The Key Political Issues: Patronage, Tariffs, and Gold

The Key Political Issues: Patronage, Tariffs, and Gold

Although Hayes’ questionable ascendancy to the presidency did not create political corruption in the nation’s capital, it did set the stage for politically motivated agendas and widespread inefficiency in the White House for the next twenty-four years. Weak president after weak president took office, and, as mentioned above, not one incumbent was reelected. The populace, it seemed, preferred the devil they didn’t know to the one they did. Once elected, presidents had barely enough power to repay the political favors they owed to the individuals who ensured their narrow victories in cities and regions around the country. Their four years in office were spent repaying favors and managing the powerful relationships that put them in the White House. Everyday Americans were largely left on their own. Among the few political issues that presidents routinely addressed during this era were ones of patronage, tariffs, and the nation’s monetary system.

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