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Ch 23: Political Paralysis in the Gilded Age
Transcript of Ch 23: Political Paralysis in the Gilded Age
Ch 23: Political Paralysis in the Gilded Age
The Election of 1868
The Era of Good Stealings
stock market manipulators, corrupt judges and legislators
Jim Fisk and Jay Gould: increased the price of the gold market by hoarding gold; federal gov had to sell from its treasury to lower the price
Tweed Ring: Used bribery, fake elections, and misdirected funds to cheat the people out of over $200 million
Tweed caught in 1871 by New York Times
Thomas Nast drew political cartoons
Samuel J. Tilden led prosecution
Credit Mobilier Scandal (1872): insiders hired themselves at inflated prices and paid off members of Congress to keep it private
caught two congressmen and vice president
Whiskey Ring (1875): robbed treasury of millions of dollars
Grant condemned, but later changed his mind when his private secretary was caught
Response: Formation of the Liberal Republican Party
supported Horace Greeley in Election of 1872, along with the Democrats
Election of 1872: Grant vs Greeley, mudslinging campaigns (both unqualified), Grant won ("Grant us another term.")
Panic of 1873
caused by over-speculation and too easy credit, starting with the failure of Jay Cooke's banking firm, Jay Cooke and Company
"cheap money" supporters wanted more greenbacks printer, "hard money" supporters wanted actual gold and silver
Resumption Act of 1875: required governments to withdraw all greenbacks and replace the money at face value starting in 1879
"contraction": process of accumulating gold to replace greenbacks, actually increased greenback value by making them more rare
stopped making silver dollars
Bland Allison Act (1878): made treasury buy and coin $2-4 million of silver each month
Effects: Republican hard money policy caused Democratic House of Representatives in 1874 and the formation of Greenback Labor Party in 1878
The Hayes-Tilden Standoff, 1876
Republican Rutherford B. Hayes vs Democrat Samuel Tilden
Tilden got 184 electoral college votes but needed 185 to win
Louisiana, S. Carolina, Florida, and part of Oregon were disputed
Class Conflicts and Ethnic Clashes
1877: Four largest railroads cut wages by 10%, workers went on strike
Strike failed, Hayes sent troops to stop it and over 100 died
Irish Denis Kearney led followers against the Chinese
1879: Congress passed a bill to restrict Chinese immigration, Hayes vetoed it
1882: Chinese Exclusion Act banned Chinese from coming to US (after Hayes left office)
The Election of 1884
Republican James G. Blaine vs Democrat Grover Cleveland
"Mugwumps" - Republicans who switched parties after the nomination of Blaine
Lowest mudslinging in history
Cleveland's win decided by New York after a Republican insulted New York's large Irish population
Republican General Ulysses Grant vs Democrat Horatio Seymour
Grant won by "waving his bloody shirt" (gaining popularity through his war victories)
accepted money from New Yorkers
very little political or cultural background
campaign slogans: "Let us have peace", "Vote as You Shot"
won by very little--Republicans couldn't take future victories "for Granted"
first Democratic president since James Buchanan, supporter of capitalism
problems: military pensions
solutions: vetoes a bill ( add several hundred thousand new poeple on the list
1881-treasury had a surplus of $145 million (came from high tariff)
Cleveland became inclined towards lowering the tariff
1887 Cleveland gave the problem for lower tariffs to Congress
Democrats were upset, Republicans were satisfied with his reckless act
Billion Dollar Congress
New Speaker of the House: Thomas B. Reed
To solve the problem of reaching a quorum in Congress, Reed counted
the Democrats who were present yet didn’t answer to the roll
After three days of such chaos, he finally prevailed, opening
the 51st, or “Billion Dollar” Congress—one that
legislated many expensive projects.
emerged in 1892 from disgruntled farmers
main call: inflation via silver coins
called for a series of items: income tax, direct election of U.S. Senators, a one term limit, and a shorter workday
Cleveland had to turn to J.P. Morgan to bale out the depression
Supreme Court struck down an income tax
Chapter 23 Presentation
Pallid Politics in the Gilded Age: An Overview
Gilded Age: looked good, but corruption under the surface
lineage to Puritanism
strong votes in North, West, and Grand Army of the Republic
Infighting: Roscoe Conkling (Stalwarts vs James G Blaine (Half Breeds)
more Lutherans and Roman Catholics
strong support in the South
Soon after Cleveland stepped up to presidency, America fell into one of many depressions: the Depression of 1893
Many American business houses collapsed, and dozens of railroad lines went into the hands of receivers
Cleveland had a surgery for a malignant growth under the roof of his mouth
William Jennings Bryan advocated "free silver" but was soon stopped by Cleveland
The Compromise of 1877 and the End of Reconstruction
Electoral Count Act: set up electoral commission originally with 15 men from government positions who would count the votes
Compromise: Hayes would become president if he agreed to remove the last remaining Union troops, causing military rule and Reconstruction to end. He also agreed to subsidize the Texas and Pacific rail line.
Effect: abandoned blacks in the South, Civil Rights Acts mostly gone
The Birth Of Jim Crow
After Compromise of 1877, whites began reasserting power
voting requirements, voter registration laws, and poll taxes aimed at black voters
blacks became sharecroppers or tenant farmers
Later (1896): Plessy vs Ferguson-- "separate but equal" laws constitutional, Jim Crow segregation legalized
Connection: Questions of race relations have always been prominent in the Supreme Court. For example, a recent case was the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson.
The Election of 1880
Democrats: Winfield S. Hancock -- Civil War general, fair to South, war veteran
Republicans: James A Garfield vs Chester Arthur
nice, didn't like saying "no"
James G. Blaine = Secretary of State
later shot by Charles J. Guiteau, who tried pleading insanity
didn't focus on Stalwarts
called for reform
James A. Garfield won
The Pendleton Act of 1883
Created by the federal legislature
federal employees were chosen based upon competitive exams.
This made job positions based on merit or ability and not inheritance or class.
Civil Service Commission: the government agency under the Pendleton Act of 1883 that oversaw the administration of the exam in order to fulfill jobs.
Samuel Clemens (1885)
Great American Novel
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Primary Document 1
Primary Document 2
Summary of Chapter 23
The Gilded Age was plagued by the corruption of politicians in Washington D.C. These politicians were not only corrupt, but also proved themselves to be incompetent and easily manipulated by those in their party or the wealthy. The era was also marked with several depressions and panics due to excessive loaning and over speculation, indicating the irresponsible spending , decadence , and inflation of the time period. Finally, the era was also the beginning of the end of black civil rights maintained by the Republicans. Following the Compromise of 1877, troops left over from the Reconstruction were removed from the South and southern white society immediately swooped in to instate the Jim Crow laws and the system of sharecropping, lowering black people to a lifestyle barely better than slavery. Meanwhile in the North, conflict between workers continued. Strikes were rampant as workers continued to seek more rights. In summary, the Gilded Age was an era of political corruption, lavish and irresponsible spending, and the polarization of classes that mainly benefited those who controlled the top industries of steel, oil, etc.