congress passed a resolution warning of the dictator implications
  • Republicans selected Rutherford B. Hayes
    • “The Great Unknown”
  • Democrats selected Samuel J. Tilden
  • Tilden received 184 electoral votes – he needed 185
constitution votes
Constitution & Votes
  • Specifies that the electoral returns shall be sent to Congress & opened by president of the Senate
    • Who should count the votes? Constitution doesn’t say
compromise of 1877
Compromise of 1877
  • Created to solve the election deadlock
  • Electoral Count Act - passed by Congress
    • Set up electoral commission consisting of 15 men selected from the Senate, the House, & the Supreme Court
    • Not successful in solving the problem because there were 8 –R and 7-D
  • Democrats agreed to elect Hayes in exchange for:
    • Removal of all federal troops in the South
    • Subsidizing of a southern transcontinental railroad line – not kept
results of the compromise
Results of the Compromise
  • Officially ended Reconstruction
  • Violence was averted by sacrificing the black freedmen in the South
    • Republicans abandoned its commitment to black equality
  • Civil Rights Act of 1875 – last try by Republicans
    • Supposedly guaranteed equal accommodations in public places & prohibited racial discrimination in jury selections
supreme court
Supreme Court
  • Declared Civil Rights Act of 1875 unconstitutional
  • Declared that the 14th Amendment prohibited only government violations of civil rights, not the denial of civil rights by individuals
the democratic south
The Democratic South
  • Suppressed blacks
    • Blacks who tried to vote faced unemployment, eviction, & physical harm
  • 1890s – required literacy test, voter registration laws, & poll taxes
  • Blacks became economically dependant
    • Sharecropping & tenant farming
    • Crop-lien system
jim crow laws
Jim Crow Laws
  • 1890s – state level legal codes
  • Validated by Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)
    • Ruled that “separate by equal” facilities were constitutional under the “equal protection” clause of the 14th Amendment
  • Southern blacks were treated harshly for challenging the South’s racial code of conduct
railroad strike 1877
Railroad Strike 1877
  • Presidents of the nation’s 4 largest railroad companies cut employee’s salaries
  • Pres Hayes called in federal troops to quell the unrest
    • Backfired on him, caused support from working-class
  • Workers stoppages spread
  • 100 dead
  • Showed the weakness of the labor movement
  • Made up 9% of population by 1880 in CA
  • Mostly poor, uneducated, single males came
  • Came for gold & railroad work
    • Many returned when work disappeared
  • Worked menial jobs
  • Denis Kearney of San Francisco
    • Incited his followers (Kearneyites) to violent abuse of Chinese
    • Resented the competition for labor
stopping chinese immigration
Stopping Chinese Immigration
  • 1879 – bill passed severely restricting immigration of Chinese
    • Vetoed by Hayes – violated treaty with China
  • 1882 – Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act
    • Stopped Chinese immigration until 1943
the garfield interlude
The Garfield Interlude
  • Republicans nominated dark-horse James A. Garfield
    • VP – Chester Arthur
  • Republican platform- protective tariff & reform of civil service
  • Democrats – nominated Winfield S. Hancock
  • Democratic platform – civil service reform & a “tariff for revenue only”
election of 1880
Election of 1880
  • Candidates – turned their backs on problems of debt-burdened farmers & powerless laborers
  • Democrats harped on Garfield’s acceptance of stock dividends in the Credit Mobilier scandal
  • Garfield won & rewarded James G. Blaine (Half-Breed) with Sec of State
    • Caused problems between Half-Breeds & Stalwarts
garfield s assassination
Garfield’s Assassination
  • Charles J. Guiteau
    • shot Pres Garfield in the back in a Washington railroad station
  • Garfield died 11 weeks later – Sept. 19, 1881
  • Stalwarts would all get good jobs now under Arthur
  • Guiteau – found guilty & hanged
chester arthur
Chester Arthur
  • No qualifications for the presidency
  • Gave his former Conklingite supporters (Stalwart) the cold shoulder
  • Supported civil service reform
    • Pendleton Act of 1883
      • Established a merit system based on aptitude and not “pull”
      • Competitive exams were established
  • Pendleton Act partially divorced politics from patronage, but it helped drive politicians into “marriages of convenience” with big-business leaders
election of 1884
Election of 1884
  • Republican- James G. Blaine
    • “Mulligan letters” – connected Blaine to a corrupt deal involving federal favors to a southern railroad
    • Mugwumps – reformers who joined the Democrats
  • Democrats – Grover Cleveland
    • Illegitimate son
  • Mudslinging campaign
    • Few fundamental differences between candidates
  • Cleveland won election
old grover takes over
“Old Grover” Takes Over
  • Grover Cleveland
    • 1st Democratic President since Buchanan
    • Known for all of his vetoes
    • Laissez-faire
    • “Though the people support the gov’t, the gov’t should not support the people.”
    • Named 2 Confederates to office
    • Believed in the merit system but eventually caved
    • Vetoed military pensions
cleveland the tariff
Cleveland & the Tariff
  • Tariffs were raised during the war
  • Resulted in gov’t surplus
  • 1887 - Cleveland appealed to Congress for lower tariffs
  • For the first time in years, there was a real issue that divided the parties
election of 1888
Election of 1888
  • Democrat – Cleveland
  • Republican – Benjamin Harrison
  • Republicans were against lowering tariffs
    • Low-tariff policies was a vote for England
  • Republicans raised $3 million to fight against a lower tariff
  • Cleveland – 1st sitting president voted out of his chair since Van Buren in 1840
benjamin harrison
Benjamin Harrison
  • Elected in 1888
  • Selected James G. Blaine as Sec of State
  • Named Theodore Roosevelt – head of the Civil Service Commission

Problems in the House

  • Republicans – only 3 votes more than the necessary quorum of 163 members
  • Democrats – delaying motions – roll call
  • Republicans wanted to squandered money to safeguard the high tariff that was producing a surplus

Thomas B. Reed

  • Republican Speaker of the House
  • Wanted to change House rules
  • Believed majority should legislate in accordance with democratic policies
    • No filibustering
  • “Billion Dollar” Congress
    • Gave birth to a bumper crop of expensive legislative babies
mckinley tariff bill of 1890
McKinley Tariff Bill of 1890
  • Boosted tariff rates to their highest peacetime level
  • Disposed of the troublesome surplus by giving a bounty of 2 cents per pound to US sugar planters
  • Raised tariffs on agricultural products
    • Actually brought new woes to farmers as manufacturers raised prices
    • Farmers hated it
pension act of 1890
Pension Act of 1890
  • Pensions for all Union CW veterans who had served for 90 days & who were now unable to do manual labor
  • Helped solve the problem for the Treasury surplus
    • Secured Rep votes
    • GAR grateful to the GOP
silver problems
Bland-Allison Law-1878

Ordered the purchase and coining of $2-4 million worth of silver a month

Provided little relief to debtors or miners

Sherman Silver Purchase Act of 1890

Required the purchase of 4.5 million ounces of silver every month

Treasury had to issue new notes to pay for it

Believed that the addition of immense amount of metallic money would inflate the currency and make for higher prices and easier debt payment

Silver Problems
populist party 1892 the people s party
Populist Party – 1892The People’s Party
  • Rooted in the Farmer’s Alliance of frustrated farmers in the West & the South
  • Platform:
    • Free & unlimited coinage of silver
    • Income tax
    • Gov’t ownership of telephone, telegraph, & railroads
    • Direct election of senators
    • 1 term for president
    • Use of initiative & referendum to allow citizens to propose & review legislation
    • Shorter workday & immigration restriction
problems for labor
Problems for Labor
  • Homestead Strike 1892 – Pittsburgh
    • Steel plant owned by Andrew Carnegie
    • Workers were angry over pay cuts
    • Strikers used rifles & dynamite
    • Troops were called in
    • Strike & union of steelworkers was broken
coming election of 1892
Coming Election of 1892
  • Discontent gave Democrats high hopes
  • Democrat – Grover Cleveland
  • Republican – Benjamin Harrison
  • Populist Party – James B. Weaver
    • One of the few 3rd parties in history to break into the electoral column
populist party
Populist Party
  • Wanted to bring labor & farmers together
  • Colored Farmers’ National Alliance
    • 1 million southern black farmers
    • Hoped that their economic goals would overcome their racial differences
  • Populists appealed for interracial solidarity
  • Appealing to blacks didn’t work because blacks couldn’t vote
    • Literacy test, poll tax, & grandfather clause
  • Populist leader Tom Watson abandoned his interracial appeals
old grover cleveland again
Old Grover Cleveland Again
  • 2nd term 1893—only pres to serve 2 nonconsecutive terms
  • Depression of 1893
    • Lasted for about 4 years
    • Most devastating economic downturn of the century
  • Causes
    • Overbuilding and overspeculation
    • Labor disorder
    • Agricultural depression
    • European banks began to call in loans
cleveland and depression
Cleveland and Depression
  • Wanted to repeal the Sherman Silver Purchase Act
    • Gold reserve in the Treasury dropped ($100 million)
    • Called Congress into extra session
  • William Jennings Bryan
    • Championed the cause of free silver in Congress
  • Cleveland broke the filibuster & Sherman Silver Purchase Act repealed
    • Alienated the silverites
    • Disrupted the party

Gold & Job Shortages

  • Gold reserve sank even lower ($41 million)
  • Cleveland decided to sell gov’t bonds for gold & deposit the proceeds in the Treasury
  • Cleveland turned to J.P. Morgan & other bankers
    • Bankers loaned the gov’t $65 million in gold
    • Charged commission $7 million
    • Helped restore confidence in nation’s finance
  • Deal angered many

Wilson-Gorman Tariff of 1894

  • Included a tax of 2% on incomes over $4000
  • In the Senate, 630 amendments were added
    • Benefits for sugar trust were added
  • Did not establish a low tariff / did reduce the rate
  • Income tax lasted only 1 year
    • Struck down by the Supreme Court
  • Result: Republicans won congressional elections in 1894 by a landslide / now a majority