Party politics in an Era of Social and Economic Upheaval
Contested Political Vision
• Political parties in the nineteenth century energized voters by appealing to their economic self interests and by linking their programs to deeply held beliefs about the nature of the family and the proper role of the government. o Republicans: b4 the civil war, the Rep. had enhanced economic opportunity by using gov. authority to expand railroads, increase tariff protection for industry, and provide land subsidies for farmers. It also espoused a belief in female moral superiority and a willingness to use gov to protect family life. Hostility to slavery was based on the belief that it eroded family values. ▪ After the war, this became Rep. ideology.
o Democrats label the Republican programs means by which they over exert gov power. • No party however believes that the government has the right to regulate corporations or protect social welfare of workers. • Believed in Laissez-faire: the belief that unregulated competition represented the best path to progress; invisible hand. o According to this, the gov should promote economic development but not regulate the industries it subsidized.
- By advocating family values in their platforms, candidates of this time encouraged the participation of women in politics. Ex. WCTU Patterns of Party Strength
• In the 1870s and 1880s, the parties had their own regions that they primarily appealed to. o Democrats ruled the South and southern sections of border states like Ohio, northern cities with large immigrant population. o Republicans reigned in rural New England, Pennsylvania, and the upper Midwest. ▪ Republicans of this day also drew support from the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR): a social and political lobbying organization of northern civil war veterans. They often waved the bloody shirt reminding voters that their party had led the nation during the Civil War. • Outside of the south, ethnicity and religion were the most reliable predictors of party affiliation. o Catholics and Americans of German Ancestry usually vote dem. o 75% of Methodists and Congregationalists, 65% of Baptists, and 60% of Presbyterians voted Republican. Immigrant Groups: British born Protestants and 80% of Swedish and Norwegian Lutherans vote Republican.
The Hayes in the White House: Virtue Restored
• During this time, state leaders who ran party politics tended to favor appealing but pliable presidential candidates. Rutherford B. Hayes fit that mold. • Hayes had won an honest reputation as governor of Ohio. • His Major presidential achievement was to restore respect for the office after the grant administration scandals. He brought dignity and decorum to the white house. o His wife, Lucy influenced this. “Lemonade Lucy” Hayes supported the Women’s Christian Temperance Union.
Regulating the Money Supply
• In the 1870s and 80s, politicians faced a though problem of economic policy: how to create a money supply adequate for a growing economy w/o producing inflation o People were bias towards gold and silver. They believed that only trustworthy money was gold and silver or certificates exchangeable for these precious metals. ▪ Reflecting this, all of the federally issued currency in circulation in 1860 was gold, silver or US treasury notes for the formerly mentioned. o Different groups clashed about the issue. Professionals such as bankers, creditors, business leaders, etc. wanted a strictly limited currency supply for stability while debtors i.e. farmers wanted to expand the money supply to make it easier to pay off their debts. o The main question: should the Civil War paper, greenbacks, that were still in circulation be retained or expanded or...