Politics in the gilded age
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POLITICS IN THE “GILDED AGE”. Political Machine – an organization that provides services to voters and businesses in exchange for political or financial support How do they work? They are shaped like a pyramid….

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  • Political Machine – an organization that provides services to voters and businesses in exchange for political or financial support

  • How do they work?

  • They are shaped like a pyramid…

City Bosses: controlled access to city jobs, business licenses and influenced courts and city officials

Ward Bosses: helped earned votes of the poor by providing services

Precinct Workers: local captains whose goal is to gain voters’ support

  • How did they develop?

  • late 1890s, cities experienced rapid growth under inefficient governments (no city planning)

  • Social Darwinism said the strongest would survive – government structure developed along those lines

  • political machines provided services to poor and immigrants in exchange for votes and or monetary support (the strongest political machines would survive while the weaker ones would get voted out of office )

Problems how political machines stayed in power
Problems – How Political Machines Stayed in Power

  • voter fraud – using fake names to cast votes

  • graft – illegal use of political influence for personal gain i.e., giving a job to a friend who would kick back money to the politician

  • bribery – to allow illegal activities (most police forces were hired by political bosses)

  • Boss Tweed: the head of Tammany Hall, New York City’s most powerful Democratic political machine.

  • Between 1869 and 1871, the “Tweed Ring” defrauded the city between $30 to $200 million.

  • finally brought down by political cartoonist Thomas Nast (worked for Harper’s Weekly drawing cartoons about the corruption)

Patronage and spoils system
Patronage and Spoils System

  • Patronage: giving government jobs to people who helped get officials elected

  • also known as the spoils system

  • resulted in unqualified people getting public office (didn’t have to know anything…only had to have supported person in office)

  • Reformers pressed for elimination of patronage and the adoption of a merit system for hiring people in civil service/government administration.

  • Stalwarts supported patronage

Stalwarts vs reformers
Stalwarts vs. Reformers

  • Where does each of the following presidents belong?

    • Hayes

    • Garfield

    • Arthur

Civil service reform
Civil Service Reform

  • Republican president Rutherford B. Hayes, elected in 1876, could not convince Congress to support reform

  • appointed independents to his cabinet and set up a commission to investigate corruption

  • Republicans put up independent candidate Garfield who gave patronage jobs to independent supporters

Pendleton civil service act of 1883
Pendleton Civil Service Act of 1883 Arthur) can become President and give jobs to HIS supporters

  • appointments to federal jobs would be given on the merit system based on examination. (You had to pass a test to qualify for a government job.)

  • By 1901, more than 40 percent of all federal jobs were classified as civil service positions.

    • Still used today