THE “BLOODY SHIRT” ELECTS GRANT
Why was there disillusionment amongst
Americans in the era following the Civil
In the presidential election of 1868, Union war
hero, Ulysses S. Grant defeated Democratic
challenger, Horatio Seymour, in an electoral
landslide (214-80) despite a close popular vote
(3,013,421 to 2,706,829).
For the Republicans, what proved to be the
decisive factor for their victory?
THE ERA of GOOD STEALINGS
(THE NADIR OF NATIONAL DISGRACE)
Link the Civil War era to the extravagance,
speculation, waste, and graft.
Cynics defined an honest politician as one who, when
bought, would stay bought.
The infamous Tweed Ring in New York City vividly
displayed the ethics (or lack of ethics) typical of the
Explain William “Boss” Tweed’s tactics. Who brought
Tweed to task?
Tweed was eventually convicted of fraud and died in
Cartoonist Thomas Nast relentlessly
attacked the perpetrators of
corruption, as big business began to
dominate government by politicians.
In the face of growing public discontent with
their influence, political “boss’” attempted to
rationalize their tactics as “seizing opportunities.”
Explain and/or describe the following incidents of
corruption that marked the post-war era:
1. “Jubilee Jim” Fisk & Jay Gould
2. Credit Mobilier
3. The Whiskey Ring
Grant’s Administration was thus marred by
corruption and scandal. His entire cabinet
proved a disgrace except for Secretary of State
President Grant proved susceptible to office-
seekers and in-laws; he could be easily “bought”
with a simple gift from unscrupulous office-
Describe Grant’s reaction to the corruption
swirling around his administration.
Ultimately, what was Grant’s accountability to the corruption? Would the outcome
have been different in today’s political climate?
During Grant’s years as President, a
great many of his top advisors and
other govt. officials took bribes &
kickbacks, and did other things to get
money illegally. What changes in the
country do you think made such illegal
activity more common in the govt. in
This cartoon shows Grant as Gulliver.
A tiny man is telling Grant that many
people want to see him punished.
That tiny man ran against Grant in the
presidential election of 1872. Can you
What point about Grant and his
critics is this cartoon trying to make?
Do you agree with that point? Why
or why not?
THE LIBERAL REPUBLICAN REVOLT of 1872
By 1872, even many Republicans were disgusted
with Grant. “Turn the rascals out” became
their slogan urging reform. What
were their twin goals?
The Liberal Republicans muffed their chance
by nominating the brilliant, but erratic, Horace
Greeley. Provide his profile.
Democrats continued to lose political
credibility when they endorsed Greeley, who
had labeled Democrats as “slave-whippers” and
The Republicans nominated incumbent,
The campaign was marked by mud-slinging and
the voters were presented with two poor
candidates – why?
Were the Liberal Republicans successful?
DEPRESSION, DEFLATION, and INFLATION
Grant’s woes deepened in the paralyzing economic panic that broke in 1873. What
factors led to depression in the post-war years?
Boom times became gloom times as more than
15,000 businesses went bankrupt. Black
Americans were especially hard hit.
Hard times inflicted the worst punishment on
debtors, who intensified their clamor for
inflationary policies (wanted more money in
circulation). Explain their rationale. Creditors,
of course, advocated precisely the opposite.
Which group did Grant’s economic policies
benefit? Explain the Resumption Act. What is
meant by “The Crime of ’73?”
In 1878 the Bland-Allison Act put more money in
circulation by having the Treasury print $2 to $4
billion of silver money each month.
Explain the phenomenon of the Greenback
Debtors (especially farmers) demand “soft” currency
(silver) and/or greenbacks, which creates an
inflationary effect (more, less valuable money chasing
products causes prices to rise.)
Ex: If the debtor borrowed $100 in hard currency and
pays back the loan in silver currency, he pays only $75
of $100 borrowed.
If the debtor borrowed $100 in hard currency and
pays back the loan in greenbacks, he pays only $50 of
+ Prices rise; interest rates drop (more money to
Creditors (especially banks) demand “hard” currency (gold),
which creates a deflationary effect (less, more valuable
money circulating). They demand payment on loans in hard
Ex: A creditor lends $100 in hard currency and the debtor
pays back loan in silver, which equals only $75 of the loan.
A creditor lends $100 in hard currency and the debtor pays
back loan in greenbacks, which equals only $50.
+ Financial stability (promotes foreign & domestic
- Interest rates rise (smaller money supply).
PALLID POLITICS of the GILDED AGE
The Gilded Age was a term coined by Mark Twain. It was marked by the fact that there
was little difference between the political parties.
The period saw little party differences on platforms. And ethnic/sectional rivalries were
clearly evident. Identify & describe the Democratic and Republican strongholds and
The Republican Party splits into two factions:
1. Stalwarts – supported patronage, led by Roscoe Conkling
2. Half-Breeds – supported mild reform, led by James Blaine
These factions offered little difference in opinions and successfully checked each other’s ambitions.
Roscoe Conkling James Blaine