In the late 1800s the US political process was complicated and often corrupted. The rise of cities led to Political Machines that often controlled parts of cities. As of the 1820s there was universal white man suffrage meaning all white men could vote, even working class men. However the working class still struggled to be heard in American politics. The People’s Part was established by farmers and industrial workers to challenge the Republican’s and Democrats and because of the political system’s corruption and failure to address major issues. The People’s Part succeed in place members in Congress and state legislators but it never won the presidency and untimely fell apart after 1896. Women were becoming more and more active in the suffrage movement by the 1890s. They formed the National American Women Suffrage Association (NAWSA) and won the right to vote in a couple states by 1896 but total suffrage wouldn’t be achieved until the Nineteenth Amendment passed in 1920. African American men and women also began to take a more active role in the fight for suffrage as well as anti-lynching campaigns. During the Gilded Age the voter turnout increased to over fifty percent. Presidential elections were extremely close and major issues weren’t being resolved. Hundreds of impoverished Americans marched on D.C. advocating the government to abandon Laissez-Faire and created public works projects. Several activists were arrested and several others attempted similar marches but all were met with inaction.
I think working men and minorities began to have more of an influence on the US political system but they were far from having their voices heard. Their efforts were met with inaction that created more frustration. The political system was easily controlled by rich white men who could easily bribe both voters and officials. Little change took place during this time despite the best efforts of working men and minorities.
Keene, Jennifer D., Cornell, Saul, and O’Donnell, Edward T. Visions of America: A History of the United States, Volume 2, 3rd ed. 2019.