Chapter 23: Political Paralysis in the Gilded Age 1869-1896


The "Bloody Shirt" Elects Grant:
  • Republican party nominated Grant 1868 "let us have peace"
  • Democrats all agreed they were against military reconstruction. Wanted more money in circulation and lower interest rates. Nominated Horatio Seymour.
  • Republicans "waved the bloody shirt" - revived gory Civil War memories and reminded that the Republican party was Lincoln's party of the Union.
  • Grant won - got all the black votes

The Era of Good Stealings:

  • Corruption!
  • Jim Fisk and Jay Gould - "Black Friday" 1869, bid priced of gold up -> Treasury had to release gold. Grant wasn't crooked, just stupid.
  • Tweed Ring - bribery and fraudulent elections $200 million. Thomas Nast published evidence against Boss Tweed, and he was prosecuted by Samuel J. Tilden. Tweed went to prison.

A Carnival of Corruption:

  • "Spoils system" and favor-seekers of Grant
  • Credit Mobilier scandal 1872 - Union Pacific Railroaders hired themselves at inflated prices. Distributed shares to Congressmen and VP so goverment wouldn't blow the whistle.
  • 1874-1875: Whiskey Ring - robbed Treasury of excise tax revenues. Grant defended his private secretary, who was involved.
  • 1876 Secretary of War William Belknap guilty of pocketing bribes from suppliers to Indian reservations, Grant reluctantly made him resign.

Pallid Politics in the Gilded Age:

  • Political see-saw delicately balanced between parties. But party-followers were devout.
  • Republians: Puritanism, strict moral codes, believed grovernment should regulate conomic and moral affairs.
  • Democrats: Lutherans and Roman Catholics, toleration of differences, against goverment imposing moral standard.
  • Democrats: South, N industrial cities (immigrants)
  • Republicans: Rural and smalltown NE, Freedmen in the South, Grand rRmy of the Republic (Union veterans)
  • => Factions: "Stalwart" led by Roscoe Conkling embraced civil-service for votes (spoils system). "Half-breeds" led by James G. Blaine for civil-service reform. STALEMATE.

The Hayes-Tilden Standoff, 1876:

  • Grant wanted to run for a 3rd term, but House voted against it 'two-term tradition'
  • Republicans nominated Rutherford B. Hayes - from swing state of Ohio
  • Democrats nominated Samuel J. Tilden (bagged Boss Tweed)
  • Some disputed electoral states, who should tally the votes, Republican president of Senate, or Democrat Speaker of the House?

The Compromise of 1877 and the End of Reconstruction:

  • 1877 - Electoral Count Act - set up electoral commission of 15 men from House, Senate, and Supreme Court.
  • 8 Republicans and 7 Democrats - Republican majority vote. Democrats outraged - launched a filibuster.
  • Deadlock avoided by the rest of the Compromise of 1877 - Democrats (reluctantly) agreed that Hayes take office if federal troops are withdrawn in the 2 remaining states (LA and SC). Republicans also said they'd make a transcontinental railroad through Texas.
  • Republican party quietly abandoned commitment to racial equality.
  • Civil Rights Cases - 1883 - Court declared 14th amendment only prohibited government violations of civil rights - not individual ones.
  • Grant elected and last soldiers removed.

Birth of Jim Crow in the Post-Reconstruction South:

  • White Democrats took control of the South
  • Blacks forced into sharecropping and tenant farming. "Crop-lien" system - storekeepers extended credit in return for portion of harvests
  • Discrimination against blacks grew into state-level legal codes of segregation - Jim Crow laws
  • Literacy reqs and voter registration laws ensured black disfranchisement - validated by Supreme Court Plessy vs. Ferguson 1896.

Class Conflicts and Ethnic Clashes:

  • Railroad presidents cut wages by 10% (1877) - President Hayes called federal troops to stop unrest in striking laborers. Workers vs. soldiers - 100 people died. Great railroad strike failed.
  • Many Chinese in Cali - to work on gold and railroad.
  • Irish resented Chinese - competition for cheap labor
  • congress passed Chinese Exclusion Act 1882 - prohibited immigration from China until 1943.
  • Birthright citizenship important to Chinese and other immigrants.


Tyler said...

The Democrat stance on military reconstruction has changed now hasn't it?

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