Issues of the Gilded Age 1 Chapter Introduction This chapter will explain the social and political issues of the Gilded Age. It will focus on segregation and the struggles of minorities for equality, how corruption and inaction marked this era of national politics, and how farmers fueled a new movement called Populism. • Section 1: Segregation and Social Tensions • Section 2: Political and Economic Challenges • Section 3: Farmers and Populism Segregation and Discrimination Objectives • Assess how whites created a segregated society in the South and how African Americans responded. • Analyze efforts to limit immigration. • Compare the situations of Mexican Americans and of women to those of other groups. Terms and People • Jim Crow laws – segregation laws enacted in the South after Reconstruction • poll tax – tax which voters were required to pay to vote • literacy test – reading and writing test formerly used in some southern states to prevent African Americans from voting • grandfather clause – a law which allowed a person to vote only if his ancestors had voted prior to 1866, also used to disenfranchise African American citizens Terms and People (continued) • Booker T. Washington – the most famous black leader during the late 19th century, he encouraged African Americans to build up their economic resources through hard work • W.E.B. Du Bois – a black leader in the late 19th century who disagreed with Washington and argued that blacks should demand full and immediate equality • Ida B. Wells – an African American teacher who bought a newspaper and embarked on a lifelong crusade against the practice of lynching Terms and People (continued) • Las Gorras Blancas – a group of Mexican Americans who protested their loss of land in the Southwest by targeting the property of large ranch owners How were the civil and political rights of certain groups in America undermined during the years after Reconstruction? In the course of the Gilded Age, the equal rights extended to African Americans during Reconstruction were narrowed. This move away from equality for all had a lasting impact on society in the United States. Federal troops were removed from the South in 1876. Ways in which blacks’ right to vote was restricted in the South: poll taxes literacy tests grandfather clauses violence / intimidation Segregation via Jim Crow laws became the norm, and African Americans lost voting rights. Widespread intimidation of Southern blacks before the election caused many to flee to remote areas for safety. “Negroes hiding out in a Louisiana swamp.” “Every thing points to a Democratic victory this fall.” “Of course he wants to vote the Democratic ticket.” The many strategies used to keep African American voters away from the polls were very effective. In addition to losing their voting rights, African Americans also faced widespread segregation in the South and in the North. The constitutionality of Jim Crow laws was upheld by the Supreme Court in the 1896 case Plessy v. Ferguson. Still, African Americans refused to accept their status as second-class citizens. Several important leaders emerged and called for equality. Booker T. Washington was the most famous black leader of the late 19th century. Washington believed that black citizens should focus their energies on building up their own economic resources through hard work, instead of using those energies to overturn Jim Crow. 15 AFRO-AMERICAN LEADERS BOOKER T. WASHINGTON W.E.B. DuBOIS 16 Some disagreed with Booker T. Washington. W.E.B. Du Bois argued that blacks should demand full and equal rights immediately. Du Bois felt the burden of achieving equality should not rest on the shoulders of African Americans alone. Another black leader was Ida B. Wells, who devoted her life to the crusade against lynching. Mexican Americans struggled against discrimination. In the Southwest, four out of five Mexican Americans lost their land after the MexicanAmerican War, despite a treaty which guaranteed their property rights. Las Gorras Blancas, a Mexican American group, fought for their rights by inflicting property damage on landowners and publishing grievances in their own newspaper. •Chinese immigrants also faced racial prejudice in the West at this time. The 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act prohibited Chinese laborers from entering the country. Faced with severe job discrimination, some Chinese Americans managed to start their own businesses. Prior to the Civil War, women played a large role in reform movements, including the call to abolish slavery. Leaders wanted to further women’s rights and were disappointed when women were not included in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments. Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton formed the National Woman Suffrage Association in 1869. Susan B. Anthony voted in an election in 1872 and was arrested. Awaiting trial, she toured the nation, delivering a powerful speech on the issue. Activists did not secure women’s suffrage during the 19th century. 19TH CENTURY WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE LEADERS Elizabeth Cady Stanton 1815-1902:her Lucretia Mott 1793-1880 daughter (Harriet E. Blatch) became a prominent suffrage leader in the 20th century Lucy Stone 1818-1893 22 Susan B. Anthony 1820-1906 STATES THAT GAVE WOMEN THE SUFFRAGE BEFORE THE 19TH AMENDMENT 23 Gilded Age Economics and Politics Objectives • Analyze how corruption affected national politics in the 1870s and 1880s. • Discuss civil service reform during the 1870s and 1880s. • Assess the importance of economic issues in the politics of the Gilded Age. Terms and People • spoils system – a system in which politicians awarded government jobs to loyal party workers with little regard for their qualifications • civil service – government departments and their nonelected employees • Pendleton Civil Service Act – law that created a civil service system for the federal government in an attempt to hire employees on a merit system rather than on a spoils system • gold standard – using gold as the basis of the nation’s currency Why did the political structure change during the Gilded Age? Congress passed few laws between 1877 and 1900. It was an era marked by inaction and political corruption. The Gilded Age raised questions about whether or not democracy could succeed in an era dominated by powerful industrial corporations and men of great wealth. Between 1877 and 1897, party loyalties were evenly divided. • Neither political party achieved control of both the White House and Congress for more than two years in a row. • Presidents during the Gilded Age were elected only by slim margins. • This made it difficult to pass new laws. Corruption plagued national politics as many officials accepted bribes. Cartoonists such as Thomas Nast worked to expose corruption. Nast cartoon of “Boss” Tweed The spoils system was the glue of the political parties. The spoils system, in which party supporters received government jobs regardless of their qualifications, shifted power to a few. This system made the political parties extremely powerful. A movement arose to promote civil service reform. Ending the spoils system was difficult. Change finally happened, in part, because President James Garfield was assassinated by a man who believed the Republican Party owed him a job. •Chester A. Arthur became President and supported civil service reform. In 1883, he signed into law the Pendleton Civil Service Act, which established a merit-based system for government employment. Economic debates focused on tariffs and monetary policy during the Gilded Age. Republicans favored tariffs on imported goods. Tariffs supported American industry, but Democrats claimed that they increased consumer prices and made it harder for farmers to sell their products abroad. Monetary policy disputes centered on whether or not to maintain the gold standard, where gold is the sole basis of the nation’s currency. The Coinage Act of 1873 reversed the policy of having the government issue both gold and silver coins. Some people wanted to use only gold as money. Some wanted to use both gold and silver. Bankers were worried silver would impact trade and undermine the economy. Farmers hoped it would create inflation and raise their income. Populism Objectives • Analyze the problems farmers faced and the groups they formed to address them. • Assess the goals of the Populists, and explain why the Populist Party did not last. Terms and People • Grange – an organization of farmers who joined to learn about new farming techniques, to call for the regulation of railroad and grain elevator rates, and to prompt the establishment of the ICC • Oliver H. Kelley – a Minnesota farmer and businessman who organized the Grange • Populist Party – a political party formed in 1892 on a platform of silver coinage, government ownership of the railroads, and fighting the corrupt and unresponsive elite Terms and People (continued) • William Jennings Bryan – the Democratic nominee for president in 1896, who supported many Populist principles including silver coinage, and who toured the country to speak directly to voters • William McKinley – the Republican candidate for president in 1896, who followed a traditional strategy of letting party workers campaign for him What led to the rise of the Populist movement, and what effect did it have? Millions of Americans moved west after the Civil War to pursue the American dream. A variety of factors made their lives extremely difficult, which led to the social and political revolt known as Populism—and created one of the largest third-party movements in American history. Frustration of the Farmer Organization was inevitable. Like the oppressed laboring classes of the East, it was only a matter of time before Western farmers would attempt to use their numbers to effect positive change. The situation for farmers during the middle of the 19th century As farm income dropped, farmers blamed businessmen, railroads and Wall Street for their declining incomes. Farmers began organizing and entering politics, forming new parties as they began seeing the existing Democrats and Republicans as tools of business and hostile to the needs of agriculture. The issue of free coinage of silver became a key demand of farmers and others. Alliances with labor unions and other progressive groups became a goal of the 42 newly created farmer organizations. People moving to the West and South in the late 1800s knew that their lives would not be easy. Problems facing the farmers of the West and South low prices for crops high transportation, equipment, and loan costs drought reduced influence in politics They did not anticipate the many problems that made survival nearly impossible. Frustrated by these problems, farmers began to organize. Farmers created groups to address their problems. These groups formed a network called the Grange movement. The Grange was formally organized by Oliver H. Kelley in 1867 and gained a million members. The Grange declined after the 1870s, but Farmers’ Alliances became important reform organizations that continued the Grange’s goals. The spread of the Farmers’ Alliances led to the formation of the Populist Party in 1892. The Populist platform warned about the dangers of political corruption, an inadequate money supply, and an unresponsive government. They called for: coinage of silver an income tax government ownership of railroads bank regulations The farmer warning citizens about the corruption of the railroads 47 The debate over monetary policy was an important issue of the day. Those who wanted only a gold standard were on one side. Those who wanted to use silver and gold— including the Populist Party— were on the other. The Populists did well in 1892, electing three governors, five senators, and ten congressmen. The Populist candidate for president received one million votes in that election. •An economic depression began in 1893, and labor unrest and violence broke out. The Populist Party grew. In 1896, a young lawyer named William Jennings Bryan spoke at the national Democratic convention. The speech, with its Populist message of “free silver,” moved Democrats to nominate Bryan. The Populist Party chose to give him their support. William Jennings Bryan campaigned against Republican candidate William McKinley in a way that had never been seen before. He toured the country, talking directly to voters. McKinley won against Bryan in 1896 and in 1900. Bryan’s emphasis on money reform wasn’t popular with urban workers. The Populist Party was weakened by supporting William Jennings Bryan on the Democratic ticket. It survived another decade, but its viability as an alternative to the two major parties was over. Many of the reforms sought by the Populists eventually became reality. The new campaigning style used by Bryan became the norm. Chapter Summary Section 1: Segregation and Social Tensions After Reconstruction ended, the rights of African Americans narrowed. A significant turn away from equality occurred, as Jim Crow laws mandating segregation and limiting voting rights took hold. Other minority groups also struggled for equality at this time. Section 2: Political and Economic Challenges The political scene during the Gilded Age was marked by inaction, as party loyalties were very evenly divided. Corruption challenged the national government and its spoils system while many called for reform. Chapter Summary (continued) Section 3: Farmers and Populism When millions of people moved West after the Civil War, they did not expect to face the nearly impossible conditions they did. In response, farmers powered a new political revolt called Populism that grew into a large third-party movement.