Gilded Age Politics

Gilded Age
Pulling it all together…
Gilded Age and Race/Ethnic
• African-Americans
Civil Rights Cases (1883)
Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)
Booker T. Washington’s “Atlanta Compromise”
• Anti-Chinese Agitation in West
– Dennis Kearny
– Chinese Exclusion Act
• Nativism in the East
New immigrants
Restrictions: 1882 Immigration Law; 1885 Contract Labor Law
American Protective Association – wants a literacy test
Labor unions seen as “foreign” / un-American
• Political
Civil Service Reform – Pendleton Act
City Bosses / Corruption exposed
Municipal services begin
Beginning of regulation of businesses:
• Interstate Commerce Act / ICC
• Sherman Anti-Trust Act
• Social
– Social Gospel: YMCA; Salvation Army;
– WCTU; Carrie Nation
– Philanthropy
• Major trends
– Close elections; consensus on most major issues
– Big issues that divide:
• Tariffs & Surplus
– High tariffs: McKinley Tariff (1890)
– Cleveland fights for a lower tariff, but fails. Wilson-Gorman
Tariff includes an income tax (struck down)
• Civil Service Reform
– Stalwarts and Halfbreeds
– Garfield assassination
– Pendleton Act
• Monetary Policy
– Inflationary aka “soft money” (paper money or bimetalism)
– Deflationary aka “hard money” (gold standard)
– Major issue in the 1896 election
Organized Labor
• Organizes in response to conditions in
– NLU = first union; one big union for all workers; 8
hour day; crushed by Panic of 1873
– Knights of Labor = broadly organized; Terrence
Powderly; women, men, African-Ams;
skilled/unskilled; gets into bigger economic issues:
safety concerns; cooperatives; etc. Hurt by 1886
Haymarket Riot
– AFL: federation of smaller craft-based unions; skilled
workers only; “bread and butter issues” (hours,
wages, conditions)
• Great Strike 1877
• Homestead Strike 1893
• Pullman Strike 1894
Debtors Organize
• Coxey’s Army (1894)
– Reaction to the Panic
– Called for government action (jobs creation) to help unemployed
– Coxey’s Army marches to Washington, D.C.; arrested
• Populist Party (1892)
– Political party formed to address concerns of farmers.
– Roots in the Grange and Farmer’s Alliance movements.
– Platform: calls for “free silver” (bimetallism) to spark inflation;
graduated income tax; government loans to farmers; regulation
of RRs; and Australian (secret) ballot.
– Runs a presidential candidate in 1892; gains seats in western
state legislatures and governerships.
– 1896 “fusion” with Democratic Party  both PP and DP endorse
William Jennings Bryan; free silver is the major issue; fails to
draw in urban/industrial workers.