(The UNITED STATES, 1865-1900 – continued)

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The UNITED STATES, 1865-1900 (5 of 8)

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A few big-city politicians had been getting rich from payoffs from corporations, and a few city officials had been swindling their city. Reforms were attempted but with only minor success. A reform movement among farmers in the 1870s had greater success, winning farmers frustrated over railroad shipping rates and the interest they had to pay when borrowing money. This was the Grange movement, which was strong in Missouri and elsewhere in the Midwest, its membership in 1875 around 850,000. The railroads often controlled the grain elevators upon which farmers depended, and the railroads were charging farmers for storage. The Grange movement formed their own banking cooperatives, and they joined other farmers and merchants in demanding government regulation of shipping rates. In 1887 the Interstate Commerce Act was passed and signed into law, which intended to give farmers and other small business persons equality in rates with what had been the railroad's favored customers, and the law established an Interstate Commerce Commission, the first government regulatory commissions.

And there was the reform called the Pendleton Civil Service Act, passed by Congress in 1882. The winners of elections had been giving federal government jobs to their supporters regardless of their qualifications. The Pendleton Act created a federal Civil Service Commission, which would oversee competitive examinations for government positions and would have jurisdiction over about 10 percent of the federal government jobs. The act prohibited senators, congressmen or delegate-elects or any officer or employee of either the Senate or the House, or "executive, judicial, military, or naval officer of the United States," or "clerk or employee of any department," from directly or indirectly soliciting or receiving "any assessment, subscription, or contribution for any political purpose whatever, from any officer, clerk, or employee of the United States, or any department, branch, or bureau thereof, or from any person receiving any salary or compensation from moneys derived from the Treasury of the United States."


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