Political Paralysis in the Gilded Age, 1869–1896
PART I: Reviewing the Chapter
A. Checklist of Learning Objectives
After mastering this chapter, you should be able to:
1.Describe the political corruption of the Grant administration and the mostly unsuccessful efforts to reform politics in the Gilded Age.
2.Describe the economic crisis of the 1870s, and explain the growing conflict between hard-money and soft-money advocates.
3.Explain the intense political partisanship of the Gilded Age, despite the parties’ lack of ideological difference and poor quality of political leadership.
4.Indicate how the disputed Hayes-Tilden election of 1876 led to the Compromise of 1877 and the end of Reconstruction.
5.Describe how the end of Reconstruction led to the loss of black rights and the imposition of the Jim Crow system of segregation in the South.
6.Explain the rise of class conflict between business and labor in the 1870s and the growing hostility to immigrants, especially the Chinese.
7.Explain the economic crisis and depression of the 1890s, and indicate how the Cleveland administration failed to address it.
8.Show how the farm crisis of the depression of the 1890s stirred growing social protests and class conflict, and fueled the rise of the radical Populist Party.
To build your social science vocabulary, familiarize yourself with the following terms.
1.coalition A temporary alliance of political factions or parties for some specific purpose. “The Republicans, now freed from the Union party coalition of war days, enthusiastically nominated Grant. . . .”
2.corner To gain exclusive control of a commodity in order to fix its price. “The crafty pair concocted a plot in 1869 to corner the gold market.”
3.censure An official statement of condemnation passed by a legislative body against one of its members or some other official of government. While severe, a censure itself stops short of penalties or expulsion, which is removal from office. “A newspaper exposé and congressional investigation led to formal censure of two congressmen. . . .”
4.amnesty A general pardon for offenses or crimes against a government. “The Republican Congress in 1872 passed a general amnesty act. . . .”
5.civil service Referring to regular employment by government according to a standardized system of job descriptions, merit qualifications, pay, and promotion, as distinct from political appointees who receive positions based on affiliation and party loyalty. “Congress also moved to reduce high Civil War tariffs and to fumigate the Grant administration with mild civil service reform.”
6.unsecured loans Money loaned without identification of collateral (existing assets) to be forfeited in case the borrower defaults on the loan. “The Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company had made unsecured loans to several companies that went under.”
7.contraction In finance, reducing the available supply of money, thus tending to raise interest rates and lower prices. “Coupled with the reduction of greenbacks, this policy was called ‘contraction.’ ”
8.deflation (ary) An increase in the value of money in relation to available goods, causing prices to fall. Inflation, a decrease in the value of money in relation to goods, causes prices to rise. “It had a noticeable deflationary effect—the amount of money per capita in circulation actually decreased. . . .”
9.fraternal organization A society of men drawn together for social purposes and sometimes to pursue other common goals. “. . . the Grand Army of the Republic [was] a politically potent fraternal organization of several hundred thousand Union veterans of the Civil War.”
10.consensus Common or unanimous opinion. “How can this apparent paradox of political consensus and partisan fervor be explained?”
11.kickback The return of a portion of the money received in a sale or contract, often secretly or illegally,...