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American history
political science

From Bloody Shirt to Full Dinner Pail: The Transformation of Politics and Governance in the Gilded Age

Charles W. Calhoun.
Publisher Hill & Wang  
Format paperback
Product Dimensions 8.25 x 5.4 x 0.6 inches
ISBN 9780809047949
Pages/Publication Date 210/2011
Daedalus Item Code 30660
This item is not available.
In the wake of civil war, American politics were racially charged and intensely sectionalist, with politicians waving the proverbial bloody shirt and encouraging their constituents, as Republicans did in 1868, to "vote as you shot." By the close of the 19th century, however, burgeoning industrial development and the roller-coaster economy of the postwar decades had shifted the agenda to tariffs, monetary policy, and business regulation. Historian Charles Calhoun provides a concise, elegant overview of this transformation in national governance, from the election of Ulysses S. Grant in 1868 to the death of William McKinley in 1901, broadly sketching the intense and divided political universe of the period, as well as the colorful characters who inhabited it.

"Lucid and illuminating.... The author's inviting prose and steely knowledge of his subject remind us that the political compromises and executive decisions forged during the latter half of the 19th century have come to define the most central tenets of modern American politics."Kirkus Reviews

"A specialist on American political history between Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt, Calhoun here delivers an insightful survey of the period. Keen to modify the times' reputation for scandal and scant historical consequence, he covers the public issues and political personalities in play in the competition between and within the Republican and Democratic parties. Proceeding chronologically through each national election from 1868 to 1900, Calhoun describes how putative presidential candidates jockeyed for nominations, how victor and vanquished interpreted election results, and the disposition of campaign pledges by the ensuing political alignment in Washington. As Calhoun's title suggests, the ground on which elections were contested shifted from Reconstruction and the civil rights of blacks to economic issues, with the Republicans tending to favor activist government and Solid South Democrats, minimal government. Noting what scandals did erupt, Calhoun ascribes their salience to voters as minimal compared with the Panics of 1873 and 1893 or partisan positions on civil service reform, tariff rates, and silver coinage. An eminently readable historian, Calhoun will click with fans of politics and the political past."Booklist

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