Presidential Succession Act:
Replacing a 1792 law, this legislation established the line of succession in case of the resignation, incapacity, or death of both the president and vice president of the United States.  The duties of the presidency would be assumed by available cabinet officers in chronological order of each department’s creation.  The 1886 law was later superseded in turn by the Presidential Succession Act in 1947 and the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1967. 

Haymarket Square Bombing:
In 1885 and 1886, there were numerous labor strikes and boycotts across the United States, often resulting in clashes between workers and the police.  The labor agitation culminated at a mass meeting of striking workers on May 4, 1886, at Chicago’s Haymarket Square, where a bomb killed seven police officers.  Eight men were arrested, seven of whom were sentenced to death.  One of the convicts committed suicide, four were hanged, and the other three (whose sentences had been commuted to life in prison) were eventually pardoned by Governor John Peter Altgeld of Illinois in 1893.

Pan-Electric Telephone Controversy:
When he was appointed to President Grover Cleveland’s cabinet, Attorney General Augustus Garland retained financial interest in the Pan-Electric Telephone Company, which was seeking to influence federal officials in its patent lawsuit against Alexander Graham Bell.  The apparent conflict of interest led to calls for Garland’s resignation and a congressional investigation.  Before the House committee, the attorney general expressed surprise and innocence at the influence peddling by Pan-Electric.  After the hearings, he divested his holding in the company and its case against Bell’s patent collapsed.  Garland remained in office through the end of Cleveland’s term.

Building a New Navy:
At the urging of Navy Secretary William C. Whitney, Congress approved funding for two battleships, Texas and Maine, in 1886.  Before the end of the Cleveland administration in March 1889, Congress authorized construction of 28 more naval ships.  Congress also complied with the secretary's reforms for improving the efficiency of the Navy Department's bureaucracy.  Whitney’s tenure in office marked an important early phase of transforming the United States into a modern naval power.


Dependent and Disability Pensions Bill Vetoed:
President Cleveland angered many Union veterans by vetoing numerous private pension bills passed by Congress on claims previously deemed illegitimate by the Pension Bureau.  In January 1887, he further agitated Union veterans by vetoing the Dependent and Disability Pensions Bill, which would have granted a pension to every disabled Union veteran—even if the disability were not traceable to military service—and to dependent family members of deceased Union veterans. 

Dawes General Allotment Act:
Sponsored by Senator Henry Dawes of Massachusetts and signed into law on February 8, the Dawes Act offered citizenship and land to American Indians who gave up their tribal allegiance.  It was an attempt to end the reservation system and assimilate American Indians into American society.  After surveying Indian reservations, the federal government offered the allotment of 160 acres of cropland to heads of households, 80 to single adult males, and 40 per child, with amounts doubled for grazing land.  Despite reformers’ high hopes, the law largely failed.

Hatch Act:
Signed into law on March 2, the Hatch Act allocated federal funds for a national network of stations run by agricultural colleges that would conduct agricultural experiments.  Its aim was to improve the quality and productivity of farming and animal husbandry.

Confederate Battle Standards Controversy:
Tension between the president and Union veterans was exacerbated when, following the advice of Adjutant General Richard Drum and Secretary of War William Endicott, Cleveland issued an executive order in early June directing the return of captured Confederate battle standards to their home states.  The Grand Army of the Republic, an influential veterans organization, denounced the action as treasonous.  On June 16, President Cleveland rescinded the order, leaving the matter to Congress.  The flags remained at the War Department until the twentieth century.

Interstate Commerce Act:
In 1887, Congress passed legislation creating the first federal regulatory agency, the Interstate Commerce Commission, which was an attempt to make railroad rates and practices more equitable.  The law required that shipping rates be “reasonable and just” and published openly.  It also outlawed secret rebates and price discrimination.

Tariff Message:
In December 1887, the president used his annual message to Congress to appeal for a reduction in the nation’s high tariffs.  An administration-backed bill, sponsored by Congressman Roger Mills, passed the House in early 1888.  The Mills Bill and a Senate Republican alternative were debated fiercely during that year’s presidential campaign, but neither proposal became law.

Repeal of the Tenure of Office Act:
In 1867, Congress passed the Tenure of Office Act largely to protect Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, who was cooperating with them on Reconstruction policy, from being fired by President Andrew Johnson.  The law required Senate approval before any Senate-confirmed appointee could be removed from office by a president.  (Johnson’s attempt to remove Stanton was the major factor in the president’s impeachment.) During a battle over political patronage in 1886, the Republican-controlled Senate threatened to expand the act’s authority.  However, President Cleveland’s firm and well-reasoned stance in opposition attracted significant press and popular support, resulting in the law’s repeal in 1887.


Bayard-Chamberlain Treaty:
On February 15, Secretary of State Thomas Bayard and British Colonial Secretary Joseph Chamberlain signed a treaty establishing a commission to decide longstanding disputes between American and Canadian fishermen.  In the politically charged atmosphere of a presidential election year, the Republican Senate rejected the treaty.  The British put the terms of the Bayard-Chamberlain Treaty into effect unilaterally, but the issue continued to trouble British-American and Canadian-American relations into the twentieth century. 

Scott Act:
Sponsored by Congressman William Scott of Pennsylvania, the law permanently banned the immigration or return of Chinese laborers to the United States and ended exit visas for such workers.  Under the law’s provisions, about 20,000 Chinese who had left America temporarily for China were refused reentry into the United States.

Democratic National Convention:
Democrats met on June 5-7 in St. Louis, where delegates unanimously nominated President Grover Cleveland for reelection; chose Allen Thurman, a former congressman and senator from Ohio, as his running mate; and ratified a platform that endorsed tariffs for revenue only.

Republican National Convention:
Republican met on June 19-25 in Chicago, where delegates nominated Benjamin Harrison, a former senator from Indiana, for president over rivals John Sherman, Walter Q. Gresham, and others.  Levi P. Morton, a banker and former congressman and diplomat, was selected as the vice-presidential nominee.  The Republican platform endorsed trade protectionism.

Presidential Election:
On November 6, Republican Benjamin Harrison was elected president with a 233-168 victory in the Electoral College over Democrat Grover Cleveland.  Harrison lost the popular vote to Cleveland by less than 93,000, 49%-48%.


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