Many Americans began to move from from rural areas to urban cities from 1860 to 1900s. Cities and urban areas were becoming more and more popular as agriculture became more and more merchandised less labor was needed in the rural areas. Since there were so many people moving to Urban areas the population grew as well as poverty and disease rates. People thought migrating to Urban areas would bring more prosperity however, they arrived to find densely packed homes and factories along with poverty and many new diseases.
Political machines were also a major problem in urban areas. Political machines were major problems with the Democratic Party. They would block off large chunks of working-class and immigrant workers to secure votes. These machines created numerous opportunities for politicians. Winning elections no longer depended heavily on your families name or wealth. Political success now depended on how well you could get up enthusiasm and earn votes. Machines were also able to reward supporters with jobs, services, and even cash handouts. In exchange for these rewards recipients were expected to vote for the political candidates when election day came around.
Today all legal American citizens over the age of 18 have the right to vote; this wasn’t always the case. At the turn of the century women were still fighting for the right to vote and there was still high discrimination of African Americans. The political process that was present at the turn of the century was very different than the process we have in place today. I think the process at the turn of the century was very unfair in that women and African Americans weren’t allowed to participate in political elections. Since women and African Americans didn’t have the right to vote politics was only inclusive of less than half of the American population. This was important because the candidates that were up for election only had to appeal to one type of person, the wealthy white male. Only white men that were somewhat wealthy since they owned land had the right to vote so the process was very bias. There were also political machines swaying people to vote one way or another so I believe the political process was very effective.
Politics in my opinion were definitely an arena for the wealthy. Women and other minorities didn’t have a say in political affairs because they didn’t even have the right to vote. The wealthy had the power to sway political elections through political machines and the right to vote. The political process today has changed drastically. Today there is no discrimination, every legal American citizen of the age of 18 or older has the right to vote and politicians aren’t allowed to use bribes.
During the late nineteenth century there were many organizations that were created in attempt to gain more women’s rights. One group was the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). This union was formed in 1890 and had over 160,000 members. The members of this union and the clubs that made it up gave women many more opportunities outside of their domestic sphere. Women now had the opportunity to exert political influence, become leaders, and learn from other women who had the same goals for reform as them.
In 1890 many women joined the Women’s suffrage movement to get voting rights for women. In 1869 the movement had split because of debate over the fourteenth amendment however, in 1890 they reunited to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). Women first won suffrage in Colorado in 1893 and Idaho in 1896. Then in 1920 the nineteenth amendment gave all white women the right to vote.
African Americans were excluded from all campaigns so they had to start their own. The National Association of Colored Women who fought for temperance and suffrage even started to fight for all African Americans as a whole. Ida B. Wells launched a campaign against lynching in 1890 which began the fight for reform and civil rights. Today all men and women black or white are treated equal.
The people’s party was another major group that changed American politics. It was created in 1982 to represent the common people such as farmers and to challenge the republicans and democrats. The platform of the people’s party was to emphasize the unfortunate situation of the American farmers because of greedy businessmen and politicians. Mainstream political parties were worried about the people’s party because they had the ability to take votes from them. Because of this campaigns were launched to discredit the party.
In the late 1800s many people were enthusiastic about politics and voting was at an all time high with 79% of the population voting in 1876. There were still many problems with the political system in the late 1800s. One problem was that the electorate was evenly divided between the two parties so when elections came along they were very close. The elections were also unfair because the electorate with the popular vote wouldn’t always win, the opponent with the most electoral votes won.
There were many groups that changed American politics for the better. In the 1800s politics were limited to less than half the population because women and African Americans we excluded from the political process. These groups were National American Woman Suffrage Association which gained voting rights for women and National Association of Colored Women which fought for African American reform and civil rights. Without these groups American politics today would be much different.