Issues of the Gilded Age Mark Twain published The Gilded Age. He was disillusioned with the increasing corruption, poverty, and dishonesty around him. He used the novel to express these views. Eventually, the term Gilded Age came to define an era in which excessive extravagance and wealth concealed mounting social problems, government corruption, and poverty.
Segregation and Social Tensions • Jim Crow laws- kept blacks and whites segregated. – Southern states were reasserting their control over Africa Americans because of no worries of repercussions from the federal gov’t. – States also got around the 15 th Amendment by passing a number of other restrictive measures. • Poll tax-required voters to pay a tax to vote. Most people could not afford this so the wealthy were ensured that their agendas were going to further put in place. • Literacy tests- couldn’t vote if you couldn’t read the ballots. • Grandfather clauses- allowed anyone to vote as long as his ancestors had voted prior to 1866.
Plessy The Facts • In 1890, LA passed a law allowing railroads to provide “separate but equal” facilities. • Homer Plessy, an African American, sat in the car reserved for whites. • He was arrested when he refused to move to the “colored” car. The Issue • In his appeal to the Supreme Court, Plessy argued that the Separate Car Act violated the 14 th amendment. The Decision • A 7 to 1 majority declared that state laws requiring separate but equal accommodations for whites and blacks did not violate the 14 th amendment. Why It Matters: The majority of the Supreme Court reasoned that the Constitution was not intended to protect social equality of race. This interpretation allowed southern states to make laws requiring separate but equal facilities.
Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) • Supreme Court ruled in cases that undermined the civil rights of African Americans. • In this case, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Jim Crow laws. – It claimed that as long as states maintained “separate but equal” facilities, they did not violate the 14 th Amendment. – Separate but Equal facilities equal. were rarely
Opposing Injustice • African Americans despite Jim Crow laws established black newspapers, women’s clubs, schools and colleges, and political associations. • Booker T. Washington- born into slavery. He was the most famous black leader during the 19 th century. – Don’t focus on trying to overturn Jim Crow but instead focus on building up their economic resources and establishing their reputations as hardworking and honest citizens. – He was also invested in the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. It was a school that provided industrial education.
W. E. B. Du Bois • Has a Ph. D from Harvard. • He criticized Washington’s willingness to accommodate southern whites. – He believed blacks should demand full and immediate equality and not limit themselves to vocational education. – He did not believe voting was an earned privilege.
Ida B. Wells • She was born into slavery in Mississippi. – Her father was a local, prominent businessmen who fought for equality. • She moved to Memphis, TN where she worked as a teacher. – She bought a local newspaper and named it Free Speech. • Some of her friends were attacked by a mob and she used her paper as opposition to lynching. – Local whites ran her out of town. – She wrote numerous pamphlets to awaken the nation to the “southern horrors” of legalized murder.
Chinese Immigrants • 1879, California barred cities from employing people of Chinese ancestry. • San Francisco also established a segregated “Oriental” ancestry. – Mobs of whites attacked Chinese workers, saying they had taken “white” jobs. • Congress responded to the attacks by passing the Chinese Exclusion Act, which prohibited Chinese laborers from entering the country.
Mexican Americans • Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, signed at the end of the Mexican. American War. – Guaranteed the property rights of Mexicans who lived in the SW prior to the war. – 4 out of 5 who lived in New Mexico lost their land. • U. S. courts put the burden of proof of land on the Mexicans. – Many did not possess documents of proof.
Women • https: //www. youtube. com/watch? v=p. FOie. RHRzh 8 • Expanding the rights of African-Americans left some women’s rights activists, such as Susan B. Anthony, angry. • She felt betrayed by Radical Republicans that they did not include women in the 14 th and 15 th amendments. • 1869, Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton formed the National Women Suffrage Association to fight for a constitutional amendment that would give women the fight to vote. – Anthony voted in an election in NY, an illegal act for which she was tried and convicted in federal court. – While awaiting trial, she toured the nation, delivering speeches – She died in 1906, when only 4 states, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Idaho had granted women the right to vote. • The number of women attending college jumped. – By 1900, 1/3 of all college students were women.
Political /Economic Challenges • Inaction and political corruption characterized the political scene during the Gilded Age. • Can democracy succeed in a time dominated by large and powerful industrial corporations and men of great wealth? • Political parties were so evenly divided that no faction or group gained control. – Only twice did either Repubs or Dems gained control of the White House and both houses of Congress simultaneously. – Difficult to pass new laws when neither group had power for more than two years straight.
Presidents • Presidents of the Gilded Age appeared particularly weak. They won by slim margins and seemed to lack integrity. – Rutherford B. Hayes owed his election in 1876 to a secret deal. – Benjamin Harrison became only the 2 nd President to lose the popular vote but win the electoral college vote. – Chester Arthur took over after Garfield’s assassination but upset his fellow Repubs that the party failed to nominate him for a 2 nd term. – Grover Cleveland maintained an integrity in an era of corruption.
Corruption plagues National Politics • Many gov’t. officials routinely accepted bribes. • Political cartoons – Expressed concern about the damaging effects of corruption and big money.
Spoils System • First used by Andrew Jackson – Giving gov’t. jobs to friends and loyal people instead of people who are more qualified for the job. – About 75%-80% of all those who could vote did vote in presidential elections.
Civil Service • System that includes federal jobs in the executive branch. – Most gov’t. workers could get their jobs due to their expertise and maintain them regardless of which political party won the election. • Pendleton Civil Service Act – Established a Civil Service Commission, which wrote a civil service exam getting a job depended on doing well on the exam, not on manipulating one’s political connections.
Economic Issues Challenge the Nation • Monetary policy gave rise to independent political parties. – Gold Standard- using the gold standard mean that the gov’t. would use gold as the basis of the nation’s currency. • Republicans favored a high tariff, arguing that it would allow American industries to grow and promote jobs in manufacturing. • Democrats countered that high tariffs increased the costs of goods to consumers and made it harder for American farmers to sell their goods abroad.
Monetary Policy • Congress passed the Coinage Act of 1873. – This law reversed the gov’t. policy of making both gold and silver as money. – Prompted Congress to mint silver dollars. – Bankers and international trade feared that considering silver as money would undermine the economy. – Most farmers favored coining silver to create inflation.