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Chapter 19

Chapter 19

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American History: A Survey by Alan Brinkley
American History: A Survey by Alan Brinkley

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Michael Chiu AP US History Period 2 1/11/10

Outline of Chapter 19: From Stalemate to Crisis
The Politics of Equilibrium The Party System -most striking feature of late 1800’s party system was stability -from end of Reconstruction until late 1890s, electorate was divided almost evenly between -Republicans and Democrats, loyalties fluctuated almost not at all -in five presidential elections beginning in 1876, popular-vote margin separating D. and R. candidates was 1.5%. Republicans generally control Senate and Democrats generally control House. -intense public loyalty to parties -white southerners - loyal to D. -northerners (white and black) – R. Catholics, poorer workers – D. northern Protestants, middle class – R. R. favored immigration restrictions, temperance legislation (believed to help discipline immigrants)-Catholics and immigrants viewed proposals as attacks on them and their cultures and opposed them, D. also oppose party id. was more a reflection of cultural inclinations than calculation of economic interest party loyalties b/c parents, region, church, or ethnic group The National Government -federal government did relatively little-two parties managed to avoid substantive issues -fed. gov. had to deliver mail, maintain national military, conduct foreign policy, collect tariffs and taxes, few other responsibilities and few institutions with which it could have undertaken additional responsibilities even if it had chosen to do so -fed. gov. could provide subsidies to industries (ex. railroad), and use military power to protect capitalists from challenges from their workers -from end of Civil War to early 1900’s, fed. gov. administer annual pensions for Union Civil War veterans who had retired from work and for their widows -Civil War pension system paid majority of male citizens (black and white) of N and to many women -Some reformers wanted make system permanent and universal, they pressured government to create system of old-age pensions for all Americans, but efforts failed, partly b/c system awash in party patronage and corruption -US in late 1800s was without a modern, national government - most powerful national political institutions were D. and R. and fed. Courts - office-winning elections and controlling patronage Presidents and Patronage -presidents had limited latitude b/c had to avoid offending various factions within own parties and not many jobs to do Rutherford Hayes – by end of his term: two groups – the Stalwarts and Half-Breeds were competing for control of R. Party and threatening to split it

-Stalwarts favored trade., profess. mach. politics. Half-Breeds favored reform. But both groups mainly interested in larger share of patronage -Hayes tried to satisfy both but ended up satisfying neither -battle over patronage overshadowed all else during Hayes’s presidency-Hayes unpopular with politicians -Election of 1880: R. matched Stalwart president Garfield and Half-Breed v.p. Arthur D.: Hancock as pres. (minor Civil War commander with no national following) -Garfield wins and R. capture both houses of Congress -Garfield began presidency trying to defy Stalwarts in his appointments and by showing support for civil service reform -involved in ugly public quarrel with both Conkling and other Stalwarts. Garfield assassinated by Stalwart who wanted Arthur as president - Arthur succeeded Garfield -tried to promote civil service reform and follow independent course -kept most of Garfield’s appointees in office -Congress passed first national civil service measure in 1883, the Pendleton Act, required that some federal jobs be filled by competitive written examinations rather than by patronage. Cleveland, Harrison, and the Tariff -election of 1884 – R. candidate for president was James G. Blaine of Maine – liberal Republicans announced that they would bolt the party and support an honest Democrat. D. rose to bait and nominated Cleveland (the reform governor of New York) - enemy of corruption -religious controversy may have decided the election -Cleveland aka “veto governor” – an official not afraid to say no -opposed protective tariffs: existing high rates were responsible for annual surplus in federal revenues - he frequently vetoed reckless and extravagant legislation by Congress -asked in 1887 Congress to reduce tariff rates: D. in House approved tariff reduction but Senate R. passed bill of their own actually raising the rates. Resulting deadlock made tariff an issue in 1888 election -Democrats renominated Cleveland. R. nominated former senator Benjamin Harrison of Indiana, who was obscure but respectable - wanted protective tariff. -election of 1888 campaign was first since Civil War to involve a clear question of economic difference between the parties. one of the most corrupt and one of the closest elections in American history. Harrison won electoral majority of 233 to 168, but Cleveland’s popular vote exceeded Harrison’s by 100,000 Harrison made no effort to influence Congress, but public opinion beginning to force government to confront pressing social and economic issues of the day, most notably: curbing power of trusts Sherman Antitrust Act-passed by both houses of Congress without dissent: enforced and steadily weakened by the courts, so virtually had no effect on corporate power R. Representative McKinley and Senator Aldrich drafted highest protective measure even proposed to Congress: McKinley Tariff, became law in October 1890 -R. leaders apparently misinterpreted public sentiment b/c party suffered stunning reversal in 1890 congressional election: R. Senate majority slashed to 8 and in House, party retained only 88 of 323 seats. McKinley himself was among those who went down in defeat. R. unable to recover in course of next 2 years

1892 election: Harrison once again supported protection and Cleveland once again opposed it. Third party was People’s Party, candidate James B. Weaver, advocated more substantial economic reform -Cleveland won 277 electoral votes to Harrison’s 145 and had popular margin 380,000. Weaver showed some strength, but still ran far behind. For first time since 1878, Democrats won majority of both houses of Congress Cleveland devoted to minimal government and hostile to active efforts to deal with social or economic problems, again supported tariff reduction -Wilson-Gorman Tariff included only a few, very modest reductions the Grangers was one of the farm organizations in Midwest who had persuaded several state legislatures to pass regulatory legislation in early 1870s. But in Wabash, St. Louis, and Pacific Railway Co. v. Illinois (known as Wabash case)-Supreme Court ruled one of the Granger Laws in Illinois unconstitutional: Court said Granger law was attempt to control interstate commerce and thus infringe on power of Congress Interstate Commerce Act- banned discrimination in rates between long and short hauls, required that railroads publish rate schedules and file them with government, and declared that all interstate rail rates must be “reasonable and just” although the act did not define what that meant. five-person agency: Interstate Commerce Commission(ICC) was to administer act, but had to rely on courts to enforce its rulings. for almost 20 years after its passage, the act (similar to Sherman Act) not really enforced and narrowly interpreted by courts, didn’t have much effect The Agrarian Revolt American farmers was group that watched performance of federal gov. in 1880s with most dismay -isolated from urban-industrial society that was beginning to dominate national life, suffering from long economic decline, afflicted with painful sense of obsolescence, so keenly aware of economic problems and eager for gov. assistance in dealing with problems. -result of their frustrations was emergence of one of the most powerful movements of political protest in American history: populism The Grangers the Grange was first major farm organization -appeared in 1860s -had origins shortly after Civil War in a tour through South by Kelley, who was appalled by isolation of rural life Kelley and others founded National Grange of Patrons of Husbandry -devoted years of labor as secretary and from which emerged network of local organizations -attempted to bring farmers together to learn new scientific agricultural techniques -hoped to create feeling of community, to relieve loneliness of rural life -strongest in staple-producing regions of South and Midwest 1873 depression increased Grange membership rapidly (over 800,000 members total in org.) -began to focus more on economic possibilities: attempted to organize marketing cooperatives to allow farmers to circumvent the hated middlemen, urged cooperative political action to curb monopolistic practices of railroads and warehouses -“The Farmers’ Declaration of Independence” – read by Grangers, proclaimed that the time had come for farmers to use all lawful and peaceful means to free themselves from tyranny of monopoly

Grangers set up cooperative stores, creameries, elevators, warehouses, insurance companies, and factories that produced machines, stoves, other items -one corporation emerged specifically to meet needs of Grangers: the first mail-order business, Montgomery Ward and Company-founded in 1872 -eventually most of Grange enterprises failed (inexperience of operators and middlemen opposition whose businesses Grangers were challenging) Grangers operated through existing parties, although occasionally ran candidates under independent party labels: “Antimonopoly,” “Reform,” etc. -managed to gain control of legislatures in most of the Midwestern states at their peak -Granger laws made many states impose strict regulations on railroad rates and practices, but regulations eventually destroyed by courts, which combined with political inexperience of many Grange leaders and above all, the temporary return of agricultural prosperity in late 1870s, produced dramatic decline in Grange power The Farmers’ Alliances successor of Grange was Farmers’ Alliances-farmers in parts of South (most notably in Texas) in 1875 -by 1880 Southern Alliance had more than 4 million members and comparable Northwestern Alliance was growing in plains states and Midwest -concerned with local problems, similar to Granges -est. stores, banks, etc. to free farmers from dependence on merchants who kept so many farmers in debt -argued for mutual, neighborly responsibility (hoped economic competition might give way to cooperation) that would enable farmers to resist oppressive outside forces Alliances were notable for prominent role women played within them -women were full voting members in most local Alliances, many held offices, and served as lecturers -a few, most notably Mary Lease, went on to become fiery Populist orators. Lease was famous for urging farmers to “raise less corn and more hell” -most other women emphasized temperance: stability in rural society -Alliances advocated extending vote to women in many areas of country Alliances cooperatives did not always work well, partly b/c market forces operating against them were sometimes too strong to overcome, partly b/c cooperatives themselves were often mismanaged -economic frustrations helped push movement into new phase at end of 1880s: creation of national political organization sentiment for third party was strongest among Northwestern Alliance -several southern leaders supported ideas: Tom Watson of Georgia, the only southern congressman elected in 1890 openly to identify with Alliance -People’s Party emerge: members known as Populists election of 1892: Populist presidential candidate was James B. Weaver of Iowa, a former Greenbacker -polled more than 1 million votes, 8.5% of total, carried 6 mountain and plain states for 22 electoral votes. -Weaver significant b/c showed emergence of People’s Party, demonstrated its potential power The Populist Constituency

Populists dreamed of creating broad political coalition, but always appealed principally to farmers most Populists was engaged in type of farming that was becoming less viable in face of modern, commercial agriculture endorsed “free silver” – permitting silver to become, along with gold, the basis of currency so as to expand money supply in South (and to lesser degree elsewhere), white Populists struggled with accepting African Americans into party. -black farmer numbers and poverty made them possibly valuable allies -“Colored Alliances” – black component of Populist movement, by 1890, numbered over one and a quarter million members. But most white populists were willing to accept the assistance of African Americans only as long as it was clear that whites would remain indisputable in control -when southern conservatives began to attack Populists for undermining white supremacy, the interracial character of movement quickly faded most Populist leaders were members of rural middle class, many were women, almost all were Protestants particularly in South, Populism produced first generation of what was to become distinctive and enduring political breed-the southern demagogue-ex. Tom Watson attracted widespread popular support by arousing resentment of poor southerners against entrenched planter aristocracy aka “Bourbons” after traditional royal family of France Populist Ideas proposed system of “subtreasuries” – which would replace and strengthen cooperatives. government would est. warehouses, where farmers could deposit their crops. using crops as collateral, growers could then borrow money from gov. at low rates of interest and wait for price of goods to go up before selling them Populists called for abolition of national banks, which they believed were dangerous institutions of concentrated power, end of absentee ownership of land, direct election of US senators (which would weaken power of conservative state legislatures) and other devices to improve ability of people to influence political process Tom Watson, once a champion of interracial harmony, ended his career baiting blacks and Jews Populists rejected laissez-faire orthodoxies of their time The Crisis of the 1890s Panic of 1893 precipitated the most severe depression nation had yet experienced began in March when Philadelphia and Reading Railroad, unable to meet payments on loans it had secured from British banks, declared bankruptcy and National Cordage Company failed as well -triggered collapse of stock market -since many major NY banks were heavy investors in stock market, wave of bank failures soon began that caused a contraction of credit, which meant that many of the new, aggressive, and loan-dependent businesses soon went bankrupt depressed prices in agriculture since 1887 had weakened purchasing power of farmers, the largest group in population, depressed conditions that had begun earlier in Europe were resulting in a loss of American markets abroad and a withdrawal by foreign investors of gold invested in US, railroads and other major industries had expanded too rapidly, well beyond market demand slight improvement beginning in 1895, but prosperity did not fully return until 1901

depression caused social unrest, esp. among enormous numbers of unemployed workers -1894, Coxey, an Ohio business man and Populist, began advocating a massive public works program to create jobs for unemployed and an inflation of the currency. when it became clear that his proposals were making no progress in Congress, Coxey announced that he would lead a march of the unemployed to the capital to present their demands to the government -Coxey’s Army: numbered only about 500 when it reached Washington after having marched on foot from Masillon, Ohion. armed police barred them from the Capitol and arrested Coxey. he and his followers were herded into camps because their presence supposedly endangered public health. Congress took no action on their demands The Silver Question financial panic weakened government’s monetary system many believed instability of currency was primary cause of depression official ratio of value of silver to value of gold was 16 ounces of silver equaled one ounce of gold (mint ratio), but actual commercial value of silver (market ratio) was much higher than that. people stopped taking silver to mint and mint stopped coining silver 1873, Congress passed law that discontinued silver coinage, few objected at the time -in course of 1870s, market value of silver fell well below official mint ratio -silver was available for coinage again (meaning law was retracted or there’s just a silver supply?) -Congress foreclosed potential method of expanding currency and had eliminated a potential market for silver miners -many Americans concluded that a conspiracy of big bankers had been responsible for the demonetization of silver and referred to the law as the Crime of 1873 two groups of Americans determined to undo Crime of ’73. one consisted of silver-mine owners, now understandably eager to have government take their surplus silver and pay them much more than the market price. other group consisted of discontented farmers, who wanted increase in quantity of money-an inflation of currency-as a means of raising the prices of farm products and easing payment of farmers’ debts. The inflationists demanded that the government return at once to “free silver”-that is, to the free and unlimited coinage of silver at the old ratio of 16 to 1 -but by the time the depression of 1893 began, Congress had made no more than a token response to their demands nation’s gold reserves steadily dropping -President Cleveland believed chief cause of weakening gold reserves was the Sherman Silver Purchase Act of 1890, which had required gov. to purchase (but not to coin) silver, and to pay for it in gold -his request was satisfied as the Sherman Act was repealed, although only after a bitter and divisive battle that helped create a permanent split in the D. Party. President’s gold policy had aligned the s and w D. in a solid alliance against him and his eastern followers presidential election 1896-supporters of the gold standard considered its survival essential to honor and stability of nation. supporters of free silver considered gold standard an instrument of tyranny -“free silver” became to them a symbol of liberation. silver would be a “people’s money” as opposed to gold, the money of oppression and exploitation “A Cross of Gold” The Emergence of Bryan R. nominate McKinley for president

R. opposed free coinage of silver, mountain and plains states joined Democratic Party Democratic convention of 1896: congressman Bryan gave “Cross of Gold” speech-in support of free silver, very eloquent and effective -convention voted to adopt pro-silver platform and Bryan nominated for president (supporters called him the Great Commoner) Populists thought both major parties would adopt conservative programs and nominate conservative candidates, leaving Populists to represent the growing forces of protes -but Democrats stolen much of their thunder -Populists could either name their own candidate and split protest vote or endorse Bryan and lose their identity as a party (“fusion” with the Democrats, but Democrats ignored most of the other Populist demands, would destroy Populist party) -Populist ultimately chose to support Bryan The Conservative Victory campaign of 1896, business and financial community conservatives contributed lavishly to Republican campaign b/c afraid of Bryan victory Bryan became first presidential candidate in American history to travel around every section of the country to speak to voters -revivalistic, camp-meeting style pleased Protestants, but many immigrant Catholics and other ethnics saw in Bryan the embodiment of rural, Protestant that had often been directed against them -Bryan violated tradition by which presidential candidates remained aloof from their own campaigns, helped establish modern form of presidential politics McKinley won election Bryan carried only those areas of S and W where miners or farmers predominated. D. program, like Populists, had been too narrow to win a national election Populists gambled everything on their fusion with D. party and lost -People’s Party dissolved -never again would American farmers unite so militantly to demand economic reform, never again would so large a group of Americans raise so forceful a protest against the nature of the industrial economy McKinley and Recovery labor unrest had subsided when McKinley took office McKinley administration was politically shrewd and committed to reassuring stability McKinley and his allies committed themselves fully to only one issue, on which they knew virtually all R. agreed: the need for high tariff rates -Dingley Tariff-raised duties to highest point in American history R. enacted Currency Act of 1900 (aka Gold Standard Act of 1900) Currency/Gold Standard Act of 1900 confirmed the nation’s commitment to the gold standard by assigning a specific gold value to the dollar and required all currency issued by US conform to that value

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