Era Four Elections
 1896-1928 Progressive Populism Ends the Gilded Age but
Business Power Returned After WW I

Other Era Elections 1. 1798-1824  2. 1828-1852   3. 1856-1892 5. 1932-1972 6. 1976-2012

Return to U.S. Politics 3/12/20

New Era
The 1896 campaign is often considered a realigning election as republicans forged a conservative coalition of businessmen, professionals, skilled factory workers and the prosperous. There would be much opposition causing two unsettled decades. The 1890-1920 Progressive Era
was a period of social activism. A goal of the Progressive Movement was political reform by eliminating corruption by exposing political machines and their bosses.

Progressives sought monopolistic corporation regulation through antitrust laws which were seen as a means to promote fair competition and benefit consumers. Election reform was also high on the agenda. An increase post WW I Communist and Union activities caused a fear of anarchy and a desire for a more peaceful Democratic Federalist Capitalistic Republic. from
Elections Republicans  Democrats

"And Now the Rest of the Story"

1896 went Republican
as voters blamed Democrats for the Panic of 1893. Moralistic rhetoric and Cross of Gold crusading for easy money by W. J. Bryan alienated conservatives. Over 90% turned out in some districts.


W. McKinley
led conservatives well but he has a fluctuating legacy
The Spanish–American War began with a dubious USS Maine attack as U.S. business and political leaders wanted an empire. Think Gulf of Tonkin Incident. A Dingley Tariff Act promoted industry, high prices while a
gold standard protected savers causing hard economic times. Political controversy over the money supply in relation to growth and inflation continued.

1900 was close
but a strong economy and a popular Battle of San Juan Hill victor V.P. Teddy Roosevelt was too much for easy money Free Silver candidate W. Bryan. Anarchist Leon Czolgosz assassinated Prescient McKinley making progressive TR president. The Election of 1904 was a landslide with TR for protective tariffs, increased foreign trade, a pledged to uphold the gold standard, expansion of the merchant marine, a strong navy, and an a imperialist Caribbean and Pacific foreign policy.

T. Roosevelt was arguably our most popular president.
Most egoistical?
 T.R.'s involvement in the 1902 Coal Strike. began the Progressive Era and twenty years of labor turmoil. The 1903 Panama Canal acquisition eventually resulted in improved transportation. The Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe doctrine expanded the US sphere of influence in the Caribbean to protect Panama Canal interests. Panic of 1907 required liquidity and the Treasury deposited $25,000,000 into New York banks. J.P. Morgan with John D. Rockefeller and other wealthy men had provided all Panic of 1893 liquidity. Eventually the Federal Reserve System was the new Lender of Last Resort. Designed by Wall Street bankers the FED would continue under their influence until 2016 and counting!

1908 had Bryan progressivism attacking "government by privilege" with Free Silver  W. Taft good Supreme Court Chief Justice but...
 He expanded "Dollar Diplomacy" to promoted Latin American and East Asian economic development using bank loans and U.S. Companies
Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea.
1912 was a four-way race
after former President TR failed in his Republican Party nomination attempt and joined the new Progressive "Bull Moose" Party. Socialist labor leader Eugene Debs was also a factor. Wilson won with 42% of the popular vote while Roosevelt's had 27%, Taft's 23% and union leader Deb's had 6%. Wilson allowed business credits to warring WW I belligerents which helped exports and ended the 1914 recession. When the Allies ran out of money and hoping to foster economic growth he allowed a Morgan led bank group to loan to loan them $500,000,000,000. German and Irish Americans were not happy.

1916 still narrowly went to Wilson
as "He kept us out of war." 
Riots Guns Bribes Tr's Contested 2012 Convention

Woodrow Wilson had progressive successes but
his League of Nations failure was monumental.
The 19th Amendment gave women voting rights with little support from the South, among Republicans, and some conservative women.

Think women terrorists.

Federal involvement in agriculture began with the very successful Federal Farm Loan Act though many debate the continued need for agricultural subsidies.

Federal revenue boosted by income tax. Some states have replaced it with a consumption tax. The Keating–Owen Act restricting child labor abuses was ruled unconstitutional by Hammer v. Dagenhart as courts ruled regulation belonged to the states.

Wilson did not let Republicans join in WW1 peace discussions
so US did not join the League of Nations. Fair treatment of Germany was not possible as of WWI carnage and colonial needs of both England and France meant opposition to Wilson's self-determination push.

Editor's Note: Segregated government meant Wilson like TR and T. Jefferson felt Americans were not ready to integrate.

1920 affected by a post war recession, postwar labor strife, and the First Red Scare.
Harding easily won with an isolationist policy. His conservative wing would win a decade-long battle with bankers who wanted U.S. international trade dominance. The Treasury insistence on foreign loans eventually led to banking trouble. Think German industry helped by American Business.. Excessive eating, drinking, and smoking may have contributed to Harding's 1923 death.

1924 Coolidge win easily
as a strong economy and a split between liberals and conservatives Democrats. Coolidge more than doubled the democratic vote and they doubled the Progressive Party vote. Some feel the election marked the "high tide of American conservatism," as both major candidates campaigned for limited government, reduced taxes, and less regulation.

Election of 1928 a booming economy
 to a landslide as Hover easily beat Democrat Smith who had anti-Roman Catholic and Tammany Hall issues. Think J. Kennedy and then B Obama.

W. Harding began a second conservative run.
Tight Monetary Policy and a major federal spending decrease caused the forth most severe U.S. Recession. It began the FED effectiveness debate. Think Rand Paul. The Emergency Quota Act of 1921 continued U.S. immigration restrictions base on race. Think D. Trump. The act brought pro-Western Europe quotas as revolution in Eastern Europe brought unwanted immigrants. Think European immigration crisis.

C. Coolidge restored public confidence after
Harding's political scandals.
He left office with considerable popularity. Think seven years of an expanding economy. World War Adjusted Compensation Act or "Bonus Bill" was passed over a Coolidge veto. Think austerity in good times and later Hoover would not pay early in bad times causing the 1932 Bonus Army riots. Immigration Act of 1924 excluded Asians and Arabs and limited Africans. The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 led to Flood Control Act of 1928.

H. Hoover a was a 19th century
Classical Economics politician,
was done in by support for prohibition though he did more to alleviate the Great Depression than history purports.