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Need help with essay!

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bsamples's picture
Joined: Apr 2005
Need help with essay!

how did the depression of 1893 delay reform?

Kaervek's picture
Joined: Mar 2005

No idea! I wish I could help any of you, but I guess I'm just not prepared for this exam... argh!

darksideofthemoon's picture
Joined: Apr 2005

Because of the competition and unrestrained growth of the railroad industry during industrialization, the railroads were a hugely significant portion of the economy. They also were in a lot of debt because of overexpansion, and when the economy started to go down, the railroad industry was filled with bankruptcy. This caused a chain reaction of failures in different industries and businesses. This caused unemployment and poverty (as depressions do).

People desperately wanted President Cleveland to enact the free coinage of silver, which would cause inflation and bring the economy out of its slump. But he did the exact opposite and had Congress repeal the Sherman Silver-Purchase Act of 1890. This definitely did not help the economy, and it caused pro-silver Democrats to be angry with Cleveland's lack of appropriate action. Congress also passed the Wilson-Gorman Tariff, which made tariffs very high (protectionism). However, high tariffs never help American industries get out of economic slumps.

So basically, the Depression of 1893 itself did not delay reform, but governmental actions as a result of it did. People then started to clamor for reform. For example, Coxey's Army in 1894 marched for a public works program to provide employment, but to no avail. The Populist movement began to gain national attention, especially when William Jennings Bryan ran for president in 1896. The already strong labor movement intensified its demands for higher wages and shorter working hours.

The Pullman Railway Strike was a direct result of the Depression of 1893. Business for the Pullman company declined, so it cut wages but did not cut rent for company housing. Cleveland dispatched the U.S. Army to end the strike. This sort of oppression (poverty, unemployment, ineffective strikes) tends to lead people to want reforms that would hopefully get them what they want. This is why there was the rise of Eugene Debs-led Socialist Party and the Industrial Workers of the World. These types of organizations flowed well into the reform-laden Progressive Era.

Sorry this is so confusing to read, but that is a very obscure and difficult question.

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