History

 
 

National News

President:  Grover Cleveland
Vice President:  Thomas A. Hendricks
Secretary of Treasury:  Daniel Manning
Secretary of State:  Thomas F. Bayard
Secretary of War:   William C. Endicott
Postmaster General:  William F. Vilas
Attorney General:  Augustus H. Garland
Sercretary of Navy:  William C. Whitney
Sercretary of Interior:  Lucius Q. C. Lamar
Supreme Court Justices:  Morrison R. Waite, Joseph P. Bradley, John M. Harlan, William B. Woods, Stanley Matthews, Horris Gray, Samuel Blatchford, Stephen J. Field
Important Events of the decade:

Political:   James A. Garfield, elected in 1880, was shot while preparing to board a train for a summer vacation whoen a deranged office seeker shot him in the back.  After struggling for 11 weeks, Garfield died and Chester A. Arthur became president.  In 1884, Grover Cleveland became the first democrat elected into the presidency since Buchanan in 1856.  He implemented the new civil service system and signed into law both the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887, the first efforst of the federal government to regulate business, and the Dawes Act, which would hopefully benefit Native Americans.  The Pendleton Act of 1881 set up the Civil Service Commission where classified federal jobs would be given based upon test scores and not "who you know."  Also the the American Federation of Labor was formed.  Police and demonstrators clashed at Haymarket Square in Chicago.
Literature and Arts:  Realism and Naturalism thrived. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finnby Mark Twain revealed the greed, violence, and racism in American Society.  Bret Harte depicted life in rough mining camps in the west.  In the late 19th century, entertaining urban masses became a major business because of the growth of cities.  Even neswspapers began targeting much larger audiences.  Theatres for the performances of comedies and dramas flourished in most large cities, but Vaudeville had more appeal for the urban masses because of its variety.
Amusements:  The most popular form of recreation, despite the temperance movement, was drinking and talking at the corner saloon.  People also enjoyed the theatre and the circus (Barnum and Bailey's circuds became the "Greatest Show on Earth") in the 1880s.  Sports such as boxing, football, and baseball attracted many spectaters as well. 
Changes in Education:  The influence of Darwin's theory of ecolution and the growing complexity of modern life raised questions about what schools and universities should teach students.  After 1865 elementary schools taught the "3 R's"(reading, writing, and arithmetic).  The number of children enrolled in public schools increased due to new compulsory laws.  The literacy rate rose to 90 percent of the population by the year 1900.  There was even more support for tax-supported public high schools.  The number of U.S. colleges increased in the late 1800s.  There were also changes in the college curriculum including:  the emergence of adding electives (courses chosen by the students), John's Hopkins University emphasized research and free inquiry, and John's Hopkins was the first AMerican institution to specialize in advance graduate studies (1876).
The professions and social sciences:  The social sciences in the late 19th century were revolutionized by the application of the scientific method and the theory of evolution.  Political science, anthropology, sociology, and social psychology were the new social sciences.  The evolutionary theory influenced sociologists, political scientists, and historians to study the dynamic process of actual human behavior. 
Religion and society:  The need to adapt to the stresses of modern urban living affected all religions.  The influx of new immigrants caused enormous gains in Roman Catholic numbers.  By defending the Knights of Labor and the cause of organized labor, Catholic leaders inspired the support of old and new immigrants.  The Salvation army was "imported" from England in 1879 and provided the basic needs for the homeless and the poor, while also preaching the Christian gospel. 


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