Corruption & Reformin America1860-1920
Local and National Political Corruption
Crime/poor sanitation led people to give control of local governments topolitical machines—organizations of professional politicians/crime leadersMachine bosses used corruption to maintain power—votes in exchange for jobs/housing, bribe/intimidate, and election fraudWilliam Marcy Tweed-Boss Tweedled Tammany Hall in New York City (Democratic Headquarters)usedgraft(use of law for personal gain) to get richThomas Nast’s cartoons exposed this corruption—changed public opinionTweed was sent to prison for fraudMachines were a force in America until the 1960’s—often linked to organized crime
Grant’s presidency was scandalous:Crédit Mobilier—scheme to funnel federal RR money to stockholdersPension Grabs—officials stole pensions from veterans/their survivorsElection of 1876Machines controlled the elections in several statesHayes won as the result of a political bargain—end of reconstructionReform split the Republican party1880—Pres. Garfield was assassinated—spoils system1882—Arthur—Pendleton Civil Service Act—reduced the spoils system
Farmers Reform Movement
The Farmer’s Alliance wanted government to print more paper money, thinking they could charge more for farm goods if more money were circulating.In 1873 paper money was placed on the gold standard, reducing the amount of money in circulation. Farmers wanted money to be backed by silver.
In the late 1800s crop prices were falling and farmers began to organize into groups to protect themselves financially.
The National Grange, wanted the state to regulate railroad rates.The Supreme Court ruled that only the federal government could regulate.Congress then passed the Interstate Commerce Act in 1887, marking the first time federal government regulated industry.
The Farmer’s Alliance started thePopulist Party, calling for bank regulation, government-owned railroads and free coinage of silver.Their stand against powerful interests influenced later politicians.
The 1896 Election
After the election of 1892, a major railroad company failed, triggering the Panic of 1893.Stock prices fell and millions lost their jobs. President Cleveland blamed the Sherman Silver Purchase Act, which required the government to buy silver with paper money redeemable in either gold or silver.Silver was still an issue in the 1896 election, when Republicans nominated William McKinley, who favored the gold standard and Democrats chose William Jennings Bryan, who defended silver.Bryan made a dramatic speech saying using the gold standard was like crucifying mankind on a “cross of gold.”This speech won Bryan Populist support, but terrified business leaders gave money to the Republicans, and McKinley won the election.
Segregation and Discrimination
After Reconstruction, southern legislatures passed laws that restricted African Americans’ rights, but prejudice existed nationwide.Some white southerners tried to restrict African Americans’ right to vote by requiring voters to pay a poll tax and pass a literacy test.Southern legislatures passed theJim Crow Lawsto create and enforce segregation in public places.One law requiring separate railway cars for African Americans and whites was tested by Homer Plessy, an African American. His case went to the Supreme Court inPlessy v. Ferguson.They upheld segregation, saying “separate but equal” facilities didn’t violate the Fourteenth Amendment.In addition to legalized discrimination, strict rules governed social and business interactions between black and white Americans.The worst outcome of discrimination waslynching, or murder by a mob. Nearly 900 African Americans were murdered between 1882 and 1892 by lynch mobs.
Booker T. WashingtonBorn into slaveryBelieved African Americans had to accept segregation for the momentBelieved they could improve their condition by learning farming and vocational skillsFounded the Tuskegee Institute to teach African Americans practical skills
W.E.B. Du BoisBelieved that African Americans should strive for full rights immediatelyHelped found the Niagara Movement in 1905 to fight for equal rightsMembers of the Niagara Movement later founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
Two approaches to fighting racism emerged. Some advocated accepting segregation and learning skills to rise up, others believed African American should strive for full rights immediately.Two leaders represented these groups.
The Main IdeaProgressives focused on three areas of reform: easing the suffering of the urban poor, improving unfair and dangerous working conditions, and reforming government at the national, state, and local levels.Reading FocusWhat issues did Progressives focus on, and what helped energize their causes?How did Progressives try to reform society?How did Progressives fight to reform the workplace?How did Progressives reform government at the national, state, and local levels?
Ida TarbellExposed the corrupt Standard Oil Company and its owner, John D. RockefellerAppealed to middle class scared by large business power
Progressivism and Its Champions
Lincoln SteffensShame of the Cities(1904) exposed corrupt city governmentsFrank NorrisExposed railroad monopolies in a 1901 novel
Industrialization helped many but also created dangerous working environments and unhealthy living conditions for the urban poor.Progressivism, a wide-ranging reform movement targeting these problems, began in the late 19th century.Journalists calledmuckrakersand urban photographers exposed people to the plight of the unfortunate in hopes of sparking reform.
Jacob RiisDanish immigrant who faced New York povertyExposed the slums through magazines, photographs, and a best-selling bookHis fame helped spark city reforms.
Fighting for Civil Rights
NAACPNational Association for the Advancement of Colored PeopleFormed in 1909 by a multiracial group of activists to fight for the rights of African Americans1913: Protested the official introduction of segregation in federal government1915: Protested the D. W. Griffith filmBirth of a Nationbecause of hostile African American stereotypes, which led to the film’s banning in eight states
ADLAnti-Defamation LeagueFormed by Sigmund Livingston, a Jewish man in Chicago, in 1913Fought anti-Semitism, or prejudice against Jews, which was common in AmericaFought to stop negative stereotypes of Jews in mediaThe publisher of theNew York Timeswas a member and helped stop negative references to Jews
Progressives fought prejudice in society by forming various reform groups.
By the late 19th century, labor unions fought for adult male workers but didn’t advocate enough for women and children.In 1893,Florence Kelleyhelped push the Illinois legislature to prohibit child labor and to limit women’s working hours.In 1904, Kelley helped organize the National Child Labor Committee, which wanted state legislatures to ban child labor.By 1912, nearly 40 states passed child-labor laws, but states didn’t strictly enforce the laws and many children still worked.Progressives, mounting state campaigns to limit workdays for women, were successful in states including Oregon and Utah.But since most workers were still underpaid and living in poverty, an alliance of labor unions and progressives fought for a minimum wage, which Congress didn’t adopt until 1938.Businesses fought labor laws in the Supreme Court, which ruled on several cases in the early 1900s concerning workday length.
Reforming the Workplace
Progressive PoliticsTheProgressives pick up where the Populists left offwas a political idea not a political partyincluded many former Populistsconernedwith environmental conservationcoupled with a religious revival—1890-1915Social Gospel—applying Christianity to reformmovementscontrolsAmerican Politics from 1901-1920 and are later seen in the reform movements of the later20th centuryProgressiveschange US view of government’s role in looking out for the rights and well-being of citizens—The PublicGood
City GovernmentReforming government meant winning control of it:Tom Johnson of Cleveland was a successful reform mayor who set new rules for police, released debtors from prison, and supported a fairer tax system.Progressives promoted new government structures:Texas set up a five-member committee to govern Galveston after a hurricane, and by 1918, 500 cities adopted this plan.The city manager model had a professional administrator, not a politician, manage the government.
State GovernmentProgressive governorRobert LaFollettecreated the Wisconsin Ideas, which wanted:Direct primary elections; limited campaign spendingCommissions to regulate railroads and oversee transportation, civil service, and taxationOther governors pushed for reform, but some were corrupt:New York’s Charles Evan Hughes regulated insurance companies.Mississippi’s JamesVardamanexploited prejudice to gain power.
Progressives wanted fairer elections and to make politicians more accountable to voters.Proposed a direct primary, or an election in which voters choose candidates to run in a general election, which most states adopted.Backed theSeventeenth Amendment, which gave voters, not state legislatures, the power to elect their U.S. senators.Some measures Progressives fought for include
Progressive women also fought in theProhibitionmovement, which called for a ban on making, selling, and distributing alcoholic beverages.Reformers thought alcohol was responsible for crime, poverty, and violence.Two major national organizations led the crusade against alcohol.The Anti-Saloon LeagueTheWomen’s Christian Temperance Union(WCTU), headed byFrances Willard, which was a powerful force for both temperance and women’s rightsEvangelists like Billy Sunday andCarry Nationpreached against alcohol, and Nation smashed up saloons with a hatchet while holding a Bible.Congress eventually proposed the18thAmendmentin 1917, prohibiting the manufacture, sale, and distribution of alcohol. It was ratified in 1919, but was so unpopular that it was repealed in 1933.
Rise of the Women’s Suffrage Movement
After the Civil War, suffragists, who had supported abolition, called for granting women the vote but were told that they should wait.Many were angered that the Fifteenth Amendment granted voting rights to African American men but not to women.Women organized into two major suffragist groups:
Women began to see success in the West, as in 1869 the Wyoming Territory granted women the vote, followed by the Utah Territory a year later and five more western states not long after.
Susan B. Anthony Tests the LawSusan B. Anthony wrote pamphlets, made speeches, and testified before every Congress from 1869 to 1906 in support of women’s rights.In 1872 she and three of her sisters registered to vote, voted for a congressional representative in Rochester, New York, and were arrested two weeks later.Before her trial, Anthony spoke passionately about women’s voting rights, but the judge refused to let her testify on her own behalf and fined her $100.Anthony didn’t pay the fine, hoping to be arrested so she could be tried through the courts, but the judge did not imprison her.In 1873 the Supreme Court ruled that even though women were citizens, that did not automatically grant them voting rights, but that it was up to the states to grant or withhold that right.