Increasing role of Government in the US

Politics in the Gilded age

Tweed ring scandal

1868 - 1871

Tweed Ring Scandal- group of corrupt politicians who performed grafts for money.

1868- Boss Tweed becomes head of the NYC Democratic political machine Tammany Hall.

1869- Boss Tweed led the Tweed ring, group of corrupt politicians, in defrauding the city.

1871: Thomas Nast breaks up the Tweed Ring by arousing public outrage with his political cartoons.

Political Machines

1868 - 1895

They are like the local political parties.

Machines did favors to gain votes. They were also very corrupt, and used graft for money.

Offered services to voters and businesses in exchange for political or financial support.

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, TR's Square Deal

Woman's Christian Temperance Union


1874- The WCTU was founded under the leadership of Frances Willard.
-It became the most powerful women's organization. The temperance reformers wanted to limit the use of alcohol by the Americans.

1898- Willard died and the WCTU lost some of its power. The male anti-saloon league took over the leadership of the Prohibition movement (which is the banning of alcohol).

1900- Carry Nation, a member of WCTU traveled around Kansas and smashed saloons with ax.

1901- every state in the nation had a program to educate children about the dangers of drinking alcohols.

1919- Amendment 18 was passed which prohibited the sale of alcohol nationwide.

TR's square deal

1890 - 1920

1906- The Jungle- Upton Sinclaire, its a book that described the bad condition of meat packing industry.

TR Square Deal- term to describe the various TR's various prog reforms.

1901- Northern Security co- important US railroad trust. The people who ran it were EH Haymann, James J. Hill, J.P morgan, JD Rockefeller. this company was sued Sherman Anti- trust act of 1890 by President TR.

Coal strike of 1902- 140,000 coal miners in Penn. they went on strike and demanded 20% raise, a nine hour workday and the right organize union. The mine operators refused to bargain.

Conservation Yosemite National Park- 1903, John Muir persuaded the the president to set aside 148M acres of forest reserves.

TR- started progressive movement and square deal due to sinclaire's book.

Upton SInclaire- journalist who's focus was the human condition in the stockyard of Chicago and wrote the Jungle.

John Muir- a journalist and friend of TR who's activism helped preserve the Yosemite park.

Key Policy

Sqare deal: common people received from the Roosevelt Admin.

Sherman Antitrust act of 1902: Prohibits certain business activities that federal govt regulators deem to be anti-competitive and requires the fed govt to investigate and pursue trusts,companies and organizations suspected of being in violation.

Elkins Act 1903: US law that amended the Interstate Commerce act of 1887.

Hepburn Act 1906: US fed law gave the interstate commerce commission the power to set max railroad rates and extend its jurisdiction.

Meat inspection act: dictated strict cleanliness requirements for meat packers and created the program of fed meat inspection that was use until it was replaced by sophisticated techniques in the 1990's.

Pure food and Drug act: halted the sale of contaminated foods and medicines and called for truth in labeling.

Rise of Progressive movement

1890 - 1924

1890- Journalists began exposing the condition that factory workers face. This includes women and children.

1893- Florence Kelley helped to win passage of the Illinois Factory Act which prohibited child labor and limited women's working hours.

1900- Progressive movement came which aimed to restore the economic opportunities especially for the poor and correct the injustices in American life.

Reform Mayors

1890 - 1909

1890- Hazen Pingree was elected as mayor of Detroit. He focused on economics, he wanted a fairer tax structure, low fares for transportation, abolish corruption and Pingree also started making work relief for unemployed citizens.
- Pingree was elected as governor of Michigan in 1897.

1901- Tom Johnson was elected as mayor of Cleveland, Ohio. He was the only socialist mayor who established progressive reforms in America's cities. He believed that people should play a part in the city government.

Both these 2 mayors worked on removing corrupt private owners from power.

"History of the Standard Oil Company"


1901- Eugene Debs (labor leader) commented on the unfair balance among large companies, government and common people under the free market system of capitalism.

1901- Muckrakers emerged, these were journalists who exposed the abuses of business and the corruption in politics.

1904- The book "History of the Standard Oil Company" was written by Ida Tarbell. This was a revelation of the Standard Oil company which was at that time run by oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller.
-Ida Tarbell stated the abuses of standard oil on the book and how the Standard Oil was ripping everyone off.

1911- the book fueled attacks on Rockefeller and Standard oil and led to the breakup of Standard Oil. The Supreme Court ruled that it was an ILLEGAL MONOPOLY.

Reform Governors


States started passing laws to regulate railroads, mines, mills, telephone companies and big businesses.

1906- Robert M. La Follette was the governor of Wisconsin. He was known as "fighting bob" La Follette. He wanted to remove corporations out of politics and give them the same treatment as other people. His major target was the railroad industry, he regulated rates and taxes and he didn't allow any free passes to state officials.

Muller vs Oregon


1908- Muller v Oregon, the main issue of this case was if it was constitutional to set maximum workday for women. Oregon passed a law that states that women could not work more than 10 hours a day but a woman at Muller's laundry had to work for more than 10 hours. So that violated the law.
-Louise Brandeis supported reforms that protected workers. He was chosen to defend the law. He filed a legal argument and he provided evidence that showed a connection between hours of work and women's health.
-The court supported the Oregon law in the end.

Scientific Management


1911- Frederick Taylor's book "The principles of Scientific Management" was published.
-It was basically a theory of management that analyzed and workflows, with the objective of improving labor productivity.
- Scientific management is also known as "Taylorism".

Wilson's Presidency

1912 - 1920

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

Keating- Owen act


The National Child Labor Committee sent investigators to collect proofs that children's were working at a very dangerous environment.

1916- Joined by the union labors, they wanted the government to pass the Keating-Owen Act. This act banned sales in interstate commerce of goods by any facility that had children working.

1918- The act was found "unconstitutional" because it opposed with the states' rights to regulate laws. But reformers won because child labor was banned in nearly every state.

Bunting v Oregon


The Bunting v Oregon was a case in which the Supreme Court ruled a 10 hour work day not just for women but also for men. It also says that time-and-a-half wages for overtime up to 3 hours.

Politics of the Roaring 20's

America struggles with post war issues

1920 - 1930

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 of America

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)

Hoover struggles with depression

Nation's sick economy

1920 - 1932


-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 CONSUMERS SPENDING- Americans weren't buying as much products anymore. Reasons were 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"- It's basically 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. The Black tuesday caused the Great Depression and not just that it made the depression worse.

Key Persons:

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. He was a speculator who sold off his stocks and made fortune during the crash.

Key Policy:

-L'assiez-Faire- is a policy of minimum governmental interference in the economic affairs of individuals and society.

-McNary-Haugen Bill- its a farm relief bill. It was passed to control farm prices.

-Hawley-Smooth Tariff act- was passed to protect American farmers from foreign competition. But the tariff didn't help the unemployment, it made it worse especially on industries that couldn't export any goods to europe.

Hoover struggles with the depression

1924 - 1932

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.

Hardship and suffering during the great depression


Hardship and suffering during the great depression

Growing unemployments: Unemployment rate went up as soon as the stock market crashed. A lot of people lost their homes, they went thru hardships and this caused hungers for a lot of citizens.

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

Shantytowns: These are like squatter areas. Citizens stay here illegally. Shantytowns are not usually a great environment for people to stay in.

Soup Kitchens: they offered low-cost or free food. A lot of people were out of work so they could barely afford their own food. Soup Kitchens were usually run by churches or any other private properties.

Competition for jobs: African Americans suffered as soon as the economy went down. When companies began to go down, companies started laying off African American first. The white people began competing with the jobs that African American’s does.

Dust Bowl: Dust storms causing damage in places like Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Colorado.

The New Deal

A new deal fights for 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 second new deal takes hold

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. Like 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 known as the Wagner Act, this 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, its basically a retirement plan. The Act also included Unemployment compensation system and Aid to Families with dependent children and the disabled.

Key Persons:

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.