Politics in the Age of
Enterprise, 1877–1896
As we approach this Chapter we need to :
1. Consider the role of parties in domestic politics before
1900.What choices did the parties afford voters?
2. Consider how and why political affairs played a central
role in American culture in the late nineteenth century?
How did women participate in political culture?
3. Analyze and discuss the origins and aims of the Populist
4. Describe the political structure in the South after 1877,
and explain how blacks were gradually disenfranchised.
5. Consider how and why racial segregation intensified in
the late nineteenth century?
The Politics of the Status Quo, 1877–1893
Political stalemate was the rule for most of
the last quarter of the nineteenth century.
After the end of Reconstruction, national
politics became less oriented around vital
issues. Neither Republicans nor Democrats
could muster the power to dominate national
The National Scene
Five presidents from 1877 to 1893:
– Rutherford B. Hayes (R),
– James A. Garfield (R),
– Chester A. Arthur (R),
– Grover Cleveland (D),
– Benjamin Harrison (R)
Spoils System
The president’s biggest job was to dispense
political patronage
Pendelton ACT 1883
Federal Funding
How do we assess the contributions of the
Presidents of the period? In particular I
might ask why did the presidents from
1877 to 1897 not make a larger mark on
The Ideology of Individualism
Many of the wealthy, and those who aspired
to become wealthy, adopted the tenets of
Social Darwinism, which touted prosperity
as a sign of personal and social “fitness,”
and attacked government aid to the needy as
destructive to social evolution.
The Supremacy of the Courts
Politics and the People
Cultural Politics: Party, Religion, and Ethnicity
Organizational Politics
Women’s Political Culture
Race and Politics in the New South
Biracial Politics
One-Party Rule Triumphant
The Case of Grimes County
In this powerful 1876
drawing, Thomas Nast
depicts the end of
reconstruction as the tragedy
it was. As white
supremacists in the South
piled up more and more
bodies, supporters of civil
rights accused the Grant
administration of failing to
protect black Southerners
and legitimately elected
governments. They pointed
specifically to the
constitutional requirement
that "the United States shall
guarantee to every State in
this Union a republican form
of government, and shall
protect each of them . . .
against domestic violence”
(Article IV, section 4).
The Crisis of American Politics:
The 1890s
The Populist Revolt
Money and Politics
Climax: The Election of 1896
Chapter 19:
Politics in the Age of Enterprise, 1877–1896
Map 19.1 Presidential Elections of 1880, 1884, and 1888 (p. 570)
Map 19.2 Disfranchisement in the New South (p. 585)
Map 19.3 Presidential Elections of 1892 and 1896 (p. 594)
Figure 19.1 Voting Patterns in the Midwest, 1870–1892 (p. 575)

Politics in the Age of Enterprise, 1877–1896