HIS 389: SPECIAL TOPICS: AMERICA IN THE GILDED AGE AND PROGRESSIVE ERA, 1877-1920
Professor McClymer, Founders 112, ext. 7278
Newsboys shooting craps in an alley behind the jail in Albany, NY, circa 1910. Lewis Hine photograph
Description: In the last quarter of the nineteenth century and the first decades of the twentieth urbanization, industrialization, and immigration transformed America and American culture. This course examines how contemporaries sought to make sense of these changes. We will study the immigrant experience, the impact of mechanized farming and industry, the rise of specifically urban institutions from the department store to the amusement park, the emergence of the New Woman and the "working girl," and the rise of American imperial ambitions. We will pay special attention to issues of race and nationality.
Prerequisites: Students taking HIS 393: Race and Nationality in America, 1900-1920 must also enroll in this course. Students not taking the seminar are also welcome.
How We Will Proceed: We will use Alan Trachtenberg, The Incorporation of America: Culture and Society in Gilded Age America as a jumping-off place for our work. I have collected a wide range of online materials that will allow us to flesh out, test, and occasionally challenge Trachtenberg's classic study. For each of his chapters, you will, after an initial discussion, choose particular topics to investigate. You will select relevant passages (usually 2 or 3), images, recordings, and/or movie clips from materials you are investigating, and post these to me (see email link above) one hour prior to the class meeting time along with your own comments. Your comments should indicate what you find interesting or confusing or enlightening about the materials you chose. I will use these to structure class discussion. More specifically, I will create web pages that incorporate what I think are your most useful and thought-provoking comments and selections.
At two points in the semester, you will chose five or six sources that bear upon a question you find intriguing. You will create an interim project with the following components: 1) a question on the order of "How did the emerging _________ influence ________?"; 2) an general introduction to the question (approximately 1000 words) that explains why a sensible person would want an answer to the question + where, to the best of your current knowledge, the question fits in the ongoing historical discussion of the period; 3) a brief introduction (aka head note) to each document in which you identify the source, its author(s), how it was produced, the audience for which it was intended, and whatever other information you think relevant, and the sources. This model comes from the Women and Social Movements online journal edited by Tom Dublin and Kitty Sklar (available via an Assumption College library subscription; the freely accessible, albeit smaller, site is at Binghamton University).
I will post all of these reports that meet basic scholarly requirements to a college server . This means: 1) NO ERRORS; 2) a question of broad scholarly interest; 3) introductory head notes that are genuinely useful. I will work with you to meet these requirements. This means I will meet with you individually to discuss your topic, choice of sources, and overall approach.
We will practice on the smaller reports you will do for each of the eleven segments the course is divided into.
Why do this? We are piggybacking on several years of work by students in American Studies at the University of Virginia. We have an obligation to reciprocate by creating something other students in other courses can use.
Beyond Trachtenberg: Trachtenberg omitted several key topics from his synthesis. These include: religion, the emergence of the so-called New Woman, segregation and racism, and imperialism. We will attempt to fill these gaps. We will also carry the story through the Progressive Era. The new society and culture that emerged in the 1880s and 1890s posed a series of challenges that the progressives wrestled with, albeit with mixed success. In place of a chapter from The Incorporation of America on these subjects we will begin with something I have written on the general topic.
You will produce a final project on a topic of your choosing. If you are also taking the seminar, I strongly urge you to choose a topic that complements your research in that course. The final product may take several forms including the traditional term paper. You MAY do a PowerPoint presentation BUT ONLY IF IT TAKES THE FORM OF A PODCAST. This is not hard since we have access to software that both records your spoken comments and inserts your slides at the appropriate points in your talk. You may create a website. Please feel free to suggest other options. As with your mid-term reports, I will post all projects of sufficient quality.
What Will Be Different About this Course: The web creates a radically new learning environment, and we will try to take advantage of some of the opportunities it affords. One is to live out the fantasy of the proverbial kid in the candystore. Everywhere we will look, no matter the topic, an array of goodies will beckon. We can pick whatever catches our eye just because it catches our eye. We don't have to select what everyone else does. We can discover what we like.
No one of us can explore all of these goodies. Even collectively we will not come close. This is not a bad thing. Closure is possible in some fields. You CAN prove a theorem; you CAN solve for x. You cannot state definitively the significance of race in Gilded Age America. You CAN say something, actually many somethings, that shed light on the question. So that is what each of us will be doing, seeking to say something, something interesting, something relevant, and something that leads to other questions and possible lines of inquiry, most of which we will not have the time to pursue.
Will these somethings add up or merely pile up? Here is another advantage of the new learning environment: links. We can make connections in multiple ways. It is not a matter of A + B = C or of A > B and B > C, therefore C < A. Human experience rarely adds up and is rarely linear. Influences come from all directions. People attempt to repeat their triumphs; they often repeat their mistakes. They learn lessons from their mistakes, sometimes the wrong lessons. In any case, we have to loop back to try to understand what they thought they were doing. The web permits us to move in straight lines, but it does not require us to do so. It allows us to veer off at odd angles, to go back and/or jump forward, to layer meaning and experience. This will take some getting used to. We are accustomed to linearity, even when it doesn't fit the evidence. But, as we gain experience, we will start to do some really good things. So, for example, in the first segment of the course on "The West" you will wind up searching quite diverse materials but your findings on how Native Americans were portrayed may well converge.
My role changes as much as yours. Because you will be finding your own way into the topics we will explore, I have to structure class discussions around your choices and findings. I will have about an hour before each class to read your posts and begin to figure out how they relate to one another. I italicize begin because the process will continue throughout each class and into the next. This means that I am dependent upon you; I have to go in whatever directions you choose. This loss of control over the content of each class session and over the sequence in which we encounter that content is the biggest challenge for me. I am used to being in charge. So, even as you have to adjust, so will I. The payoff for me is that I don't have to force you to work on materials that do not appeal to you. You get to build upon your interests and your intellectual strengths. This means, by and large, that you will do more and better work. And I will get to claim the credit!
Alan Trachtenberg, The Incorporation of America: Culture and Society in Gilded Age America (Hill and Wang, 1982; ISBN: 0-8090-0145-4) + The Incorporation of America: Culture and Society in Gilded Age America — This is an electronic version at the University of Virginia of Trachtenberg's classic study with links to a wide array of relevant materials.
In addition to the Trachtenberg text and related links at the University of Virginia site, there are helpful materials at The Rise of Industrial America, 1877-1900 and Progressive Era to New Era, both at the Library of Congress. We will divide up and explore these and a variety of additional online resources with a view towards extending and deepening Trachtenberg's analysis as well as carrying it into the twentieth century.
Aug. 28: Introduction; read Trachtenberg, "The Westward Route" for Aug. 30 — submit via email one hour before class two questions provoked by your reading
Aug. 30: Guided tour of Chapter 1 topics
Chapter 1: The Westward Route
1. Click on the image to visit a helpful discussion of the Wild West Show at the University of Virginia. This site was built in 1995; images are small and hard to use for the most part. Fortunately, the Denver Public Library Western History Photography collection has almost a thousand images of the show. Enter Buffalo Bill Wild West in the search feature and jump around in the collection. Minnesota Public Radio did a program on the music used in the show, which includes three selections by the Americus Brass Band. An informative site with lots of links is The Wild West Show. Be careful, I had no luck getting many of the links to work. Choose specific materials that confirm, challenge, or complicate Trachtenberg's analysis of the "west" that Buffalo Bill retailed to so many.
2. Contemporaries could find a more reliable source of information on the West, and one that dealt with most of the topics Trachtenberg discusses, in Harper's Weekly. HarpWeek has put together some of these here. Scroll to Explore the American West and click on some of the topics. You will discover that the topic headers are of limited help. There are stories about Native Americans, for example, under The Plains as well as under Indians. You may also want to explore HarpWeek's site on the Chinese-American Experience. What ideas of the "west" would a faithful reader of Harper's Weekly be likely to form? Provide specific cases in point.
3.Dime Novels and Penny Dreadfuls at Stanford University — Trachtenberg makes a point of the influence of novels about western outlaws, marshalls, and other characters. There are about a dozen novels online here + thousands of cover illustrations, which are quite telling in terms of the myths Trachtenberg discusses. For the cover art of some of the "westerns" of the day, click on browse images (there is no search feature for images), and jump to number 13. Click on it and scroll to the genre line and click on "western." This will get you a collection you can use. Go to #150 and scroll to famous characters: Buffalo Bill and click. This will yield 31 covers, a workable number. Alternatively you can pick other heroes/heroines or themes such as Native Americans or Chinese, under nationality/ethnicity. You will have to proceed in a somewhat clumsy way because of the absence of an image search feature. You will have to find a cover with a Native American or a Chinese (or whatever theme you want to explore) and scroll to the relevant link. Out of the pool of covers you create in this way, select several that strike you as particularly interesting and briefly explain what intrigues you about each.
4. Dime Novels for Women, 1870-1920 at George Mason University — Although the bulk of dime novels were aimed at a male audience, publishers quickly discovered that there was a female readership waiting for works written for them. This site also contains lots of images as well as scholarly discussions and contemporary accounts of dime novels and their women readers. You can also find lots of women characters in the dime novels written for men. Follow the instructions above for creating a pool of covers and compare those to the covers you find here. You will find some surprises. What differences do you find? Cite specific examples.
5. Dime novels; or, Following an old trail in popular literature Boston, Little, Brown, and Company. (1929) by Edmund Pearson is available as a Gaslight etext. It is an entertaining and informative survey by someone who grew up devouring dime novels. It is also quite long. I recommend chapter VII on propriety. It contains long excerpts from several novels. Pearson's account suggests a significant disconnect between the sensational covers and the conventional plots that feature much adventure and deering-do + a good deal of sentimentalized romance but no sex. Based on your reading of this chapter, and whatever else in the book you decide to explore, what seem to be the main plot lines of the dime novels? What does the great popularity of these dime novels suggest about the popular imagination? Think of this question as analogous to discussing what the popularity of so-called reality television programming suggests about the popular imagination of today. But do not try to write a scholarly treatise on the topic. Limit yourself to suggesting a couple of hypotheses you think it would be worthwhile and/or fun to explore.
6. Owen Wister, The Virginian at the University of Virginia — Trachtenberg credits this novel with helping to shape how twentieth-century Americans would imagine the West. If you choose this, you will have to read chunks of it. Sorry, no work arounds that I know about. On the other hand, it is a very important cultural document and a pretty good read. If you have never read a western, jump in! Two characters are especially interesting, the Virginian of course, and the "serious spinster." What does Wister do to establish these characters? That is, what background does he provide of their lives before the story begins, what of their families, what of other traits? Where do these traits derive from?
7. John McClymer, The Dakota Conflict of 1862 at Assumption College — the uprising of the Dakota Sioux in Minnesota was the prototype for subsequent conflicts between Plains Indians and whites. Ignore the questions. They were created for another purpose. Focus upon the primary materials. They raise a classic problem for the historian: The accounts of Native American behavior were either created by whites or recorded by whites. Which sources do you find credible? What specific passages inspire trust or doubt?
8. Lori Liggett has put together a useful site on the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890, which effectively ended military conflict with the Plains Indians, at Bowling Green University. You may find it a bit tricky to navigate. Ms. Liggett did not include links to all of the relevant pages on each page. Her site is part of the America in the 1890s: A Chronology project. After reading Liggett's account, go to the Archives of the West page dealing with Wounded Knee and work through the contemporary accounts and images. Choose 3 of each you find especially compelling and briefly indicate what you find intriguing about each.
9. The Native Americans Document Project at California State University, San Marcos contains reports from the 1870s from the Bureau of Indian Affairs that relate directly to Trachtenberg's discussion of Indian policy. If you choose this, you will be essentially assessing how helpful Trachtenberg's discussion is in assisting you to read one or another of the reports. Pick a report and indicate how reading Trachtenberg deepened, complicated, or confused your understanding of that report.
10. Lewis Henry Morgan, Ancient Society, which Trachtenberg analyzes at length, is available at the Marxist Internet Reference Archive. You will need to read selectively with Trachtenberg as your guide. Again, the question is: How helpful is his discussion?
11. Theodore Roosevelt, "Red and White on the Border," from his Ranch Life and the Hunting-Trail (1896) is a convenient introduction to T.R.'s views on Native Americans. Like his good friend and classmate, Owen Wister, T.R. did much to shape popular ideas of the West and of Native Americans. Choose three passages that most interest and/or confuse you.
Sept. 1: Oral reports on topics
Sept. 4: Labor Day holiday
Sept. 6 & 8: Oral reports on topics; for Sept. 11 read Trachtenberg, "Mechanization Takes Command" — submit via email one hour before class two questions provoked by your reading
Sept. 11: Guided tour of Chapter 2 topics
Chapter 2: Mechanization Takes Command
Illustration from Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Daniel C. Beard
1. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court at the University of Virginia contains the full text and original illustrations as well as many other material including the sales prospectus, texts that Twain drew upon, and contemporary reviews. Trachtenberg gives the novel a good deal of attention. Anyone choosing this is undertaking a serious commitment. The novel is a delight to read; it is also long and very complex. On one level it is a fantasy about time travel. Hank Morgan gets hit on the head and wakes up in 6th Century England, land of King Arthur, the Knights of the Round Table, and Camelot. On another level the novel traces the struggle between the promise of machinery to alleviate misery and breed prosperity, on the one side, and the power of ignorance and superstition to defeat progress, on the other. The Roman Catholic Church is the embodiment of superstition in the novel. It is very significant that the Church triumphs. Further, the axiomatic linking of machinery, progress, and human happiness is turned upside down. Hank Morgan does at least as much harm as good as he attempts to modernize 6th Century England. This may reflect Twain's ambivalence about his identity as a Southerner. Like Huckleberry Finn, A Connecticut Yankee examines the practice of slavery. Does it also reflect the recently ended period of Reconstruction during which any number of well-meaning Yankees sought to bring the wonders of modernity (public schools, good roads, the telegraph) to the defeated South? Does the triumph of the Church in the novel in some sense symbolize the so-called Redemption of the South by the antebellum white elite who replaced the "Carpetbaggers"? Clearly there is much to chew over in this work. You will want to choose a question, such as the various effects of the introduction of machinery or the portrayal of the Catholic Church, and report on that.
2. The Connecticut Yankee's real life counterpart was Thomas Alva Edison, whom Trachtenberg sees as embodying both the virtues of the pre-Civil War mechanics tradition and the promise of the new industrial research and development programs. There is a helpful discussion of Edison's inventions and life here. Then go tho the Library of Congress' American Memory Learning Connections page for its Inventing Entertainment site. Ignore the questions you find, but choose several of the early Edison films (such as those dealing with the Spanish American War or the Paris Exposition or the assassination of President McKinley) and frame several questions about how this new medium might change the way people experience historical events. OR Go to the Edison Sound Recordings page and choose several early recordings (you can browse by genre or by title). The phonograph was the invention that made Edison famous. Frame several questions about how it might change the way people experience entertainment and work.
3. One way of looking at mechanization is to survey business machines — this site is at HarpWeek. If you choose this, try not to get too caught up in the technical details and instead focus upon the overall economic and social impact of the new devices. One important topic is how machinery aided the transformation of secretarial and clerical positions, universally filled by men prior to the Civil War, into "women's work."
4. "An Erie Raid," by Charles F. Adams, The North American Review. Volume 112, Issue 231 (April 1871) — Trachtenberg cites Adams and his brother Henry several times; he also examines the railroad as the prototypical corporation. The "war" for control of the Erie is one of the episodes that gave the name "robber barons" to the capitalists of the Gilded Age. Railroads operated, as the Erie Raid illustrates, without effective regulation. So did stock exchanges. How did the capitalists vying for control over the Erie take advantage of this? Choose several specific cases in point.
5. The Centennial Exposition (1876) was, in large measure, a celebration of mechanization. In the illustration at left U.S. President Grant and Brazil's Emperor Don Pedro start the giant Corliss steam engine that provided power for the entire fair and all of its exhibits. None of the new inventions, not even the telephone much less the typewriter, occasioned as much interest as the Corliss engine. To get a sense of the scope of, and popular reaction to, the Exposition, consult the links collected at Digital History at the University of Houston. Choose several specific passages and/or images that suggest to you the impact of mechanization on the popular imagination.
6. Looking Backward: From 2000 to 1887 by Edward Bellamy, another novel discussed by Trachtenberg at length, is available online at the University of Virginia. The review of the work by William Morris mentioned by Trachtenberg is here. As Morris notes at the beginning of his review, the enormous interest Bellamy's work attracted cannot be explained by its literary merits. As a fantasy about time travel, it cannot bear comparison with A Connecticut Yankee. As a romance, it does not improve upon the sentimental conventions of the dime novels. For Morris, the book's enormous popularity — lots of clubs and societies were formed to promote Bellamy's ideas — indicates the rising interest in socialism. That is certainly a possibility. Another is suggested by the Corliss engine and by what Morris correctly notes is Bellamy's overall commitment to machinery. What was fascinating about the Corliss engine to so many visitors to the Exposition was not just the immensity of the engine's power, but the harnessing of all that power. Bellamy asked the right question, so far as his many admirers were concerned: If machinery can eliminate all of the old constraints on human productivity, why should it not eliminate all of the old scourges of human history? Start with chapters 5, 6, and 7 in which Bellamy explains how his utopia works and how it came into existence and then read Morris's review. Select several passages from the review that deepen, complicate, and/or confuse your understanding of the novel. Choose corresponding passages from Looking Backward.
7. Henry George's analysis of THE KEARNEY AGITATION IN CALIFORNIA is online at the San Francisco Museum. It was in the midst of economic distress, labor unrest, and anti-Chinese agitation that George wrote Progress and Poverty. Trachtenberg uses Progress and Poverty extensively in his analysis of the perils and benefits contemporaries perceived in mechanization. There is an introduction to George's major works and to the Single Tax at the New School's History of Economic Thought site. This is a goldmine. The page on so-called "American Apologists," the defenders of the status quo George so vehemently attacked, is especially useful as is that on "American Institutionalists," the next generation who displaced the apologists in the early twentieth century. Unfortunately the George links do not work! Instead click on Progress and Poverty and read the chapter 1 carefully. You will see that George raises what I called "the right question" in my intro to Bellamy. Then read chapters 25, 26, and 27. You can find working links to some of George's other works at this site. Like Bellamy, George had a single solution to offer, the Single Tax. This was a tax on land values that rose not from productive use but from other factors. For example, land near Chicago that was incorporated into the city and zoned for industry would experience a sharp increase in value. George would tax this "unearned increment." Also like Bellamy, historians are much less interested in George's solution than in his diagnosis of the paradox of progress and poverty. Select several passages that strike you as most revealing of the way George conceptualized what he saw as the crisis of his times.
8. Rivaling Henry George as a critic of Gilded Age industrial policies was Henry Demarest Lloyd whose "The Lords of Industry" (1884) is available at the School of Cooperative Individualism. His account of the railroad strike of 1877, "Story of a Great Monopoly," Atlantic Monthly (March 1881) is available via the Making of America site at Cornell where you can find several more of Lloyd's articles including "Making Bread Dear" and "The New Conscience." Lloyd is mentioned only once by Trachtenberg, a noteworthy omission given his prominence at the time. In "The Lords of Industry," an exhaustive listing of monopolistic arrangements, Lloyd concludes:
We have given competition its own way, and have found that we are not good enough or wise enough to be trusted with this power of ruining ourselves in the attempt to ruin others. Free competition could be let run only in a community where every one had learned, to say and act "I am the state." We have had an era of material inventions. We now need a renaissance of moral inventions, contrivances to tap the vast currents of moral magnetism flowing uncaught over the face of society. Morals and values rise and fall together. If our combinations [i.e., trade associations] have no morals, they can have no values. If the tendency to combination is irresistible, control of it is imperative. Monopoly and antimonopoly, odious as these words have become to the literary ear, represent the two great tendencies of our time: monopoly, the tendency to combination; antimonopoly, the demand for social control of it. As the man is bent toward business or patriotism, he will negotiate combinations or agitate for laws to regulate them. The first is capitalistic, the second is social. The first, industrial; the second, moral. The first promotes wealth; the second, citizenship. These combinations are not to be waved away as fresh pictures of folly or total depravity. There is something in them deeper than that. The Aryan has proved by the experience of thousands of years that he can travel." But travel," Emerson says, "is the fool's paradise." We must now prove that we can stay at home, and stand it as well as the Chinese have done. Future Puritans cannot emigrate from Southampton to Plymouth Rock. They can only sail from righteousness to righteousness. Our young men can no longer go west; they must go up or down. Not new land, but new virtue must be the outlet for the future. Our halt at the shores of the Pacific is a much more serious affair than that which brought our ancestors to a pause before the barriers of the Atlantic, and compelled them to practice living together for a few hundred years. We cannot hereafter, as in the past, recover freedom by going to the prairies; we must find it in the society of the good. In the presence of great combinations, in all departments of life, the moralist and patriot have work to do of a significance never before approached during the itinerant phases of our civilization. It may be that the coming age of combination will issue in a nobler and fuller liberty for the individual than has yet been seen, but that consummation will be possible, not in a day of competitive trade, but in one of competitive morals.
Read his "Story of a Great Monopoly." Lloyd sought to tie together the great strike of 1877, the power of the railroads, especially the New York Central, the Pennsylvania, and the Erie, and the monopolistic tactics of John D. Rockefeller and his Standard Oil Company. What in Lloyd's account do you find convincing? What do you find confusing? Cite specific passages.
Sept. 13, 15, & 18: Oral reports on topics; for Sept. 20 read Trachtenberg, "Capital and Labor" — submit via email one hour before class two questions provoked by your reading
Sept. 20: Guided tour of Chapter 3 topics
Chapter 3: Capital and Labor
1. Trachtenberg emphasizes the importance of the Hayes-Tilden presidential election of 1876. HarpWeek has created a site on presidential elections, 1860-1912; that on 1876 is very rich. It offers a brief overview, a chronology of key events, relevant biographies, and cartoons and other graphics. In addition, HarpWeek has an extensive site on the Electoral College controversy of 1876 and its resolution. Tilden won the popular vote. The outcome in the Electoral College was disputed with both parties claiming to have carried the three southern states still occupied by the Union Army. Both parties accused the other of voting fraud, with much reason. White Southern Democratics intimidated and otherwise disenfranchised blacks in those states in which the Union troops had left. Republicans may well have rigged vote totals in the other three southern states. Congress appointed a special commission with fifteen members. In theory there were to be seven Republicans, seven Democrats, and one independent (a member of the Supreme Court). In fact, there were eight Republicans. So Hayes won. He also promised a swift removal of the remaining Union soldiers in the South. This marked the end of Reconstruction, an event white Southerners called "Redemption." Many at the time and since have smelled a "corrupt bargain," in which Republicans sold the black voter down the river to retain the presidency. Many historians, however, do not think there was a formal quid pro quo. They argue that Hayes would have removed the troops even if he had won the popular vote by a wide margin.
In addition, many political historians see the election of 1876 as marking a sort of return to normal party politics. From 1860 through 1872 the North-South rivalry dominated national politics. The Republicans, as the party of the North, gained power, fought the Civil War, and Reconstructed the South. It passed the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments. It underwrote the construction of the transcontinental railroad. It created the state university system (via land grants), established a national currency, adopted a protective tariff, and attempted (with some, but only some, success) to modernize the South. So-called carpetbagger governments established the first public school systems in the South, built roads, and subsidized railroads. They also took several faltering steps towards building a multi-racial society. By 1876 two developments converged: 1) the Republicans had effectively run out of fresh ideas; 2) white Southerners were regaining control of southern politics, which meant the Democrats, the only national party, were becoming much stronger.
If the Republicans had run out of fresh ideas, Civil Service reform excepted, the Democrats had no new ideas either. As a result, another way of looking at this election is as marking a sort of politicial bankruptcy. The Republicans were still fighting the Civil War, "waving the bloody shirt" as it was called, reminding voters in the North that the Democrats were the party of secession. Democrats ran against corruption — the second Grant administration had been marred by scandal. They also ran against the Republicans, that is, against the accumulated dissatifactions of sixteen years of Republican rule. Neither party addressed the looming battles between capital and labor. This topic, as a result, affords the prospect of examining in detail political events which, however intricate and even mysterious, were irrelevant to some of the most important developments of the time. Still, the irrelevant have their uses to the historian.
Several approaches suggest themselves. One is the Electoral College controversy. The Bush-Gore election of 2000 demonstrated that the U.S. still has not figured out a way to deal with an election in which one candidate wins the popular vote but another carries the electoral vote AND some of the electoral votes are in dispute. This entails following the Electoral controversy in detail because the story is in the details in this instance. Another approach is to look at the ways the parties couched their appeals to the voters. What did they claim were the reasons why voters should support their candidate?
2. Andrew Carnegie, "Wealth," NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW (JUNE, 1889) — how to solve the problem of capital and labor by the richest man in the country. Russell Conwell, a Baptist minister and founder of Temple University, offered his own version of the "gospel of wealth" in "Acres of Diamonds," an address he gave over 5,000 times in the early twentieth century. Trachtenberg discusses both. Both mark radical changes in the American understanding of success.
The Republican Party of Lincoln presented itself as a party of opportunity for the average man. The Homestead Act was a core part of their platform. It guaranteed 160 acres to anyone willing to develop the land and live on it for five years. We tend not to appreciate the scope of this. But the Republicans offered 160 acres, enough for a good-sized farm, to anyone who wished to take the land. And, although much of the best land was reserved for railroads, the recipient could select the 160 acres he wanted. And the railroads offered most of the land they received for sale at bargain prices. They wanted to raise capital quickly and they wanted to settle the regions through which they were building their roads. Hundreds of thousands of homesteaders took the Republican offer. In addition to the Homestead Act, the Republicans had appealed to what was known as the "mechanics ideal." This referred to the notion that anyone who was willing to work could make his way in the world. This was not an empty dream. In most towns and cities there were Mechanics Associations which sponsored lectures, courses in subjects like mechanical drawing, and build libraries. In Worcester, for example, the Mechanics Association created their own Mechanics Bank, held industrial fairs throughout the 1850s and 1860s, and built Mechanics Hall, still the finest public venue in the city. Lincoln personified the ideal. He had little formal education. And he started out working with his hands as a rail splitter. But through long years of study he made himself into one of the leading lawyers and foremost orators of his day.
By the 1870s the Homestead Act was still in effect, but the costs of starting a farm were going up as mechanization revolutionized farming. Further, the railroads and the new refrigerated cars locked the farmer into a global market whose ups and downs he could neither comprehend nor control. Mechanics fared less well still. Railroads heralded the age of the giant corporation. Mechanization turned skilled workers into tenders of machines. The road from mechanic to entrepreneur, so beckoning in the antebellum years, turned into a mirage. The skilled worker, provided he was not injured on the job, could earn a decent living. But American workplaces were the most dangerous in the world so staying whole was a matter of some good luck. Semi-skilled and unskilled workers could not earn enough to provide for their families. And the chance to move up to more skilled positions lessened with each new technical improvement. For technology aimed at deskilling the worker.
It is in this context that Andrew Carnegie wrote about wealth, its acquisition, and the responsibilies possessing it posed. Historians have not been kind to Carnegie, for the most part. They have tended to describe his ideas as self-serving. As a result, one approach is to assess his arguments, and not simply by asking whether they favored people like him. This is not a very interesting question. Of course they did. Instead you can compare his views to the antebellum (and increasing obsolete) notions still espoused by many. Did Carnegie have a more realistic view of wealth? Did he come up with a genuine and persuasive set of rules for its acquisition and use?
Conwell, who founded Temple University, became famous for his "Acres of Diamonds." You can ask the obvious question: Why did so many prize the empty promises of this sermon/speech? Mrs. William Vanderbilt had enough diamonds that she could have a dress for a costume ball made out of them — she came as the electric light bulb. Virtually no one in any of Conwell's 5000+ audiences was ever going to be rich on that scale. A moment's reflection would convince anyone who cared to think about it. But still they came. What was the appeal? It might help you in thinking about this to ask yourself what present-day fantasies of wealth have a comparable popularity.
3. Horatio Alger, Jr. offered a different affirmation of success in his "luck and pluck" formulaic stories that Trachtenberg analyzes. His heroes did not wind up with the wealth of a Carnegie. Nor did they rise simply through hard work, honesty, and innate ability. That was the Lincoln formula, the mechanics ideal. Instead his heroes succeed through hard work, honesty, and dumb luck. "Ragged Dick" and his other protagonists invariably leave the mass of their fellows behind, still shining shoes or peddling papers. We might parody the formula as: work hard, be honest, win the lottery. Here is the first of the Alger stories. Again the obvious question is: What was the appeal? What is the joy in knowing that Oliver Twist will have a good life, if the Artful Dodger and Fagin's other minions are going to continue on as before? Or, to ask a less obvious question: Are these stories really about success at all? Alger's own interest in young boys got him ousted from his ministerial position. Maybe there is something else going on here that had a broad if unacknowledged appeal.
4. If all of life is a competition, as all American ideologies of success proclaimed, then there must be losers as well as winners. This simple truth about the market became a grand truth of Nature in the hands of the Social Darwinists, those who sought to apply the notions of natural selection and the survival of the fittest to human society. The greatest American apologist for Social Darwinism was William Graham Sumner. The New School's History of Economic Thought site contains links to a number of Sumner's works. You can get a taste of his ideas in "The Absurd Effort to Make the World Over" and What Social Classes Owe to Each Other, both published in 1883 and excerpted on this site. What made reform "absurd" was that it opposed itself to Nature. Left to itself, natural selection would insure that the species would improve. Reforms invariably entailed protecting the less fit.
In writing about "the absurd attempt to make the world over," Sumner had in mind people like Carroll D. Wright, head of the Massachusetts Bureau of the Statistics of Labor and a strong advocate of the minimum wage and other measures intended to protect working-class families. See John McClymer, "Carroll D. Wright and Workers' Budgets," in Ballard C. Campbell, ed., The Challenges of Change: American Lives, 1870-1920 (Scholarly Resources, 1999). The relevant selections from Wright's reports dealing with his assertion that the French Canadians were the "Chinese of the Eastern States" are available here. Wright subsequently became U.S. Commissioner of Labor and helped arbitrate the Coal Strike of 1902. Carroll D. Wright, "Are the Rich Getting Richer and the Poor Poorer?" (1897) is available at the Making of America site at Cornell.
This topic involves exploring the debate over reform in Gilded Age America. What did the social classes owe to each other, Sumner's question, is also ours. How did he answer it? How did Wright? To what extent did the influx of immigrants influence each of their answers?
5. Another advocate of change was Edwin Markham whose "The Man With a Hoe" touched off a national debate about capital and labor that is the subject of a Jim Zwick website. Markham's title came from the drawting by Jean-François Millet (1860-62) reproduced above. Once again the question was Sumner's: What do the social classes owe each other? What is most interesting perhaps is the ferocious criticism the poem evoked. Most reviewers praised the poem and the poet. Those who did not often excoriated both. You can begin to explore the controversy. Read the poem and several of the parodies. Then look at Markham's descriptions of what he tried to accomplish and his answers to his critics. Then look at a couple of critics. Choose the passages that, in your view, typify the controversy.
6. Trachtenberg does not discuss Thorstin Veblen or his The Theory of the Leisure Class, a strange omission since he employs several of Veblen's categories of analysis such as "pecuniary culture" and "conspicuous consumption." The New School's History of Economic Thought site contains links to a number of Veblen's works. Veblen rooted his economic ideas in cultural anthropology. Seeking to explain a phenomenon of his own time, he looked back to the origins of ownership:
There was undoubtedly some appropriation of useful articles before the custom of appropriating women arose. The usages of existing archaic communities in which there is no ownership of women is warrant for such a view. In all communities the members, both male and female, habitually appropriate to their individual use a variety of useful things; but these useful things are not thought of as owned by the person who appropriates and consumes them. The habitual appropriation and consumption of certain slight personal effects goes on without raising the question of ownership; that is to say, the question of a conventional, equitable claim to extraneous things.
The ownership of women begins in the lower barbarian stages of culture, apparently with the seizure of female captives. The original reason for the seizure and appropriation of women seems to have been their usefulness as trophies. The practice of seizing women from the enemy as trophies, gave rise to a form of ownership-marriage, resulting in a household with a male head. This was followed by an extension of slavery to other captives and inferiors, besides women, and by an extension of ownership-marriage to other women than those seized from the enemy. The outcome of emulation under the circumstances of a predatory life, therefore, has been on the one hand a form of marriage resting on coercion, and on the other hand the custom of ownership. The two institutions are not distinguishable in the initial phase of their development; both arise from the desire of the successful men to put their prowess in evidence by exhibiting some durable result of their exploits. Both also minister to that propensity for mastery which pervades all predatory communities. From the ownership of women the concept of ownership extends itself to include the products of their industry, and so there arises the ownership of things as well as of persons.
This passage illustrates several characteristics of Veblen's highly distinctive way of thinking and writing. Note the deadpan "There was undoubtedly some appropriation of useful articles before the custom of appropriating women arose." This presents an incendiary idea as a scholarly clearing of the throat. Veblen had a lively contempt for much scholarship combined with a dedication to the kind of scholarship he believed productive. This often led him to make fun of certain scholarly ways of writing. It also led him to treat topics, such as women's fashion, very seriously. What was Veblen's theory of the leisure class? Human behavior springs from two innate drives, he held. One he called the instinct of workmanship. This is the need to do something of use. The other is emulation, the desire to feel superior to others. The leisure class, i.e., the very rich who lord it over everyone else, exemplify the instinct of emulation. In barbaric societies, according to Veblen, one could demonstrate one's prowress and thus one's superiority directly. The knight could unhorse an opponent. In capitalist society there is still the need to put one's prowress on display. But power is economic, what Veblen delighted in terming "pecuniary prowress." The answer was consumption. But it had to be visible. Hence "conspicuous consumption." How better to demonstrate one's wealth than by consuming unnecessary, even useless, commodities? Hence "conspicuous waste." But why, Veblen went on, was so much spent on commodities that were not only useless but ugly? To those who doubted the relevance of the question, he suggested they ask a different question: Why does every one laugh at the clothing fashions of a previous decade, or even of last year? The answer is that they are obviously ugly. But, what makes them ugly? This question brought Veblen back to his first instinct, workmanship. Beauty was related to utility, he maintained. Utility, however, contradicted the canon of conspicuous waste. Fashion, particularly women's fashion, had to make it impossible for the wearer to perform any useful labor. If you wonder if this rule of thumb still applies, open the latest issue of Vogue. Wastefulness/uselessness is intrinsically ugly. So, after a brief period during which novelty prevents us from seeing how hideous the fashion is, we come to recognize it. How could women ever have worn bustles? we ask in genuine wonderment.
Pick one of Veblen's chapters. You will benefit from one of his most annoying traits as a writer, the practice of repeating his central arguments over and over. Select several passages that you find deepen, enlighten, or confuse your understanding of the class system in Gilded Age America.
7. A profusely illustrated account of the great strike of 1877 is at CUNY's American Social History Project. Henry Demarest Lloyd's account of the strike, "Story of a Great Monopoly,"Atlantic Monthly (March 1881) is available via the Making of America site at Cornell. Trachtenberg stresses the importance of the strike for illuminating the divide between Capital and Labor and their struggle to determine the meaning of America. What information from the CUNY site helps you better assess Trachtenberg's argument? What from the Lloyd's essay? Remember, Trachtenberg did not rely on Lloyd, so far as we can judge.
8. Carl Smith, The Dramas of Haymarket at the Chicago Historical Society deals with the notorious bombing and its aftermath. Trachtenberg discusses the "Chicago red scare" that followed the bombing and subsequent riot. Smith is a professor of Amerian literature at Northwestern and organizes the story of the Haymarket Riot as a drama in five acts with prologue and epilogue. Read Smith's narrative for all seven segments. How helpful is this in assessing Trachtenberg's analysis? Choose specific passages. In our class discussion we will take up the question of evidence available on this site and how we might use it.
9. John McClymer, The Homestead Strike of 1892 and the Attempted Assassination of Henry Clay Frick at Assumption College — Trachtenberg does not discuss either event although both bear directly upon his central thesis. The Homestead Strike was significant for several reasons. There had been a strong steel workers union. This strike ended unionism in the industry until the late 1930s. It demonstrated the advantages large corporations enjoyed in dealing with their workers. And, like the great railroad strike of 1877, it typified the violence characteristic of labor relations in the U.S. In America the phrase "class warfare" was not a metaphor but a simple description of reality. Ignore the questions; they were created for a separate purpose. Instead focus upon the primary sources, Hamlin Garland's detailed description of work in the steel mills after the strike, and Emma Goldman's and Alexander Berkman's account of his attempt to kill Henry Clay Frick. Garland compared work in the mills to warfare. How persuasive is his use of the analogy? What, if anything, did he have to say about class warfare? Goldman and Berkman were living in Worcester when they first learned of the Homestead stike, but they interpreted it using the categories they had learned as young radicals in Russia. What did they think Berkman could achieve by killing Frick? Cite specific passages from the sources.
10. How Did Florence Kelley's Campaign against Sweatshops in Chicago in the 1890s Expand Government Responsibility for Industrial Working Conditions? at the Women and Social Movements electronic journal published by Alexander Street Press contains materials about perhaps the first sustained effort to improve working conditions. [Note: This is availble through the Assumption College library. You will not be able to access it off campus.] Trachtenberg has nothing to say about middle-class reformers like Kelley or Jane Addams, a startling omission. The Smithsonian has an online exhibition on sweatshops. Some, like Henry Demarest Lloyd, Edwin Marham, and Hamlin Garland, sought to answer Sumner's question of what the social classes owed to each other by calling attention to the human costs of the triumphs of the Robber Barons. Others, like Florence Kelley, also believed in publicizing exploitation and human suffering BUT also sought practical ways of alleviating some of the suffering. Inevitably this meant a turn to the state and then the federal governments. Choose several passages from the documents and several images that deepen your understanding of Kelley's campaign.
11. THE TRIAL OF WILLIAM "BIG BILL" HAYWOOD (1907) at the Famous Trials site created by Douglas Linder at the University of Missouri Law School at Kansas City — Haywood was a leader of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). The Wobblies, as they were called, were anarchists but, unlike Goldman and Berkman, their ideas derived from American and not Russian or European sources. The core idea of the IWW was to build "one big union" of all workers and use it to destroy the capitalist system and replace it with what political scientists label anarchosyndicalism. This combined anarchy, the notion that the government could and should disappear ("wither away" in Karl Marx's phrase) and be replaced by workers' cooperatives (syndicates). The IWW organized workers that the trades unions of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) thought unorganizable. Its biggest successes were with western miners but it also organized several historic strikes in the East. One was the Paterson (NJ) silk workers' strike of 1913; another was the "bread and roses" strike of Lawrence (MA) textile workers of 1912.
Read Doug Linder's account of the trial and then the summations of Clarence Darrow for the defense and William Borah for the prosecution. Darrow insisted that the trial was part of the ongoing class war between the Western Federation of Miners and the mine owners. Borah, soon to be elected to the U.S. Senate, claimed it was a simple murder trial. Choose passages from their closing arguments that deepen, complicate, or confuse your understanding of what was at stake in the trial. In class we can discuss what made Darrow the premier defense attorney of his age.
12. Portraits of a Ladies' Strike: Perspectives of the Uprising of the 20,000 at the University of Virginia deals with the shirtwaist workers strike of 1909-10 that led to the founding of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union. Additional materials are available at CUNY's American Social History Project. How Did the Perceived Threat of Socialism Shape the Relationship between Workers and their Allies in the New York City Shirtwaist Strike, 1909-1910? at the Women and Social Movements electronic journal published by Alexander Street Press "focuses on relations among strikers, the strike's wealthy women supporters, and socialist activists." The strike offers an opportunity to explore what Trachtenberg called the culture of labor developing in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. There are more sources here than you will be able to process, or even read. So you will need to pick and choose.
Historians, including your instructor who has written a book about it, have long been interested in this strike. There are several reasons: 1) It led to the first successful unionization of women workers in the United States; 2) It attracted support from an array of "allies," so-called. These included wealthy advocates of woman's suffrage like Anne Morgan (daughter of banker J. P. Morgan) and Mrs. August Belmont, one of the richest women in the country, as well as women reformers like Florence Kelley. Socialists also rallied to the cause. Needless to say, Anne Morgan and radical socialists never found themselves on the same side of an issue before or after. 3) The strikers were overwhelming immigrants, mostly Jews from eastern Europe and Italians. Yet there allies were often Yankees and Protestants to boot. 4) The story of the strike is extremely dramatic and, at times, wonderfully comic.
You will need to decide on a focus. This can be the story of the strike. How did it start? There is a wonderful myth about this. How did the tiny union local somehow enroll and organize tens of thousands of new members in a matter of days? How did the allies generate support for the strike? How did the employers seek to break the strike? OR you can focus on the ways that allies transformed immigrant working girls simultaneously into heroines and victims.
Ninth-floor work area of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory immediately after the fire. The factory occupied the eight, ninth, and tenth floors of the Asch Building in lower Manhattan. Most of those who died worked on the ninth floor.
The following account is by a United Press Service reporter who chanced to be walking by when the Triangle Fire broke out. He telephoned in this account, which then appeared in hundreds of newspapers on March 26 and March 27, 1911.
Eyewitness at the Triangle
by William G. Shepherd
I was walking through Washington Square when a puff of smoke issuing from the factory building caught my eye. I reached the building before the alarm was turned in. I saw every feature of the tragedy visible from outside the building. I learned a new sound--a more horrible sound than description can picture. It was the thud of a speeding, living body on a stone sidewalk. Thud—dead, thud—dead, thud—dead, thud—dead. Sixty-two thud—deads. I call them that, because the sound and the thought of death came to me each time, at the same instant. There was plenty of chance to watch them as they came down. The height was eighty feet.
The first ten thud—deads shocked me. I looked up—saw that there were scores of girls at the windows. The flames from the floor below were beating in their faces. Somehow I knew that they, too, must come down, and something within me—something that I didn't know was there—steeled me.
I even watched one girl falling. Waving her arms, trying to keep her body upright until the very instant she struck the sidewalk, she was trying to balance herself. Then came the thud--then a silent, unmoving pile of clothing and twisted, broken limbs.
As I reached the scene of the fire, a cloud of smoke hung over the building. . . . I looked up to the seventh floor. There was a living picture in each window—four screaming heads of girls waving their arms.
"Call the firemen," they screamed—scores of them. "Get a ladder," cried others. They were all as alive and whole and sound as were we who stood on the sidewalk. I couldn't help thinking of that. We cried to them not to jump. We heard the siren of a fire engine in the distance. The other sirens sounded from several directions.
"Here they come," we yelled. "Don't jump; stay there."
One girl climbed onto the window sash. Those behind her tried to hold her back. Then she dropped into space. I didn't notice whether those above watched her drop because I had turned away. Then came that first thud. I looked up, another girl was climbing onto the window sill; others were crowding behind her. She dropped. I watched her fall, and again the dreadful sound. Two windows away two girls were climbing onto the sill; they were fighting each other and crowding for air. Behind them I saw many screaming heads. They fell almost together, but I heard two distinct thuds. Then the flames burst out through the windows on the floor below them, and curled up into their faces.
The firemen began to raise a ladder. Others took out a life net and, while they were rushing to the sidewalk with it, two more girls shot down. The firemen held it under them; the bodies broke it; the grotesque simile of a dog jumping through a hoop struck me. Before they could move the net another girl's body flashed through it. The thuds were just as loud, it seemed, as if there had been no net there. It seemed to me that the thuds were so loud that they might have been heard all over the city.
I had counted ten. Then my dulled senses began to work automatically. I noticed things that it had not occurred to me before to notice. Little details that the first shock had blinded me to. I looked up to see whether those above watched those who fell. I noticed that they did; they watched them every inch of the way down and probably heard the roaring thuds that we heard.
As I looked up I saw a love affair in the midst of all the horror. A young man helped a girl to the window sill. Then he held her out, deliberately away from the building and let her drop. He seemed cool and calculating. He held out a second girl the same way and let her drop. Then he held out a third girl who did not resist. I noticed that. They were as unresisting as if her were helping them onto a streetcar instead of into eternity. Undoubtedly he saw that a terrible death awaited them in the flames, and his was only a terrible chivalry.
Then came the love amid the flames. He brought another girl to the window. Those of us who were looking saw her put her arms about him and kiss him. Then he held her out into space and dropped her. But quick as a flash he was on the window sill himself. His coat fluttered upward—the air filled his trouser legs. I could see that he wore tan shoes and hose. His hat remained on his head.
Thud—dead, thud—dead—together they went into eternity. I saw his face before they covered it. You could see in it that he was a real man. He had done his best.
We found out later that, in the room in which he stood, many girls were being burned to death by the flames and were screaming in an inferno of flame and heat. He chose the easiest way and was brave enough to even help the girl he loved to a quicker death, after she had given him a goodbye kiss. He leaped with an energy as if to arrive first in that mysterious land of eternity, but her thud—dead came first.
The firemen raised the longest ladder. It reached only to the sixth floor. I saw the last girl jump at it and miss it. And then the faces disappeared from the window. But now the crowd was enormous, though all this had occurred in less than seven minutes, the start of the fire and the thuds and deaths.
I heard screams around the corner and hurried there. What I had seen before was not so terrible as what had followed. Up in the [ninth] floor girls were burning to death before our very eyes. They were jammed in the windows. No one was lucky enough to be able to jump, it seemed. But, one by one, the jams broke. Down came the bodies in a shower, burning, smoking—flaming bodies, with disheveled hair trailing upward. They had fought each other to die by jumping instead of by fire.
The whole, sound, unharmed girls who had jumped on the other side of the building had tried to fall feet down. But these fire torches, suffering ones, fell inertly, only intent that death should come to them on the sidewalk instead of in the furnace behind them.
On the sidewalk lay heaps of broken bodies. A policeman later went about with tags, which he fastened with wires to the wrists of the dead girls, numbering each with a lead pencil, and I saw him fasten tag no. 54 to the wrist of a girl who wore an engagement ring. A fireman who came downstairs from the building told me that there were at least fifty bodies in the big room on the seventh floor. Another fireman told me that more girls had jumped down an air shaft in the rear of the building. I went back there, into the narrow court, and saw a heap of dead girls. . . .
The floods of water from the firemen's hose that ran into the gutter were actually stained red with blood. I looked upon the heap of dead bodies and I remembered these girls were the shirtwaist makers. I remembered their great strike of last year in which these same girls had demanded more sanitary conditions and more safety precautions in the shops. These dead bodies were the answer.
13. The Triangle Fire happened a year after the strike ended. There is a very rich collection of materials on the fire and its aftermath at the Cornell. Document project. Here too historians, again including your instructor whose book on the strike also looks at the fire and its aftermath, have long been fascinated with the story. Again, there are several reasons. One is the drama of the story. 146 died in a most horrifying way; thousands gathered outside the building to watch; hundreds of workers escaped, sometimes by exhibiting amazing cool-headedness and courage. Moreover, there were easily identified villains — Max Blank and Isaac Harris, the co-owners of the Triangle Shirtwaist Company. They had led the opposition to the strike the year before. And they had, in order to prevent theft, locked one of the two doors on the ninth floor. When firemen finally broke the door down, they found bodies piled up against it. There was also enormous pathos. Many of the bodies were so badly burned that authorities initially feared they would be unidentifiable. But all of six were identified. One young woman identified the man she was engaged to marry because inside his pocket watch she found a portrait of herself. Other stories were equally heart-wrenching.
Drama aside, the fire raised the question of the state's responsibility for the safety of its citizens in a compelling fashion. A state commission investigated and made recommendations. This is the most ordinary of political responses to crisis, of course. But this was no ordinary commission. Its co-chairs were the leaders of Tammany Hall, New York's infamous politicial machine, in the state legislation. Al Smith was Speaker of the Assembly. Robert Wagner was President of the Senate. Reformers expected little. They were more than surprised. They were amazed. Smith and Wagner put a young protege of Florence Kelley, Frances Perkins, in charge of the investigation. And she insisted that the commissioners confront every danger that New York's workers faced. In the end, the commission's recommendations moved swiftly through the legislature and, because numerous other states then adopted them, transformed the relationship of the state and the worker. This is the birth of what historians call "urban liberalism." It would lead Smith, while governor of New York, to become a tireless advocate of the "little guy." It would lead Wagner, while U.S. Senator, to sponsor in 1935 the pro-labor legislation that bears his name and that made possible the unionization of American industry in the late 1930s. It would lead middle-class reformers and experts like Perkins to identify with the Democratic Party. It formed a crucial component of the Roosevelt coalition that dominated American politics between 1932 and 1968.
Here are several approaches:
- News Accounts and Magazine Articles on the Fire; it is almost impossible to overstate the impact of the fire. Uncounted thousands were eyewitnesses. Millions read the newspaper accounts, not just of the fire but of the horrifying scenes at the makeshift morgue. Each day brought new details as additional bodies were identified. Parents and relatives in Russia, Austria, Italy, and elsewhere knew people who worked in the garment trades. Had their child, neice, cousin been among the dead? It would take months for them to find out for certain. Choose two or three particulars about the coverage of the fire and its aftermath which you think would haunt the imaginations of contemporaries and briefly suggest what it is about each you find so compelling.
- Mourning and Protest; grief mixed with anger in the aftermath of the blaze, especially on the Lower East Side. The city charged Triangle owners Harris and Blanck with manslaughter. Choose two or three passages from the primary documents that strike you as most revealing of the way immigrants reacted to the fire and its immediate aftermath.
- New York State Investigating Commission Hearings and Reports; few held out much hope initially that the New York legislative hearings would lead to anything worthwhile. Choose two or three specific excerpts from the testimony which struck you as particularly significant and briefly suggest what it about each you find so interesting.
14. How Did Immigrant Textile Workers Struggle to Achieve an American Standard of Living? The 1912 Strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts (available on campus via Library subscription) — this is the famous "Bread and Roses" strike and is available at Women and Social Movements. Choose several passages from the documents that deepen, complicate, and/or confuse your understanding of labor strife in the Progrssive Era.
15. The Paterson Silk Strike of 1913 represented a fusion of radical politics (it was led by the I.W.W.) and immigrant discontent with some cultural radicalism thrown in (the great pageant performed by the strikers at Madison Square Garden to raise funds and generate favorable publicity). Delight Dodyk, Steve Golin, The Paterson Silk Strike: Primary Materials for Studying about Immigrants, Women, and Labor, produced under a grant to the Garden State Immigration History Consortium from the New Jersey Department of Higher Education. 1987. (From the collections of the Paterson Museum) It is available as a Pdf file — requires Adobe Acrobat to read.
Sept. 22, 25, & 27: Oral reports on topics
Sept. 29: Introduction to document project #1; for Oct. 2 read Trachtenberg, "Mysteries of the Great City" — submit via email one hour before class two questions provoked by your reading
To this point I have suggested not only resources but approaches to the topics they bear upon. I will continue to do this but in less detail. Or, more candidly, we will experiment along these lines. I will provide broad overviews and comments about what historians have found interesting about particular topics. I will ask you to supply the specific questions you want to address rather than providing you with a list to choose among. I think this can work fine. You can always fall back upon something Trachtenberg wrote as a focus for your foray into the primary materials. Or you can adapt some of the approaches detailed above. They represent a kind of practical, if very partial, introduction to historical methodology. Finally, you can ask me to work with you. This last is usually going to be your best option.
Oct. 2: Guided tour to Chapter 4 topics
Chapter 4: Mysteries of the Great City
Asa Briggs christened Manchester the "shock city" of the early nineteenth-century. What he meant was that it was the first industrial city and, as such, the city all who wished to understand the future had to visit. It was Manchester's laborers and their families that Engels described in The Condition of the Working Class in England. It was a thinly disguised Manchester that Dickens portrayed in Hard Times. In the United States the shock cities were first New York and, as the century drew to a close, Chicago.
Throughout the colonial and early national periods American cities were basically provincial towns. But, with the opening of the Erie Canal, New York quickly became a metropolis, the financial and commercial capital of the nation. Americans in general, and New Yorkers in particular, were unprepared for the rapid expansion. Population grew faster than housing stock, leading to the overcrowding of old houses as owners subdivided properties and crammed as many tenants as possible into spaces far too cramped to permit healthful or safe living. Those who could not afford even the tenement rents turned to cellars or squatting on vacant land. Much of what became Central Park, for example, was the location of Irish shanty towns from the 1840s through the 1870s. Municipal services, for most of the antebellum period, were painfully inadequate. In 1857, for example, the state legislature responded to accusations of corruption in the city police by creating an entirely new force. The old police refused to vacate the precinct houses and the two squared off in a riot in which the new police won out. Other services were worse. There was no municipal fire department. Instead, volunteer companies competed, often violently. It was not unusual for one company to battle another while a fire burned itself out after destroying several buildings or even an entire city block. There were no parks. The public schools functioned only because upwards of half the students were truant on any given day. Had all of the eligible students actually showed up, the schools would have had to close due to the overcrowding. There was no sanitation department. Instead pigs, some wild and some owned by otherwise propertyless families, roamed the city devouring whatever they found edible. There were no building codes. Speculators put their land to whatever uses they thought would yield the highest profits.
The result was that New York, like London, Paris, and other nineteenth century metropolises, was a city of violent contrasts. There was great wealth and great squalor. There was the magnificent thoroughfare, Broadway, home to luxurious hotels and great mansions. And, a few minutes walk away, there were horrific slums. In the antebellum years the most notorious slum was the Five Points, symbolized by the notorious Old Brewery. Later "The Bend" claimed this dubious honor. These contrasts became a central theme as Americans pondered the meaning of the city for themselves and their republic. You can use the 1875 image of lower Broadway as a sort of visual anchor. Here was the point of departure for contemporaries who sought to describe New York.
1. Works like The Secrets of the Great City emphasized the sharp contrasts between the fashionable haunts of the rich, including their churches, and the dens of the poor. Their treatment of "vice" often amounted to pious pornography. Click on the image to go to the Making of America page with this title. Professor Lucia Knoles has compiled a list of similar online books and essays. Trachtenberg sees Horatio Alger's dime novel, Ragged Dick as a latter-day version of Pilgrim's Progress. That may be one of his least insightful ideas.
Many other Americans got their sense of the dangers and delights of urban life from more serious novels. Perhaps the most controversial, and certainly one of the very best, was Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie. The link is to the Dreiser Edition project at the University of Pennsylvania, which contains the full text of the first published edition (1900) and the typescript, a longer and grimmer version. There are also helpful essays. If Dreiser's novel was not the most scandalous, then Stephen Crane's Maggie, A Girl of the Streets was. Another classic novel is Edith Wharton, House of Mirth.
2. Trachtenberg properly credits Frederick Law Olmsted, the great landscape architect, as exerting an enormous influence over the way Americans experienced cities. You can gain some sense of his work, including its vast scope, at a site created by Rich Leary. There you can find Olmstead's plans for numerous public parks, including those in Boston (the "emerald necklac") and New York's Central Park, and for the Capitol grounds in D.C.
3. Those fearful that the city represented a grave threat to American virtue could find their fears confirmed in the Josiah Strong's portrait of the perils of "The City" from Our Country (1885) in Pdf. format — requires Adobe Acrobat to read. Strong was a Protestant minister. Unsurprisingly, one of the menaces cities posed was the large number of Roman Catholic immigrants who collected in them. The book became a best-seller. You might want to use it in conjunction with If Christ Came to Chicago (1894) by William T. Snead — classic exposé of crime, corruption, and debauchery that provided the juicy details Strong alluded to but did not include.
4. Even more influential was Jacob Riis, How The Other Half Lives (1890). Riis lectured widely on tenement life in New York City, and his photographs helped invent the field of photojournalism. Documenting "The Other Half" at the University of Virginia examines Riis' photography and also that of Lewis Hine. On the Lower East Side collects a number of contempory descriptions of the nation's largest immigrant community/slum. The Library of Congress page on the Lower East Side has some early photographs and short films of street scenes.
5. Lewis Wickes Hine picked up the torch of documenting social conditions from Riis. There is an excellent collection of his "photographs concerning labor, housing and social conditions in the United States" on line at the New York Public Library. I particularly recommend the following:
#15: Mrs. Rena shelling nuts with a neighbor
#17: Sweatshop, NYC
#18: Newsboys, Sunday morning, Brooklyn Bridge
#26: Bowery Mission Breadline, 1:00 A.M.
#27: Tenement gleaner, NYC
#32: Street scene, East Side, NYC
#36: Rendezvoous by the gang down by the sugar works on the Hudson, Yonkers, NY
#75: Italian family, Chicago tenement
#80: Tenement playground, NYC
#81: Congestion, Orchard St., NYC
#101: Negro Dying of TB, Washington, D.C.
You can use specific details from his photographs and Riis' to assess Hine's comment about the truth of photographs and pictures:
Whether it be a painting or photograph, the picture is a symbol that brings one immediately into close touch with reality. In fact, it is often more effective than the reality would have been, because, in the picture, the non-essential and conflicting interests have been eliminated.
The average person believes implicitly that the photograph cannot falsify. Of course, you and I know that this unbounded faith in the integrity of the photograph is often rudely shaken, for, while photographs may not lie, liars may photograph.
6. The University of Illinois, Chicago has put online an enormous and very rich collection, The Urban Experience in Chicago: Hull House and Its Neighbors, 1889-1963. Start with the historical narrative. Each entry will take you to a cluster of contemporary sources. BE PATIENT, especially at first. Give yourself a chance to explore before settling on a topic. Founded by Jane Addams, whose classic Twenty Years at Hull House is available at the University of Pennsylvania'a Digital Library, Hull House became a "sociological laboratory" in which residents studied immigration, industrial working conditions, urban politics, and a host of other topics. Led by Addams, settlement workers sought to analyze urban life in scientific terms, although a fair amount of Snead's moralizing also characterized their work. Also relevant for our purposes is Addams' The Spirit of Youth and the City Streets (1909), which is available as a BoondocksNet edition.
The $30,000 Nutt,
who is seen in the above illustration just bursting out of his shell, is beyond all doubt
The Smallest Man in Miniature
in the known world, and withal
The most Pleasing and Fascinating.
18 Years Old!
Only 29 inches High!!
Weighs but 24 1/2 Pounds!!!
He is the merest pigmy of humanity; a very small
Fraction of an Ordinary Sized Man.
He was visited by over 50,000 persons the first week of his exhibition, and was universally pronounced the
Most Attractive and Interesting human being ever known.
He will continue to be seen
At all Hours, every Day and Evening,
in the character and costume of a Commodore, and at intervals appear in a variety of
Songs, Dances, &c., in Character,
the whole making an exhibition never equaled in the world. All the other attractions of the Museum are also to be seen at the same time, and the superb
Fairy Dramatic Play, Ondina,
THE NAIAD QUEEN,
is produced every Afternoon at 3 o'clock, and every Evening at 7 1/2.
For full particulars, see Museum Advertisement in Daily Papers.
Admission to all only 25 cts. Children under 10, 15 cts.
7. To view a video from the American Social History Project on Barnum's American Museum, click on the ad from the Feb. 22, 1862 Harper's Weekly. Trachtenberg makes much of Barnum's role in creating both new forms of entertainment and developing modern methods of advertising. By the end of the nineteenth century, a new urban institution, the amusement park, was "amusing the millions" in John Kasson's phrase. Jim Stanton has put together an informative and very useful site on the history of the most important of these, New York's Coney Island.
8. Vaudeville was another urban institution. There is a wonderful student page at the University of Virginia, complete with audio and video. You can hear and see even more at the Library of Congress's online American Variety Stage collection. It includes a special section on the legendary escape artist, Harry Houdini. Vaudeville is dead, but escape artists continue to flourish. There is a good brief history of vaudeville by John Kenrick at Musicals101. Virtual Vaudeville allows you to tour the Union Square Theatre in New York and to watch a recreation of a celebrated routine by Frank Bush.
9. At the Library of Congress's American Memory site is a collection dealing with Thomas Edison's work in sound recording and motion pictures, Inventing Entertainment. Film: "This collection features 341 Edison films. . . . The earliest example is a camera test made in 1891, followed by other tests and a wide variety of actualities and dramas through the year 1918, when Edison's company ceased film production. The presentation also offers a brief history of Edison's work with motion pictures as well as an overview of the different film genres produced by the Edison company." Sound recordings on the site include the spoken word as well as music.
10. Developed in conjunction with the Library of Congress's American Memory initiative is The Emergence of Advertising in America, 1850-1920 at Duke University. Trachtenberg lays great stress upon the importance of ads in endowing "goods with a language of their own" that would link products "with ideas, feelings, status."
Oct. 4: Oral reports on topics
Oct. 6: No Class (instructor in Cleveland) — email me a proposal for the document project due Oct. 13
Oct. 9: Columbus Day holiday
Oct. 11: Oral reports on topics
Oct. 13: 1st document project due; read Trachtenberg, "The Politics of Culture" for Oct. 16 — submit via email one hour before class two questions provoked by your reading
Oct. 16: Guided tour of chapter 5 topics
Chapter 5: The Politics of Culture
1. There is a good introduction to "What Was Chautauqua?" by Charlotte Canning written for the Traveling Culture site at American Memory.
2. The ultimate mugwump manifesto, The Education of Henry Adams, is at the University of Virginia. The election of 1872 saw Horace Greeley attempt to rally his fellow liberal Republicans against U.S. Grant. His defeat marked for many a turning point away from practical political engagement. An entertaining window on this election is afforded by Thomas Nast's vitriolic cartoons of the Greeley campaign at HarpWeek. The same site provides a helpful overview of the 1872 election.
3. The article version of Jonathan Baxter Harrison's "Certain Dangerous Tendencies in American Life," Atlantic Monthly (October 1878), the book version of which Trachtenberg discusses at length, is available at the Making of America site at Cornell.
4. The Jack London Online Collection contains many of his novels and stories as well as correspondence, journalism, and photographs.
5. Upton Sinclair, The Jungle is available at the University of Virginia.
6. Trachtenberg's discussion of Simon N. Patten is the scholarly version of one hand clapping since he omits Thorstin Veblen (See Chapter 3, topic 6 above) and his The Theory of the Leisure Class. The New School's History of Economic Thought site contains links to a number of Veblen's works. Its links to Patten's works, on the other hand, do not bear upon his theory of consumption. Class and Leisure at America's First Resort: Newport, Rhode Island, 1870-1914 at the University of Virginia seeks to apply Veblen's analysis.
7. 1896 at Vassar College — this site explores the presidential election that established the Republican majority that lasted until the New Deal.
8. Worth Robert Miller has created a very useful site on Populism that contains several of his own articles, cartoons from Populist sources, and key documents.
9. 1912 at Ohio State University — this site explores the presidential election that pitted TR's New Nationalism, Wilson's New Freedom, and Taft's moderate progressivism against each other.
10. One way to test Trachtenberg's analysis of Tammany Hall and urban machine politics is to use it to annotate a section of Plunkitt of Tammany Hall, a series of interviews given by Tammany "sachem" George Washington Plunkitt. Plunkitt's wit and candor have never been surpassed. The leading critic of urban corruption and machine politics was Lincoln Steffens whose The Shame of the Cities (1904) detailed what was wrong with government in St. Louis, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, and other cities. The Introduction is at History Matters. One of Plunkitt's "very plain talks" about politics pokes fun at Steffens' book. John McClymer, "Of 'Mornin' Glories' and 'Fine Old Oaks': John Purroy Mitchel, Al Smith, and Reform as an Expression of Irish-American Aspiration," in The New York Irish (1996) takes the story into the 1910s (on reserve in Assumption library).
11. Jim Zwick has compiled a very useful site on The Campaign to End Child Labor. There are photographs, cartoons, songs, and a wealth of contemporary articles and other works.
12. 1913 Armory Show + The Armory Show by Linda Larson — the avant garde comes to New York. Trachtenberg describes the conventional elite culture of art, including the creation of museums, during the late nineteenth century. The Armory Show was a direct challenge to that cultural establishment not only because of the nature of the works on display but also because of the venue.
13. Trachtenberg quotes Walt Whitman: "Democracy can never prove itself beyond cavil until it founds and luxuriantly grows its own forms of art, poems, schools, theology, displacing all that exists, or that has been produced anywhere in the past, under opposite influence." Something very like this, John McClymer argues, took place in the early twentieth century with the triumph of the "demotic impulse" in the arts. This is the online version of a chapter from his The Birth of Modern America (2005).
Oct. 18, 20, & 23: Oral reports on topics; for Oct. 25 read Trachtenberg, "Fictions of the Real" — submit via email one hour before class two questions provoked by your reading
Oct. 25: Guided tour of chapter 6 topics
Chapter 6: Fictions of the Real
We will do less with this chapter than the others. Howells' notion of realism was less interesting than those of some of the writers he reviewed, and less influential.
1. You can find the editorial columns Trachtenberg discusses at the William Dean Howells Society. There you can also find many of Howells' novels, short stories, and non-fiction writing.
2. Anyone wishing to pursue Trachtenberg's reading of Melville's Billy Budd should start with the Billy Budd Resources site at the University of Virginia.
3. Anyone interested in Stephen Crane, Theodore Dreiser, and Edith Wharton, writers whose realism exceeded Howells precisely because they did not see fiction as having a social or salvific mission, should consult the links under Chapter 4. Chapter 5 provides links for Jack London and Upton Sinclair. There is a rich collection of materials on and by Frank Norris, such as The Octopus, at the Howells Society site. For Huckleberry Finn, visit the site at the University of Virginia. It contains the text, "the 174 illustrations from the first edition, and the obscene illustration that appeared in the sales prospectuses. Also included: dozens of early reviews from newspapers and magazines across the country; early ads; the London and American first edition covers; and a 1930 article by E.W. Kemble describing his experiences illustrating Huckleberry Finn." This is part of the Mark Twain in His Times project.
4. There is a good discussion of Thomas Eakins by Roger Kimball at Mark Hayden's Artchive with a selection of his paintings, including "The Gross Clinic." There is also a good discussion of Winslow Homer by Robert Hughes on the same site.
5. There is an online exhibition on the Ashcan School of painting at the Smithsonian, Metropolitan Lives. There is a very fine review of the exhibition by Joshua Brown from the American Quarterly (1997) available through an Assumption Library subscription. Pictured is a work by perhaps the leading member of the Aschcan School, John Sloan.
Oct. 27 & 30: Oral reports on topics; for Nov. 1 read Trachtenberg, "White City" — submit via email one hour before class two questions provoked by your reading
Nov. 1: Guided tour of chapter 7 topics
Chapter 7: White City
1. The World's Columbian Exposition: Idea, Experience, Aftermath at the University of Virginia — online exhibit on the White City and the Chicago World's Fair + World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 at the Illinois Institute of Technology. This latter site contains the official publications of the Fair and thousands of illustrations. There are also two helpful essays including one on the Black Presence in the "White City." There is also a helpful online site at the Chicago Historical Society on the Exposition.
2. How Did African-American Women Define Their Citizenship at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893?, by Kathryn Kish Sklar and Erin Shaughnessy. (State University of New York at Binghamton, Binghamton, NY, 1997) at the Women and Social Movements electronic journal published by Alexander Street Press — contains, amid other relevant documents, the full text of The Reason Why, co-authored by Ida Wells Barnett, an important early text in her lifelong campaign against lynching.
3. On lynching, see Without Sanctuary: Photographs and Postcards of Lynching in America + The Duluth Lynchings (1920). The Duluth site is one of the best archival sites about any event in American history.
4. The "White City" highlighted the possibility of scientifically planned development. George Pullman's model industrial village was an important example. The Richard T. Ely article on Pullman that Trachtenberg discusses is available at Cornell. There is a student project on Pullman, The Model Town, at the University of Virginia. Eugene V. Debs, leader of the American Railroad Union, gives his account of the Pullman strike in "How I Became a Socialist" (1902).
5. The St. Louis World's Fair of 1904 (commemorating the centennial of the Louisiana Purchase) contained a "model city." A site at Cornell on urban planning collects several relevant contemporary assessments. One can test Trachtenberg's arguments about capitalism and Culture by applying them to the St. Louis model city. For more about the St. Louis World's Fair, check out the links collected by Jim Zwick.
6. John McClymer, The Hetch-Hetchy Dam Controversy at Assumption College (using materials at The Evolution of the Conservation Movement site at the American Memory site of the Library of Congress) — this controversy pitted conservationists whose credo was preservation (led by John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club) against conservationists whose credo was scientifically guided use (led by, among others, Gifford Pinchot, TR's chief environmental advisor)
Nov. 3 & 6: Oral reports on topics
Nov. 8: 2nd document project topics due
Several As Yet Unwritten Chapters
For Nov. 10 read McClymer, What Sadie Knew: The Immigrant "Working Girl" and the Rise of Demotic Culture — the online version of a chapter from McClymer, The Birth of Modern America (Brandywine Press, 2005). The illustration is by John Sloan. "What Sadie Knew" looks at the emergence of new urban institutions, the dance hall, the amusement park, the movie theatre, and at the new ways of behaving such as dating that developed along with them — submit via email one hour before class two questions provoked by your reading
Nov. 10: Guided tour of Immigration and Ethnicity topics
Immigration and Ethnicity
1. John McClymer, Chinese Exclusion is at Assumption College. There is an extensive collection of materials on the Chinese experience in America drawn from Harper's Weekly at HarpWeek. The Library of Congress' American Memory has an exhibition on the Chinese in California.
2. Chinese immigration.: The social, moral, and political effect of Chinese immigration. Testimony taken before a committee of the Senate of the state of California, appointed April 3d, 1876 is available at the Making of America at the University of Michigan.
3. John McClymer, "Religion and Ethnicity," in A Companion To American Immigration, edited by Reed Ueda (Blackwell Publishing, 2006) offers an overview.
4. John McClymer, "Carroll D. Wright and Workers' Budgets," in Ballard C. Campbell, ed., The Challenges of Change: American Lives, 1870-1920 (Scholarly Resources, 1999). The relevant selections from Wright's reports dealing with his assertion that the French Canadians were the "Chinese of the Eastern States" are available here.
5. Congressional Debate over the 1921 Immigration Restriction Act
6. Resources on the Leo Frank trial and lynching.
Nov. 13 & 15: Oral reports on topics; for Nov. 17 read John McClymer, "The 'Declension' of Evangelical Protestantism," the online version of a chapter of his The Birth of Modern America, uses the Scopes Trial of 1925 to discuss the crisis evangelicals faced in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. He discusses Fundamentalism in terms of this crisis occasioned by the so-called Higher Criticism of the Bible and the rise of science — submit via email one hour before class two questions provoked by your reading
Nov. 17: Guided tour of religion topics
1. One way to compensate for Trachtenberg's disinterest in religion is to study the most important revivalists of the age. A place to begin is Hitting the Sawdust Trail with Billy Sunday at Billy Graham Center, Wheaton College + online sermons of Billy Sunday + How Billy Sunday battled demon rum in Detroit (1916).
2. Students of ethnicity and immigration have, like their colleagues in social and cultural history, tended to ignore religion. John McClymer, "Religion and Ethnicity," in A Companion To American Immigration, edited by Reed Ueda (Blackwell Publishing, 2006) offers an overview (on reserve in library).
Nov. 20: Second documents project due
Nov. 22-24: Thanksgiving Day holiday
Nov. 27: Guided tour of topics dealing with race
1. Illustration at left from The Clansman: An Historical Romance of the Ku Klux Klan, by Thomas Dixon (New York: Doubleday, Page & Co., 1905). Dixon's novel inspired D.W. Griffith to make "The Birth of a Nation." Jim Crow and segregation triumphed in the 1896 Supreme Court ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson. It culminated two decades of retreat from Civil Rights following the end of Reconstruction. A year earlier Booker T. Washington signaled a willingness to accept segregation in his Atlanta Compromise address. You can hear a 1901 recording of a portion of the speech here. Washington's biggest critic was W.E.B. DuBois, one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). His "Of Mr. Booker T. Washington and Others" from The Souls of Black Folk is at History Matters. On the same site is Washington's account, in his autobiography Up From Slavery, of the reactions to his speech.
2. In addition to lynching (see links under Chapter 7) violence against blacks took the form of race riots. FOR THE RECORD: REPRESENTATIONS OF THE WILMINGTON MASSACRE OF 1898, a site created by SHAUN THOMAS, University of Maryland-College Park Graduate student, Department of English, documents one such.
See also the resource pages on the Shipp Trial, "The Birth of a Nation," and the Chicago Race Riot of 1919.
Nov. 29: Oral reports on topics
Dec. 1: Guided tours of Imperialism topics
1. The Philippine-American War, 1899-1902(?) — In the wake of the Spanish-American War, the United States purchased the Philippines from Spain. Filipino nationalists, who had fought to oust the Spanish and who had cooperated with American troops in defeating the Spanish in the islands, refused to accept colonial status. The resulting war officially ended in 1902 but fighting continued for another decade. Hence the question mark after 1902. The war proved extremely bloody. American casualties were high, Filipino casualties enormous. It also proved very divisive in the U.S. And it accentuated the importance of racial and racist thinking. We sought to take over the Philippines to assist our "little, brown brother" in President McKinley's words. The U.S. was, in the language of Rudyard Kipling, assuming "The White Man's Burden." Perhaps the most famous articulation of the imperialist credo is Theodore Roosevelt's "The Strenuous Life" (1899). Josiah Strong, however fearful of the perils of the city and its immigrant inhabitants, gloried in the prospect of an American empire.
2. John McClymer, "The White Man's Burden" and the "Person Sitting in Darkness" at Assumption College looks at the debate over imperialism occasioned by the American purchase of the Philippines from Spain.
3. Documents Relating to American Foreign Policy, 1898-1914 at Mount Holyoke College is a chronologically arranged treasure trove. It combines links to primary and secondary sources. None are annotated. If you are interested in the Spanish-American War, you might want to begin with David Trask, The Spanish-American War, part of the World of 1898 exhibit at the Library of Congress' American Memory. Trask is a well-known diplomatic historian who served as the historian of the State Department. Another interesting place to begin is CREELMAN IN CUBA: HUMAN RIGHTS JOURNALISM AND THE "YELLOW" SEEDS OF WAR WITH SPAIN by Frederic A. Moritz who explores the role of one "yellow" journalist in stirring up support for war with Spain. James Creelman's autobiography, On the Great Highway: The Wanderings and Adventures of a Special Correspondent, appeared in 1901.
Dec. 4: Oral reports on topics
Dec. 6: Course evaluations; discussion of final projects and topics
Dec. 13: Final projects due