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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.

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