The Social Gospel was a Christian intellectual movement that was most prominent

The social gospel was a christian intellectual

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The Social Gospel was a Christian intellectual movement that was most prominent in the early 20th century United States and Canada. Debs once asked, “What is socialism?” “Merely Christianity in action. It recognizes the equality in men.” During the 1890s, especially as hard times spread across the nation, a growing number of Protestants and Catholics came close to sharing Deb”s perspective. Social gospel ministers called on the government to be more responsible toward its most impoverished and unprotected citizens. Supporting labor’s rights to organize and, if necessary, to strike, they petitioned government officials to regulate corporations and place a limit on profits. Catholics clergy, doctrinally more inclined than Protestants to accept poverty as a natural condition, joined social gospel movement in smaller
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numbers than Protestants. Women played key roles in the movement. Women guided the social gospel movement in their communities. One of the top economic issue of the 1890s involved whether to coin silver along with gold in the U.S. currency system. Prior to the 1890s, gold backed the U.S. dollar, so the dollar’s value was directly related to the value of gold. For generations, farmers had advocated “soft” currency, that is, an increase in the money supply that would loosen credit. Miners opposed the system because silver mining was booming in the West. From this economic issue, the Sherman Silver Purchase Act became law in 1890. The Sherman Silver Purchase Act was an 1890 act which directed the Treasury to increase the amount of currency coined from silver mined in the West and also permitted the U.S. government to print paper currency backed by the silver. “Free Silver” was the philosophy that the government should expand the money supply by purchasing and coining all the silver offered to it. The federal government limited the amount it held in gold reserves. A government does not want to print too much money, which could cause inflation. On the other hand, if there is not enough money in circulation it can cause real hardships, as it did in the 1890s to cash- strapped, debt-ridden farmers. The credit downgrading of the early 1890s damaged business confidence, which in turn devalued the U.S. currency system.
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  • Fall '17
  • Cliff Tyndall
  • History, Federal government of the United States, Populist Party, Sherman Silver Purchase Act, Panic of 1893

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