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Chapter 19

Chapter 19Political Reform & the Progressive EraSection 1The Gilded Age & Progressive ReformReform in the Gilded AgeGilded AgePeriod after Civil WarLasted from 1870s through 1890sAge of serious problems hiding under shiny surfacePolitical ConcernsAmericans feared industrialists & wealthy men were enriching themselves at expense of publicCorruption/Dishonesty in governmentBribery & voter fraud appeared widespreadTaming the Spoils SystemSource of corruption was Spoils SystemPractice of rewarding political supporters w/ govt jobsW/ election of new President, people swarmed to Washington looking for jobs in rewards for their political support1881James Garfield elected President4 months later was shot by disappointed office seekerSparked efforts to end spoils systemVice President Chester A. Arthur became PresidentOwed his rise to spoils system1883Pendleton Act signedCreated Civil Service CommissionA system that includes most govt jobs, except elected positions, the judiciary, & the militaryAim was to fill jobs on basis of meritJobs went to those who scored highest on civil services examinations

Controlling Big BusinessLate 1800sBig business influenced politics, often w/ briberyAmericans demanded limiting power of railroads & monopoliesCongressUnder Constitution has power to regulate interstate commerce1887President Grover Cleveland signed Interstate Commerce ActForbade practices such as rebates & set up Interstate Commerce Commission to oversee railroads1890President Benjamin Harrison signed Sherman Antitrust ActProhibited businesses from trying to limit or destroy competitionDifficult to enforceJudges often ruled in favor of trusts & the Sherman Act was used to limit the power of labor unions (strikers blocked free trade & threatened competition)Corruption in the CitiesExpansion of cities led to expansion of sewers, garbage collection, & roadsCity politicians often excepted money to award jobs to friendsPowerful politicians (bosses) controlled work done locally & wanted payoffs from businessesPopular w/ poorGave turkeys & coal Poor voted for them in return

William Boss Tweed1860s & 1870s he cheated NY City out of $100 millionHis crimes were exposed by journalists, before being arrested he fled to SpainHe was arrested in Spain & died in jail in 1878

Progressives & Political ReformProgressive MovementCorruption led to riseProgressives: diverse group of reformers united by a belief in the public interestNot sacrificed to greed of huge trusts & city bossesWisconsin idea1st to adopt Progressive reformsGovernor Robert La Follette Battling BobOpposed political bossesAppointed commissions of experts to solve problemsRailroad commission recommended lowering railroad rates; as rates decreased, rail traffic increased1903 Wisconsin was 1st state to adopt a primary run by state govt officials1917 all but 4 states joinedMore Power to VotersRecallA process by which people may vote to remove an elected official from officeEasier to remove corrupt officialsInitiativeProcess that allows voters to put a bill before a state legislatureVoters must collect a certain # of signatures on a petitionReferendum: way for people to vote directly on a proposed new lawTwo Constitutional AmendmentsProgressive ReformersBacked graduated income tax (method of taxation that taxes people at different rates depending on income)Wealthy pay higher taxes than poorSupreme Court ruled this was unconstitutional16th Amendment (gives Congress the power to pass an income tax) was ratified in 19131789U.S. senators were elected by state legislaturesBribery was a problemProgressives wanted people to vote for senators191317th Amendment was ratified to require the direct election of senatorsThe MuckrakersPress play important role in exposing corruptionPresident Theodore Roosevelt Compared these reporters to men who raked up dirt/muck in stablesMuckraker became a term for a crusading journalistIda TarbellTargeted big businessWork led to demands for more controls on trustsAccused oil baron John D. Rockefeller of unfair business methodsOther reporters described how corruption had led to inadequate fire, police, & sanitation servicesJacob Riis

Jacob Riis Photographs

1906Upton Sinclairs novel The Jungle Grisly details about the meatpacking industryDescribed how packers used meat from sick animals & how rats often got group up in the meat