The election was seen by the Mugwumps as a moral rather than a political contest.
The Mugwumps were mostly professors, editors, and writers in the large cities and major universities of the northeast.
The rise of the Mug wumps, as well as growing national concerns about political corruption, prompted the Democrats to nominate New Yorker Grover Cleveland, a mas sive figure with a bull neck, strong jaw, and an overflowing moustache.
Cleveland was elected mayor of Buffalo on an anti- corruption platform in 1884.
The issue of New York City's corrupt Tammany was central to the politics of the late 1880s.
He vetoed bil s that he felt served private interests at the expense of the public good.
He was in favor of civil service reform, opposed expanding the money supply, and preferred free trade.
Although Cleveland was known for his honesty and integrity, two personal issues hurt him: the discovery that he had paid for a substitute to take his place in the Union army during the Civil War, and a juicy sex scandal that erupted when a Buffalo newspaper revealed that Cleveland, a bachelor, had sex Cleveland provided financial support for the child after they refused to marry her.
Some of the most colorful battle cries in political history were inspired by the escapades of Blaine and Cleveland.
In the crucial state of New York, near the end of the nasty campaign, Blaine and his supporters committed two fateful blun ders.
The first occurred at New York City's fashionable Delmonico's rest aurant, where Blaine went to a private dinner with 200 of the nation's wealthiest business leaders to ask them to help finance his campaign.
The accounts of the event appeared in the newspapers.
Since he had cultivated Irish American support with his anti- English talk and his mother being a Catholic, he let pass the implied insult to Catholics.
Democrats said that Blaine was anti-Catholic and anti-Irish.
The election may have been influenced by the two incidents.
Cleveland's electoral vote was more than 200 to 182 in its favor, but the popular vote was less than 30,000 votes out of 10 million cast.
Cleveland won New York by a small margin.
The Democrats paid so many voters in New York that it cost the Republican the White House.
The Republicans were buying votes as well, so Blaine refused to challenge the results.
A Democrat was back in the White House.
During his first few months in office, President Cleveland had to fight to keep the patronage system in place.
He refused to give federal jobs to his supporters.
Despite the president's best efforts, about two thirds of the federal jobs went to Democrats.
Cleveland was an old style Democrat who believed in minimal govern ment activity.
In his first term, he vetoed more acts of Congress than any other president.
He vetoed a congressional effort to help Texas farmers in the aftermath of a terrible dry spell.
Cleveland said that the government should not support the people.
President Cleveland urged Congress to adopt a new policy of federal regulation of the rates charged by interstate railroads to ship goods, crops, or livestock.
Cleveland urged Congress to close the loophole because most railroads crossed state lines.
The new agency was called a delusion and a sham by one senator.
The commission's powers were challenged in the courts.
The railroads continued to charge high rates while making secret pricing deals with large shippers.
The Republican party shaped the Political Stalemate and Rural Revolt 1865-1900, which favored American manufacturers by effectively shutting out foreign imports.
Imported items brought in more revenue for foreign manufacturers than the federal government spent.
Cleveland and the Democrats realized that the rates were too high when the annual government surplus was produced by the tar iff revenues.
The vicious, inequitable and illogical source of unnecessary taxation should be reduced by Congress according to Cleveland.
His stance set the stage for his reelection campaign.
To oppose Cleveland, the Republicans turned to an obscure Civil War veteran who was from Indiana, Benjamin Harrison, who was a pivotal state in presidential elections.
He had lost a race for governor and served in the U.S. Senate, but he was the grandson of President William Henry Harrison.
The most important attribute of Harrison was that he would do as he was told.
Business executives gave a lot of money to the Republicans' campaign.
The out come was very close.
Matthew Quay was the powerful Republican boss of Pennsylvania.
Quay's decision to distribute campaign money in key states and to promise federal jobs to loyalists helped Republicans gain control of the House and the Senate.
President Benjamin Harrison owed a heavy debt to military veterans, whose votes were critical to his election, and he paid it by signing the Depen dent Pension Act, which doubled the federal pensions paid to veterans between 1889 and 1893.
The Sherman Anti- Trust Act, the Sherman Silver Purchase Act, the McKinley Tariff Act, and the admission of Idaho and Wyoming into the Union were all passed by the Republicans in 1890.
Powerful corporations were banned from "conspiring" to establish monopolies or "restrain trade" under the Sherman Anti- Trust Act.
The United States was the first nation in the world to outlaw monopolistic business practices.
The Sherman Anti- Trust Act was a hoax intended to make it appear that Congress was cracking down on corporations that were dominating more and more industries.
Employers tried to get the working class to vote for the Republican party ticket, including presidential nominee Benjamin Harrison.
The bill was mostly for show according to Political Stalemate and Rural Revolt.
The Swiss Cheese Act had many loop holes in it's language.
We attacked the trusts.
In an attack on Benjamin Harrison's spending policies, rarely enforced, Harrison is shown pouring Cleveland's of its vague definitions of trusts and huge surplus down a hole.
Four lawsuits were filed against labor unions rather than corporations, claiming that striking workers were conspiring to restrain trade.
The Sherman Silver Purchase Act, which required the Treasury to purchase 4.5 million ounces of silver each month to convert into dol ar coins, was an effort by the Republicans to please the six new western states.
The bill's sponsor, Senator John Sherman, admitted that he only proposed the bill to appease the cries for "unlimited coinage" of silver.
During the financial panic of 1893, the Sherman act helped set the stage for the money problem.
Republicans viewed their victory as a mandate to reward the support of large corporations by raising tariffs even higher.
The McKinley Tar iff Act of 1890 raised duties on imported manufactured goods to their highest level and added many agricultural products to the tariffs to appease farmers.
Many businesses raised prices because their European competitors were not allowed to compete in the U.S. market.
The Republican efforts to reward Big Business backfired.
Democrats regained control of the House in the November 1890 congressional elections.
William McKinley lost his seat after he was elected Ohio's governor.
The Republican majority in the Senate was reduced to four.
Republicans were shocked by their election losses.
The Populists are a new political party that represents disgruntled farmers and wage laborers.
The revolution was happening.
Monetary issues were more important to national politics during the Gilded Age than tariffs, trusts, and efforts to clean up political corruption.
The nation's money supply didn't grow with the economy and population.
Currency deflation caused the cost of borrowing money to go up as the money supply went down.
The policy limiting the currency supply was supported by bankers and others who lent money.
Farmers, ranchers, miners, and others who had to borrow money to make ends meet claimed that the sound money policy lowered prices for their crops and drove them deeper into debt.
The currency supply was raised to target the growing power of monopolies.
The Republican-controlled Congress made a decision in 1873 that only gold, not silver, could be used for coins.
The decision was made at a time when silver mines in the western states were increasing production and gold deposits were drying up.
In 1874, several farm organizations across the nation organized the Greenback party to promote the benefits of paper money over gold and silver coins, and they won fifteen seats in Congress.
The Greenback party died out in 1889, but the demands for increasing the money supply remained.
The new congressional delegations of the western states wanted the federal government to buy more silver to mint coins.
In the farming communities of the South, on the plains of Kansas and Nebraska, and in the mining towns of the Rockies, there was unrest after the congressional elections.
Corn prices had fallen by a third, wheat by half, and cotton by two thirds.
Overproduction and growing international competition caused the decline in prices.
Farmers in the South and West have become increasingly indebted to local banks or merchants who lend them money at high interest rates to buy seeds, tools, and other supplies.
The farmers were prevented from paying their debts on time because of the income they received as prices for their crops dropped.
Most farmers had no choice but to grow more wheat, cot ton, or corn because the increased supply pushed down prices and incomes.
Farmers were hurt by high tariffs on imported goods.
Railroads, which had a monopoly over the shipping of grain and animals, charged high rates to ship agricultural products.
In many states harvests were destroyed because of successive years of dry summers and bitterly cold winters.
The cornerstone of American society is the farmer.
Without the food he produces, no man in any occupation can do his job, including the railroad magnate and warehouse owners who try to exploit him.
The hot winds burned up the entire crop, leaving thousands of families whol y destitute and vulnerable to the "money loaners and sharks" charging criminal rates of interest.
Populists won five congressional seats in Kansas in 1890.
The Populists and Democrats took control of Congress just as farmers' debts were mounting as crop prices continued to decline.
Oliver H. Kelley was struck by the social isolation of people living on small farms when he was sent on a tour of the South by the Department of Agriculture.
The National Grange of the Patrons of Husbandry, better known as the Grange, was founded by Political Stalemate and Rural Revolt 1865-1900.
By 1875, the Grange had a membership of 858,000 men and women.
In five Midwest states, Grange chapters persuaded legislatures to pass "Granger laws" establishing state commissions to regulate the prices charged by railroads and grain warehouses.
Farmers used the grain elevators to store their harvest before it was sold and shipped.
The elevator operators were corrupt.
They colluded with their competitors to fix the storage rates.
Railroads squeezed the farmers.
Railroads were able to charge what they wanted to ship grain, and discriminated in favor of the largest farms, because they had a monopoly on the agricultural community.
In order to address the concerns of grain growers, the Illinois legislature in 1871 established regulations prohibiting railroads from charging different freight rates.
The Board of Railroad and Warehouse Commissioners was created by the state.
Similar laws were passed by other states.
Railroad and warehouse owners argued that attempts to regulate them were forms of socialism.
Chicago grain elevators lowered their storage fees in response to the court's decision.
The main concern of struggling farmers was the decline in crop prices and the amount of money in circulation.
The Farmers' Alliance was formed as a result.
The Farmers' Alliances organized social and recreational activities for small farmers and their families while also emphasizing political action and eco nomic cooperation to address the hardship caused by chronic indebtedness, declining crop prices, and droughts.
The Southern Alliance movement swept across the South, Kansas, Nebraska, and the Dakotas.
The white Alliance movement had 1.5 million members by 1890.
The Southern Alliance wouldn't allow blacks to join because most black farmers were tenants and not owners.
Many landless farmers supported the Alliances, but the majority of them sold their crops in the marketplace.
The Colored Farmers' National Alliance was formed in 1886 by a white minister in Texas.
It would claim more than 1 million members by 1890.
In the west states of the Mississippi River, political activism intensified after a series of record storms in the late 19th and early 20th century, which killed most of the cattle and hogs across the northern plains and destroyed millions of acres of corn, wheat, and oats.
The Alliances wanted the federal government to take ownership of the railroads and impose an income tax on wealthy Americans.
They formed an economic cooperative to bind together their strength in negotiations with railroads and warehouse operators.
Texas farmers were urged to create their own Alliance Exchange to free themselves from dependence on commercial warehouses, grain elevators, and banks.
Members of the Alliance Exchange would pool their resources to borrow money from banks and purchase goods and supplies from a new corporation created by the Alliance in Dal.
The exchange would build warehouses to hold market members' crops.
The loans would be used to buy household goods and agricultural supplies.
The Alli ance warehouse provided loans to the farmers so they could sell their crops.
Cash loans can be up to 80 percent of the crops' value.
Farmers could store a crop in hopes of getting a better price later.
The sub treasury plan wasnixed by Congress despite the strong support from farmers.
The defeat of the Alliance proposal convinced many farm leaders that they needed more political power in order to save the agricultural sector.
The majority of Alliance members were women.
A woman from North Carolina enjoyed the opportunities the Alliance provided.
The Alliances called for action to address their concerns.
The Independent party was formed in 1890 by farm activists in Colorado and railroad workers in Nebraska.
In the South, the Alliance movement elected four Democrats as governors, forty- four as congressmen, and several as U.S. senators.
The most respected of the Southern Alliance leaders was a lawyer from Georgia.
After the Civil War, the son of prosperous slaveholders lost everything, so he urged black and white tenant farmers to join forces.
He wanted cooperation between black and white farmers to fight the power of the wealthy in the South.
Mary Elizabeth Lease was a fiery speaker for the farm protest movement.
Lease, who was born in Pennsylvania to Irish immigrants, failed at farming and moved to Kansas to teach.
She was one of the first female attorneys in the state.
During the 1890s, Lease began giving rousing speeches on behalf of struggling farmers.
Eastern financiers were viewed as the enemy by Lease.
Wall Street has control of the country.
The eight- hour workday and new laws limiting "undesirable" immigration were endorsed by the Populists for fear that the criminal classes of the world would take Amer icans' jobs.
The Populists said that they meet in the midst of a nation that is on the verge of moral, political, and material ruin.
The fruits of millions of dollars are taken to build up fortunes for a few.
The Populist party's platform was more exciting than that of the Greenback party's candidate, James B. Weaver.
The major parties nominated the same candidates who had run in the past.
Colorado, Kansas, Nevada, and Idaho were all won by Weaver.
37 percent of Alabama's vote went to Weaver, making it the banner Populist state of the South.
While farmers were funneling their discontent into politics, a fundamental weakness in the economy was about to cause a social rebellion.
It was the worst depression the nation had ever experienced.
The railroads took many banks with them.
Europeans withdrew funds from America.
By the fall of 1893, more than 600 banks had closed and 15,000 businesses had failed, as a quarter of unskilled urban workers lost their jobs.
By 1900, a third of American farmers rented their land instead of owning it, as farm foreclosures soared in the South and West.
The nation's economy had bottomed out by 1894.
Unemployment went up to 20 percent after four years of the depression.
The rate was close to 35 percent in New York City.
The Sherman Silver Purchase Act of 1890 was repealed by President Cleveland in order to return the nation's money supply to a gold standard.
Inves tors rushed to exchange their silver for gold.
There was a wave of labor unrest.
Some 750,000 workers went on strike in 1894.
Coxey's Army was led by "General" Jacob S. Coxey, a wealthy Ohio quarry owner who demanded that the federal government provide the unemployed with meaningful work.
Coxey, his wife, and their son, Legal Tender Coxey, rode in a carriage ahead of some 400 protesters who marched hundreds of miles to Washington, D.C., where police arrested Coxey for walking on the grass.
The march as wel as the growing strength of Populism struck fear into the hearts of many conservatives.
Populists were portrayed as "tramps" and "hayseed socialists" who would endanger the capitalist system.
Coxey's economic ideology was popular with immigrants.
President Cleveland and the Democrats were blamed for the economic crisis after the 1894 congressio nal elections.
The Republicans gained 118 seats in the House.
In the solidly Democratic South, the party retained its advantage.
The Populists emerged with six senators and seven representatives, and they expected the discontent in rural areas to carry them to national power in 1896.
Their hopes were dashed.
The Sherman Silver Purchase Act was repealed by Cleveland.
The pro- silver Democrat labeled the president a traitor.
The "free silver" crusade had taken on symbolic significance because it would probably not have provided the benefits its advocates claimed.
The left wing of the "goldbug" nominated William McKinley, a former "silverite" with his running mates on the right.
I would not be able to vote in the election.
One of the great turning points in political history was the Democratic convention.
The pro- silver delegates surprised the party leadership and the "goldbugs" by capturing the convention.
The final speech at the Democratic convention was given by William Bryan of Nebraska.
When Democrats were swept out of office in 1894, Bryan lost a race for the Senate and was a fiery evangelical moralist.
Bryan was a crusading preacher in the role of a Pop Ulist politician.
He claimed in his speech that two ideas about the role of government were competing for the vote of the American voter.
His "cross of the eastern "financial magnates" who gold" speech at the 1896 Democratic had enslaved them by manipulating Convention roused the delegates and secured him the party's presidential the money supply to ensure high inter- nomination.
I am here to defend the cause of liberty and the cause of humanity.
Our peti tions have been ridiculed.
They have mocked when our calamity came.
Bryan identified himself with Jesus Christ.
He shouted "You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns" as he moved his fingers across his forehead.
He extended his arms out from his sides, as if he were being crucified.
His performance was better than he could have imagined.
The delegates erupted in applause as he strode triumphantly off the stage.
The Republicans were not amused by Bryan's antics.
Theodore Roosevelt claimed that Bryan was a demagogue with an "unsound mind" who was in favor of mob rule because of the shiftless and disorderly elements of society.
The Democratic party was fractured after Bryan won the presidential nomination on the fifth ballot.
Bryan was dismissed as a fanatic and a socialist by those who had supported Grover Cleveland.
They walked out of the convention and nominated Senator John M. Palmer of Illinois because they were so angry with him.
The Populists faced an impossible choice when they gathered in St. Louis for their convention.
They could name their own candidate and split the pro- silver vote with the Democrats, or they could endorse Bryan and lose their identity.
The Democrats were invited to drop their vice- presidential nominee after they chose their own candidate.
Bryan was like an Evangelist.
He was the first major candidate since Andrew Jackson to champion the poor.
He was positive for struggling farmers, miners, and union members.
He was the first leader of a major party to call for the expansion of the federal government to help the working class.
Bryan loved campaigning.
He traveled 18,000 miles by train to deliver speeches in 26 states.
His crusade was for whites only.
Bryan did not challenge the practices of racial segregation and violence against blacks in the solidly Democratic South.
Many working class Catholics in northern states were offended by his support for the prohibition of alcoholic beverages.
McKinley kept his mouth shut, letting other Republicans speak for him.
He knew he couldn't compete with Bryan as a speaker, so he conducted a " front- porch campaign," welcoming some 750,000 supporters who came to his home in Canton, Ohio, during the cam paign.
Most of the prepared statements he gave to the press warned middle class voters of the dangers of Bryan's ideas.
McKinley's campaign manager portrayed Bryan as a Popo crat, a radical who would ruin the capitalist system and stir up a class war.
The Republican party declared that it was "unreservedly for sound money", meaning gold coins.
By appealing to such fears, the Republicans raised huge sums of money to finance an army of speakers who promoted McKinley.
It was the most expensive and sophisticated presidential campaign of all time.
Bryan won the most votes of any candidate in history, but McKinley won more votes.
The Republicans won the electoral college vote by a wide margin.