• National government had very little effect on
citizens during the Gilded age—not proactive.
• Electoral Stability: almost same number of
states controlled by each party—South—
Democrat and North-Republican.
• Voter turn out high—less because of interest
in national issues than because interest in
regional, ethnic and cultural sentiments.
Hayes, Garfield, Arthur, Cleveland,
Harrison and Cleveland
•Support: Bankers, BB,
from the Midwest
•“Party of Morality”
• Support: Farmers from
the G.P., immigrants, very
strong in the South
•Not interested in
•Against high tariffs
• The United States in the Gilded Age was a
country without a modern, federal state. The
most powerful national political institutions
were the 2 political parties and the Federal
courts. The political parties were controlled by
political bosses and machines.
• Democrats –big city organizations
• Republicans-state organizations
Presidents and Patronage
• Presidents made a huge number of
appointments to fulfill their obligations to the
political machine that got you elected.
• Sometimes over 100,000—President Hayes
found it nearly almost impossible—by the end
of his term, his own party was spliting
• Stalwarts and the Half-Breeds
• On the surface the Stalwarts favored
traditional, professional machines while the
Half-Breeds favored reform, but in reality
neither wanted true reform.
• Compromise of 1877
• Worked on Civil Service Reform
• Republican 1881- 4 months
• Took on Roscoe Conkling—made
appointments based on merit—
Assassinated by a Stalwart
• Republican 1881-1885
• Friend of Conkling, yet followed an
independent path—promoted reform
by supporting civil service reform—Pendleton
• Chinese Exclusion Act 1882
• Democrat 1885-1889
• “though the people support the Government,
the Government should not support the
• Dawes Act
• Against high tariffs
• Republican 1889-1893
• During his administration, public
opinion started to change—reform
• Sherman Anti-trust Act—a weak, unenforced
bill to help curb public criticism on
• Sherman Silver Purchase Act-gov. buy 4.5 m.
oz. of silver each month
• The McKinley tariff –high protective-48%
• Democrat 1893-1897
• Second term devoted to minimal gov.
• Interstate Commerce Act—rail rates
must be “reasonable and just”
• Repeal of the Sherman Silver Act—fight between
the conservatives favoring gold(making $ tight)
and Populists who wanted free coinage of silver
( increasing $ supply) creating a split in the Demo.
• Goldbugs and silverites
• The American people were starting to rubble
and become frustrated over concerns such as
the tariff, the trusts and monopolies and the
unfair practices of the railroads and the
Federal government was doing nothing.
• Change was coming and it would upset the
political equilibrium of the Gilded Age