Did the Republican Party from 1877 to 1896 abandon its earlier principles and succumb to expediency? Essay
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The Gilded Age was a big change for both Democrat and Republican parties. Both sides started changing tactics to stay in power, but one was more prominent. The Republican Party in the Gilded Age did drop abandon their earlier principles because of the Compromise of 1877 and getting votes.
The Compromise of 1877 was the time that the Republican Party really abandoned their principles. This compromise allowed the Republicans to take the presidential office by withdrawing federal troops from the South. Due to this deal, the Democrats reclaimed power in the South, while the Republicans remained in power in both the Senate and the White House.
In doing so, they did sacrifice their goals of complete southern Reconstruction in order to win the election. Former slaves lost all federal protection and conditions in the South were returned to a state only marginally better than slavery. However, before ending reform efforts, the Republicans did manage to improve social and economic conditions for African Americans living in the South.
These efforts, although not completely establishing reform, did lay down the foundation to future change.
This first step ensured that the Republicans, while stopping major projects, continued their previous intentions in a small way.
Another reason Republicans succumbed to was their need to win. In the Gilded Age, politicians stopped talking about major important issues of the day and instead focused on getting the vote by appealing to the masses without making any enemies. Fresh from the Civil War, the Republicans won election into the White House the majority of elections in this time period by dropping to a level of personal attacks against the South and the people within it (waving the “bloody shirt”).
On top of these campaign and party tactics, the Republican Party was split significantly prior to the election of Garfield between “Halfbreeds” and “Stalwarts.” The conflicts between these two factions and the greedy desire for government spoil positions not only led to political strife, but also led to the assassination of President Garfield shortly after his election.
So all in all, the Republican Party did abandon their policies in order to stay in power. They stopped trying to address the issues and instead just appealed for votes. They also dropped to personal attacks just to win. The Republican Party in the Gilded Age did drop abandon their earlier principles because of the Compromise of 1877 and getting votes.