THE GATHERING STORM
The seeds of the modern public integrity war were sown long before the Watergate scandal of the 1970s. Throughout American history various political and social movements have held starkly different visions of American society. The Founding Fathers recognized that political factions could rip the new nation apart. They devised a blueprint for national government that was designed to force divergent factions to compromise if they wished to share power. Throughout American history, however, various movements have allowed ideology to cloud their judgment. Instead of constituting a virtue, compromise has been regarded as an unpardonable sin.
Political movements throughout most of the nineteenth century found that allegations of political corruption did little to weaken public support. This fact helped to provide an environment that permitted political corruption to thrive through most of nineteenth-century America. Reformers, by the end of the nineteenth century, however, would make a persuasive case that public corruption threatened the democratic foundations of the nation.