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Politics of the Gilded Age. 1877-1900. Politics of the Gilded Age. 1877-1900 inaction, corruption characterized politics Political parties evenly divided, difficult to pass major reforms No president 1872-1896 won a majority of popular vote

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politics of the gilded age1
Politics of the Gilded Age
  • 1877-1900 inaction, corruption characterized politics
  • Political parties evenly divided, difficult to pass major reforms
  • No president 1872-1896 won a majority of popular vote
  • Grover Cleveland only Democrat president of era, known for honesty and integrity
corruption plagues national politics
Corruption Plagues National Politics
  • Government officials routinely received bribes and kickbacks
  • Americans expected little support from federal government, came from state and local level
  • Strong relationship between big business and government
republicans vs democrats
Republicans vs. Democrats
  • Protestant
  • African Americans
  • Supported nativitist causes
  • Supported prohibition
  • Northern Support
  • Southern whites
  • Immigrants
  • Catholics
  • Jews
  • Freethinkers
spoils system dominates government
Spoils System Dominates Government
  • Political parties provided services to poor- exchange for votes
  • Political parties provided jobs for party supporters- spoils system
  • Helped make parties powerful
  • Voter participation grew because of system (70-80% turnout common)
  • Congress most powerful branch during Gilded Age
civil service reform
Civil Service Reform
  • Civil Service= government jobs, jobs that stay the same regardless of political party in power
  • Assassination of President James Garfield by person that did not receive government job led to civil service reform
  • Pendleton Civil Service Act (1883)-
    • established Civil Service Commission
    • wrote civil service exam
    • passing exam not political connections got people government jobs
    • reduced power of spoils system
economic challenges
Economic Challenges
  • Tariff , Monetary policy main economic issues
  • Monetary policy -based on goldstandard, gold basis of nations currency
  • 1873 issue of silver as money debated
  • International trade, big business thought silver as money would undermine economy
  • There was more silver than gold
  • Farmers wanted silver as money- create inflation, raise farm prices, create more money to pay debts
economic challenges1
Economic Challenges
  • Tariff – created early 1800’s to protect manufacturing, agricultural products and prices
  • Republicans favored tariff promote industry, jobs
  • Democrats opposed said kept cost of goods high, harder for farmers to sell products abroad
farmers face many problems
Farmers Face Many Problems
  • 1880’s, early 1890’s low crop prices, increased costs, mounting debt for many farmers
  • Nature in the form of droughts, harsh winters, boll weevil infestation also hurt farmers
  • Cotton, corn, wheat prices fell
  • New machinery, seed, livestock prices went up
  • Many farmers mortgaged farms to pay for goods
  • Farmers had little influence on political system
farmers face many problems1
Farmers Face Many Problems
  • Blamed big business, railroads, banks
  • Railroads charged high rates
  • Banks charged high interest
  • Grain elevators charged high rates for storage
  • Sharecroppers faced dishonest landlords, merchants
farmers organize
Farmers Organize

Created network of organizations

Granger Movement(1867) founded in Minnesota

National political organization that fought for farmers rights

Goals

  • Government reform
  • Education new farming techniques
  • Regulate shipping, grain elevator rates
farmers organize1
Farmers Organize
  • Mid 1870’s Midwestern states pass reform, “Grange Laws”
  • Limits on freight, grain storage rates
  • Grangers pressured the national government to establish Interstate Commerce Commission to regulate railroad rates
farmers organize2
Farmers Organize
  • Grange declined late 1870’s
  • Replaced by Farmers Alliances
  • Grassroots movement
  • Goals
  • Collectively sell crops
  • Establish banks to provide low interest loans
  • Wanted to push costs down, bring prices up
  • Alliances remained segregated across the south, eventually kept them from gaining political power
populist party
Populist Party
  • Formed 1892
  • New political party put pressure on two major political parties with demands
  • Wanted to change unresponsive government, inadequate money supply, political corruption
  • Largest support came form farmers in the south, Midwest and West
  • Urban workers support- both fought industrial elite
populist party1
Populist Party

Goals

  • Unlimited coinage of silver
  • Graduated income tax
  • Government ownership of telegraph, railroad companies
  • Bank regulation
  • Populist politicians pushed for cooperation between the races
populist party2
Populist Party
  • Election 1892 –Populist governors, senators, congressmen elected across nation (concentrated in the west and Midwest)
  • 1894 won more elections, popularity grew
economic crisis and populism s decline
Economic Crisis and Populism’s Decline
  • 1893 four year depression began
  • Draw of Populism grew
  • Election 1896
  • Democrats nominate William Jennings Bryan because of his “Cross of Gold” speech at the Democratic Convention
  • Speech attacked the gold standard
  • Brought many to the populist cause
  • Bryan grew in popularity
  • Made him a national political figure
bryan and the election of 1896
Bryan and the Election of 1896
  • Populist party backed Bryan
  • Democratic party supported free silver, many populist proposals, took on Bryan as their candidate
  • Bryan’s campaign was first to tour nation and directly speak to people
  • Lost election to William McKinley
legacy of populism
Legacy of Populism
  • New era in American politics, ascendancy of urban, middle class voter, diminishing voter turnout, rise of new political issues- industrial regulation and welfare of labor
    • Message on monetary policy did not appeal to urban workers
    • Decision to endorse Bryan led to decline in Populist Party, many became Democrats
  • More flexible monetary policy adopted by government
  • Candidates campaigned directly to people
  • Many reforms Populists advocated were adopted by Progressives in early 20thcentury