Political Paralysis in the Gilded Age, 1869–1896 - North Thurston

Political Paralysis in the Gilded Age, 1869–1896 - North Thurston

CHAPTER 23 Political Paralysis in the Gilded Age, 1869–1896 PART I: REVIEWING THE CHAPTER A. Checklist of Learning Objectives After mastering this c...

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CHAPTER 23

Political Paralysis in the Gilded Age, 1869–1896

PART I: REVIEWING THE CHAPTER A. Checklist of Learning Objectives After mastering this chapter, you should be able to: 1.

Describe the political corruption of the Grant administration and the mostly unsuccessful efforts to reform politics in the Gilded Age.

2.

Describe the economic crisis of the 1870s, and explain the growing conflict between hard-money and soft-money advocates.

3.

Explain the intense political partisanship of the Gilded Age, despite the parties‘ lack of ideological difference and poor quality of political leadership.

4.

Indicate how the disputed Hayes-Tilden election of 1876 led to the Compromise of 1877 and the end of Reconstruction.

5.

Describe how the end of Reconstruction led to the loss of black rights and the imposition of the Jim Crow system of segregation in the South.

6.

Explain the rise of class conflict between business and labor in the 1870s and the growing hostility to immigrants, especially the Chinese.

7.

Explain the economic crisis and depression of the 1890s, and indicate how the Cleveland administration failed to address it.

8.

Show how the farm crisis of the depression of the 1890s stirred growing social protests and class conflict, and fueled the rise of the radical Populist Party.

B. Glossary To build your social science vocabulary, familiarize yourself with the following terms. 1.

coalition A temporary alliance of political factions or parties for some specific purpose. ―The Republicans, now freed from the Union party coalition of war days, enthusiastically nominated Grant. . . .‖

2.

corner To gain exclusive control of a commodity in order to fix its price. ―The crafty pair concocted a plot in 1869 to corner the gold market.‖

3.

censure An official statement of condemnation passed by a legislative body against one of its members or some other official of government. While severe, a censure itself stops short of penalties or expulsion, which is removal from office. ―A newspaper exposé and congressional investigation led to formal censure of two congressmen. . . .‖

4.

amnesty A general pardon for offenses or crimes against a government. ―The Republican Congress in 1872 passed a general amnesty act. . . .‖

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Chapter 23: Political Paralysis in the Gilded Age, 1869–1896

5.

civil service Referring to regular employment by government according to a standardized system of job descriptions, merit qualifications, pay, and promotion, as distinct from political appointees who receive positions based on affiliation and party loyalty. ―Congress also moved to reduce high Civil War tariffs and to fumigate the Grant administration with mild civil service reform.‖

6.

unsecured loans Money loaned without identification of collateral (existing assets) to be forfeited in case the borrower defaults on the loan. ―The Freedman‘s Savings and Trust Company had made unsecured loans to several companies that went under.‖

7.

contraction In finance, reducing the available supply of money, thus tending to raise interest rates and lower prices. ―Coupled with the reduction of greenbacks, this policy was called ‗contraction.‘ ‖

8.

deflation (ary) An increase in the value of money in relation to available goods, causing prices to fall. Inflation, a decrease in the value of money in relation to goods, causes prices to rise. ―It had a noticeable deflationary effect—the amount of money per capita in circulation actually decreased. . . .‖

9.

fraternal organization A society of men drawn together for social purposes and sometimes to pursue other common goals. ―. . . the Grand Army of the Republic [was] a politically potent fraternal organization of several hundred thousand Union veterans of the Civil War.‖

10. consensus Common or unanimous opinion. ―How can this apparent paradox of political consensus and partisan fervor be explained?‖ 11. kickback The return of a portion of the money received in a sale or contract, often secretly or illegally, in exchange for favors. ―The lifeblood of both parties was patronage—disbursing jobs by the bucketful in return for votes, kickbacks, and party service.‖ 12. lien A legal claim by a lender or another party on a borrower‘s property as a guarantee against repayment, and prohibiting any sale of the property. ― . . . storekeepers extended credit to small farmers for food and supplies and in return took a lien on their harvest.‖ 13. assassination Politically motivated murder of a public figure. ― . . . he asked all those who had benefited politically by the assassination to contribute to his defense fund.‖ 14. laissez-faire The doctrine of noninterference, especially by the government, in matters of economics or business (literally, ―leave alone‖). ―[The new president was] a staunch apostle of the hands-off creed of laissez-faire. . . .‖ 15.

pork barrel In American politics, government appropriations for political purposes, especially projects designed to please a legislator‘s local constituency. ―One [way to reduce the surplus] was to squander it on pensions and ‗pork-barrel‘ bills. . . .‖

PART II: CHECKING YOUR PROGRESS A. True-False Where the statement is true, circle T; where it is false, circle F. 1.

T

F

Ulysses Grant‘s status as a military hero enabled him to become a successful president who stood above partisan politics.

2.

T

F

The scandals of the Grant administration included bribes and corrupt dealings reaching to the cabinet and the vice president of the United States.

3.

T

F

The Liberal Republican movement‘s political skill enabled it to clean up the corruption of the Grant administration.

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Chapter 23: Political Paralysis in the Gilded Age, 1869–1896

227

4.

T

F

The severe economic downturn of the 1870s caused business failures, labor conflict, and battles over currency.

5.

T

F

The close, fiercely contested elections of the Gilded Age reflected the deep divisions between Republicans and Democrats over national issues.

6.

T

F

The battles between the Stalwart and Half-Breed Republican factions were mainly over who would get patronage and spoils.

7.

T

F

The disputed Hayes-Tilden election was settled by a political deal in which Democrats got the presidency and Republicans got economic and political concessions.

8.

T

F

The Compromise of 1877 purchased political peace between North and South by sacrificing southern blacks and removing federal troops in the South.

9.

T

F

The sharecropping and tenant farming systems forced many Southern blacks into permanent economic debt and dependency.

10. T

F

Western hostility to Chinese immigrants arose in part because the Chinese provided a source of cheap labor that competed with white workers.

11. T

F

By reducing politicians‘ use of patronage, the new civil-service system inadvertently made them more dependent on big campaign contributors.

12. T

F

The Cleveland-Blaine campaign of 1884 was conducted primarily as a debate about the issues of taxes and the tariff.

13. T

F

The Republican party, in the post–Civil War era, relied heavily on the political support of veterans‘ groups, to which it gave substantial pension benefits in return.

14. T

F

The Populist party‘s attempt to form a coalition of farmers and workers failed partly because of the racial division between poor whites and blacks in the South.

15. T

F

President Cleveland‘s deal to save the gold standard by borrowing $65 million from J.P. Morgan enhanced his popularity among both Democrats and Populists.

B. Multiple Choice Select the best answer and circle the corresponding letter. 1.

2.

Financiers Jim Fisk and Jay Gould involved the Grant administration in a corrupt scheme to a. skim funds from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. b. sell watered railroad stock at artificially high prices. c. corner the gold market. d. bribe congressmen in exchange for federal land grants. e. provide federal subsidies for bankrupt Wall Street stockbrokers. Boss Tweed‘s widespread corruption was finally brought to a halt by a. federal prosecutors who uncovered the theft. b. outraged citizens who rebelled against the waste of public money. c. the journalistic exposés of the New York Times and cartoonist Thomas Nast. d. Tweed‘s political opponents in New York City. e. bank officials who disclosed Tweed‘s illegal financial maneuvers.

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228

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

Chapter 23: Political Paralysis in the Gilded Age, 1869–1896

The Credit Mobilier scandal involved a. the abuse of federal loans intended for urban development. b. railroad corporation fraud and the subsequent bribery of congressmen to cover it up. c. Secretary of War Belknap‘s fraudulent sale of contracts to supply Indian reservations. d. the attempt of insiders to gain control of New York‘s gold and stock markets. e. illegal gifts and loans to members of President Grant‘s White House staff. Grant‘s greatest failing in the scandals that plagued his administration was his a. refusal to turn over evidence to congressional investigators. b. toleration of corruption and his loyalty to crooked friends. c. acceptance of behind-the-scenes payments for performing his duties as president. d. use of large amounts of dirty money in his political campaigns. e. inability to distinguish innocent members of his staff from the guilty. The depression of the 1870s led to increasing demands for a. a new federally controlled Bank of the United States. b. federal programs to create jobs for the unemployed. c. restoration of sound money by backing all paper currency with gold. d. stronger regulation of the banking system. e. inflation of the money supply by issuing more paper or silver currency. The political system of the Gilded Age was generally characterized by a. split-ticket voting, low voter turnout, and single-issue special-interest groups. b. strong party loyalties, low voter turnout, and deep ideological differences. c. third-party movements, high voter turnout and strong disagreement on foreign-policy issues. d. strong party loyalties, high voter turnout, and few disagreements on national issues. e. weak party loyalties, high voter turnout, and focus on personalities rather than parties. The primary goal for which all factions in both political parties contended during the Gilded Age was a. racial justice. b. a sound financial and banking system. c. patronage. d. a more assertive American foreign policy. e. rapid expansion of the national railway system. The key tradeoff featured in the Compromise of 1877 was that a. Republicans got the presidency in exchange for the final removal of federal troops from the South. b. Democrats got the presidency in exchange for federal guarantees of black civil rights. c. Republicans got the presidency in exchange for Democratic control of the cabinet. d. Democrats got the presidency in exchange for increased immigration quotas from Ireland. e. Republicans got the presidency in exchange for permitting former Confederate officers to vote. Which of the following was not among the changes that affected African Americans in the South after federal troops were withdrawn in the Compromise of 1877? a. The forced relocation of black farmers to the Kansas and Oklahoma dust bowl b. The imposition of literacy requirements and poll taxes to prevent black voting c. The development of the tenant farming and share-cropping systems d. The introduction of legal systems of racial segregation e. The rise of mob lynching as a means of suppressing blacks who challenged the racial system

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Chapter 23: Political Paralysis in the Gilded Age, 1869–1896

229

10. The Supreme Court‘s ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson upholding ―separate but equal‖ public facilities in effect legalized a. southern blacks‘ loss of voting rights. b. the right of blacks to establish separate colleges admitting blacks only. c. the program of separate black and white economic development endorsed by Booker T. Washington. d. the rights to ―equal protection of the law‖ guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment. e. the system of unequal segregation between the races. 11. The great railroad strike of 1877 revealed the a. growing strength of American labor unions. b. refusal of the U.S. federal government to intervene in private labor disputes. c. ability of American workers to cooperate across ethnic and racial lines. d. growing threat of class warfare in response to the economic depression of the mid-1870s. e. American economy‘s capacity to find alternatives to railroad transportation. 12. The final result of the widespread anti-Chinese agitation in the West was a. a program to encourage Chinese students to enroll in American colleges and universities. b. a congressional law to prohibit any further Chinese immigration. c. the stripping of citizenship even from native-born Chinese Americans. d. legal segregation of all Chinese into Chinatown districts in San Francisco and elsewhere. e. the forced emigration of all but a handful of Chinese back to China. 13. President James Garfield was assassinated by a(n) a. fanatically anti-Republican Confederate veteran. b. mentally unstable disappointed office seeker. c. anticapitalist immigrant anarchist. d. corrupt gangster under federal criminal indictment. e. bitter supporter of his defeated Democratic opponent, Winfield Scott Hancock. 14. In its first years, the Populist Party advocated, among other things a. free silver, a graduated income tax, and government ownership of the railroads, telegraph, and telephone. b. higher tariffs and federally sponsored unemployment insurance and pensions. c. tighter restriction on black economic, social, and political rights. d. a Homestead Act to permit farmers and unemployed workers to obtain free federal land in the West. e. greater support for land grant colleges to enhance scientific agriculture. 15. Grover Cleveland stirred a furious storm of protest when, in response to the extreme financial crisis of the 1890s, he a. lowered tariffs to permit an influx of cheaper foreign goods into the country. b. signed a bill introducing a federal income tax that cut into workers‘ wages. c. pushed the Federal Reserve Board into sharply raising interest rates. d. borrowed $65 million dollars from J.P. Morgan and other bankers in order to save the monetary gold standard. e. seized federal control of the railroad industry.

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Chapter 23: Political Paralysis in the Gilded Age, 1869–1896

C. Identification Supply the correct identification for each numbered description. 1.

__________

The symbol of the Republican political tactic of attacking Democrats with reminders of the Civil War

2.

__________

Corrupt construction company whose bribes and payoffs to congressmen and others created a major Grant administration scandal

3.

__________

Short-lived third party of 1872 that attempted to curb Grant administration corruption

4.

__________

Precious metal that soft-money advocates demanded be coined again to compensate for the Crime of ‘73

5.

__________

Soft-money third party that polled over a million votes and elected fourteen congressmen in 1878 by advocating inflation

6.

__________

Mark Twain‘s sarcastic name for the post–Civil War era, which emphasized its atmosphere of greed and corruption

7.

__________

Civil War Union veterans‘ organization that became a potent political bulwark of the Republican party in the late nineteenth century

8.

__________

Republican party faction led by Senator Roscoe Conkling that opposed all attempts at civil-service reform

9.

__________

Republican party faction led by Senator James G. Blaine that paid lip service to government reform while still battling for patronage and spoils

10. __________

The complex political agreement between Republicans and Democrats that resolved the bitterly disputed election of 1876

11. __________

Asian immigrant group that experienced discrimination on the West Coast

12. __________

System of choosing federal employees on the basis of merit rather than patronage introduced by the Pendleton Act of 1883

13. __________

Sky-high Republican tariff of 1890 that caused widespread anger among farmers in the Midwest and the South

14. __________

Insurgent political party that gained widespread support among farmers in the 1890s

15. __________

Notorious clause in southern voting laws that exempted from literacy tests and poll taxes anyone whose ancestors had voted in 1860, thereby excluding blacks

D. Matching People, Places, and Events Match the person, place, or event in the left column with the proper description in the right column by inserting the correct letter on the blank line. 1.

___

Ulysses S. Grant

2.

___

Jim Fisk

3.

___

Boss Tweed

4.

___

Horace Greeley

a.

Heavyweight New York political boss whose widespread fraud landed him in jail in 1871

b.

Bold and unprincipled financier whose plot to corner the U.S. gold market nearly succeeded in 1869

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Chapter 23: Political Paralysis in the Gilded Age, 1869–1896

5.

___

Samuel Tilden

6.

___

Denis Kearney

7.

___

Tom Watson

8.

___

Roscoe Conkling

9.

___

James G. Blaine

10. ___

Rutherford B. Hayes

11. ___

James Garfield

12. ___

Jim Crow

13. ___

Grover Cleveland

14. ___

William Jennings Bryan

15. ___

J. P. Morgan

231

c.

Winner of the contested 1876 election who presided over the end of Reconstruction and a sharp economic downturn

d.

Great military leader whose presidency foundered in corruption and political ineptitude

e.

Term for the racial segregation laws imposed in the 1890s

f.

Eloquent young Congressman from Nebraska who became the most prominent advocate of free silver in the early 1890s

g.

President whose assassination after only a few months in office spurred the passage of a civilservice law

h.

Irish-born leader of the anti-Chinese movement in California

i.

Radical Populist leader whose early success turned sour and who then became a vicious racist

j.

New York prosecutor of Boss Tweed who later lost in the disputed presidential election of 1876

k.

Imperious New York senator and leader of the Stalwart faction of Republicans

l.

First Democratic president since the Civil War; defender of laissez-faire economics and low tariffs

m.

Enormously wealthy banker whose secret bailout of the federal government in 1895 aroused fierce public anger

n.

Colorful, eccentric newspaper editor who carried the Liberal Republican and Democratic banners against Grant in 1872

o.

Charming but corrupt Half-Breed Republican senator and presidential nominee in 1884

E. Putting Things in Order Put the following events in correct order by numbering them from 1 to 5. 1.

__________

A bitterly disputed presidential election is resolved by a complex political deal that ends Reconstruction in the South.

2.

__________

Two unscrupulous financiers use corrupt means to manipulate New York gold markets and the U.S. Treasury.

3.

__________

A major economic depression causes widespread social unrest and the rise of the Populist party as a vehicle of protest.

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232

Chapter 23: Political Paralysis in the Gilded Age, 1869–1896

4.

__________

Grant administration scandals split the Republican party, but Grant overcomes the inept opposition to win reelection.

5.

__________

Monetary deflation and the high McKinley Tariff lead to growing agitation for free silver by Congressman William Jennings Bryan and others.

F. Matching Cause and Effect Match the historical cause in the left column with the proper effect in the right column by writing the correct letter on the blank line. Cause 1.

___

Favor-seeking businesspeople and corrupt politicians

2.

___

The New York Times and cartoonist Thomas Nast

Effect a.

Created fierce partisan competition and high voter turnouts, even though the parties agreed on most national issues

b.

Caused anti-Chinese violence and restrictions against Chinese immigration

c.

Led to the formation of the Liberal Republican party in 1872

d.

Induced Grover Cleveland to negotiate a secret loan from J. P. Morgan‘s banking syndicate

e.

Forced Boss Tweed out of power and into jail

3.

___

Upright Republicans‘ disgust with Grant administration scandals

4.

___

The economic crash of the mid1870s

5.

___

Local cultural, moral, and religious differences

6.

___

The Compromise of 1877 that settled the disputed Hayes-Tilden election

7.

___

White workers‘ resentment of Chinese labor competition

f.

Helped ensure passage of the Pendleton Act

8.

___

Public shock at Garfield‘s assassination by Guiteau

g.

Caused numerous scandals during President Grant‘s administration

9.

___

The 1890s depression and the drain of gold from the federal treasury

h.

Led to failure of the third-party revolt in the South and a growing racial backlash

i.

Caused unemployment, railroad strikes, and a demand for cheap money

j.

Led to the withdrawal of troops from the South and the virtual end of federal efforts to protect black rights there

10. ___

The inability of Populist leaders to overcome divisions between white and black farmers

G. Developing Historical Skills Historical Fact and Historical Explanation Historians uncover a great deal of information about the past, but often that information takes on significance only when it is analyzed and interpreted. In this chapter, many facts about the presidents and elections of the Gilded Age are presented: for example, the very close elections in 1876, 1884, 1888, and 1892; the large voter turnouts; and the lack of significant issues in most elections.

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Chapter 23: Political Paralysis in the Gilded Age, 1869–1896

233

These facts take on larger meaning, however, when we examine the reasons for them. Reread the section ―Pallid Politics in the Gilded Age‖ (pp.543–544) and answer each of the following questions in a sentence or two. 1.

What fundamental difference between the two parties made partisan politics so fiercely contested in the Glided Age?

2.

Why did this underlying difference not lead to differences over issues at the national level?

3.

Why were so many of the elections extremely close, no matter who the candidates were?

4.

Why was winning each election so very important to both parties, even though there was little disagreement on issues?

H. Map Mastery Map Discrimination Using the maps and charts in Chapter 23, answer the following questions. 1.

Hayes-Tilden Disputed Election of 1876: In the controversial Hayes-Tilden election of 1876, how many undisputed electoral votes did Republican Hayes win in the former Confederate states?

2.

Hayes-Tilden Disputed Election of 1876: Democrat Tilden carried four states in the North—states that did not have slavery before 1865. Which were they?

3.

Growth of Classified Civil Service: The percentage of offices classified under civil service was approximately how many times greater under President McKinley than under President Arthur: two, three, four, five, or ten?

4.

Presidential Election of 1884: Which of the following states gained the most electoral votes between 1876 and 1884: New York, Indiana, Missouri, or Texas?

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234 5.

Chapter 23: Political Paralysis in the Gilded Age, 1869–1896

Presidential Election of 1884: How many states that were carried by Republican Hayes in 1876 were carried by Democrat Cleveland in 1884?

Map Challenge Using the election map on p. 545 and the account of the Compromise of 1877 in the text (pp. 545–546), discuss the election of 1876 in relation to both Reconstruction and the political balance of the Gilded Age. Include some analysis of the reasons why this was the last time for nearly a century that the states in the Deep South voted Republican.

PART III: APPLYING WHAT YOU HAVE LEARNED 1.

What made politics in the Gilded Age so extremely popular—with over 80 percent voter participation—yet so often corrupt and unconcerned with important national issues?

2.

What caused the end of the Reconstruction? In particular, why did the majority of Republicans abandon their earlier policy of support for black civil rights and voting in the South?

3.

What were the results of the Compromise of 1877 for race relations? How did the suppression of blacks through the sharecropping and crop-lien systems depress the economic condition of the South for whites and blacks alike?

4.

What caused the rise of the money issue in American politics? What were the backers of greenback and silver money each trying to achieve?

5.

What were the causes and political results of the rise of agrarian protest in the 1880s and 1890s? Why were the Populists‘ attempts to form a coalition of white and black farmers and industrial workers ultimately unsuccessful?

6.

White laborers in the West fiercely resisted Chinese immigration, and white farmers in the South turned toward race-baiting rather than forming a populist alliance with black farmers. How and why did racial animosity trump the apparent economic self-interests of these lower-class whites?

7.

In what ways did the political conflicts of the Gilded Age still reflect the aftermath of the Civil War and Reconstruction (see Chapter 22)? To what extent did the political leaders of the time address issues of race and sectional conflict, and to what extent did they merely shove them under the rug?

8.

Was the apparent failure of the American political system to address the industrial conflicts and racial tensions of the Gilded Age a result of the two parties‘ poor leadership and narrow selfinterest, or was it simply the natural inability of a previously agrarian, local, democratic nation to face up to a modern, national industrial economy?

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