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They won 80, votes in , and their strength grew as the party of workers and farmers. In the Congressional elections of , the party received nearly a million votes and sent fourteen Greenbackers to Congress and electing many to local office. As prosperity returned in the late s, and as it became clear that the Specie Redemption Act would not be repealed, the party lost its following. They mounted their last national campaign in , nominating Benjamin F. Butler for president at their convention in Indianapolis. He received , votes, 1.

Their primary cause was the prohibition of alcohol, but it also supported full and equal suffrage for women. Its initial entries into presidential politics were remarkable failures. In , the party nominated John P. John for president. Lockwood, the first women lawyer to practice before the Supreme Court, as their presidential candidate. The platform supported suffrage for women, equal rights as property holders for women, a moderately protective tariff, discouragement of liquor traffic, civil service reform, and urged that public land be granted only to actual settlers.

The Grange movement began in , in Washington, DC, with the formation of a secret fraternal organization for farmers called the National Grange of the Patrons of Husbandry. Early on, most of the local branches, called Granges, were in Minnesota, home of the founder, Oliver Kelly. By , the membership had passed , Indiana ranked second behind Missouri in Grange membership in Mid-Central region of the US that year, with 60, members and 1, Granges, for every , in agricultural population.

The Grangers defined themselves by emphasizing the extent to which farmers were victims of railroads, merchants and banks.

Politics of the s and s

For the farmer, the enemy was not an employer, but a system of credit, supply, transportation and marketing. They took action by forming cooperatives, founding banks, pushing through legislation for regulation of railroads and grain elevators, and campaigned for political candidates. Farmers in general in the s, s and s were determined to hold on to or regain the autonomy of the independent small producer in the new industrial economy and saw politics as a way to do just that.

As agricultural conditions improved in the s, the Grange movement lost members, dropping to , Because of opposition from local business and lack of experience, many of their business ventures failed. The Grange movement set some important precedents, particularly with regard to railroad regulation. Blaine through his presidential bid, was the Credit Mobilier of America incident.

The scandal, exposed by the New York Sun on the eve of the election, involved major stockholders in the Union Pacific Railroad and influential congressmen.

The New Politics of North Carolina

The stockholders formed a company, the Credit Mobilier of America, and gave it contracts to build the railroad. They sold or gave shares in this construction to congressmen. In turn, the congressmen approved federal subsidies for the cost of railroad construction without attention to expense, enabling railroad builders to make large profits, which improved the value of their stock. Blaine himself set up a congressional committee to investigate. The scandal also sullied the careers of outgoing president Schyler Colfax, incoming vice president Henry Wilson and Representative James A.

Garfield, who denied the charges and was ultimately elected president. Perhaps most damages of all, though, was Blaine, who was accused of writing the "Mulligan Letters" about his corrupt actions, most likely contributing to his failed presidential bid in see below, election of The Credit Mobilier scandal exemplified the way in which railroads and other economic interests sought to influence politics — and succeeded — in an effort to insure and increase profits.

New Politics / Charlotte, NC / 7.23.14

Before the days of income tax, tariffs on imported goods filled the national treasury. During the s, it was an embarrassment of riches. The federal government consistently carried a large surplus derived from these tariffs, and continuous discussions ensued on how to spend the money. Pork barrel projects and pensions to Civil War veterans were two means of dispensing funds, both meant to cement party loyalty, depending on who was in power at the time. Tariffs also kept domestic prices artificially high. The purchase price of imported goods included the added tariff. The same product made in this country could be sold for a bit less and still be extremely profitable.

Coupled with this, the price farmers received for their agricultural products declined significantly in s. Also, farmers who had already borrowed to purchase land or equipment found their ability to repay these debts and mortgages ebbing as their income shrank. The Republican Party espoused the belief that the federal government should employ a high tariff to ensure that foreign competition did not injure agriculture and industry.

For them, it was a protective measure. The Democrats, however, felt that the tariff was a burdensome tax on consumers and supported tariffs for "revenue only," to support a limited government. Increased industrial and agricultural production had caused prices to fall after the Civil War, leaving debtors and creditors on opposite sides of a controversy. Farmers suffered because they were receiving less for their crops but had to pay high interest rates on the money they borrowed.

Consequently, farmers generally supported the coinage of silver to increase the amount of money in circulation. Creditors believed overproduction had caused prices to decline. This argument, however, involved more than just pure economics. Social, regional and emotional conflicts also came into play.

Creditor-debtor conflicts also came to be defined as a difference between the haves and the have-nots. It also pitted the silver-mining areas of the west and the agricultural south, mid-west and west against the more conservative industrial northeast. A bit of background may be in order. By the s, the currency question had basically boiled down to gold versus silver. Previously, the government had coined both gold and silver dollars. A silver dollar weighed 16 times more than a gold dollar, meaning gold was worth sixteen times more than silver. However, in , gold was discovered in California, increased the supply and therefore reducing the price relative to silver.

Consequently, silver dollars disappeared from circulation. Debtors, including farmers hurt by low agricultural prices, saw silver as a way of expanding the currency supply. They pressed for the resumption of silver coinage at the old sixteen to one ratio. The issue of money did not subside until the s. Greenbacks, or paper money, had been in circulation during the Civil War, and to those in debt, it represented more currency in circulation, thus easier payment of debt.

Creditors, however, wanted to remain with the gold standard, knowing that a flexible supply of paper money made debts repayable with less valuable dollars than those borrowed. Hardly a congressman could dare oppose pensions for Civil War veterans, but a few attempted to reform the spoils system which had been an integral part of politics for some time. The practice of awarding government jobs to party loyals, regardless of qualifications, had been in place before the Civil War and flourished afterward.


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Between and , the number of people with federal jobs tripled, from 53, to , Those elected to office scrambled to control these jobs as a way to cement support for themselves and their parties. In exchange for comparatively short hours and relatively high pay, appointees promised their votes and a portion of their earnings to their political patron. Some were shocked by this blatant behavior and began to agitate. Civil service reform became a fervent crusade in with the formation of the National Civil Service Reform League. The result was the Pendleton Civil Service Act of , outlawing political contributions by officeholders and creating the Civil Service Commission.

The Commission would oversee competitive examinations for government positions. This act gave the new commission jurisdiction over about 10 percent of the federal jobs, but since the Constitution barred Congress from interfering in state affairs, patronage at the state and local levels continued for some years. Railroad expansion had exploded by the s. Besides the major transcontinental lines, branch railroads reached out to every corner of the country.

The fact that railroads became THE way to transport goods also gave the unregulated rail companies carte blanche when it came to rates. Competition was steep among long distance lines, keeping rates within reasonable limits. But, on the non-competitive short lines, railroads often raised rates as high a possible to compensate for low rates on the competitive lines, making price disproportionate to distance. Railroads also played favorites by reducing rates to large shippers and offering free passenger passes to preferred customers and politicians.

In many cases, the railroads also controlled the grain elevators, making farmers captive to storing and shipping rates. This activity prompted farmers, small merchants and some reform politicians to demand regulation of rates. These attempts occurred first at the state level, mostly under pressure from organized agrarian groups like the Grange in the mid-west.


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  • But the scattered efforts of state legislatures came to a halt in , when the Supreme Court ruled that individual states had not power to regulate interstate commerce. If railroad rates were to be controlled, it would have to be a federal law. After a number of attempts at reconciling the House and Senate versions of bills over the course of after the Supreme Court decision, a compromise was reached and the Interstate Commerce Act was passed and signed into law in It prohibited rebates and pools and required railroads to publish their rates openly.

    It also outlawed charging more for short-haul shipments than for long-haul ones over the same line. More importantly, perhaps, the law established the Interstate Commerce Commission, the first of many government regulatory commissions over the years. Congress, in a bipartisan vote, quickly put an end to that idea by passing a resolution reminding the country - and Grant - of the two-term tradition.

    Hayes of Ohio for president and William A. Wheeler of New York for vice president. Hayes, dubbed " The Great Unknown," was relatively obscure on the national front, but served as three-time governor of Ohio, an important swing state in national elections. Samuel J. Hendricks of Indiana as the vice presidential candidate.

    The Democratic ticket campaigned against Republican scandal and for sweeping civil service reform. Tilden won of the necessary electoral votes, with 20 votes in four states disputed because of irregular returns. Indiana went for the Democratic ticket, supporting its native son, Hendricks. The issue became how to resolve the 20 contested votes. The disputed states of Louisiana, South Carolina and Florida submitted two sets of returns, one Republican, one Democratic. Both parties sent "visiting statesmen" to the three southern disputed states.

    Weeks passed with no resolution. The Constitution only specified that the returns should be sent to Congress and opened in the presence of the House and Senate by the Senate president. The Constitution did not specify who should count the votes. Unable to decide, the legislature formed a fifteen member commission composed of Supreme Court justices and members of Congress. Although it was supposed to be non-partisan, eight members were Republican and seven were Democrats. The commission adopted the Republican vote in each state, the Democratic House disagreed, but the Republican Senate concurred.

    Hayes and Wheeler were declared president and vice president. The results of this compromise functionally ended Reconstruction in the South.

    Federal troops still stationed there were withdrawn and the Republican party quietly abandoned its commitment to black equality. Under Hayes, Reconstruction was ended. During his tenure, he emphasized national unity and played a quiet too quiet to some role as reformer and conciliator. His wife Lucy, a staunch prohibitionist, was nicknamed "Lemonade Lucy, " and no liquor was served at the White House.

    Many believed that his political record was a disaster and as the election year approached, even his party seemed to abandon him. He had earlier declared himself a one-term president, ultimately saving himself the embarrassment of not getting re-nominated. It took the Republicans thirty-six ballots to arrive at a nominee. The nomination of "dark horse" candidate James A. Garfield, another Civil War hero, finally broke the impasse. Democrats, still seething over the loss of the presidency in , nominated former Civil War general Winfield S.

    He appealed to veterans and was popular in the South, where he had fair mindedly directed one of the military Reconstruction districts. In their platforms, both major parties equivocated on the currency question and tepidly endorsed civil service reform, while supporting generous pensions for Civil War veterans on the Union side - not for Confederates and the exclusion of Chinese immigrants. Both parties ignored the growing problems of debt-burdened farmers and powerless laborers.

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    The Republicans called for protective tariffs; the Democrats for tariffs "for revenue only. During the campaign, the Republicans waved the "bloody shirt" of the Civil War one more time and quite possibly purchased their narrow but crucial victory in Indiana. Garfield won a narrow popular vote, getting only around 39, more popular votes than Hancock. His presidency was short-lived, though.

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    Charles J. Guiteau, a disappointed and mentally ill office-seeker, shot Garfield in the back in a Washington railroad station. Garfield lay in agony for eleven weeks and died on September 19, Chester Arthur took over as president and surprised his fellow politicians - and the American public - by instituting the first serious civil service reforms. A Democrat was victorious for the first time in twenty-eight years, and the campaign was perhaps the worst mudslinging, frenzied but meaningless battle ever fought for the presidency. As Henry Adams said, "Everyone takes part. We are all doing our best, and swearing like demons.


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    But the amusing thing is that no one talks about real issues. Dissent ruled the Republican party. Everybody says everything. And we conclude, as is our custom, in the great state of Oklahoma, where Blog Official Varmint Negotiator Friedman of the Plains brings us the tale of other law-enforcement types in that state who seem to regard weed more seriously than the Colorado sheriff regards firearms. From the Tulsa World :. This scam is going on all over the country now , especially in Florida. Remember when "criminal justice reform" was going to be the golden path to bipartisan nirvana?

    Yeah, that was cool. Type keyword s to search. Today's Top Stories. This Is the Dumbest Thing Ever. Jeff Hahne Getty Images. Permanent Musical Accompaniment To This Post Being our semi-regular weekly survey of what's goin' down in the several states where, as we know, the real work of governmentin' gets done, and where the silk dress is from Hong Kong, and the pearls are from Japan.

    That's creative, I'll give him that. Lara has allegedly developed an interesting concept of public service. The NCAA responded by being ridiculous.

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    Tuesday's special election in North Carolina could reveal clues about 2020

    Aaron M. Sprecher AP. Related Story. Charles P. Pierce Charles P Pierce is the author of four books, most recently Idiot America, and has been a working journalist since Advertisement - Continue Reading Below.