United States Governmental Issues During The Late 19Th Century Thesis: Although the American Government failed to take effective actions to solve the major concerns of the late 19th century, many attempts were taken to solve such controversal conflicts. The young divided nation that had just reconstructed itself from the debts of a civil war now stood as a whole to deal with even more domestic issues. Problems concerning civil service, regulation of railraods, Native Americans, expansion and overgrowing of big businesses, and immigration were the issues that grouped american individuals seperately according to their views on each issue. Although the American Government failed to take effective actions to solve the major concerns of the late 19th century, many attempts were taken to solve such controversal conflicts. The young divided nation that had just reconstructed itself from the debts of a civil war now stood as a whole to deal with even more domestic issues.
Problems concerning civil service, regulation of railraods, Native Americans, expansion and overgrowing of big businesses, and immigration were the issues that grouped american individuals seperately according to their views on each issue. In 1881, shortly after President Garfield’s inauguration, a derange office seekser shot a fatal bullet in the President’s back. This event once again shocked the americans, who were once horrified by the assasination of former President Lincoln in1865. Following this event, bitter americans coerced the federal government to reform its policy of hiring governmental officials. In respond to the public’s outrage over the cause of this assasination, Congress was pushed to remove certain government jobs from the control of party patronage. They passed the new act known as the Pendleton Act of 1881, which set up the Civil Service Commission declaring that federal employees were to be hired on basis of merit.
This new law was applied to 10% of federal employees at that time; presently it effected more than 90% of governmental employees. When Harrison was elected President a few years after the Pendelton Act, he followed Congress’s earlier tradition of reforming the civil service system to earn his fellow citizens’ support. On dealing with the issues of veterans, he passed the Pension Act of 1890, which provided that all widows of veterans, and veterans incapable of manual labor may receive a pension. This was a reformation of former President Cleveland’s policy that only veterans directly wounded in battle may receive a pension. Although these new Acts granted more democracy towards part of the working class, it failed to submit to the majority of the working class. As the depression worsened and the number of jobless people grew, the nation feared class war between capital and labor.
They were especially alarmed by Coxey’s Army, a march to Washington by thousands of the unemployed led by Populist Joacod A. Coxey. Coxey demanded that the government spend half a billion dollars on public works programs to create jobs. Coxey himself and other protest leaders were arrested, while the rest of the “army” had to leave for home. The arrest of Coxey proved that the government is not at all sympathetic towards the majority of the unemployed working class.
The number of jobless americans grew more everyday, for space available for jobs could not match the mass number of immigrants pouring into America every hour. The population of the United states more than tripled in the last half of the 19th century, resulting in 76.2 million people by the time the new century arrived. Out of these, 16.2 million belonged to the class of the unemployed immigrants. the year 1882 shocked the americans when it was calculated that over 2000 Europeans immigrants were received by the united states per day. In an attempt to decrease the mass immigration number, the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed in 1892, prohibiting immigrants from China.
Even so, immigrants from European countries continued to accumulate. The General Immigration Act was another attempt to regulate the various immigrants. This act refuse to admit to the United States prostitutes, alcoholics, and insanes. However, America was unable to put this act into effect, for it was hard to determine what disguises those europeans had taken. As a result of the government’s failure to restrict its own population, millions of immigrants were granted jobs that otherwise would’ve been offerred to its native inhabitants. This in addition to the government’s failure to regulate big businesses result in more than thousands of unemployed citizens.
As a result of the mass expansion of railroads, communication became very effective, which in turn helped companies tremendously in transporting its goods, communicating with each other, and advertising its products. The building of railroads required steel and coal, thus these two industries also flourished. Immediately succeeding these profitable companies were petroleum, oil, sugar, leather, and much much more. Big companies work together to organize pools and trusts, both were some aspect of private promises to keep the same price so that both companies could flourish. Trusts and pools of big businesses limit competition, which then resulted in ridiculously high prices for the consumers. In an attempt to control big businesses, government passed the Sherman Act in 1890 that prohibit combinations of companies that restrict competition.
This act was not at all effective due to government’s failure to enforce it. The factor that worsened the situation was government’s interpretation of the 14th Amendment in the Constitution. In respond to public’s outrage of companies’ trusts, they defined trustees as corporate persons who cannot be discriminated against life, liberty, and property. Therefore prices were still being manipulated by big companies, and the majority of america’s population sufferred. The success of big businesses owed itself to the success of railroad production.
The construction of railroads was induced by the increasing number of people who desperately needed it for transportation to their work places, however far it may be. At its height american length of railraod was more than all of Europe combined. Government showed its support in railroad construction when it granted 170 million acres of land for railroads. This vast land could have been granted as homesteads for america’s poor families, but government had shown its favor in business. When prices in rural, non-competitive areas were ridiculously high, enough farmers complained for the government to pass the Interstate Railroad Act, which required railroad rates to be reasonable, and denied the power of individual states to regulate interstate commerce. This Act proved to be a failure in the case of Munn versus Illinois when Supreme Court upheld the right of states to regulate business.
Much of the land available for railroad construction was seized from native americans. In addition to that, the Gold Rush in California caused thousands of americans to seek land in western land, an area inhabited greatly by native americans at that time. Even though 2/3 of western tribal groups lived on the Great Plains, the Homestead Act promised land to american settlement right on these lands. In the neighboring territory of Oklahoma, thousands of whites continued to pour into the rich land. US took action under the US Census Bureau to declare the closing of the frontier, but at that time most of the land had already been seized by land speculators who had been waiting desperately for a chance.
Furious native americans attempted to resist US domination and drive the whites from their lands in the Battle of Wounded Knee, in which over 200 native americans were killed. This disaster proved government’s failure to deal with the Indian affair. The US, through many acts, was clearly seen to have been trying to regulate railroads, big businesses, immigration, native american problems, and the issue of civil service reform. Its efforts were appreciative and benevolent, but the effects were not as successful as everyone had hoped. Laws such as the Interstate Railroad Act the General Immigration Act, and the Sherman Act that would have been a remedy to problems of railroad, immigration and business regulation were not eforced strictly enough to cure the maturing nation. History Essays.