Politics and Government: 1877 - 1900

January 5, 2018 | Author: Anonymous | Category: Social Science, Political Science, Public Administration
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Politics and Government: 1877 - 1900

AP United States History West Blocton High School Mr. Logan Greene

Chapter Objectives • How were the campaigns run in the late 1800’s and what role did partisan politics play? • How effective was the federal government in addressing the problems of America’s industrializing economy? • What were the main policy issue of the 1880’s and the 1890’s? • What was the platform of the Populist Party?

Campaigns and Elections • During the era of the Gilded Age politics turned to a new style of lavish grand campaigns • In part this led to huge voter turnout, averaging 80% in the elections of 18761900 (2008 election: 57%) • This was also due to party practices of “ensuring” registered voters who had supported them in the past continued to vote through bribes or “encouragement”

Partisan Politics • During the period the Democratic and Republican parties were essentially evenly split for electoral support • It was extremely rare for a party to control both Congress and the Presidency leading to little real progress • The swing states of Indiana, New York, New Jersey, and Ohio gained massive attention during elections

Partisan Politics • Republicans controlled the North and Midwest • Democrats controlled the South and parts of the urban Northeast • Republicans were for nationalism and the idea of larger national government • Democrats argued for traditionalism and small government • Both parties used “political machines” to control votes and run campaigns

Third Parties • Despite the control of the two parties numerous third parties appeared at the time • Populist: By far the strongest, advocated for farmers and workers • Prohibition: Argued for the total prohibition of alcohol in America • Greenback: Argued for paper money allowing for inflation to temporarily help debtors

Associational Politics • People not involved in party politics also fought for change to assist their members in Associational Politics • Granger Laws in the Midwest to benefit farmers are an excellent example • Mugwumps argued for a return to honest and efficient government • National American Women Suffrage Association argued for the vote for women • The Women’s Christian Temperance Movement argued for a control of alcohol

The Weak Presidency • The era between the death of President Lincoln and the ascension of William McKinley in 1896 was defined by exceptionally weak Presidents • Presidents made no effort to exert control and offered few initiatives • Presidents completely bowed to Congress and rarely listened to the public

The Inefficient Congress • Despite controlling every facet of the Federal government the Congress of the Gilded Age was terribly inefficient • Arguments, a chaotic chamber, and completely ridiculous procedural rules kept Congress from enacting needed business • Even as the growing economy called for a busier legislature the Congress was slow to reform

Federal Bureaucracy and the Spoils System

• The federal bureaucracy was limited at this time as the Federal Government only employed about 50,000 • Most were hired through the spoils system, or rewarding supporters with federal government jobs • As the spoils system took hold critics accused it of being corrupt and destroying the idea of fairness

Public Policies: Civil Service Reform • Reforming the spoils system became the prominent issue of the nation during the Hayes administration • Reformers wanted exams and tests to determine the worthiness of a candidate with the hopes of improving the government • Eventually after the assassination of President Garfield by an angry supporter the Pendleton Civil Service Act was passed requiring hires on a merit basis

Tariffs • Tariffs or taxes on imported goods were one of the most important federal government issues • Republicans championed protective tariffs so industry at home could charge higher prices while Democrats wanted tariffs removed to achieve the lowest price for farmers and workers • By 1890 triumphant Republicans passed the McKinley Tariff raising tariff rates to all time highs

Federal Regulation • As large corporations spun out of control in the late 1800’s the government began to regulate • The Interstate Commerce Act of 1887 set standards for prices that railroads could charge • The Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 made trusts that restrained trade or commerce “illegal”

The Money Question • Currency at the end of the 19th century was a mess of different policies • Many creditors and bankers wanted to limit the supply of paper money, they called this “sound money” • Farmers and workers wanted to expand the money supply • Sound money won out as some greenbacks were withdrawn in 1875

The Money Question • As the greenback issue died down silver took center stage • In 1873 the government put America on a “Gold Only Standard” making silver “worthless” • Despite this the government “passed” a law to purchase silver but rarely met its minimum amount and people across the country who needed silver coinage suffered

1890’s Farmers Protest • As the 1880’s saw falling prices and issues with agriculture many farmers came together to protest the issues • Farmers formed the Farmers Alliance and protested against issues with banks, credit, railroad charges, and the growing influence of big business

The Populist • As farmers grew angrier the Populist Party emerged to advocate for workers and farmers • The Populists quickly gained momentum and won several state legislatures • The Populists formed the Omaha Platform which called for reforms to help farmers and workers and an end to Laissez Faire economics

The Depression of 1893 • A harsh and lengthy depression struck in 1893 forcing 20 percent of the labor force into unemployment • State governments offered little relief to struggling citizens • Instead of helping the Federal government strengthened bonds with business hoping the economy would bounce back, this enraged everyday citizens

The Election of 1896 • The election of 1896 pitted Republican William McKinley versus Democrat/Populist backed William Jennings Bryan • The silver issue became huge as Bryan advocated allowing silver into the monetary system to rescue the economy in his “Cross of Gold” speech • McKinley won as Bryan became to bogged down in the silver issue

Chapter Objectives • How were the campaigns run in the late 1800’s and what role did partisan politics play? • How effective was the federal government in addressing the problems of America’s industrializing economy? • What were the main policy issue of the 1880’s and the 1890’s? • What was the platform of the Populist Party?

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