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The Politics of Stalemate
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  1. The Politics of Stalemate

  2. Politics of Stalemate No more than 1% of the popular vote separated the candidates in 4 of 5 elections • The 5 presidential elections from 1876 to 1892 were the most closely contested elections ever • Congress was split as well: • Democrats controlled the House • Republicans held the Senate • This “stalemate” made it difficult for any of the 5 presidents or either party to pass significant legislation for 20 years Pendleton Civil Service Act of 1883 Interstate Commerce Act of 1887 Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 McKinley Tariff Act of 1890

  3. Intense Voter Loyalty to the 2 Parties

  4. The Two-Party Stalemate

  5. A Two-Party Stalemate Republicans & Democrats were closely divided in New York, Ohio, & Indiana—these 3 states swung the 5 presidential elections As a result, 16 of the 20 presidential & VP candidates were from NY, Ohio, or Indiana

  6. Well-Defined Voting Blocs Democratic Bloc Republican Bloc “Waving the Bloody Shirt” continued: Every state that seceded from the United States was a Democratic State…every man that tried to destroy this nation was a Democrat. Every man that loved slavery more than liberty was a Democrat. The man that assassinated Lincoln was a Democrat…Soldiers, every scar you have got on you heroic bodies was given to you by a Democrat. —Col Robert Ingersoll to Union veterans during the 1876 presidential election • Supported by white southerners, farmers, immigrants, & the working poor • Favored white supremacy & supported labor unions • Supported by Northern whites, blacks, & nativists • Supported big business & favored anti-immigration laws

  7. Civil Service Reform • The most important political issue of 1880s was civil service reform: • Republicans were split among Mugwumps (supported reform), Stalwarts (opposed reform), & Half-Breeds (split on reform) • Republican James Garfield was elected in 1880 but was soon killed by Charles Guiteau • If the spoils system could kill a president, it was time to end it “I am a Stalwart, and Arthur is president now!”

  8. Civil Service Reform State & local governments mirrored these civil service reforms in the 1880s & 1890s • President Arthur & Congress pushed for the Pendleton Act (1883) for competitive exams for civil service jobs • Republicans chose James Blaine over Arthur as its nominee in 1884 against Grover Cleveland • Cleveland won & became the 1st Democrat to be elected president in 28 years

  9. Pendleton Act

  10. A Dirty Campaign Ma, Ma…where’s my pa? He’s going to the White House, ha… ha… ha…!

  11. Tariffs & Trusts • Cleveland sought to reduce gov’t spending & lower the tariff • Benjamin Harrison narrowly defeated Cleveland in 1888 & Repubs took control of Congress: • Passed the McKinley Tariff of 1890; highest tariff since 1828 • This “Billion-Dollar” Congress expanded gov’t activities The Tariff of Abominations in 1828

  12. “Coming Out” for Harrison

  13. Tariffs & Trusts • From 1870-1900, 28 state commissions were created to regulate industry, especially RRs: • In 1870, Illinois declared RRs to be public highways; this was upheld by Munn v. Illinois (1876) • But was overturned in Wabash v. Illinois (1886): only Congress can regulate interstate trade Supreme Court ruled: “private property affecting public interest” can be “controlled by the public for the common good”

  14. Tariffs & Trusts This was the 1st attempt by the federal gov’t to regulate big business The ICC became the model for future regulatory agencies • Congress responded by creating: • The Interstate Commerce Commission in 1887 to regulate the railroad industry • The Sherman Antitrust Act in 1890 which made it illegal to restrain trade (punishable by dissolution of the company) US v. E. C. Knight Co (1895) was the 1st test of antitrust law The Supreme Court ruled that manufacturing monopoly do not restrain trade because making a good is not the same as selling it

  15. The Depression of 1893-1897 • Voters hated the Republican tariff: • Voted for a Democratic majority in Congress in 1890 & for Cleveland for president in 1892 • In 1893, a collapse in the stock market spiraled the economy into a severer 4-year depression: • 500 banks & 1,500 businesses failed; 20% unemployment President Cleveland & Congress responded with the Wilson-Gorman Tariff Act that reduce tariffs & created a slight income tax (did not help)

  16. The Depression of 1893-1897 • In 1894, there were 1,400 strikes led by hordes of unemployed people demanding gov’t relief: • Jacob Coxey led an “army” from Ohio to D.C. to convince Congress to create jobs by spending $500 million on new roads

  17. The Depression of 1893-1897 • When the Pullman Car Co cut wages & laid off workers, the American RR Union, led by Eugene V. Debs, joined the strike: • The Pullman Strike crippled rail traffic & western farmers • Cleveland issued an injunction & sent US troops; led to violence • In re Debs in 1895, the Supreme Court upheld the injunction since the strike restrained US trade This was a clever application of the Sherman Antitrust Act In re Debs made the Sherman Act a great anti-labor tool

  18. The Farmers’ Movements & the Rise of the Populists

  19. The Farm Problem • By the 1870s, discontent among farmers was growing due to: • Harsh farming conditions • Declining grain & cotton prices • Rising RR rates & mortgages • Government deflation policies • Farmers lashed out at banks, merchants, railroads, & the US monetary system

  20. Price Index for Consumer & Farm Goods (1865-1915)

  21. Credit & Money • Grant’s decision to reduce the # of greenbacks after the Civil War deflated the money supply: • By 1879, the US was restored to the international gold standard & stabilized the US economy • But this policy made money more scarce & limited credit which hurt western farmers

  22. Greenback & Silver Movements This would lead to inflation & someone would consistently buy silver from miners • Many farmers supported the “free silver” movement: • The US minted silver & gold coins at a 16:1 ratio, but stopped in 1873 due to an oversupply of gold • But western miners found huge lodes of silver & wanted “free silver”—the gov’t should buy all silver from miners & coin it In 1878, Congress passed the Bland-Allison Act to coin between $2-4 million in silver coins  In 1890, Congress passed the Sherman Silver Purchase Act toincrease silver coinage but not to 16:1 (the act was repealed in 1893)

  23. Bi-Metallism Issue

  24. The Farmers’ Alliance • In 1890, the Nat’l Farmers’ Alliance was formed to establish farm cooperatives & provide social gatherings • In 1890, made Ocala Demands: • Allow farmers to store crops in gov’t silos when prices are bad • Free-coinage of silver, a federal income tax, & no national bank • Direct election of US senators • Tighter regulation of RRs

  25. The Populist Party • In 1890, the Peoples’ Party (Populists) was formed & elected several state & national legislators • By 1892, the Populists ran James Weaver for president; his platform was the Ocala Demands • Populists were not happy with the results

  26. The Election of 1892 Even Midwestern farmers did not vote Populist Southern Democrats used racism & intimidation to remind whites of the “bloody flag” Upon his election, Cleveland called for and received the repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act which alienated Southern & Western Democrats from the party Black farmers voted Republican & did not support the Populists

  27. What does each character represent? Populist Allegory—The Wizard of Oz What about the “Yellowbrick Road” and the “Ruby Slippers”?

  28. Good Witch of North?Bad Witch of the East?

  29. “Emerald City”?“Oz”?The Wizard?

  30. Platform of Lunacy

  31. The Election of 1896 “Having behind us the producing masses…we will answer their demand for the gold standard ‘You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns, you shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold.’” • A Populist-Democrat merger looked possible in 1896 when William Jennings Bryan received the Democratic nomination against Repub William McKinley: • Called for free silver & income tax; attacked trusts & injunctions • Bryan visited 26 states on his whistle-stop campaign to education Americans on silver

  32. The Election of 1896 • Advised by RNC chairman, Mark Hanna, McKinley waged a “front porch” campaign from Ohio • Aided by the press, McKinley’s message reached as many voters: • Advocated economic, urban, & industrial growth • Aroused fear that a “free silver” victory would result in 57¢ dollar

  33. Bryan: The Farmers’ Friend 18,000 miles of campaign “whistle stops”

  34. The Election of 1896 The election of 1896 killed the Populist Party, although key platform ideas (income tax, secret ballot, direct election of Senators) would be enacted by other parties

  35. The McKinley Administration

  36. The McKinley Administration • Republicans benefited from an improving economy, better crop production, & new discoveries of gold: • Election of 1896 cemented Republican rule for 30 years & became party of prosperity • From 1860-1890, Republicans had promoted industry; by 1900, it was time to regulate it

  37. The McKinley Administration • McKinley was an activist president and perhaps was the first “modern” president: • He communicated well with the press • The Spanish-American War brought the USA respect as a world power • The Gold Standard Act (1900) ended the silver controversy

  38. Conclusions: A Decade of Dramatic Changes

  39. Conclusions: A Decade of Changes • The economic hardships of the Depression of 1893 forced people to rethink industry, urbanization, & the quality of American life • Many embraced the need for reform; Led to the beginning of the Progressive Era