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Two American ideas of freedom collided at Homestead—the employer’s definition of freedom, based on the idea that property rights, unrestrained by union rules or public regulation, sustained the public good. The workers’ conception of freedom, which stressed economic security and independence from what they considered the “tyranny” of employers
Largest citizens’ movement of the 19th century. Attempted to improve rural conditions by the cooperative financing and marketing of crops. Alliance “exchanges” would loan money to farmers and sell their produce. Problem: farmers could not finance this plan on their own, banks refused to loan money. Proposed solution: “subtreasury plan”—the Alliance proposed that the federal government establish warehouses where farmers could store crops until sold. Using crops as collateral, the gov’t would issue loans to farmers at low interest rates, ending the farmers’ dependence on bankers and merchants. The Alliance thus became political.
The People’s Party. Spoke for all of the “producing classes,” but its major base lay in the cotton and wheat growing areas of the South and West. Populists believed in community organization and education, publishing pamphlets on political and economic questions, establishing over 1,000 local newspapers, sending traveling speakers across rural U.S. The result: “people commenced to think who had never thought before, and people talked who had seldom spoken...little by little they commenced to theorize upon their condition.” The Populist Platform: Populists were convinced that only the national government could restrict the power of corporations and restore the liberty of American society. Populists sought to rethink the relationship between freedom and government to address the situation of farm workers and laborers.
Workers in company-owned Pullman, Illinois, where railroad sleeping cars were manufactured, went on strike to protest a pay cut. The American Railway Union, who had about 150,000 members, announced a boycott. President Grover Cleveland’s attorney general, Richard Olney, obtained a federal court injunction ordering the strikers back to work. Violent clashes between federal troops, U.S. marshals, and the strikers in various railroad centers left 34 people dead. Strike ended when union leader Eugene Debs was jailed for violating the injunction. In the Supreme Court case that followed, the Supreme Court approved the use of injunctions against striking labor unions.
Wilmington Race Riot
November 10, 1898 – A violent race riot broke out on this day in Wilmington, North Carolina. Angry whites attacked the city’s black leaders after being stirred into a frenzy by sensationalized news stories about “negro domination.” At the time, Wilmington was the biggest city in the state and its population was predominantly black. The local paper had published an editorial that was critical of the inflammatory stories that were circulating across the state, but by writing about taboo topics like interracial sex – the editorial only stoked the flames of white rage. On the day that all hell broke loose, a mob of white supremacists and former confederate soldiers grew to about 500 men. Armed with a Gatling gun they moved through the city, attacking and killing blacks. Nobody is sure how many people died, but estimates run anywhere from 14 to 100. All of the city’s leaders (black and white) ran for the lives. The state and federal government did nothing in response to the coup. In fact, North Carolina would soon pass a “grandfather clause” that limited the voting rights of blacks. It would take over 70 years for blacks to regain their political power in the state. The Wilmington coup d’état still stands as the only instance in US history where a fairly elected municipal government was overthrown by force.
Plessy vs. Ferguson
In 1883, the Supreme Court invalidated the Civil Rights Act of 1875, which had outlawed racial discrimination in hotels theaters railroads and other public facilities. The Fourteenth Amendment did not apply to private businesses. In 1896, in Plessy vs. Ferguson, the Supreme Court gave its approval to state laws requiring separate facilities for whites and blacks. The case arose in Louisiana, where the legislature had required railroad companies to maintain separate cars or a section for black passengers. A Citizens Committee of black residents of New Orleans challenged the law. To create a test case, Committee member Homer Plessy refused to move when a conductor ordered him to a separate section of the car. He was arrested. When the case was brought before the Supreme Court, their lawyer insisted that racial segregation violated the 14th Amendment’s right to equal protection. The court upheld the Louisiana law, however, arguing that segregated facilities did not discriminate so long as they were “separate but equal.”
Murder by a mob. Defined as: an extrajudicial execution carried out by a mob, usually by hanging, but also by burning at the stake, or shooting, in order to punish an alleged transgressor, or to intimidate, control, or otherwise manipulate a population of people.
Spanish American War
- The “Splendid Little War”. Cuba was struggling for independence from Spain. An American battleship, the Maine, was destroyed in Havana Harbor (probably an accident) and 270 people died. The U.S. called for a cease-fire on Cuba from Spain and eventual independence for Cuba, but Spain rejected this idea. In April, President McKinley asked Congress to declare war. The aim for U.S. involvement was strictly humanitarian—the U.S. had no plans to take over Cuba. The conflict only lasted 4 months and resulted in fewer than 400 deaths.
- The Philippines
- The most decisive battle of the war took place in Manila Bay, a strategic harbor in the Philippines in the Pacific. The American navy defeated the Spanish fleet.
- Roosevelt @ San Juan Hill
- The most highly publicized land battle of the war took place in Cuba—this was the charge up San Juan Hill by Theodore Roosevelt’s Rough Riders. His heroic exploits made him a national hero—he was elected governor of New York in the fall of 1898 and became McKinley’s V.P. in 1900.
- Outcome of War: Spain surrenders, and Cuba become independent from Spain. However, it doesn’t become its own sovereign nation. It’s still under the protection of the United States’ flag. Although Spain is out of the picture, the U.S. doesn’t leave. Have Cubans really won their independence?
- Goals: address working conditions, poor housing, child labor, poverty, access to birth control. Some have progressive ideas about race, racism. Examples of Progressives: Upton Sinclair; Lewis Hine; Eugene V. Debs; Jacob Riis, Jane Addams.
- Why are so many Progressive Reformers women? Idea: women are caretakers, nurturers. So: it’s ok for women to organize, be publicly active around these concerns. Success: courts grant custody of children to mothers in divorce or abuse cases. Success: Creation of Children’s Bureau (1912); division of the Department of Labor.
In the nineteenth century, the right to “control one’s body” generally meant the right to refuse sexual advances, including those of a woman’s husband. Now, it suggested the ability to enjoy an active sex life without having to bear children. Margaret Sanger challenged laws banning contraceptive information and devices. She began a column on sex education for a New York socialist newspaper. She argued, “No woman can call herself free, who does not own and control her own body [and] can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother.” She was sentenced to a month in prison for distributing contraceptive devices to poor immigrant women at her clinic in Brooklyn in 1916.
Jane Addams / Hull House
College graduate, never married, and resented the expectation that a woman’s life should be governed by what she called the “family claim”—the obligation to devote herself to parents, husband, and children. In 1889, founded Hull House in Chicago, a “settlement house” devoted to improving the lives of the immigrant poor. Settlement house workers moved into poor neighborhoods, building kindergartens and playgrounds for children, establishing employment bureaus and health clinics, and showed female victims of domestic abuse how to gain legal protection. Hull House instigated an array of reforms in Chicago that were soon adopted elsewhere—including stronger building and sanitation codes, shorter working hours, and safer labor conditions, and the right of labor to organize.
Muller v. Oregon
Landmark Supreme Court case: limits number of hours that women and children can work. Court views women as weaker, less strength than men. Role as mothers must be protected by the state. Disadvantages to law?
Triangle Shirtwaist Fire
Single women; earning less than $7/week, some as little as $3/week. 60-70hr/week. Doors to stairwell locked—to discourage theft and limit bathroom breaks for workers. Fire sweeps through top 3 floors.
Theodore Roosevelt & Conservation
- VP under McKinley; president in 1902 (after McKinley’s assassination). Reelected 1904 (Republican). Pro-business, but also in favor of Progressive reforms. Roosevelt: Role of Government? Protect the citizens. Advocates government regulation of big business; corporate transparency. Targets Standard Oil, tobacco, beef companies. Revitalizes Sherman Antitrust Act. 1906: passage of Pure Food and Drug Act, Meat Inspection Act. Roosevelt: Conservation is Key. Gov’t should help preserve natural resources. Uses Forest Reserves Act to increase fed. lands from 40 mill acres to 200 million. Designates Grand Canyon as national monument.
Woodrow Wilson’s “New Freedom”
Reformer, runs on “New Freedom” campaign. “New Freedom” Goals: antitrust laws; strong (but smaller) government. Progressive reforms for workers, farmers, consumers.”New Freedom” in Action: Wilson as Progressive Era President. Establishes Federal Trade Commission (FTC). 1916: passage of child-labor laws; 8hr day for railroad workers; national workers’ compensation. Transition: Europe erupts into WWI, events necessitate American response
When the war broke out in 1914, President Wilson proclaimed American neutrality. Britain’s naval blockade of German ships began to affect American merchant vessels, which had previously enjoyed a good relationship with British ports, as depicted in this poster of the British liner RMS Lusitania. Germany launched submarine warfare against ships entering and leaving British ports. In May 1915, a German sub sank the Lusitania (which was carrying a large supply of armaments) off the coast of Ireland, causing the death of some 1,198 passengers, of them, 124 Americans. Repercussions of Lusitania: The sinking of the Lusitania outraged the American public and strengthened the beliefs of those who thought the U.S. should prepare for entering the war. Wilson had strong pro-British ties—the U.S. was a leading trading partner with Britain and Britain received over 2 billion dollars in wartime loans from American Banks. Among other politicians in Washington at the time, many favored stronger military—Wilson began the process of building up the American army and navy.
Wilson’s Fourteen Points
- Spring 1918—American forces arrive in Europe. Wilson issues the Fourteen Points—the clearest statement of American war aims and of his vision of a new international order. Guiding principles:
- •Self-determination for all nations
- •Freedom of the seas
- •Free trade
- •Open diplomacy (no more secret treaties)
- •Readjustment of colonial claims with colonized people given “equal weight” in deciding their futures
- Creation of a “general association of nations” to preserve the peace.This led to the League of Nations, an extension of the regulatory commissions Progressives had created in the United States to maintain social harmony and equality. The Fourteen Points are kind of a guiding document for the United States—this plan is not endorsed by any other Allies.
Women’s Suffrage (1910-1920)
The National Women’s Party used militant tactics to press for the right to vote. Led by Alice Paul, this party used tactics similar to those used in the British woman’s suffrage movement of the decade before—this included arrests, imprisonments, and vocal protests against the male dominated political system. “How could the country fight for democracy abroad, while denying it to women at home?” Paul chained herself to the White House fence—spent 7 months in prison--and began a hunger strike—eventually being force-fed.
- There was widespread public outrage over the mistreatment of Paul and her fellow prisoners. That, combined with women’s patriotic service during the war, pushed Wilson’s administration to consider women’s suffrage as a necessary war measure. By 1920, with the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, which barred states from using sex as a qualification for suffrage, the United States became the 27th country to allow women to vote.
- “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” Ratified August 18, 1920
- Reasons for banning intoxicating liquor:
- •Employers hoped it would created a more disciplined labor force
- •Urban reformers believed it would promoted a more orderly city environment and undermine unwanted political organizers
- •Women reformers hoped it would protect wives and children from husbands who engaged in domestic violence when drunk or wasted their paychecks at saloons.
- Prohibition’s Successses in Wartime: State-by-state campaigns, Focused on immigrant populations and areas where Protestant denominations were especially vocal, Beer became unpatriotic. The Food Administration, created during the war, insisted that grain must be used
- to produce food, not distilled into beer & liquor. December 1917—Congress passed the 18th Amendment, officially prohibiting the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquor. It was ratified by the states in 1919 and went into effect in 1920.
- the creation of a more homogenous national culture was encouraged. Public workers of all kinds—employers, labor leaders, educators, religious and public officials—all took up the task of trying to Americanize new immigrants. Example: Ford Motor Company—
- Ford’s sociological department entered the homes of immigrant workers to evaluate their clothing, furniture, and food preferences. They enrolled them in English-language courses. Ford fired those who failed to adapt to American standards after a reasonable period of time.
W.E.B. Du Bois-
- educated at Fisk & Harvard. Unifying theme of his career was what he called “American freedom for whites and the continuing subjection of Negroes.”Wrote The Souls of Black Folk (1903), calling for blacks to press for equal rights. Believed that educated African-Americans like himself—the “talented tenth” of the black community must use their education and training to challenge equality. In 1909, joined with a group of mostly white reformers to create the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People—the NAACP, which launched a long struggle for enforcement of the 14th and 15th amendments.“We claim for ourselves every single right that belongs to a free born American, political, civil, and social, and until we get these rights we will never cease to protest and assail the ears of America.”
Equal Rights Amendment-
- Promoted by Alice Paul and the National Women’s Party. Would eliminate ALL legal distinctions “on account of sex.” Women needed equal access to employment, education, and all the other opportunities as citizens—according to ERA supporter Alice Paul and the NWP (the only major female organization to support it). The ERA campaign failed, and several other maternalist reforms were repealed:
- •Only 6 states ratified a proposed amendment that would end child labor—farm and business organizations opposed it
- •In 1929, Congress repealed the Sheppard-Towner Act (1921), which had provided federal assistance programs for infant & child health.
American Civil Liberties Union-
The arrest of antiwar dissenters under the Espionage and Sedition Acts inspired the formation, in 1917, of the Civil Liberties Bureau, which became, in 1920, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). For the rest of the century, the ACLU would take part in most of the landmark cases that helped to bring about a “rights revolution.” Its efforts helped give meaning to traditional civil liberties like freedom of speech, and also supported new ones, like the right to privacy. It was begun by a coalition of pacifists, progressives shocked by the repression of the wartime era, and lawyers outraged at what they considered to be violations of American’s legal rights.
Fundamentalists Revolt. Fundamentalists launched a campaign to rid Protestant denominations of modernism and to combat the new individual freedoms that seemed to contradict traditional morality. Their most flamboyant representative was Billy Sunday, a talented professional baseball player-turned revivalist preacher. Between 1900 and 1930, Sunday drew huge crowds with a highly theatrical preaching style and a message denouncing sins ranging from Darwinism to alcohol. The movement was not popular in the press, which depicted the movements leaders as backwoods bigots. It was an important strain of 1920s culture and politics, however.
- In 1925, John Scopes, a teacher in a Tennessee public school, was arrested for violating a state law that prohibited teaching of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. The Scopes trial represented the conflict between Fundamentalist Christians and those who supported Scopes. Fundamentalists clung to the traditional idea of “moral” liberty—voluntary adherence to time-honored religious beliefs. The theory that man had evolved over millions of years from ancestors like apes contradicted the biblical account of creation. Scope’s defenders included the American Civil Liberties Union, which had persuaded Scopes to violate the state law forbidding teaching of evolution in order to test its Constitutionality. For these people, freedom meant above all the right to independent thought and individual self-expression. The jury found Scopes guilty, although the Tennessee Supreme Court later overturned the decision on a technicality.
New York’s Harlem –the “capital” of black America. Harlem’s African American cultural community was vibrant, and included Countee Cullen, Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, and other free-thinking African American writers, entertainers, and thinkers. Renaissance was a way to celebrate their heritage and to become “The New Negro,” a term coined in 1925 by sociologist and critic Alain LeRoy Locke in his influential book of the same name.Most Harlem businesses were owned by whites—even the famed Cotton Club excluded African American customers, though light-skinned dancers worked there and African American musicians are what made it so popular.
- Hundreds of thousands of people took to the road in search of work. Hungry men and women line the streets of major cities. In Detroit, 4,000 children stood in bread lines seeking food. Thousands of families were evicted from their homes, moved into ramshackle shanty towns, dubbed Hoovervilles, that sprang up in parks and on abandoned land. One of the largest Hoovervilles was in the center of New York’s Central Park. They were also centered at local city dumps, under bridges, and near railroad tracks, and highways. The people that lived in them were said to be like “human pack rats,” because they were forced to carry everything they owned with them. The houses were made out of bits of lumber, tin, cardboard, tar paper, glass, composition roofing, and other materials.While the Depression leveled the playing field on a grand scale—nearly everyone was destitute—some, those already impoverished, many of them farmers, immigrants, and certainly, people of color, were hit hardest of all. Signs like these became common place on the outskirts of towns or near railroad stations, places where jobless men would be sure to see them prior to entering town. Bread lines and soup kitchens offered food to those who otherwise had no means to feed themselves. They were commonplace during the Great Depression.
- Underlying Causes of the Great Depression: Americans buy goods on credit; receive bank loans for home ownership. Workers: It’s your duty to buy stocks! Stock market=spectator sport. Workers encouraged to acquire property through stock-purchase plans or home ownership plans. Value of stocks on paper more than their real value. Wages and salaries for workers stagnate. Industries overproduce their goods. What does this do? Creates less market demand.
Hoover’s Response to the Depression-
“The Government should not support the people...Federal aid...weakens the sturdiness of our national character.” President Hoover’s response seemed inadequate and uncaring for many Americans. His leading advisors told him that economic downturns were a normal part of capitalism, which weeded out unproductive firms and encouraged moral virtue among the less fortunate. Businessmen were strongly opposed to federal aid to the unemployed. Publications of the day called for individual “belt-tightening” as a way for the economy to recover. Initially, Hoover refused direct federal intervention. He had faith business leaders would maintain their investments and continue employment—something few found it possible to do—and local charity organizations could help needy neighbors. By 1932…Hoover had to admit that voluntary action on the part of business had not ended the Depression. Inaction had worsened it. He signed laws creating the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, which loaned money to failing banks, railroads, and other businesses, and the Federal Home Loan Bank System, which offered aid to home owners threatened with foreclosure. He appropriated nearly $2 billion for road an bridge construction and other public works projects and instituted a plan to fund local relief efforts. That’s as far as he went—he would not offer direct relief to the unemployed, as it would do them a “disservice.”
Civilian Conservation Corps-
- March 1933, just a few weeks into the 100 days, Congress established the Civilian Conservation Corps, which set unemployed young men to work on projects like forest preservation, flood control, and the improvement of national parks and wildlife preserves. By the time it ended in 1942 (as most of these young men were headed
- for war), some three million men had been CCC enrollees. Benefits of Being a CCC Enrllee:“Three hots and a flop”—three square meals a day and a place to sleep at night. At least 6 months of steady employment per term, and enrollees could work indefinite terms. $30 a month in pay, $25 of which was to be sent home to the enrollee’s family. To be eligible for the CCC, an enrollee had to come from a family on government relief. Job training—especially for construction, forestry, but also clerical work, electronics, and other technical positions. Most of the nation’s state and national parks were CCC built. Many of the buildings on this very campus were built by the CCC, as was most of the landscaping, overlooks, picnic areas, and campgrounds of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The New Deal (esp. the Hundred Days)-
- -In his speech accepting the Democratic nomination for president in 1932, Roosevelt promised a “new deal” for the American people. He spoke of government’s responsibility to guarantee “every man...a right to make a comfortable living,” but he also advocated a balanced federal budget and criticized Hoover, who was running again, for excessive government spending. He also called for the repeal of Prohibition, probably the biggest difference between parties in the 1932 campaigns for president.Roosevelt did not enter office with a blueprint for dealing with the Depression. He relied on advice from a group of intellectuals and social workers who were in key positions in his administration. These included Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins , Harry Hopkins, who had headed emergency relief efforts during Roosevelt’s term as governor of New York, Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, who had been part of Theodore Roosevelt’s 1912 Progressive campaign. FDR drew heavily on the reform traditions of the Progressive era.Another group of advisers, the “brain trust,” were a group of academics that included professors from Columbia University—who saw big business as inevitable in a modern economy. Eliminating big business, as some Progressive era reformers wanted to do, did not make sense, but direct management of large firms by the government, rather than dismantling them, did. This became the prevailing view of the First New Deal.
- Roosevelt was faced with a banking system on the verge of collapse. During World War I and the 1920's, American banks made numerous risky loans. When real estate and stock market crashed, these loans went bad. As a result, banks lacked sufficient funds to cover their customers' deposits. In fear of losing their savings in the bank, depositors pulled money out. "Bank runs", crowds of angry customers lined up to demand their money, were common. By March 1933, banking had been suspended in most states—people could not gain access to money in their bank accounts. About 5,000 banks (one-third of the nation’s total) had failed between 1929 and 1933.
Emergency Banking Act-
- Roosevelt declared a “bank holiday,” temporarily halting all bank operations and calling Congress into a special session. On March 9, Congress passed the Emergency Banking Act, which provided funds to protect threatened institutions. The next few steps transformed the American financial system.
- •The Glass-Steagall Act barred commercial banks from becoming involved in buying and selling stocks. It prohibited many irresponsible business practices that had contributed to the stock market crash.
- •The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) was created under the Glass-Steagal Act. The FDIC is a government system that insured the accounts of individual depositors.
- •Roosevelt also eliminated the “gold standard”—the tie between currency and gold reserves. This allowed the issuance of more money to stimulate business activity.
The Hundred Days-
- The Emergency Banking Act was the first of a flurry of legislation passed during the first three months of the Roosevelt administration, a period known as the Hundred Days. Seizing on the sense of crisis and the momentum of his presidential victory, Roosevelt won rapid passage of laws he hoped would help to restore the nation’s economy.
- He persuaded Congress to create many new agencies, whose initials soon became a part of the language of American politics—and earned the (somewhat derogatory) nickname “alphabet soup.” Never in American history had a president exercised such power or so rapidly expanded the role of the federal government in people’s lives. Ever since, presidents have been judged against FDR for what they accomplished in their first 100 days. Government Jobs: FDR much preferred to create temporary jobs, which would help to combat unemployment and improve the nation’s infrastructure of roads, business, public buildings, and parks. To prove that he wasn’t all about direct payouts to the public, one of the first acts of the 100 days was to pass the Economy Act—reduced federal spending in an attempt to win the confidence of the business community.
- •Government spending was unavoidable, however, with 25% of the workforce out of work. In May 1933, Congress created the Federal Emergency Relief Administration—made grants to local agencies that aided those impoverished by the Depression.
National Recovery Administration Act-
Part of National Industrial Recovery Act. Established to work with groups of business leaders to establish industry codes that set standards for output, prices, and working conditions. The NRA was headed by Hugh Johnson, who launched a publicity campaign to promote the NRA and its Blue Eagle symbol. Stores and factories that abided by the codes of the NRA displayed this symbol. Further legislation under the National Industrial Recovery Act—Roosevelt’s primary plan for combating the Depression--set a 40 hour week for clerical workers, a 36 hour week for industrial workers, a minimum wage of 40 cents an hour, abolished child labor and a guaranteed the right that trade unions could organize and exercise the right of collective bargaining.