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  • Tammany Hall a NYC political organization founded in 1786; notorious Democratic machine by Tweed arrested 1872 after details of extend of his graft became known, died in prison
  • The way “to hold your grip on your district is to go right down among the poor families and help them in the different ways they need help . . . . It’s philanthropy, but it’s politics, too – mighty good politics. . . . The poor are the most grateful people in the world.”
  • Demanded public works program to create jobs for unemployed + an inflation of currency (more money)Marched on foot from Ohio to Washington to present demands to governmentHe + followers barred from Capitol + herded into camps because they were claimed to be a threat to public healthCoxley arrested + convicted – of walking on grass

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  • William Tweed and Tammany Hall• Tammany Society, 1789 – Political organization that became center of Democratic Republican party of city in 1830’s – Its power grew with arrival of immigrants in 1840’s, especially Irish – NYC divided into wards since 1680’s – “Boss” maintained control of of organization + through ward captains offered aid to immigrants + working class in return for political support – William Tweed best known boss, 1850’s-’72 – Tammany Hall now synonymous with graft, corruption, + greed
  • William Tweed and Tammany Hall• Tweed greatly increased power of Tammany Hall• NY County Courthouse a crowning achievement: “the house that Tweed built” – Designed to cost $250,000 – Overruns ran to $13 m. • $5.5 m. for furniture + carpets • $1.5 m. for plumbing fixtures • $500,000 for plaster, + $1 m. to repair it • Left unfinished on Tweed’s fall
  • William Tweed and Tammany Hall• These were spoils; government contracts given to loyal supporters who oiled machine• Bosses came to power throughout nation by skillful political organization + loyal support of lower class workers, especially immigrants – While often corrupt, machines took care of immigrants when no one else would • Found jobs for new arrivals • Donated $, food, + clothing in times of crisis, free coal in winter • Contributed to orphanages, hospitals, . . . . – Bosses got wealthy, but they also provided considerable services
  • William Tweed and Tammany Hall• City bosses corrupt by our standards, but their role may be overemphasized• Others played roles in city politics, + machines accomplished some great things: – Under Tweed: Brooklyn Bridge, Central Park, MMA, 660 mi. water lines, 450 mi. sewer pipes, 1800 mi. paved streets – Boston had largest public library in world• Corruption vs. “honest graft”
  • The Washington Scene• 5 presidents 1877-1893: – Rutherford B. Hayes (R) 1876-1880 – James Garfield (R) 1880 – Chester Arthur (R) 1880-1884 – Grover Cleveland (D) 1884-1888 – Benjamin Harrison (R) 1888-1892• None enjoyed noteworthy presidencies• Few major issues + fewer opportunities for success
  • The Washington Scene• Political system of late 19C a paradox – Both parties stronger + more stable than they ever would be again – Yet federal government, over which both fought for control, doing very little of importance – Most Americans of period engaged in political activity not because of issues, but because of regional, ethnic, or religious sentiments
  • The Washington Scene• The Party System – Electorate almost evenly divided 1877-1893, loyalties rarely changing – 16 states consistently Republican, 14 consistently Democratic (mostly Southern) – Only 5 usually in doubt, their voters effectively deciding national elections – Republican Party won presidency in all but 2 elections, but party not especially dominant • Average popular margin separating candidates 1.5% • Congressional balance similarly stable, Republicans usually controlling Senate, Democrats House
  • The Washington Scene• Intensity of party loyalty as striking as balance – Party affiliations passionate to degree hard for later generations to understand – Voter turnout near 80% in period, higher than any point since • Even in nonpresidential years, 60-80% turned out for Congressional + state elections – But loyalty not based on distinct party positions on actual issues – a reflection of cultural inclinations rather than calculated economic interest • Loyalty based largely on region, ethnicity, + religion
  • The Washington Scene• Region: – White loyalty to Democratic Party in South a matter of faith – vehicle by which they had triumphed over Reconstruction + preserved white supremacy – Northerners both black + white equally loyal to Republicans – party of Lincoln remained bulwark against slavery + treason
  • The Washington Scene• Religion + ethnicity – Democratic Party attracted most Catholic voters, immigrants, + lower class – overlapping groups • Northern Democrats tended to be foreign-born + Catholic – Republicans appealed to northern Protestants; old- stock + middle class • More pietistic one was, more likely to be Republican + favor use of government power to uphold moral values + regulate personal behavior – Matters concerning immigrants among few substantive differences between parties • Republicans usually supported immigration restriction + temperance legislation • Catholics + most immigrants read this as assault against them + their cultures
  • The Washington Scene• Religion + ethnicity, con’t. – Education became key issue in ‘80’s • Immigrants wanted native languages, Republicans increasingly sought their exclusion • Catholics fought for public support of parochial schools – A losing battle; prohibited by 23 states in 1900 – Yet use of Anti-Catholic history text in Boston public schools drew outrage + was removed » Protestants incensed – elected new school board + reinstated it – Public Morality • “Blue laws” – no baseball on Sunday! Major cultural differences between Catholic + Protestant • Evangelical Protestants long sought temperance legislation – Indiana law • Impact of Democrats identified as party of “Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion”
  • The Washington Scene• 2 parties avoided substantive issues partly because government did very little• Laissez-faire reigned – that government best that governed least• Federal government responsible for mail, military, + tax + tariff collection – Few other responsibilities, + few institutions through which to undertake anything else
  • The Washington Scene• Fact is US of late 19C a society lacking modern national government – Most powerful institutions were 2 political parties (+ political bosses + machines that ran them) + federal courts • County, state, + national committees ran party business • Conventions determined rules, platforms, + candidates • Highly democratic in appearance, but run by unofficial internal organization – insiders who undertook party business in return for gov. contracts + connections
  • The Washington Scene• Courts – Public suspicious of government, making actual political initiative largely impossible – Power shifted from executive + legislative branches to courts – Courts increasingly guardians of rights of property against grasping government regulation – States responsible for social welfare + economic regulation under residual powers clause – Federal courts increasingly used 14th Amendment to prevent states from using these powers to regulate corporate activity – Judicial supremacy possibly a reflection of low esteem with which public held politicians of period
  • The Washington Scene• Power of party bosses immense, seriously interfering with presidential power – Presidents of period blocked from doing much more than distribute government appointments – New president made 100,000 appointments, mostly in Post Office – Little real latitude – had to satisfy bosses + factions of party or face serious opposition
  • The Washington Scene• Rutherford B. Hayes – Stuck between Stalwarts + Half-Breeds, competing factions of Republican Party • No real difference between them; rhetoric a means of gaining larger share of patronage • Stalwarts led by Roscoe Conkling of NY + favored traditional machine politics • Half-Breeds led by James Blaine of Maine + favored reform – in theory • Hayes tried to satisfy both; satisfied neither • Battle over patronage doomed his one substantive initiative, creation of a civil service system that neither supported • Announced intention not to seek another term
  • The Washington Scene• Infighting during Hayes’s administration nearly lost Republicans presidency in 1880 – After long deadlock, factions agreed on Half-Breed James Garfield + Stalwart Chester Arthur – Garfield benefitted from end of recession in 1879 + won; Republicans also won both houses of Congress – Garfield began term defying Stawarts in appointments + in supporting civil service reform – Public rhetoric ugly – Garfield shot in July 1881 by Charles Guiteau, deranged appointment seeker – Arthur an open spoilsman + close ally of Conkling
  • The Washington Scene• Arthur attempted independence, even supporting reform – Probably recognized that Garfield’s assassination discredited spoils system in public mind – Kept most of Garfield’s appointments in place – Responsible for Pendleton Act, 1883 • 1st national civil service measure • Required that some federal jobs be filled by competitive exam over patronage • Included few offices initially, but gradually extended until most offices included by mid 20C
  • • Grover Cleveland – James Blaine Republican candidate in 1884 • Symbol of politics’ dark side for many – Faction of “liberal Republicans” bolted party, supporting “honest Democrat” • The Mugwumps – Democrats responded with nomination of Grover Cleveland • Reform governor of NY; little real difference on issues – Election largely decided by religious controversy • “Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion”
  • • Grover Cleveland, con’t. – Opposed bosses, corruption, + pressure groups – Willing to deny Congress’s demands – Very much in keeping with public sentiment • He did little, but Americans wanted little done – Had always opposed tariff • Believed it was responsible for annual surplus that fuelled Congress’s “extravagant” legislation that he often vetoed • Asked Congress to reduce tariff in 1887 – House approved reduction, Senate Republicans passed bill of their own increasing it – Goal was to make it a campaign issue in 1888• 1888 election – 1st post-Civil War campaign involving clear economic differences between parties – Harrison lost popular vote, but won electoral
  • • Benjamin Harrison – Undistinguished; made little effort to influence Congress – But public opinion was forcing government involvement in economic + social issues – Sherman Antitrust Act, 1890 • While 15 states prohibited combinations restraining competition, corps. got around them by incorporating elsewhere – NJ • Reformers believed only federal antitrust legislation could be effective • Passed with little dissent, but considered symbolic by most • Little effect; used mostly against unions
  • • Benjamin Harrison, con’t. – McKinley Tariff, 1890
  • Women’s Political Culture• Male identity threatened in period + reasserted in political sphere• Woman suffrage movement made more difficult as a result• Differences dating back to Reconstruction put aside – National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1890 • Shifted focus from Constitutional amendment to state campaigns • Little success
  • Women’s Political Culture• Separate Spheres• Benevolent Empire• Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, 1874 – Francis Willard, 1879 • Suffragist, but moderate; argued against approach of Susan B. Anthony et. al. • Conservative or brilliant? • “Home Protection” • Temperance, but what else? • “Do Everything” • Third party politics
  • Race and Politics in the New South• Redeemers• Segregation rampant but unofficial• 1887: blacks formally excluded from 1st class railway cars – important precedent• Blacks’ political power declining – gerrymandering• Power of Democrats not a given – Tensions between planter elite + small farmers • Readjusters
  • Race and the New South• Jim Crow – Reassertion of white supremacy socially + politically – 1887 segregation of railway cars basis for further state-sponsored segregation • Ratified by Supreme Court in 1896: Plessey v. Ferguson – 14th Amendment not violated so long as accommodations were equal – “separate but equal” – Also political disenfranchisement • South passed laws to prevent blacks from voting • Supreme Court ratified practice in 1896 – 15th Amendment not violated so long as race not a stated part of restriction
  • Race and the New South• Jim Crow, Con’t. – Poll taxes • As these effected poor whites as well, “grandfather clauses” included – anyone whose father/grandfather had been eligible to vote before 1867 could vote without tax • So obvious it was eventually struck down – in 1915 – Literacy + “understanding” tests • More effective because less overtly racial • 50% of Southern blacks illiterate; 12% whites • Those not literate could take “understanding” tests – Registrar read a passage of state constitution + evaluated whether it was understood or not – broad discretion
  • Race and the New South• Jim Crow laws supplemented by renewed violence – Lynching • 1890’s average 180 per yr.
  • Without Sanctuary, James Allen
  • The Crisis of American Politics: The 1890’s• National politics in stalemate since Civil War – An even balance between parties• Equilibrium began to break down in late ‘80’s – Benjamin Harrison’s 1888 election last close election of era – Tide turned away from Republicans • Harrison’s presidency uninspired • Democrats claimed McKinley Tariff of 1890 a sellout to business interests • Democrats took control of House in 1890, along with governorships in several typically Republican states – Cleveland regained presidency in 1892 by largest margin in 20 yrs.
  • The Crisis of American Politics: The 1890’s • Cleveland’s election could have signaled period of Democratic dominance • Economy collapsed as he was taking office – Bankruptcy of railroads – Foreclosure on farms – Stock market crash 1893 – Unemployment over 20% – Depression – West + South especially hard-hit
  • The Crisis of American Politics: The 1890’s• Populism – Grangers had organized independent farmers in 1870’s • Cooperatives – Ultimately failed due to poor management • State politics – Number of state legislators elected • Grangers laws – Strict regulation of railroad rates – Courts soon invalidated these gains • Largely done by 1880, membership dropping as agricultural prices rebounded
  • The Crisis of American Politics: The 1890’s• Farmers Alliances – Alliances began forming before Grange movement faded • Southern Alliance 4 m. strong by 1880 • equally powerful Northwestern Alliance grew up in Plains + Midwest + built connections with Southern counterpart – Focused mostly on local problems, much as Grange had • Cooperative ventures designed to free members from dependence on “furnishing merchants” that kept farmers in perpetual debt – Stores, banks, processing plants – Often failed for same reason as Grangers’ cooperatives had
  • The Crisis of American Politics: The 1890’s• Farmers Alliances, con’t. – Some leaders saw movement in larger term: to create a society in which competition would give way to cooperation • “Lecturers” – some women – travelled rural areas speaking out against concentration of wealth + power within corporate + banking elite • Didn’t support rigid collectivism, but collective responsibility + support allowing farmers to resist oppressive outside forces – Notable for role of women • Full voting members from beginning in most local Alliances • Advocated women’s suffrage, at least in some areas
  • The Crisis of American Politics: The 1890’s• With increasing economic frustrations, Alliances began organizing politically• Southern + Northwestern Alliances agreed to loose merger in 1889 – A national convention in Ocala, Fl. produced a party platform • Off-year elections of 1890 saw candidates supporting Alliances win full control of 12 state legislatures, 6 governorships, 50 seats in House + 3 in Senate – Alliances encouraged enough to form their own party in 1892 – the People’s Party or Populists • Held convention in Omaha, nominated presidential + vice presidential candidates, + adopted Omaha Platform – An end to national banks » Dangerous institutions of concentrated power • Creation of “subtreasury” system for farm relief – Government would build public warehouses where farmers could deposit crops – Using crops as collateral, farmers could take out low interest loans + wait for prices to recover before selling crops • End to absentee ownership of land • Direct election of senators (limiting power of conservative state legislatures)
  • The Crisis of American Politics: The 1890’s• Populist presidential candidate won over 1 m. votes + carried 6 states; 22 electoral votes – 3 seats in Senate, 10 in Congress, 3 governors, 1500 state legislators – A force that could not be ignored; 1st time a third party truly challenged established 2 party system – Populist rhetoric more strident • No middle ground between money power + producers of wealth – labor • Attempted to unite labor with farmers • Pulled labor movement left – Gompers briefly lost control of AFL • Similarities with social democratic parties growing throughout Europe, but Populists rejected Marxist element + supported strong government
  • The Crisis of American Politics: The 1890’s• Populists advocated a strong state – Called for nationalization of railroads + communications – Protection of land, including natural resources, from corporate + foreign control – Graduated income tax – Unlimited coinage of silver – free silver • Free silver became party’s defining issue, but eventually divided farmers + industrial laborers + ultimately caused movement’s decline
  • The Crisis of American Politics: The 1890’s• Economy collapsed shortly after Cleveland’s election – Panic of 1893 triggered major worst depression nation had experienced – 2 major corporate bankruptcies triggered stock market crash – NY banks were heavily invested in market, leading to wave of bank closures across nation – Credit contraction led to further bankruptcies of aggressive + loan-dependent businesses of period
  • The Crisis of American Politics: The 1890’s• Longer range causes: – Agricultural prices declining since 1887 • Weakened purchasing power of farmers – largest group in population – European economy had been declining previously, causing loss of American markets abroad • Also caused foreign investors to withdraw gold invested in US• Effect devastating – Within 8 months, 8,000 businesses, 156 railroads, + 400 banks failed – Agricultural prices failed further – Unemployment over 20%
  • The Crisis of American Politics: The 1890’s
  • The Crisis of American Politics: The 1890’s• Money and Politics – Economic expansion requires money • Volume of money has to increase quickly enough to meet economy’s needs or expansion will be stifled • But how fast should supply grow? • Too slow, economy stifled; too fast, inflation + economic hardship + potential collapse – More money in circulation = inflated prices + reduced cost of borrowing • Producers benefit from higher prices, debtors (+ loan- dependent businesses) benefit from lower “real cost” of debt • Creditors + most established businesspeople at clear disadvantage
  • The Crisis of American Politics: The 1890’s• Money and Politics, con’t. – Today’s dollar largely based on confidence – Before Civil War, economy’s needs met by state banks • Stability always in question – ability of state banks to “redeem” notes they issued varied – US Banking Act of 1863 prohibited state banks from issuing notes not backed by US bonds – But Lincoln’s administration printed paper money – greenbacks – to pay for war • US Treasury effectively replaced state banks as source of easy credit • End of war raised questions about whether government should continue to play that role – “sound money” advocates said no – government had no business printing money + should restrict national currency to amount of specie held by US Treasury – “Sound money” prevailed after 10 yrs. of controversy + circulation of greenbacks ended – State bank notes now in short supply + nation entered period of chronic deflation
  • The Crisis of American Politics: The 1890’s• Money and Politics, con’t. – Specie was gold and silver • Treasury fixed official ratio (“mint ratio”) of 16:1 – 16 oz. of silver equal in value to 1 oz. of gold • Value of silver rose in 1870’s – Commercial value (“market ratio”) greater than “mint ratio” – People sold silver on open market, not to government – Congress recognized reality + officially ended silver coinage • Value fell to well below mint ratio later in ‘70’s – Silver now easily available for coinage, but Congress had discontinued it, blocking a means of expanding currency + depriving silver miners of a consistent market • Some saw conspiracy of big bankers + demanded “Crime of ’73” be undone – Mine owners wanted government to buy silver above market value – Farmers wanted increased money supply – inflation of currency – as a way of raising farm prices + easing payment of debts
  • The Crisis of American Politics: The 1890’s• Money and Politics, con’t. – Populists demanded “free and unlimited coinage of silver” – free silver – Nation’s gold reserves in decline, + Panic of 1893 stretched demand on those reserves – Cleveland believed cause was Sherman Silver Purchasing Act of 1890 requiring government to purchase, but not coin, silver + pay for it in gold • Congress repealed Act on his request, infuriating Populists + silver interests + permanently dividing Democratic Party • Southern + western Democrats now firmly allied against Cleveland + his eastern supporters
  • The Crisis of American Politics: The 1890’s• Money and Politics, con’t. – Cleveland wouldn’t budge on issue, even when confronted by depression, falling prices, + suffering farmers – Brutal handling of Pullman Strike alienated Populists further – News that he had secretly negotiated with group of NY bankers, led by Morgan, to buy gold needed for Treasury created further outrage – Free silver became defining issue in 1896 election
  • The Crisis of American Politics: The 1890’s• 1896 election hardest fought election since 1860 + had most at stake• As party in power, Democrats considered most responsible for economic crisis – Cleveland only added to party’s problems – Democrats repudiated him at 1896 convention + made free silver their primary issue • Nominated William Jennings Bryan –”Cross of Gold” • Populists absorbed into Democratic Party
  • The Crisis of American Politics: The 1890’s• Republicans nominated William McKinley – Staunch supporter of high tariff, sound money, + prosperity based on industrial + corporate growth – Republicans had championed Protestant morality, but now emphasized “live and let live” – Bryan’s crusading zeal + language struck many as too strong, combining with protests to make middle class uncomfortable – McKinley won by considerable margin