The Gilded Age
P. 9 US 1 Honors
Mrs. Martin, P. 9, Honors US 1
The Gilded Age
The President of the United States, responsible for the execution and enforcement of the laws created by Congress, Chief of the Armed Forces, and face of the nation, an unsurmountable amount of pressure, reliance and demand to be the best leader possible. It is no wonder why some men could not handle the task and fall short. The “Gilded Age," coined by Mark Twain as a time of great corruption, is the time period after the Reconstruction era of America after the Civil War, to the beginnings of the 1900s. It is a time littered with corruption, rapid economic growth and social conflict. Strife riddled poor immigrant workers hailing from Europe and Asia, times were not fair by any means. The rich got richer and the poor got poorer, it was a cyclical motion that couldn't be stopped. The country seemed to be on an everlasting decline and classification became more prominent than ever. The men who ran the country, seemingly responsible are said to be a string of the worst presidents to ever be sworn into office. In regard to these men, Rutherford B. Hayes, James A. Garfield, Chester A. Arthur, Benjamin Harrison and Grover Cleveland, and their domestic policy and actions, not all of them deserve the tittle as the most ineffective men to take the seat in the White House, some were restricted by the power of the nation an others, giving an unfair assumption of what they did take on and a misleading title to some of these men.
First president to kick off the Gilded Age is Rutherford B. Hayes, a republican out of Delaware, Ohio. He is sworn in at one of the weakest times the nation has ever seen since 1776, problems like the death of late Abraham Lincoln, reconstruction coming to an end, Southern Economy in shambles, deep wounds from the war, and the everlasting effects of the failed Grant administration. Entering into an opposing parties controlled Government is the biggest problem Hayes will face. The Government is primarily Democratically ran, making Hayes’ Republican career a living hell. The house shut down most of Hayes’ ideas, plans and aspirations, however maintaing the power to veto. He had in mind tons of reforms, great ones at that, that could never get passed within this Democratic Government. This is a prime example of how a President could be a good and thoughtful leader, but heavily restricted by his congress, a complex dynamic to the office. Civil Service Reform was at the top of Hayes’ domestic agenda, he wanted to reform corruption among the system which had been Spoils based since Andrew Jackson’s term as president. The “Conkling affairs," in respects to Roscoe Conkling a New York Senator and head of the Stalwarts, a pro-spoils branch of the Republican party, was his greatest enemy. Although he could not abolish the use of the spoils system within congress, he made an executive decision to bar federal employees (postmen, port managers, etc…) from taking job in political issues (DeGregorio, William). Rutherford B. Hayes is said to have created the idea of taking tests credited on merit not connections, although never getting around to it, perhaps due to his ever going battle between Democratic congress a republican president, but still showing him as a forward thinker and man ahead of his time, when his time was corrupt. He showed and expressed fair treatment towards immigrants, especially the Chinese. Transcontinental Rail Road companies started to recruit Chinese laborers, because of small wage demands with high work hours. It became somewhat of an epidemic in the West where now 9% of California was now Chinese. After anti-Chinese sentiments are established in the Golden State, Congress recognizes this as a national issue. Congress decides to restrict but not end immigration, Hayes pocket vetoes this bill and the issue is pushed down, and ultimately passed down to the later Gilded Age presidents. In...
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