1st Unit: Increasing Role of Government

Politics in the Gilded Age

Tweed Ring Scandal

1868 - 1871

1868: William M. Tweed (A.K.A. Boss Tweed) becomes head of the NYC Democratic political machine Tammany Hall.

1869 - 1871: Boss Tweed led the Tweed Ring (a group of corrupt politicians who performed frauds and grafts for personal gain)

1871: Thomas Nast breaks up the Tweed Ring by arousing public outrage with his political cartoons. Political corruption becomes national issue.

Political Machines & Corruption

1868 - 1895

Political Machines grew in this time period.

Machines did favors to gain votes. They were also very corrupt, and used graft for money. City Bosses included people like Roscoe Conkling & Jim Pendergast.

This gave rise to patronage (using government jobs as payment for supporting a party). Civil Service reform sought to stop patronage, and instead give government jobs to the best qualified.

Civil Service Reform

1876 - 1883

1876: Rutherford B. Hayes is elected president and supported Civil Service reform.

1880: James A. Garfield is elected president.

1881: Garfield is assassinated. Vice President Chester A. Arthur became president and turned reformer once he did. He urged legislators to pass a civil service law.

1883: Pendleton Civil Service Act of 1883 goes into effect, which made a bipartisan civil service commission to make appointments to federal jobs through a merit system based on performances on exams.

Progressive Era

Origins of Progressivism

1890 - 1917
  • Progressive Movement: reformers wanted to correct injustices (i.e. bad working conditions, child labor, corruption)

  • Florence Kelley helped to pass Illinois Factory Act, which banned child labor and limited women's working hours.

  • Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) was a group that wanted to limit use of alcohol.

  • 1890: Hazen Pingree is elected mayor of Detroit. He Focused on economics and wanted low fares and to abolish corruption. He also made work relief for unemployed citizens.

  • 1901: Tom Johnson is elected mayor of Cleveland, Ohio. He wanted people to play a part in the city government. Also wanted to remove the corrupt from power.

  • 1901: Labor leader Eugene Debs commented on unfair balance among large companies, government, and common people under the free market system of capitalism.

  • 1904: Book "History of the Standard Oil Company" was published, and exposed bad conditions in the standard oil company which was run by Rockefeller.

  • 1906: Robert M. La Follette was the governor of Wisonsin. He wanted to remove corporations from politics and give them the same treatment as other people.

  • 1908: Muller v Oregon - case in which the main issue was if it was constitutional to set max workday for women.

  • 1908: Louise Brandeis supported reforms that protected workers. He filed a legal argument and he provided evidence that showed a connection between hours of work and women's health.

  • 1911: Frederick Taylor's book "The Principles of Scientific Management" was published. It was a theory of management that analyzed workflows w/ objective of improving labor productivity.

  • 1916: Keating-Owen Act - banned sales in interstate commerce of goods by any facility that had children working.

  • 1917: Bunting v Oregon - case in which the Supreme Court ruled a 10 hour work day for both men and women.


1900 - 1920

Progressivsm: a period of great reform. Reformers wanted more regulations for business and living conditions.

  • 1901: Theodore Roosevelt is elected, and he started the Progressive Movement & Square Deal because of Sinclaire's book.

  • 1903: Elkins Act - a U.S. law that amended the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887.

  • 1906: Upton Sinclaire wrote/published "The Jungle", a book that described the bad conditions of the meat packing industry.

  • 1906: Hepburn Act - U.S. Federal law that gave the Interstate Commerce Commission the power to set maximum railroad rates and extend its jurisdiction.

  • John Muir: journalist and friend of Roosevelt who's activism helped preserve Yosemite National Park.

  • Square Deal: what common people would receive from the Roosevelt Administration Sherman Antitrust Act of 1902 (Prohibits certain business activities that federal government regulators deem to be anticompetitive, and requires the federal government to investigate and pursue trusts, companies, and organizations suspected of being in violation)

  • Meat Inspection Act: dictated strict cleanliness requirements for meatpackers and created the program of federal meat inspection.

  • Pure Food and Drug Act: halted the sale of contaminated foods and medicines and called for truth in labeling.

Wilson's Presidency

1912 - 1920

1912: Woodrow Wilson is elected. He supported suffrage and wanted to give greater freedom to average citizens.

1913: Federal Reserve Act - created a National banking system that controlled U.S. money and the accessible credit in the country. Also managed the amount of currency in the economy.

1914: Clayton Antitrust Act - Prohibited the creations of monopolies and protected the rights of farm organizations and labor unions.

Mid 1800's - 1920: Women's Suffrage Movement - women started campaigning for more rights.

Susan B. Anthony was a part of the National Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), and pushed for an amendment that never passed.

Carrie Chapman Catt was also a part of NAWSA and helped to win women's right to vote.

Federal Trade Commission - an organization that would help investigate any violations and to put an end on unfair practices.

16th Amendment - legalized an income tax that would come from peoples earnings and corporation profits.

19th Amendment - granted women the right to vote.

Politics of the Roaring 20's

Postwar Issues

1919 - 1921

All throughout this time, there was growing prejudice against foreign-born people (Nativism)

1919: "Red Scare" - a panic caused by the spread of communism (a political system based on a single-party government ruled by a dictatorship)

1919: Palmer Raids - a series of raids to combat the "Red Scare". Palmer and his assistant J. Edgar Hoover hunted down and arrested suspected communists, socialists, and anarchists. They violated many people's civil rights in the process.

1920: Sacco & Vanzetti, two Italian immigrants, are wrongfully accused and sentenced to death in a trial that was unfair due to the prejudice at the time.

1921: The Red Scare caused anti-immigration feelings, which resulted in the Emergency Quota Act of 1921 (Immigration Quotas). This limited the number of people who could enter U.S. from each foreign country.

There were several union strikes at the time, including:

- The Boston Police Strike (for better wages). The strike was broken up by Calvin Coolidge, who at the time was governor of Massachusetts.
- The Steel Mill Strike (for shorter working hours, better wages, and the right to form unions)
- Coal Miners' Strike - a protest for better wages and shorter workdays led by John L. Lewis. The strike succeeded in raising wages.

Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) - radicals in a U.S. Communist Party that sent bombs to government/business leaders, igniting the "Red Scare"

Harding's Presidency

1921 - 1923

1921: Warren G. Harding becomes president, promising to restore the U.S. after Progressive Era and WWI. He used the slogan "return to normalcy"

1922: Fordney-McCumber Tariff takes effect, raising taxes on U.S. imports (this was a part of protectionism). This protected from foreign competition but made it impossible for Britain/France to repay U.S. debts. This caused a circle of debt between Britain, France, and Germany. The situation was resolved with the Dawes Plan, which was created by an American banker named Charles G. Dawes.

1921 - 1923: The Ohio Gang (corrupt politicans in Harding's cabinet) became involved in many scandals, including the Teapot Dome Scandal (led by Secretary of Interior Albert B. Fall). Charles R. Forbes & Andrew Mellon were also a part of this group.

1923: President Harding dies.

Business Boom of the 20's

1923 - 1929

1923: Calvin Coolidge becomes president after Harding’s death. He supported big business, which gave way to the prosperous business boom of the 20’s.

  • Automobiles revolutionize transportation, causing the need for gas stations, garages, repair shops, and paved roads. This also caused Urban Sprawls.

  • Airplanes begin commercial air travel

  • Electricity becomes more standardized due to Westinghouse’ alternating current, which allowed for more long distance distribution.

  • More home appliances (fridges, toasters, washing machines, ect…)

  • Modern advertising begins

  • Use of credit begins (installment plans allow people to pay over time)

The Great Depression

Nation's Sick Economy

1920 - 1932

Throughout the 1920’s, there was:
- Uneven distribution of income: more than 70% of the nations families earned less than $2,500 per year. Basically rich got richer and poor got poorer.
- Slowdown in consumer spending: Americans weren’t buying as many products because of high prices, stagnant wages, unbalanced income and overbuying on credit.
- Overproduction of goods: Capitalism had been expanding by increasing productivity but at the same time decreasing wages. Then there were excess goods that could not find a market.
- Stock Market speculation: people bought stocks and bonds for quick profits while ignoring the risks.
- “Buying on Margin”: paying for the down payment and borrowing the balance from the bank.

1929: Black Tuesday - Stock market crashed and the price of stocks broke down. People who borrowed money to buy high priced stocks went bankrupt. This marked the start of the Great Depression.

1929-1940: GREAT DEPRESSION - economy went down and unemployment went up.

Herbert Hoover: President during the Great Depression. He refused to involve the government in anything that has to do with fixed prices, businesses and manipulating the value of the currency.

Joseph P. Kennedy: father of John F. Kennedy, and a speculator who sold off his stocks and made fortune during the crash.

L’assiez-Faire: policy of minimum governmental interference in the economic affairs of individuals and society.

McNary-Haugen Bill: a farm relief bill passed to control farm prices.

1930: Hawley-Smooth Tariff Act - an act passed to protect American farmers from foreign competition. But this made unemployment worse, especially on industries that couldn’t export any goods to Europe.

Hoover Struggles with the Depression

1924 - 1932

President Hoover, at first, thought that the depression was a part of the natural "business cycle", and that the economy would eventually bounce back. He also thought that Americans should be optimistic about the economy. He believed in a small government, and his philosophy was that the government should only help to find a mutual solution between competing groups.

1929: Boulder Dam (later called Hoover Dam) is built, and it provided electricity, a water supply, and flood control.

1930: Democrats win more seats in congress because everyone was starting to dislike Hoover and the Republicans (1930 Congressional Elections)

1930: People started to express their anger for Hoover & the Depression, including
- "Farm Holidays", where farmers refused to work
- "Hoovervilles" became a popular name for shantytowns
- Farmers used force to resist foreclosure

1932: Hoover tries to revive the economy by helping to fund the Federal Farm Board, Federal Home Loan Bank Act, and Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC). None of these efforts really helped.

1932: A group of WWI veterans known as the Bonus Army (led by Walter Waters) protested at Washington D.C. to push for the Patman Bill (which had previously been denied by the Senate), which would pay them for their wartime service. Hoover ordered soldiers to break up the protest by using tear gas bombs, which hurt his reputation even further.

The Depression & its Conditions

1929 - 1940

Growing unemployments - unemployment rate went up as soon as the stock market crashed. A lot of people lost their homes, they went through hardships and this caused hunger for a lot of citizens.

Foreclosure: the mortgage foreclosure increased. Low incomes and the collapse of price levels caused distress to housing markets.

Shantytowns - squatter areas where citizens stayed illegally. They had a poor environment but provided shelter.

Soup Kitchens - they offered low cost (or free) food, since a lot of unemployed couldn't afford their own food. Soup Kitchens were usually run by churches or other private properties.

Competition for jobs - when companies began to go down, they started laying off African Americans first. The white people began competing with the jobs that African American’s did.

Dust Bowl - dust storms that caused damage in places like Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Colorado.

Roosevelt's New Deal

The New Deal fights the Depression

1932 - 1937

1932: Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) is elected president, and the Democrats controlled most of Congress (both the Senate and the House)

Deficit Spending - FDR's policy of spending more money than the government receives in revenue.

"Brain Trust" - Roosevelt's team of carefully pickd advisers.

New Deal - the term for FDR's policies designed to solve problems of the Great Depression.

1933: Hundred Days (March 9 - June 16) - period of time where more than 15 major pieces of New Deal legislation is passed.

1933: FDR declares a Bank Holiday, where he closed all banks, and passed the Emergency Banking Relief Act, which allowed the Treasury to inspect them. The banks that met the standards of the inspection were allowed to reopen.

1933: FDR begins his "Fireside Chats" - a series of informal radio talks about issues of public concern.

1933: Glass-Steagall Act is passed, establishing the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), which provided insurance for individual bank accounts.

1933: Federal Securities Act - required corporations to provide accurate info on stock offerings.

1933: 21st amendment repeals prohibition, allowing for more government income on alcohol tax.

1933: Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is established, and made many renovations to the badly depressed Tennessee River Valley.

1933: Public Works Administration (PWA) is created as part of National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA), providing money to states to build school and other community buildings.

1933 - 1934: FDR creates the Civil Works Administration, providing 4 million immediate jobs by building schools and roads.

1934: Congress creates Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to regulate stock market.

1934: Federal Housing Administration (FHA) - agency that furnishes loans for home mortgages/repairs.

Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) - a program that put young men to work building roads, developing parks, planting trees, and helping in soil-erosion/flood-control projects.

National Recovery Administration (NRA) - set prices/standards of products.

1937: NLRB v. Jones and Laughlin Steel Corp. - a supreme court case where a corp. was charged with intimidating/firing several union members. National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) proved them guilty of "unfair labor practices", confirming the authority of the NLRB.

American Liberty League - group of opponents to the New Deal, including the biggest oppenents: Father Charles Coughlin, Dr. Francis Townsend, and Senator Huey Long.

The 2nd New Deal

1935 - 1938

2nd Hundred Days - The Roosevelt administration provided more extensive relief for both farmers and workers.

Relief to farmers and workers - The Works Progress Administration provided jobs to 8 million unemployed citizens by building airports, public buildings and fixing roads. Congress also passed laws to help thousands of farmers who lost their farms.

Labor Relations - National Labor Relations Act, which was also known as the Wagner Act, protected workers right to join unions and engage in collective bargaining with employers and it prohibited unfair labor practices like interfering with union organizing.

1935 – Economic security for retired workers: The Social Security Act which included Old age insurance for retirees 65 or older and their spouses. It's basically a retirement plan. The act also included an unemployment compensation system and aid to families with dependent children and the disabled.

Eleanor Roosevelt - a social reformer. She traveled the country to see the conditions of people and helped them.

John Steinback - novelist who described the life and experience of one tenant farmer and his family.

Dorothea Lange - a very influential american photographer. Dorothea’s work showed people the hardships of the people during the great depression.

Collective Bargaining - negotiations between employers and a group of employees reaching agreements that regulate working conditions.

Fair labor standards Act - it established a minimum hourly wage and maximum number of hours in the workweek for the entire country.

Social Security Administrations - provided pensions for retired workers and their spouses and aided people with any kind of disabilities.