POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC CHALLENGES 16.2 OBJECTIVES Analyze the issue of corruption in 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. KEY PARTS Balance of Power Creates Stalemate Corruption Plagues National Politics Economic Issues Challenge the Nation INTRODUCTION Read section 16.2 Answer critical thinking questions 4&5. BALANCE OF POWER CREATES STALEMATE During Reconstruction Congress enacted many reforms. However; during the Gilded Age (1877-1900) there was political inaction and corruption. Major industrial corporations dominated the political realm making people question whether or not democracy could succeed in such times. CONT. During this Gilded age party loyalties were evenly divided and neither democrats or republicans could gain control of both houses of congress and the White House. Only twice did either side gain control in the twenty year period from 1877-1897. This made it very difficult for passing any new laws. CONT.. Presidents during this time were very weak. Rutherford B. Hays was only elected because of a secret deal, Benjamin Harrison was the second President in history to lose popular vote and win the electoral college vote, Chester Arthur took over after Garfield's assassination and upset so many of his republicans that he failed to win his own party’s presidential nomination in 1884. CONT… The only true noteworthy President of the era was Grover Cleveland. He was the only President during this time of corruption that had a reputation for integrity. He lost his first election to Benjamin Harrison because he had only been a governor for a year, but came back and won the presidency in 1892. CORRUPTION PLAGUES NATIONAL POLITICS Grover Cleveland’s reputation for honesty was the exception, many government officials routinely accepted bribes. Mark Twain and other writers and cartoonist expressed their concern about the damaging effects of corruption and big money. Political cartoons began to expose the illegal activities of the politicians. CONT. Thomas Nast did a series of cartoons which exposed the illegal activities of William Marcy “Boss” Tweed, a powerful New York City politician. Joseph Keppler drew one of the most famous cartoons “The Bosses of the Senate” the is showed a cluster of businessmen representing various trusts, glaring down on the chambers of the senate. CONT.. Political parties and the spoils system were central components of politics during the Gilded Age. Andrew Jackson was the first to use the spoils system which is when politicians awarded government jobs to loyal party workers. Spoils system served as the glue that helped make the parties so powerful. CONT… This corruption led to a civil service reform. (civil service is a system of federal jobs in the executive branch) Chester A. Arthur signed the Pendleton Civil Service Act in 1883. This established a Civil Service Commission which proctored a Civil Service Exam. So now getting a Civil Service job depended on doing well on the exam. ECONOMIC ISSUES CHALLENGE THE NATION Towards the end of the Gilded Age many independent political parties challenged the use of the gold standard for the basis of our National currency. Also there was much discrepancy on whether or not to use silver as money. Congress passed the Coinage Act of 1873 settling this argument, allowing both silver and gold to be used as currency.