A.P. U.S. History Notes
Chapter 28: “The Revolt of the Debtor”
~ 1889 – 1900 ~
The Republicans Return Under Harrison
was inaugurated on a rainy March 4, 1889.
He was brusque and abrupt, but also honest and earnest.
After four years out of the White House, the Republicans were eager to return to power,
especially those seeking political rewards.
James G. Blaine
became the secretary of state.
was named to the
Civil Service Commission
However, the Republicans had troubles, for they only had three more members than was
necessary for a quorum, and Democrats could simply not answer to the roll and easily keep
Congress from working.
The new Speaker of the House,
Thomas B. Reed
, was a large, tall man, a masterful debater,
and very critical and quick man.
To solve the problem of reaching quorum in Congress, Reed counted the Democrats
who were present but didn’t answer to the roll call, and after three days of such chaos,
he finally prevailed, opening the 51
, or “Billion Dollar” Congress—one that
legislated a lot of expensive projects, etc…
Political Gravy for All
Harrison, a former
general, appointed a Civil War amputee as commissioner of
pensions, and that man practically used up the federal surplus to give out pensions.
of 1890 gave pensions to all Union Civil War veterans who had
served at least 90 days in the army and could not do manual labor now.
Thus, from 1891 to 1895, the bill for pensions rose from $81 million to $135 million.
This gained the Republican support of the
Grand Army of the Republic
(GAR), whose members were grateful to the GOP (
Grand Old Party
) for its
Sherman Anti-Trust Act
, passed in 1890, was a pioneering but weak law that tried to
deter the new corporations and monopolies that existed.
Sherman Silver Purchase Act
of 1890 appealed to those who had hated the old
of 1878 because it allowed the Treasury to buy 4.5 million ounces of silver
monthly and pay for it in notes redeemable in silver OR gold
McKinley Tariff Bill
of 1890 boosted rates up to 48.4%—the highest level yet.
The farmers lost the most from this tariff, as tin peddlers in the Midwest dishonestly
cited rising prices due to Republicans; as a result, in the election of 1890, Democratic
seats in the House rose to 235, while Republicans only had 88 representatives.
Nine members of the
, an organization of southern and western
farms, were also elected to the House of Representatives.
The Populist Challenge of 1892
In 1892, the Democrats nominated conservative
while Republicans went
with unpopular Harrison, but the splash was made by a new third party: the
(aka Populist Party).