Chapter 20 Outline-Whose Government? Politics, Populists, and
A. Reformers were confronting the problems with industrialization.
B. Reformers main goals were to clean up politics, limit the power of big business, reduce poverty,
and promote social justice.
C. This time is considered the Progressive Era.
Reform Visions, 1880-1892
Reformers tried several different strategies to challenge industrialization, despite their different
A. Electoral Politics After Reconstruction
-Partisan conflict was happening.
-Political instability was high due to the ongoing change in the House of Representatives and the
entry of western states (Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming,
-Republicans’ high protective tariffs solicited many strong opinions.
-Higher voter turnout.
-A lot of fraud amongst both political parties during a time of fierce voting in political campaigns
(This period is characterized as the Gilded Age, when politics were corrupt).
1. New Initiatives
i.) President Garfield was shot after being in office for just four months. He survived for
a few more months after the shooting, but his injuries ultimately killed him.
ii.) Pendleton Act (1883) was passed in the wake of Garfield’s death.
iii.) Cleveland became president and shared the views of many Mugwumps, wanting a
2. Republican Activism
i.) Republicans gained control of both Congress and the White House in 1888 after a
decade of divided government. Jessica DeLancy
ii.) President Harrison sought to protect black voting rights.
iii.) The Federal Elections bill of 1890 was passed causing outrage amongst Democrats.
iv.) Senator William Stewart of Nevada killed the bill a devastated those seeking to
defend black rights.
v.) Cleveland was reelected for a nonconsecutive second term.
B. The Populist Program
i.) Democrats took power in Washington.
ii.) Knights of Labor joined with the Kansas Farmers’ Alliance, creating the People’s
iii.) The Populist Party was formed and called for a stronger government to protect
iv.) Populist party had mixed success in attracting people to their party.
v.) Southern Democrats accused the Populists of being radical republicans while
republican’s accused them of being ex-confederates plotting another round of
The Political Earthquakes of the 1890’s
Severe economic depression hit the US in 1893. Republicans gained control in the White House in
1894 and maintained it for the next 15 years.
A. Depression and Reaction
i.) Unemployment rates were high, banks were closing, other companies were going
under, and the stock market was crashing.
ii.) Violence began occurring (Haymarket and showdown at Homestead). People feared
Populism and Marxism.
iii.) Coxey’s army began, marching to Washington to fight for jobs for the unemployed.
iv.) Coxey was viewed as an extremist by many Americans. When his army got to Capitol
Hill, he was arrested and many of his men ended up either arrested too or in Maryland
chain gangs. The rest went home hungry.
v.) Cleveland’s administration was increasingly out of step with rural and working class
demands. He continued to resist pressure to loosen money supply. Jessica DeLancy
vi.) Republicans won the next election because even Dem’s distanced themselves from the
B. Democrats and the “Solid South”
1.) Democrats gained strength in the south in the 1890’s while the People’s Party lost ground.
2.) Populists came up with ideas to help farmers and wage earners.
3.) Democrats used threats and violence to prevent black rights (and go against the Populists) in
4.) Democrats continued with the “White Supremacy” attitude and eventually, literacy tests
were required for black people to vote.
5.) Less southern voters were voting, the racial climate hardened, and lynching of African
Americans increasingly occurred in broad daylight as Democrats openly advocated for white
6.) Arrest rates of blacks were high while arrest rates of whites were almost non-existent in the
south. Democrats had almost complete control in the south.