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Chapter Nineteen

National Politics in the Gilded Age


1877-1900
Politics in the Gilded Age
Causes of Stalemate
• Prevailing political ideology of the time
• The way the political parties campaigned
• ‘Party Patronage’
• Little Government
– Laissez Fair was popular
• Campaign Strategy
– ‘bloody shirt’ to remind everyone that Democrats were ‘the
enemy’
• Democrats
– Generally Catholics, Lutherans, and Jews.
– Against temperance / prohibition
– States rights, limited federal government
Presidential Politics
• Rutherford B. Hayes
– Stopped the Reconstruction
– Supported temperance
– Vetoed immigration restriction
• James Garfield
– Made 100,000 new jobs
– Assassinated in 1881
• Chester Arthur
– Supported civil service
Congressional Leaders
• John Sherman
• Thomas Reed
– Maine
– Speaker of the House
– Autocratic rule
• James Blaine
– Maine
– Removed anti-slavery sentiment
– Replaced with organization
Election of 1884
• James Maine for Republicans
• Grover Cleveland for Democrats
• Cleveland won the election through a terrible
battle of mudslinging
Cleveland’s First Term
• Limited government, strict constitutionalism
• Interstate Commerce Act of 1887
• Dawes Act (Native Americans…remember?)
Issues: Civil Service, Currency, and
Tariffs
• Civil Service Reform
– Pendleton Act of 1881
• Set up the Civil Service Commission
• Money Question
– Voters wanted more money in circulation so they could
• Borrow more
• Pay off loans easier
• Greenback Party
– Money issued that wasn’t worth gold
– Farmers prospered
– Specie Resumption Act
• All ‘Greenbacks’ taken back
The Growth of Discontent, 1888-1896
The Election of 1888
• Democrats
– Cleveland
• Republicans
– Benjamin Harrison
• Harrison won election
Billion Dollar Congress
• The McKinley Tariff
– Raised foreign product tax
• Pensions were increased
• The Sherman Antitrust Act
– Made monopolies or trusts illegal
• Sherman Silver Purchase Act
– More silver was in circulation (But the farmers still
weren’t happy)
Rise of The Populists
• Omaha Platform
– Political and economic reform
• Populist Platform
– Unlimited silver
– Graduated income tax
– Public railroads
– Telephone system
– Better loans
– 8 hour days
The Election of 1892
• Populist
– James Weaver
• Harrison
• Cleveland
• Cleveland won (Harrison’s Tariff was
unpopular)
Depression Politics
• Panic of 1893
– Stock Market crashed
– Foreclosures and unemployment rose
• Gold reserve and tariff
– Gold was disappearing
– Sherman Silver Purchase Act repealed
– Wilson Gorman Tariff
• Tariff reduction
• 2% income tax on low incomes
• Jobless on the March
– Coxey’s Army
• Unemployed marched to Washington, under Jacob Coxey
Turning Point in American Politics
Election of 1896
• Democrats
– Cleveland
• Populists
– Williams Jennings Bryan
• Republicans
– McKinley
• McKinley won election
McKinley’s Presidency
• Gold in Alaska lead to economic revival
• Dingley Tariff of 1897
– Higher taxes
• Gold became the official standard of currency
Significance of the Election of 1896
• Populists faded into the void
• Urban America became more popular
• Modern campaigning came into view