Period 1

The Problem(s)
  • Beginning at the end of the Civil War, the US Government became interested in groups such as Big Business. Big Business started to influence and take control over the Government.
  • Politicians started to accept bribes from these groups because they would help them out financially in donations called “Campaign Contributions.”
  • Leaders of political parties all over the United States had control over politicians at every level of the government. They had the final say about who ran for political office.
  • People voted in public so election frauds were common. It was very easy to tell who a person voted for because the ballots were different colors.
  • A lot of the government jobs were controlled by the people elected into office. Mayors, governors, and The President would give jobs to their supporters. This was called the spoils system.
  • In 1883 the Pendleton Act was passed which gave The President even more power to appoint officials of his choice to federal jobs.
  • Until 1930, parties called political machines were prevalent. They would abuse their power and try to get others to vote their way by bribing. They would use money to bribe and give rewards to whoever followed directions. These groups met at Tammany Hall in New York City.

The Solution(s)

  • The main proposal to solve the problem of government corruption was to give the people more control over the government.
  • The voters, instead of the officials already in office will have more say in who will run for elected office.
  • People were given the power to remove an elected official from office if they went against their wishes.
  • Recall elections could be held if the people formed a petition.
  • If people wanted a law enacted, they could present it to the legislature to be proposed as a new law.
  • The limit of one term was considered for the president because he then would not have to worry about reelection.
  • Whenever political parties received donations, they had to make the source public.
  • Voting would be private to limit the possibility of pressure at the ballots.

The Images

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"Thomas Nast, an important political cartoonist in 19th-century America, was known for exposing government corruption. This 1871 cartoon illustrates the Tammany Hall scandal by depicting William Marcy "Boss" Tweed and his ring as vultures."

"G.H. Pendleton is perhaps best remembered for his opposition to Abraham Lincoln's policies during the Civil War. In the 1864 election, Pendleton was the oppositional vice presidential candidate, on the Democratic ticket with George B. McClellan." He was elected for the Senate in 1878 for Ohio. He was chair of the Civil Service Committe. He became popular in the Civil Service Reform Act.
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"Tammany Hall, located on West 14th Street in New York City, ca. 1914. Tammany Hall was the meeting place for, and popular name of, the Democratic Party political machine that dominated much of New York City's political life until 1933." [Library of Congress]

"An undated portrait of William Marcy Tweed, better known as Boss Tweed. As the head of Tammany Hall, the U.S. Democratic Party organization in New York City, Tweed became infamous for his greed and arrogant abuse of political power." [Library of Congress] Abusing power was very common during the age of progression. Many politicians would recieve bribes and sneak under the law.
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The Primary Sources

"A political machine, also known as a party machine, is a party organization that entices people to vote for a party by offering rewards in exchange for loyalty and service. Political machines, which dominated large cities until the1930s, tempted voters with such benefits as jobs, citizenship applications, housing, and emergency relief."

"Be it enacted . . . That the President is authorized to appoint, by and with the advice|and consent of the|Senate, three persons, not more than two of whom shall be adherents of the same party, as Civil Service Commissioners, and said three commissioners shall constitute the United States Civil Service Commission. Said commissioners shall hold no other official place under the United States." - An excerpt from the Civil Service Reform Act or the Pendleton Act of 1883

"[The civil service] system has serious defects. It has become a bureaucratic maze which neglects merit, tolerates poor performance, and mires every personnel action in red tape, delay, and confusion. Most civil service employees perform with spirit and integrity. Nevertheless, the public suspects that there are too many government workers, that they are underworked, overpaid, and insulated from the consequences of incompetence." - Jimmy Carter (1978) - a quote on Civil Service


The Citations

"bosses and machines." American History. 2007. ABC-CLIO. 21 Feb. 2007 <[[>./|>.]]

"Civil Reform Act (1883)." American History. 2007. ABC-CLIO. 21 Feb, 2007 <[[>.|>.]]

"Political Machine." American History. 2007. ABC-CLIO. 21 Feb. 2007 <[[>./|>.]]

Wingate, Kate. Political reforms : American citizens gain more control over their government. New York : Rosen Central Primary Source, 2006.