Gilded Age Politics
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Gilded Age Politics

Political MachinesI don't care who does theelecting, so long as I get todo the nominating.Boss TweedThe Brains Political Cartoon by Thomas NastA Harper's Weekly political cartoon lampoons the corrupt New Yorkadministration led by "Boss" Tweed and the Tammany Society.Image: © CORBISCreator Name: Thomas NastDate Created: 1871

Political Machines Basics:What?•Political parties thatcontrolled local and stategovernment in late 1800sWhy?•Cities were growing fast!•City governmentdisorganized with few reliableservices (police, fire, welfare)•Immigrants wantedprotection, help2A political cartoon lampoons the corrupt administration in New York, New York, led by "Boss" Tweed and the "TammanySociety." Ca. 1871.Image: © CORBISCreator Name:Thomas NastDate Created: ca. 1871

Political Machines Basics:Where?•Most large cities NY (Tammany Hall)Who?•Political bosses helped theirpeople get elected in returnfor jobs, city contracts Boss Tweed (TammanyHall) pocketed around $200million of public funds3Can The Law Reach Him? The Dwarf andthe Thief by Thomas Nast (

Political Machines Basics:How?•Traded favors for votes Immigrants were met atEllis Island, shown where toget housing, jobs, and helpedto become naturalizedcitizens (who could vote!)= CorruptionPolitical ButtonImage: © William Whitehurst/CORBISPhotographer: William WhitehurstDate Photographed: June 30, 2003•Voting fraud•Bribes•Kickbacks4

Political Machines Still around?•Not really - Tweedbrought down when publicopinion went against him•Things changed when theNY Times publishedexpose & the public gotinterested in reformingpolitics5Warrant for William M. TweedOriginal caption: Warrant for the apprehension of William M. Tweedafter his escape from N.Y. City jail, December 4, 1875.

Populism“What you farmers need to do is raise less corn and moreHell!” - Mary Elizabeth Lease (1890) Populist Organizer

Populism:What?•Political movement that tried to help out thenation’s struggling farmers7

PopulismWhy?Farmers were in trouble because of...1. Mechanization -More machines =more debt2. New Farm LandMore land (on credit)= more debt8

PopulismWhy?Farmers were in trouble because of...3. Specialization ofCrops - Farmers onlyraise one crop (leadsto trouble if that crophas problems)4. Disasters -floods, boll-weevil,grasshoppers9

PopulismWhy?Farmers were in trouble because of...5. Corporate GreedBarbed wire trust,Harvester Trust,Fertilizer Trust, Banks,and Railroads10"The Iron Horse Which Eats UpThe Farmers' Produce.” 1873

The GrangeWhat?How?•Farmer’s Union founded by Oliver Kelly (MN)•Cooperative movement - farmers pooled theirmoney to make shared purchases of machinery,supplies, insurance, etc.•Worked for pro-farmer laws Interstate Commerce Act - regulatedrates of railroads11

Populist Party & Free SilverWhy?What?•Populists believed that this would solvenearly all of the farmer’s problems•They wanted to use both silver and goldcoins, thus increasing the amount of money inthe country•All money would be worth less, a situationthat was bad for creditors (big banks) andgood for debtors (farmers)12

A Populist President?William Jennings Bryan•Ran as a PopulistPresident in 1896 onplatform of Free Silver•Big business opposeshis run, Republicans winthe white house, &Populists fade away13“You shall not press down upon thebrow of labor this crown of thorns.You shall not crucify mankind upon across of gold” -- W.J. Bryan

The Wizard of Oz•Written by active Populist L.Frank Baum•Most things in the bookrepresent somethingimportant to the populistmovement14

The Wizard of OzBasic Symbols:Ruby Slippers- In the book, wereactually “SilverSlippers” (magic ofFree Silver)Yellow BrickRoad- “Gold” many dangers for regularpeople (like Dorothy)Oz- Abbreviation for Ounce (way gold ismeasured)15

The Wizard of OzCharacters:Dorothy- EverymanScarecrow- FarmersTin Man- IndustrialWorkers16

The Wizard of OzCharacters:Lion- WilliamJenningsBryan(a pacifist)TotoTemperanceActivists(allies of thePopulists)17Wizard- Presidentof theUnitedStates

The Wizard of OzPlaces:Emerald CityGood Witchesof North &South- WashingtonD.C. (in thebook, the colorcame fromGreen Glassesthat everyonewore, a trick)- DirectionswherePopulists hadfriends(Midwest andSouth)18

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