AP US: Ulysses S. Grant as President (1869 - 1877)

Election of 1868

  • General U.S. Grant (Republican) ran against Horatio Seymour (Democrat) for the Presidency
  • Grant won with 53% of the popular vote; 73% of the electoral college
  • the Republicans get many Southern states because of Reconstruction governments
  • Grant: "let us have peace"
    • endorses Reconstruction policy of Congress
    • cautious defence of black suffrage
  • 500,000 black votes for Grant
  • Grant's ego is fuelled by being President
    • he hated politics, and his military leadership talent didn't extend into the Presidency
    • as President, he was controlled by Congress, which is what they wanted
  • his legacy sees his leadership abilities questioned, due to financial disaster and scandal

Financial Problems

  • at the end of the war, the Treasury assumes that the $450 debt of greenbacks from the war would be retired
  • agrarian interests and debtors objected to proposed return to the gold standard
  • Grant encourages payment of the national debt with gold with the Public Credit Act

Scandals

  • rumours of corruption will come out during the election of 1872, but Grant is re-elected anyway
  • Gould and Fisk
    • joined with Grant's brother-in-law to attempt to corner gold market
    • convinced Grant to not let the Treasury sell gold because it would raise farm prices
    • in the interim, Gould and Fisk bid up the price of gold
    • then, when the Treasury is finally ordered to sell, they made a fortune
  • Credit Mobilier
    • Credit Mobilier was a construction company working for the Union Pacific Railroad
    • hired themselves and inflated prices to build
    • bought prominent Republican Congressmen by selling them stock
  • Whiskey Ring
    • bribing tax collectors to rob Treasury of millions
    • Grant was so mad, he said that no guilty man would escape prosecution
    • but, his private secretary was exonerated
  • Indian Reservations
    • Grant's Secretary of War was involved with bribes
    • supplies destined for reservations were taken and re-sold for a profit
  • the people were convinced - truthfully - that Grant wasn't involved
    • he didn't accept bribes - he was just a terrible judge of people
    • although a great general, he was too trusting, and everyone took advantage of him
    • Mark Twain was the one of the very few that actually helped Grant, selling Grant's memoirs to create fund for Grant's wife

Election of 1872

  • scandals have led to arguments among the Republicans, and they split
  • reform-minded Liberal Republican Party
    • gold to redeem greenbacks
    • low tariffs
    • end military Reconstruction
    • restore rights of former Confederates
    • well-educated, socially prominent members
    • nominated Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune for President
  • Grant gets the Republican nomination for a second term
  • voters are choosing between two non-politicians with questionable qualifications
  • Grants wins with 81% of the electoral vote
  • Greely enters a sanitorium and dies soon after

Panic of 1873

  • worse than the last one, as usual
  • 15,000 businesses file bankruptcy
  • unemployment, slowdown in railroad and factory building
  • Democrats slowly regain some power
    • gain control of he House for the first time in a long while in the off-election
    • launch investigations into Presidential scandals and find more corruption
  • restores controversy surrounding greenbacks
    • people save gold, spend greenbacks first
    • drains gold supply
    • creates a divide
      • hard money - creditors want greenbacks out of the market, so they can be repaid in gold
      • cheap money - debtors want more greenbacks to stimulate the economy
  • Redemption Act of 1875
    • gradual redemption of greenbacks for gold, starting in 1879
    • increases value of paper money to make it equal to gold
  • Greenback Labour Party
    • forms out of anger over 1875 Redemption Act
    • able to elect 14 Congressmen
  • contest over monetary policy will persist and become one of the most divisive topics of the era

Black "Adjustment" in the South

  • sharecropping is widespread
    • also called the crop lien system
    • landowner rents land for 1/4-1/2 of the future crop
    • farmer rents tools at 60% interest
    • merchant holds "lien" or mortgage on the crops
    • farmers can never get ahead - all their crops go into paying rents, loans, etc.
    • the system is built to keep poor farmers permanently poor
  • political participation is most common in South Carolina, Louisiana, and Florida
  • many black colleges are formed, via the Freedman's Bureau
  • 15th Amendment (1870)
    • black vote is allowed, and Congress will enforce
    • no vote for women - much distress
  • federal law enforcement fails - KKK, Bourbons, etc.
  • Civil Rights Act of 1875
    • full and equal use of public facilities is to be maintained
    • prohibited discrimination in juries
    • no enforcement mechanism

Abandonment of Reconstruction

  • Northern support wanes
    • focus is more on "Grantism" and corruption
    • Panic of 1873 moves attention to the economy
    • concern over Western expansion and Indian wars - loss of some of working population of the North
    • monetary issues
    • less focus on South - focus on their own problems
  • some say Grant wanted a third term
    • he had nothing else to do with his life
    • Congress liked him - he was controllable
    • he's not nominated

Election of 1876

  • Republicans nominate Rutherford B. Hayes, an uncorrupted outsider
  • Democrats nominate Samuel Tilden, who had ended the corrupt Tweed ring
  • extremely close election, Hayes wins by 1 electoral vote
  • Tilden: 51%, Hayes: 48% of popular vote
  • Tilden gets South, except for Florida, South Carolina, and Louisiana
  • 20 disputed votes in Oregon, Florida, South Carolina, and Louisiana
    • in the South, two different groups submitted two different voting returns to Congress
    • in Oregon, there were counting difficulties
    • the Constitution has no direction on how to deal with voting disputes, so a Congressional committee is formed to deal with the issue
    • the committee has a Republican majority, so the vote counts fo to Hayes
    • the Democrats agreed to end the dispute on the condition of federal troops being pulled out of the South; Hayes complied
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