Key *- Found in DQ #1 1 - Found in DQ #3 & 4 2 - Found in DQ #6 & 7
Emily Gong AP US History Period 2 September 29, 2007
Chapter 19: From Stalemate to Crisis
DQ #8: Discuss the convergence of factors which produced a political crisis for the U.S. in the 1890s. Analyze the election of 1896 in terms of the candidates, campaign, issues, and outcomes.
I. Factors leading to the Political Crisis
A. Specie Problems • Practice of bimetallism2was obsolete by 1873 • Farmers wanted “free silver” (16:1)2after Panic 1893 (gold was the official standard for determining value of dollar) • Silver miners demanded silver to be accepted b/c silver marketing prices deflated– wanted to exchange silver for a
higher price than marketing amount • Crime of ’73- gov’t refused silver coinage due to law passed in 1873outraged farmers who wanted inflation to pay debts • Gold reserves dropped- economy expanding too rapidly in comparison to the limited gold amount William Jennings Bryan viewpoint on silver as standard: a larger supply available than gold and high fluctuation of dollar value • • usage of silver- hurtful for corporations and upper class businessmenthe return of money w/less value than amount borrowed • Farmers, debtors, and start-up businessmen: soft money | Bankers, creditors, investors: hard money B. Panic of 1893- caused by the restriction of only gold as standard basis for dollar (believed by soft money advocates) • many corporations and small businesses closed sudden herds of unemployed workers • Effect: social unrest: Coxey’s Army2 (led by Jacob Coxey), Homestead & Pullman strikes • Farmers’ loss of both foreign and domestic business: depression in both America &Europelowered need and selling of agricultural goods • caused high fervor over specie issue possible outlet to instability of federal monetary system? Farmers (soft money): yes , Businessmen (hard money): No C. Governmental Actions • gov’t passed useless enforcement laws that were never regulated or imposed on aimed offenders (ex. Sherman William McKinley Antitrust Act*, Interstate Commerce Act*) • passing of tariffs ex. McKinley Tariff * • All this attacked farmers’ purchasing power and farming business • Repeal of Silver Purchase Act (Grover Cleveland1’s attempt to relieve drainage of gold from fed. treasury)- stop investors from trading silver dollars for gold, but abruptly prohibiting silver coinage D. Populist Party • Many of members outraged at governmental favoritism towards corporations and inadequate federal response to money issue • Created further tensions among parties over free silver question as it took on the topic to attract more members other than farmers (ex. laborers) • Held firmly on the silver question also b/c they needed financial assistance from silver mine-owners (needed to hold on position advantageous to contributor) II. Election of 1896 Democrats (in fusion w/ Populist Party) Republicans 2 Candidates William Jennings Bryan- orator of “Cross of Gold” Speech William McKinley- author of McKinley Tariff (candidate for prosilver Demo.) Campaign -first presidential candidate to do active campaign- held political -traditional “front-porch” campaign- did not actively orations throughout states campaign for office -known little outside in most states -Marcus Hanna- prosperous businessmen- potent -antagonized Protestants who held tightly to the old ways & financial power behind campaign- raised publicity for Catholic immigrants who detested his rural, Protestant morality candidate through ads in newspaper & magazines (mass media) less votes & criticism hurtful for election Issues Tariff reduction, income tax, stricter regulations on railroads & oppose free coinage of silver except by agreement with trusts, and free silver (representations or farmers’ ideals) leading commercial nations (ex. Britain) Outcomes -End of People’s party- disintegrated; last powerful union of farmer protest -Rep. victory- McKinley presidentgold officially the standard specie -end of political stalemate -urban dominance in Americatriumph of modern and urban powers over traditional agrarian political influence CONCLUSION: The apex of the political tensions between farmers and urban corporations were consequences of several economical problems before and during the 1890s. The conspiracy over the silver issues led to it being the primary issues during the election of 1896,
with Republicans strongly opposing the use of silver and the large Democratic Party supporting silver coinage. The rise of the People’s party and its intimate role in the election of 1896 was also a result of farmers’ dissatisfaction with the venial power of the federal government in transportation and industry. The Democratic defeat was a devastating blow for the populist movement, vanquishing the political dominance of rural America.