US Political System in 1890 and the role of the President

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  • Created by: Lily
  • Created on: 28-04-13 14:46

1890 USA

  • Strong sense of anti-colonialism
  • Individualism & self-reliance
  • Pride in a "new democracy"
  • Superiority of native americans
  • North & South tension
  • North = industrialisation
  • "solid south" for Democrats
  • Extinction of the "Old West" and the frontier
  • Immigration influencing society
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Presidents between 1890-1920

  • Benjamin "Human Iceberg" Harrison (1889-1893 Republican): very first President to attend a baseball game. Installed electric lights into the White House.
  • Grover Cleaveland (1885-1889 & 1893-1897 Democrat): only President to serve non-consecutive terms.
  • William Mckinley (1897-1901 Republican): 3rd President to die by assains wound. Last President to fight in the civil war.
  • Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt (1901-1909 Republican): photographic memory, childs toy named after him.
  • William Taft (1909-1913 Republlican): Not a very famous President, continued the work of Roosevelt. Lowest vote of every incumbrent President (23%)
  • Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921 Democrat): Nobel Peace Prize for Treaty of Versaile. Admirer of the KKK (big membership increase). Suffragettes "disgusting creatures". Died from stroke.
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Executive, Legislative or Judiciary?

-Elected every 4 years. Recommends legislations, vetos bills, appoints the cabinet, "commander-in-chief" of the armed forces.
-House of Representatives (435 members to represent constituencies, elected every 2 years) & The Senate (2 members from each state sit for 6 years, 1/3 re-election every 2 years). Makes the laws, "power of the purse", declares war, can impeach/override the president.
-9 judges appointed for life by the President (has to get it checked in Congress). Approves laws and decides if they are constitutional.
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Key Issues in 1890

TEMPERANCE - reaction to immigrants & industrialisation & soliders returning home (taste for alcohol). Next moral cause to be tackled after slavery.          SEGREGATIONISM - little progress for civil rights. Even Supreme Court had Jim Crow laws.                                                                                                                FEMALE SUFFRAGE - right to vote in 1920. Wyoming first state to allow it (1870). ANTI-DARWINISM - Fundamentalist America very critical of "evolution", Bible!!!       TRUSTS - Big Business regulations. 1890 Sherman Anti-trust Act.Tariffs were also a problem.                                                                                                          BI-METALLISM - Campaigns to back the dollar with silver aswell as Gold to allow inflation. (poor farmers and those in debt)                                                                         ANTI-IMPERIALISM - Traditional isolationist forgein policy, stay out of world affairs.     NATIVISM - Although immigration was high people were beginning to worry about it's effects.

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Key Events 1890-1920

  • 1890 - Last states (Idaho & Wyoming)
  • 1900 - Intervention of China
  • 1904 - Jane Addams comes into the limelight (female suffragette)
  • 1905 - American mediation ends Russia-Japan war
  • 1912 - "Bull Moose Party led by Roosevelt, Eugene Debs (highest ever socialist vote)
  • 1914 - First World War in Europe
  • 1917 - American Entry into WWI
  • 1920 - "Return to Normalcy". Race Riots in Chicago & Washington.
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The Political Parties


Neither one of them, since the civil war, had been dominant but since 1890 the two parties begun a strangehold on politics.

Other parties included: Populists, Socialists and Progressives. Although they never reached significant power themselves, they were able to influence the main parties.

"2 empty bottles that differed only in their labels" - Wilson. They tended to have different support bases but linked together varied interest groups. They both found great importance in local issues.

Individuals were more likely vote according to where they belonged rather than what the party thought. E.g the Democrats and the "solid south",

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Why were the Republicans so dominant 1896-1912?

  • Mark Hanna & his campaign tactics - raised vast sums of money from big business to promote Mckinley. Employed 1,400 campaign workers to send letters to voters. Brilliant fundraiser and used negative tactics to ensure William Jennings Bryans defeat.
  • Democrats were divided and seemed unorganised. Although Republicans were not completely united, this was not apparent untill 1912.
  • Democrats alienated Big Business
  • Democrats had essentially lost the civil war.
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