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Your Last Name Your Name Your Professors Name Subject XX September 2012 The Impact of the Depression

of the 1890s on Political Tensions of the Time

In the last decade of the 19th century, a severe economic crisis hit the United States. It is frequently defined as one of the worst economic collapses in American history. It was the time of staggering unemployment, widespread protests, political turbulence, labour unrest, and grinding poverty throughout country, particularly in rural areas. The economic meltdown had a considerable impact on social and political aspects of life in the US. As economic disaster deepened, political tensions increased and debates concerning monetary issue became more heated. The aim of the given research paper is to discuss how the depression of the 1890s influenced political movements and views of the time and demonstrate that economic problems were in the core of the presidential election of 1896. Before analyzing the political situation of the time, it is necessary to define the causes and consequences of the depression. The crisis of the 1890s began with the Panic of 1893, when a number of banks and factories had to close down, and millions became unemployed (Brands 147). Agrarian sector was hit by the depression as well. Farmers complained about low prices of wheat and corn, high railroad charges, and high interest rates. The economic meltdown caused a number of desperate strikes. Jacob Coxey, for example, led hundreds of people who had lost their jobs on a march to the capital city in order to attract attention to the problems of impoverished population and demand relief for workers (Divine et al.). The following issue that should be mentioned while discussing the depression is the rise of Populism. The Peoples party, so-called Populist Party, was formed even before the outbreak of the crisis. Most of the proponents of the above mentioned political movement

Your Last Name were from agrarian areas. They supported coinage of silver and suggested that federal government should be more engaged in regulation of business and trusts.

The depression of the end of the 19th century prompted the change of political power. The economic disaster marred the reputation of President Cleveland, who proved to be unable to take adequate measures to restore the economy. Tensions between Democrats and Republicans increased. One of the chief issues in the political debate of the time was a monetary question. The two opposing political parties had different approaches to governing the country and solving the economic problems. Whereas the Democrats supported the idea of decentralized power in the states, the Republicans emphasized the necessity of a more active national government (Divine et al.). The Democratic Party was not strong and united at the time; the controversial point which divided the party was unlimited coinage of silver. While some members of the party supported the Sherman Silver Purchase Act, others demanded its repeal and insisted on the gold standard (Graff). As a result of the above mentioned inner-party conflict, the Democrats did not have a solid political program and a clear view of the way out of the crisis and their reputation was ruined. Since the Democrats failed to improve the economic and social situation in the country and could not agree on the monetary issue, their chances to win the elections of 1894 and 1896 were low. The election of 1894 initiated the Republican supremacy and demonstrated that the Democrats started losing its popularity. The presidential election of 1896 is frequently referred to as the battle of the standards, since at the heart of it there were economic issues and the debate over bimetallism (Divine et al.). The Republicans, who put forward a pro-gold program, gained a decisive victory over their political opponents. To sum up, the depression which marked the last decade of the 19th century led to heated political debates and significant changes in US government. The economic meltdown led to the dominance of the Republican Party.

Your Last Name Works Cited Brands, H. W. The Reckless Decade: America in the 1890s. University of Chicago Press, 2002. Print. Divine, Robert A, Breen, T, H., Fredrickson, George M., Williams, R. Hal, Gross, Ariel J., Brands, H. W. Chapter 20: Political Realignments in the 1890s. America Past and Present. AP ed. Web. 7 Sept. 2012

<http://wps.ablongman.com/long_divine_appap_7/23/5930/1518242.cw/index.html>. Graff, Henry F. William McKinley. The Presidents: A Reference History. 3rd ed. Cengage Gale, 2002. Web. 7 Sept. 2012 <http://www.presidentprofiles.com/GrantEisenhower/William-McKinley-The-politics-of-depression.html>.