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Slavery prohibited by federal law 
Slavery maintained by state law 

v\t<| Slavery contingent on 

' f Supreme Court decision 

Adapted from American .JVafton, Volume 18 t "Partiea and Slavery," by T, C. Smith, Harper & Brothers, publishers 

OF THE UNITED STATES- 1 85 2-1933 






All rights reserved no part of this book may be reproduced 
in any form without permission in writing from the pub- 
lisher, except by a reviewer who wishes to quote brief 
passages in connection with a review written for inclusion 
in magazine or newspaper. 

Printed in the United States of America 

Set up and electrotyped. Published December, 

I933J reprinted May, 1934; February, 1935; 

June, 1935; April, 1936; April, 1937. 

First edition copyrighted, 1925, 

By The Macmillan Company. 

First edition published June, 1925. 


THAT five "real daughters' 7 of the American Revolution still 
live suggests the brief moment in the world's history occupied by 
the whole course of American development since independence. The 
present volume deals with a still shorter time, that since 1852, a period 
of whose events the "real daughters" doubtless have a lively recollec- 
tion. Few as these years are, however, they were so crammed with 
adventure, aspiration and national achievement as to give them the 
character of an epoch. The United States was transformed from 
a rural and agricultural society to an urban and industrial one, from a 
loose federation of states to a consolidated republic, from a continent- 
wide country to one with far-flung insular possessions, from a people 
deriving their cultural life largely from Europe to one who have con- 
tributed their full share to world civilization, from the principal nation 
in the Western Hemisphere to one of the Great Powers of the globe. 
The United States has never been so greatly isolated from the inter- 
national flow of ideas and practices as statesmen have usually as- 
serted. During these years the fine line between what is strictly 
American history and what is world history has grown so thin that 
in our own day it is scarcely perceptible. 

It may well be beyond the, power of the human mind to comprehend 
the intricate drama played on so vast and ever shifting a stage. Yet 
we should be like the ants, who also live in a complex social order they 
do not understand, did we not continually make the effort to arrive 
at some sort of a picture portraying as a whole the events and condi- 
tions out of which has emerged our own cross section of life. "His- 
tory," says Santayana, "is merely memory aided and directed." If 
political developments usually occupy the foreground of the present 
narrative, it is not for their own sake but as a means of revealing and 
illustrating deeper social forces at work. As in the volume out of 
which this one has grown, the major emphasis is put on the evolution 
of nationality, the influence of industrial growth and technological 
change, the trend toward imperialism and larger participation in 
world affairs, the struggle for broader democracy, and the unceasing 
quest for social amelioration and humanitarian reform. These themes 
are considered not merely as they affected governmental decisions 
but also as they touched the material and intellectual life of the 
people. Kindred interests, of course, formed the central concerns of 



The Reign of the Radicals no 

Grant and the Radicals . . . . . . .114 

The Southern Struggle for White Dominion . . . .117 

The Economic Reconstruction of the South . . . .121 

The Postwar Settlement with Great Britain . . . .123 


The Old Order Changeth 129 

The Development of the Great West ..... 133 
The Onward Push of Industrialism . . . . .144 

The Advent of Great Cities . . . . . . .149 

Public Morals and National Politics, 1869-1872 . . .154 
Economic Collapse and Political Shame . . . . .159 
The Granger Movement and the Money Question . . .161 
The Disputed Election of 1876 165 

Republicans and Reform, 1877-1881 . . . . .170 

Sealing the Doom of the Spoils System 174 

The Emergence of Grover Cleveland . . . . .177 
The Surplus Revenue and the Tariff Question . . . .181 
The Triumph of Protectionism 187 

CHAPTER X. EMBATTLED INDUSTRY, 1865-1900 . . . .192 

The Trend toward Big Business 192 

Railroad Consolidation . . . . . . ,194 

Concentration in Manufacturing . . . . . .198 

The Rise of Organized Labor 202 

Industrial Conflict and Adjustment 206 


Panaceas 213 

Coping with Urban Social Problems 217 

The Fight against the Liquor Traffic 220 

The Advance of Women 222 

The Changing Church 225 

White, Black and Red 229 


The Diffusion of Knowledge 237 

The Progress of Knowledge 243 



Letters and the Arts 245 

Recreation and Sport . 251 


The Revival of Rural Unrest 256 

Populism and the Panic of 1893 .261 

The Battle of 1896 and Its Aftermath 265 


The Drift toward Centralization 274 

The New Attitude toward Immigration . . . . .278 
The Crumbling of National Isolation . . . . .283 
Toward Leadership in the Americas . . . . .287 


The United States and the Cuban Question . . . .295 

The War with Spain and Its Fruits 300 

Combating the Powers in China 305 

"Imperialism" and the Election of 1900 ..... 308 
Linking the Atlantic and the Pacific 309 


1908 3 J 5 

The Advent of the Muckrakers 315 

The Ground Swell of Reform . . . . . . .318 

Roosevelt and Reform 323 

The Contest Renewed 327 


Taft Inherits the Presidency 333 

The Presidential Election of 1912 338 

The Triple Assault on Privilege 342 

Other Reform Measures of the Democrats . . . .348 


The March of Labor 35* 

Immigration Policy 353 

The Advance of Social Reform 355 

Intellectual Life 358 

The Changing Standard of Living .364 



Adapting the Constitution to an Imperial System . . .370 

The Imperial System in Operation 372 

America in the Philippines 375 

The Caribbean Sphere of Influence 380 

The United States and Mexico 386 

The New Peace Movement 389 


Thunder across the Sea 395 

The Uses and Abuses of Neutrality . . . . . 396 

From Spectator to Participant 401 

A Nation in Arms ........ 408 


Armed Operations Overseas 415 

The War and the American Public . . . . . .421 

Wilson and the Peace Settlement . . . . . .427 



Postwar Readjustments, Social and Economic , . -430 

The Return of the Republicans . . . . . .445 

The Republican Quest for World Stability . . <r,4. 

Republican Economics ........ 464 

Labor, Immigration and the Farm Problem . . . . 469 

Prohibition in Practice ........ 476 

The Great Depression Begins . . . . . .477 

The Republican Overturn of 1932 . . . . . . 483 

The Democrats Attack the Depression 486 






The United States, 1853 . . . . . . Frontispiece 

Kansas and Nebraska, 1854 ........ 20 

The Electoral Vote in 1860 ........ 45 

The Progress of Secession .....".. 58 

Major Operations of the Civil War on All Fronts (table) . . 68, 69 
The Theater of Warfare, 1861-1865 .... following 70 

The Progress of Emancipation, 1863-1865 . . . . 92 

The Process of Reconstruction, 1866-1877 I]C 3 

A Statistical View of Certain Aspects of the Economic Revolution 

(table) ........... 132 

The Great West in 1876 137 

The Revolution in Rail Transportation, 1860-1890 .... 148 
Map of the United States in 1890 according to Population jacing 150 
European Sources of American Immigration in the Late Nineteenth 

and Early Twentieth Centuries . . . . . . -279 

American Interests in the Pacific ..... following 286 

South America, 1914 . . . . . . . facing 290 

The Theater of Warfare in the West Indies, 1898 . . . . 301 

Foreign Concessions in China . . . . . . .306 

Conservation and Reclamation to 1917 . . . . . 331 

Mexico, the Caribbean and the Canal .... following 380 

The A. E. F. in France, 1918 . . . . . .418 

Europe and Asia Minor before and after the World War . . 433 

Dry Territory on the Eve of National Prohibition .... 443 

Immigration Restriction under the Quota Laws (table) . . . 472 
Muscle Shoals and the Tennessee River Valley . . . 49 1 




OF 1850 


THE Compromise of 1850 was consummated amidst piping 
times of peace and plenty. The generation which had been 
vexed with endless strife over gag resolutions, the return of 
fugitive slaves, Texas annexation and the disruption of Mexico 
had witnessed at the same time what President Pierce in 
his inaugural address called an "unparalleled progression " in 
population and national wealth. Thanks to Polk's masterful 
handling of foreign affairs, the national territory now stretched 
continent-wide over forest, plain and mountain, while within 
these far-flung limits dwelt a hardy, industrious people, number- 
ing in 1850 twenty-three million. The Union comprised thirty- 
one states, including the newly admitted California. Save for 
some three million Negroes held in bondage and a few hundred 
thousand Indians in the trans-Mississippi borderlands, the land 
of promise had never before seemed so demonstrably the land 
of performance. In the East every branch of industry boomed, 
in the Midwest and the South agriculture returned unusual 
profits, while the railways knitted the settled parts of the coun- 
try in ever tighter bonds and the mines of California poured a 
golden stream into all the channels of trade. Prosperity acted 
like an opiate upon the people. Without its soothing effects 
the politicians would have found the public less ready to accept 
the Compromise measures. Its continuance seemed to offer the 
best assurance that this new era of good feelings would last. 
Yet the material development itself held latent dangers for 
the maintenance of sectional harmony, for in its nature and 
variety it served to sharpen the differences that underlay the 
economic systems of North and South, New England and the 
Middle Atlantic states were the principal centers of manufac- 
turing, commerce and finance. Compared with later times the 



output of mill and mine is not impressive, but to the compilers 
of the census of 1860 the advance during the decade was one of 
" startling magnitude. 3 ' The amount of capital invested in manu- 
facturing (including fisheries and mines) doubled; totaling more 
than a billion dollars on the eve of the Civil War. First in order 
of importance was the making of flour and meal, then boots and 
shoes, cotton textiles, and lumber products, with clothing, ma- 
chinery, leather and woolen goods forging rapidly to the fore. 
In 1849, for the first time, the patents granted for new inven- 
tions passed the thousand mark, to reach nearly six times that 
number in 1860. 

Of the new mechanisms employed in industry the census 
officials in 1860 characterized the sewing machine as "altogether 
a revolutionary instrument. 37 Elias Howe of Massachusetts, 
after ceaseless tinkering, had invented it in 1846, and in the 
next decade A. B. Wilson, Isaac M. Singer and other ingenious 
persons made improvements which greatly widened its useful- 
ness. Not only did the contrivance simplify one of the age-old 
tasks of the housewife, but, as it was introduced into the fac- 
tory and harnessed to steam or water power, it also helped usher 
in the era of cheap ready-made clothing for general sale. Men's 
shirts, which had taken fourteen hours and twenty minutes to 
make by hand, could now be finished in an hour and sixteen 
minutes at greatly reduced cost. Between 1850 and 1860 the 
annual output of clothing factories rose from $48,000,000 to 

At the same time shipping reached the high noon of its pros- 
perity. Vessels flying the American flag plied the seven seas, 
distributing the wares of all nations and excelling the British 
at their own game. Again American inventive genius was a 
factor, for the Rainbow, a clipper ship designed in 1845 by John 
W. Griffiths of New York, had pointed the way to a superior 
kind of craft, long of beam with slender concave bows and a 
great cloud of sail, and characterized by grace, beauty and speed. 
Soon the shipyards at Boston, New York and other Northern 
ports were busily constructing the new type of sailing vessel, 
and the clippers found a rush of employment in the continued 
migration to California, the British East India commerce, thrown 
open to the world in 1849, and the China trade. Meanwhile, 


beginning in 1845, Congress sought to promote ocean steam navi- 
gation by liberal subsidies. New steamship lines were estab- 
lished, including one connecting the Atlantic ports with the 
Isthmus of Panama and another joining the isthmus with Cal- 
ifornia and Oregon. 1 For a time the American Collins line vigor- 
ously competed with the British Cunard line in the transatlantic 
trade. But a series of disasters culminating in the Panic of 1857 
forced Collins into bankruptcy. 

The triumphs of the merchant marine had reverberations in 
diplomatic relations. In 1844 the United States had concluded 
its first treaty with China, opening certain Chinese ports to 
trade and obtaining for American merchants extraterritorial 
privileges, that is, the right of accused persons to be tried by 
American tribunals according to American law. The motives 
guiding later phases of American policy are suggested in the 
instructions borne by Commodore M. C. Perry on his historic 
mission to Japan: "Recent events the navigation of the ocean 
by steam, the acquisition and rapid settlement by this country 
of a vast territory on the Pacific, the discovery of gold in that 
region, the rapid communication established across the isthmus 
which separates the two oceans have practically brought the 
countries of the East in closer proximity to our own." 

In 1850 the United States made the Clay ton-Bui wer treaty 
with Great Britain, designed to secure international control of 
any future interoceanic canal in Central America and at the 
same time to check the encroachments of the British authorities 
on near-by territory from their base at Belize (British Honduras). 
The next year the United States, suspicious of French intentions, 
affirmed its opposition to the seizure of Hawaii by any European 
power. So vital did the Hawaiian group seem to the growth of 
American commerce in the Pacific that a few years later the 
government proposed to annex the islands, a plan wrecked, how- 
ever, in 1854 by the death of the well-disposed insular monarch. 
The same year Commodore Perry, with a show of force, coerced 
Japan into departing from its ancient seclusion by opening two 
ports to American trade an event which rang the knell of 
feudalism and marked the beginning of modern times for the 

1 Besides, a railway for transporting passengers and goods across the isthmus, 
undertaken with American capital, was completed in 1855. 


island kingdom. " Manifest Destiny" was not merely a doctrine 
of New World territorial expansion. Regardless of party, " Young 
America' 3 also visioned possibilities of trade and even territorial 
advantage in the great ocean stretching toward Asia. But for 
the renewal of the slavery controversy and the exhausting war 
that followed, the United States might have embarked upon a 
career of colonial empire a half-century before it did. 

While manufacturing and shipping flourished in the East, 
prosperity smiled with equal favor upon the South. There, 
despite the attention given rice culture along the coast, sugar 
growing in Louisiana and tobacco raising in the border states, 
not to mention scattered local manufacturing, the chief fount of 
wealth was the cotton crop. With the fuller development of 
the rich black lands of the Gulf plains production doubled dur- 
ing the decade, but the world's demand for cotton remained 
unappeased and the market price soared to new levels. From 
all parts of Dixie wagon, steamer and railroad brought the 
bulky bales to the points whence they were dispatched to more 
remote markets. Cotton furnished directly more than half the 
nation's foreign exports, most of it going to England. At the 
same time it shed benefits upon Northern mill owners, merchants 
and bankers and, by centering Southern energies upon its cul- 
tivation, created a demand for the farm produce of the Mid- 
west. In the South itself the wealth invested in cotton culture 
and its peculiar labor system represented a power which ramified 
into all phases of political, economic and social life. Little wonder 
that the people south of Mason and Dixon's line attached an 
almost fantastic importance to their great staple. "What would 
happen if no cotton was planted for three years?" asked Senator 
J. H. Hammond of South Carolina in a speech in 1858. "I will 
not stop to depict what every one can imagine, but this is certain, 
England would topple headlong, and carry the whole civilized 
world with her save the South. No, you dare not make war on 
cotton. No power on the earth dares to make war on it. Cotton 
is King." 

The Midwest with its boundless prairies and swiftly growing 
population shared fully in the good times. Thanks to the Irish 
famine and a little later the Crimean War, Britain as well as 
the older settled parts of America demanded its wheat and other 


cereals, while the rapid introduction of labor-saving implements 
made possible an unexampled increase of production. 1 Of the 
new devices the most important was the McCormick reaper. 
Patented originally in 1834 by Cyrus H. McCormick, a Virginia 
blacksmith, the first model had been continually improved until 
it became possible for one person with a team of horses to cut 
as much grain as seven men swinging cradles in the customary 
fashion. When McCormick in 1848 removed to Chicago, then 
a town of hardly seventeen thousand but near the center of the 
prairie grain belt, a new era opened in the mechanization of 
agriculture. He manufactured 500 machines for the harvest of 
1848, 1600 in 1850 and 4000 in 1856. Over 100,000 machines of 
his and other makes were in use before the end of the decade. 
Meantime the grain crops of the land swelled from 100,000,000 
bushels in 1850 to 171,000,000 in 1860, more than half being 
grown in the Midwest. With profits attractive and the demand 
for grain apparently unlimited, it is not surprising that the 
farmers of the upper Mississippi Valley eagerly welcomed any 
move which might open to them on favorable terms the fertile 
country west of Iowa and Missouri. 

An important stimulus to Western prosperity was the great 
improvement in transportation facilities with the East. Until 
mid-century, except for the turnpikes over the mountains, the 
only routes for hauling goods were by way of the Great Lakes 
and the Erie Canal or down the Mississippi and around through 
the Gulf. The economic attachment of the Midwest had been 
southward rather than eastward. But from 1850 to 1857 the 
Appalachian barrier was pierced by five railway trunk lines and 
these, by their connections in the interior, reached the Ohio 
River at eight points and the Mississippi at ten. Railroad build- 
ing became a mania, cities and counties vying with one another 
in subsidizing new routes and the national government assist- 
ing by land grants to states for transfer to projected lines. In 
1850 Stephen A. Douglas helped secure a princely grant for the 
Illinois Central Railroad with which eventually to link Chicago, 
by way of Cairo at the southern tip of the state, with Mobile 

1 The act of Parliament repealing the "corn" laws in 1846 had thrown open the 
door to foreign cereals, but its full effect on the normal grain trade with America 
was not felt until the sixties. 


on the Gulf. Soon he was visioning the advantages to his home 
city of like communications across the plains with California. 
By 1860 Illinois had more track completed than any other state 
in the Union. The iron bonds uniting East and West not only 
gave rise to mutually profitable trade but, by emphasizing the 
economic interdependence of the two regions, tended to create 
a harmony of political outlook as well. This fact, far more than 
abolitionist agitation, was to account for Northern unity when 
Southern guns boomed out against Fort Sumter in 1861. 

In the expansion of the railway net the South, hampered by 
the absorption of capital in land and slaves, had much less part. 
Despite their strict-construction objections to internal improve- 
ments at national cost, a number of Southern states secured 
federal land grants to aid railroad construction. But not until 
late in the decade did a continuous line through the mountains, 
running from Memphis to Norfolk, connect the lower Missis- 
sippi with the Southern Seaboard, and this was the only one to 
do so. A series of commercial conventions met in the fifties to 
whip up enthusiasm for railway building, particularly for a road 
linking the South with California. The speakers also urged the 
promotion of manufactures and the establishment of direct 
steamship lines to Europe. But such efforts to keep pace with 
the North and free the South from " vassalage " to that section 
met with little success. 

As each year passed, the antagonism of interest between the 
two economic systems became increasingly manifest. Southern- 
ers resented the large profits amassed by Northern business 
men and capitalists from marketing the cotton crop as well as 
from conducting the foreign and much of the domestic trade of 
their section. Nor was this all. "In one way or another/' pro- 
tested a Southern writer in 1857, "we are more or less subser- 
vient to the North every day of our lives. In infancy we are swad- 
dled in Northern muslin; in childhood we are humored with 
Northern gewgaws; in youth we are instructed out of Northern 
books; at the age of maturity we sow our ' wild oats' on Northern 
soil; ... in the decline of life we remedy our eye-sight with 
Northern spectacles . . . ; in old age we are drugged with North- 
ern physic; and, finally, when we die, our inanimate bodies, 
shrouded in Northern cambric, are stretched upon the bier, 


borne to the grave in a Northern carriage, entombed with a 
Northern spade, and memorized with a Northern slab!" 

To be sure, the protective tariff no longer formed a political 
issue between the sections, and in 1857 Congress scaled down 
the already low duties of 1846 by about five per cent, at the 
same time enlarging .the free list. Yet the South, not content, 
forced through a law in 1858 withdrawing the subsidies for 
steamship lines. On the other hand, the rising price of slaves 
caused agitation among the planting interests toward the close 
of the decade for reopening the African slave trade. The grow- 
ing sense of economic inferiority on the part of the South might 
eventually have unsettled the sectional peace of 1850, but other 
forces were at work to disrupt it in a more dramatic way. 


From a world point of view the middle of the nineteenth cen- 
tury was a time of reform aspiration and domestic strife rather 
than of compromise and peaceable accommodation. A popular 
upheaval in France in 1848 acted as a spark to a powder train 
that reached from the English Channel to the Russian border 
and from the Mediterranean to the Baltic. The system of re- 
action and repression which had succeeded the uprisings of 1830 
crashed in sudden confusion before the revivified forces of democ- 
racy and nationality. Within a few months half the monarchs 
of Europe had been deposed or forced to concede constitutions. 
In France the people set up the Second Republic on a basis of 
manhood suffrage, a victory followed four years later, however, 
by a return to monarchy under Louis Napoleon. The Hapsburg 
ruler in great fright granted a short-lived constitution to Austria, 
while the oppressed nationalities of his conglomerate empire 
Hungarians, Italians, Poles, Bohemians strove desperately, 
if vainly, to cast off the Austrian yoke. Equally unavailing was 
the movement to forge the loosely attached German States into 
a strongly united Fatherland under a representative parliament* 
On the other hand, the kings of Prussia, Holland, Denmark and 
Sardinia made important concessions to popular demands, and 
the various Swiss communities after much bickering established 
an effective federal government modeled on that of the United 
States. Even Great Britain was shaken by democratic unrest. 


The "Chartists/' championing the rights of the lower classes 
ignored by the reform act of 1832, demanded a government 
based upon universal manhood suffrage. The desired step, how- 
ever, had to await a later time. If the '"Year of Revolutions' 7 
was disappointing in some of its immediate fruits, yet the founda- 
tions of the Old Order were irretrievably shaken. The remnants 
of feudal privilege were swept away in many lands, and the next 
two decades so momentous for similar reasons in the history 
of the American republic were to witness the triumph of na- 
tionality and substantial gains for democracy in nearly every 
great European state. 

The people of the United States watched with approval 
these restless stirrings across the Atlantic. In many of the 
larger cities public meetings and parades celebrated the glad 
tidings. The national Democratic convention of 1848 sent 
"fraternal congratulations" to the new French republic, and re- 
joiced that the spirit of popular rule was ''prostrating thrones 
and erecting republics on the ruins of despotism in the Old 
World." Even the gentle Longfellow said, "So long as a king is 
left upon his throne there will be no justice in the earth." 
Two years later Daniel Webster as Secretary of State sent a note 
to Austria, justifying the right of the American people " to cherish 
always a lively interest in the fortunes of nations struggling for 
institutions like their own/ 3 and declaring grandiloquently that, 
compared with free America, "the possessions of the House of 
Hapsburg are but as a patch on the earth's surface." Privately 
Webster defended the boastful tone of this letter on the score 
of his desire to "touch the national pride 33 and shame Ameri- 
cans "who should speak of disunion. 33 

As military reverses or loss of popular support cheated the 
hopes of the revolutionists, many of their leaders sought tempo- 
rary refuge in the New World. New York City in 1850 presented 
a strange sight. Ledru-Rollin was a shore porter there, Louis 
Blanc a dancing master, Felix Pyat a scene shifter, Lamartine a 
mendicant. Besides these French radical leaders, a member of 
the late German parliament worked as a barber and the Italian 
revolutionist Garibaldi made tallow candles in a back street on 
Staten Island. The next year President Fillmore, at the behest 
of Congress, sent a warship to Turkey to convey the exiled Hun- 


garian patriot, Louis Kossuth, to the United States. Arriving 
in December, 1851, he received great ovations in the Eastern 
cities, was dined by the President in Washington and formally 
greeted by each House of Congress. Yet, despite his vociferous 
reception, the American people still considered the Atlantic a 
bar to 61 armed intervention in European affairs. Kossuth had to 
content himself with what benefit his cause might derive from 
their moral support and financial contributions. 

As in 1830, the new series of revolutionary outbreaks sent 
thousands of refugees flying to the United States for a permanent 
abode. The greatly increased immigration at mid-century was 
due mainly, however, to bad economic conditions abroad. 
"America letters/ 7 written by successful migrants to their 
countrymen at home, extolled the advantages and rewards of 
life in the New World, while steamship and railway representa- 
tives and the immigration agents of Western states added their 
efforts to swell the flow of settlement. From 23,000 in 1830 the 
number of annual arrivals rose to 84,000 in 1840 and to 297,000 
in 1849, reaching high tide five years later with 428,000. Ap- 
proximately three million came in the decade from 184 5 to 1855 
three times as many as in the whole earlier period of national 
independence. "From every degree of latitude and longitude, 
and from every isle and continent under the whole heaven, the 
flood of emigration has poured in upon the United States," 
wrote a sympathetic observer in the Democratic Review in 1850. 
"There has been nothing like it in appearance since the encamp- 
ment of the Roman empire, or the tents of the Crusaders." 
Many of the newcomers were desperately poor, and the hard- 
ships and sufferings of the voyage across the Atlantic severely 
tested their mettle. Though small numbers of Scandinavians 
and certain other peoples formed a part of the influx, the great 
bulk consisted, on the one hand, of peasant farmers from south- 
western Germany, discouraged by crop failures and oppressive 
agrarian laws, and, on the other, of peasants from central and 
southern Ireland, forced to flee because of the potato famine in 
1845-1846 and later years. 

In the decade after the German revolution nearly a million 
Teutons arrived in the United States, including such prominent 
"Forty-eighters" as Carl Schurz, Franz Sigel and other leaders 


of education and talent. Most of them settled in the newer parts 
of the country north of the Ohio or beyond the Mississippi. 
St. Louis, Milwaukee, Chicago, Cincinnati and Cleveland at- 
tracted strong colonies. In about half the cities of Ohio the 
Germans and " Pennsylvania Dutch" (descendants of German 
immigrants of colonial days) held nearly or quite the balance of 
political power. But the great majority sought the soil, usually in 
company with their kind, and proved to be thrifty and success- 
ful farmers. Wherever they went they carried with them their- 
zeal for schools and education, their love of music and the liberal 
social customs of the Fatherland. In large degree, they planted 
the first seeds of aesthetic appreciation in the raw West. Staunch 
believers in free-homestead legislation, they were ever ready to 
do what they could to support that cause. The Irish, on the 
other hand, hived in the crowded cities of the East, or became 
workers on turnpikes, canals and railroads. Indeed, the hard 
manual labor upon the great public improvements of the time 
was performed mainly by their brawn and energy. They lived, 
for the most part, in wretched poverty in the city tenements; 
and everywhere they settled they added to the traditional anti- 
British feeling of Americans their own bitter hatred of that 
country a fact quickly observed and capitalized by vote- 
seeking politicians. 

This sudden growth of immigration inevitably begot a strong 
nativist, or antiforeign, sentiment on the part of Americans o: 
older stock. In the seaboard industrial districts the working- 
men were dismayed by the increase of cheap Irish laborers with- 
their lower standard of living. Moreover, most of the Irish were' 
Catholics, and the spread of Catholic churches, convents and 
parochial schools alarmed the deep-seated Protestant sentiment 
in New England and the Middle Atlantic states. The ease with 
which unscrupulous native politicians managed to corrupt newly 
naturalized voters gave further cause for fear, seeming to threaten 
the integrity of American republican institutions. In the West, 
the chief source of friction grew out of the unfamiliar social 
customs of the Germans, especially in regard to beer drinking 
and their lax observance of the Sabbath practices which of- 
fended the inherited Puritan austerity of the older inhabitants. 
Though the presence of slave labor turned most immigrants 


away from the South, there, too, nativist feeling flourished. The 
planters ascribed the alarming growth of Northern population 
and political power to the large foreign infusions, and viewed 
immigration as an inexhaustible stream which would flood the 
federal territories with the foes of slavery. 

As early as the thirties the hostility to the Irish had broken 

out in the form of mob violence. In 1834 a convent in Charles- 

w town, Massachusetts, was burned. A few years later the Irish 

ijuarter of Boston was sacked, similar outrages occurring in other 

cities. The movement entered local politics, and on one or two 

occasions Native American parties in New York and Phila- 

ff) delphia undertook to prevent the election of naturalized citizens 

*0to municipal office. In 1845 a national organization of Native 

Americans was effected with a membership, it was claimed, of 

&\ more than a hundred thousand. In 1850 the movement assumed 

the form of a secret society under the name (known only to its 

I members) of the Supreme Order of the Star-Spangled Banner. 

N For a few years the society showed little sign of thriving, although 

s/ presently, under unexpected circumstances, it was to form the 

backbone of the spectacular Know Nothing movement. 

The deeper significance of this peaceful alien invasion appears 

less in the short-lived manifestations of nativist feeling than in 

J the influence the immigrant elements exerted upon the growing 

sectional controversy. Between 1850 and 1860 the total number 

$ of foreign-born leaped eighty-four per cent, a rate of increase far 

v9 surpassing that of the native stock. A contemporary observer 

-^testified that "over this confused diversity there broods, after 

all, a higher unity, ... in this chaos of peoples the traces of a 

specifically American national character may be discerned/' 

Yet, almost inevitably, the newcomers 7 conception of American 

nationality became patterned upon that of the North rather than 

^that of the South since nine tenths of them dwelt in the free 

states and territories. The Irish excepted, they naturally gravi- 

'tated to the party that opposed slavery, favored free farms and 

^ espoused an indivisible Union, for slavery was unknown in 

Western Europe, most of them were farmers and many had 

fought in wars for national unification. Temporarily some of 

them joined the Democratic ranks because of the appeal of the 

party name; but as the issue between the sections sharpened, 


the Germans in particular, and also the Scandinavians and the 
Hollanders, flocked into the newly formed Republican party. 
The Irish, for the most part, remained incurably Democratic. 


A greater immediate danger to the maintenance of sectional 
harmony was the advent of a new generation to the control of 
public affairs. By the close of 1852 the master figures of the 
older generation had passed from the scene. Calhoun died in 
the Compromise year; Clay and Webster followed before Pierce's 
election. Van Buren definitely dropped out of politics after his 
unsuccessful run as Free Soil candidate in 1848, and Ben ton was 
retired by Missouri from the Senate in 1851 after thirty years' 
service. Calhoun perhaps excepted, the distinguishing trait of 
these men had been their single-minded devotion to the Union, 
for their public life had been shaped by the great surge of na- 
tionalism which followed the second war with Great Britain. 
The new leaders, on the contrary, had been reared in an era of 
sectional controversy. Younger in years and experience, they 
lacked the poise and caution of the seasoned statesmen. They 
faced the problems of the age with all the jaunty assurance 
which fresh generations are apt to bring to a consideration of 
grave public issues. On the central question of the time they 
held intense convictions, and felt lightly the obligation of main- 
taining a patchwork peace that had been dictated by leaders 
of a departed era. 

The new generation, moreover, represented two radically 
different points of view. From the free states came William H. 
Seward of New York, Salmon P. Chase of Ohio, Charles Sumner 
of Massachusetts and Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania, all 
of whom entered Congress in the years 1849-1851 as uncompro- 
mising foes of slavery extension and of the " Slave Power. 7 ' 
While ever professing to cherish the Union, they were ready to 
risk harmony and peace within the Union for the sake of ad- 
vancing the cause to which they were committed. Southern 
interests were no less stoutly championed by Jefferson Davis 
of Mississippi, on whom fell the mantle of Calhoun, and by 
W. L. Yancey of Alabama, and Alexander H. Stephens, Robert 
Toombs and Howell Cobb of Georgia. These men frankly cal- 


culated the value of the Union in terms of sectional advantage, 
proclaiming on every occasion the right of secession as a means of 
Southern redress. The Compromise ideals of the preceding era 
found spokesmen in John J. Crittenden of Kentucky, Clay's 
successor in the Senate, and in Senator John Bell of Tennessee, 
men of lesser stature, however, than the sectional chieftains. 

Stephen A. Douglas, the Illinois Senator, is harder to classify, 
but he was one of the dominant political figures of the decade. 
Short in stature but with powerful shoulders, idolized by his 
Western followers as the " Little Giant/' he embodied the two 
ideals dear to the frontier: ardent attachment to nationality and 
an unfaltering faith in local self-rule as a solvent of human ills. 
He was also interested in the rapid economic development of 
the West and particularly in the growth of Chicago where he 
had heavy real-estate investments. As the foremost Democrat 
in the free states, his position gave him an unusual opportunity 
to act as conciliator and arbiter between Northern radicals and 
Southern "fire-eaters." The fifties, however, were not a time 
when one who sought a middle ground between extremes could 
attain success certainly not a man who, like Douglas, failed 
utterly to comprehend the intensity of the moral opposition to 
slavery. His solution for the slavery question in the territories, 
that of " popular sovereignty,' 7 deserved a better reception than 
it received, but at the same time it revealed that in his political 
thinking he still adhered blindly to the democratic philosophy 
of Jackson's day. A believer in the destiny of Middle America 
and an exemplar of its aspirations, he retained his hold on his 
section unshaken until Abraham Lincoln emerged from private 
life in 1858. 

Despite twenty years of abolitionist activity and propaganda 
in the North, the new antislavery leaders had much popular 
inertia and indifference to overcome if their cause was to be suc- 
cessful. In accomplishing this object, certain literary forces 
proved of incalculable value. The first was the advent of a new 
type of journalism. By 1852 the official party organs, located at 
Washington and subsidized by government printing, were rapidly 
on the decline, to disappear entirely by the close of the decade. 
Such journals made dull reading for any but bigoted partisans, 
and their high subscription price further narrowed the circle 


of their influence. The gradual assumption by the government 
itself, after 1846, of the task of executing the public printing 
foreshadowed the end. But the end was inevitable in any case, 
for the masses educated in the free public schools demanded a 
different type of newspaper, and New York City, thanks to 
the improved news facilities afforded by the telegraph and the 
railroad, was fast replacing Washington as the principal news 
center of the nation. 

The new journalism flowered most luxuriantly in New York 
and the East. Selling at a price within the reach of all, the papers 
sought to make a broad popular appeal with headlines, sprightly 
news " stories" and trenchant editorials. 1 The period produced 
the greatest editorial writers in our history. Unlike those today 
they usually owned the journals they directed - men such as 
Horace Greeley of the New York Tribune, Henry J. Raymond 
of the New York Times, James Gordon Bennett of the New York 
Herald, Samuel Bowles of the Springfield (Massachusetts) Re- 
publican and Joseph Medill of the Chicago Tribune. William 
Cullen Bryant, who at the helm of the New York Evening Post 
had steered a course of vigorous independent journalism since 
1826, continued to make a special appeal to the educated classes 
in the East. In national circulation and influence no other news- 
paper equaled the Tribune, edited by the brilliant but eccentric 
Greeley. He was by temperament a reformer, and none of the 
agitations of the time, from spiritualism to scientific farming 
and Irish freedom, failed to challenge his interest. But his soul- 
consuming passion was hatred of slavery, and to this cause he 
gave increasing devotion during the fifties. The Tribune's cir- 
culation grew fivefold from 1850 to 1860; but its sectional char- 
acter is evidenced by the fact that virtually all its subscribers 
lived in the free states. The weekly edition was preeminently 
the journal of the rural districts which regarded it as a sort of 
political Bible. The antislavery forces could hardly have found 
a more potent vehicle of agitation and education. 

No less effective in molding Northern opinion, though in a 

1 The change had begun, as early as 1833 when the New York Sun was founded 
as a "penny paper" catering particularly to working-class readers. Of the news- 
papers here named, the Times (1851) was the only one established after 1850. 
Medill formed Ms connection with the Chicago Tribune in 1855. 


different way, was the appearance of that great propagandist 
novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin, written by Harriet Beecher Stowe of 
Cincinnati. Others had long inveighed against slavery in the 
abstract, but Mrs. Stowe portrayed concretely and with moral 
intensity the cruelty and injustice that the system could inflict 
even upon a faithful liegeman like the lovable Uncle Tom. She 
depicted not the average condition of slaves but, rather, the 
melodramatic contrast between the best and worst possibilities 
of their existence. Appearing originally as a serial in an anti- 
slavery newspaper at the capital, the story was published in 
book form in March, 1852. At once it began its record-breaking 
career with a sale of three hundred thousand copies in the first 
year. The stage possibilities of the story appealed first to the- 
atrical managers, then to political managers. Presently thousands 
of men and boys who would not have read the book were thrilled 
and swayed by the dramatized version. Mrs. Stowe's interpre- 
tation of slavery deeply influenced the thinking of Northern 
youths who came of voting age in the years from 1852 to 1860. 
In the South it was anathema. 


The first actual steps toward a disturbance of the sectional 
accord were taken by moral enthusiasts of the North in defiance 
of the new fugitive-slave act. Because the Supreme Court had 
decided in Prigg v. Pennsylvania (1842) that state authorities 
need not assist in recovering runaways, the law of 1850 had 
clothed the federal government with far-reaching powers for 
the purpose, even to the extent of denying trial by jury and other 
customary legal safeguards to the Negro whose freedom was 
at stake. The provisions were energetically put into operation 
by the slave owners. In some instances, fugitives who had been 
living on free soil for many years and had married there were 
seized and carried off into bondage again. Northern communi- 
ties, which thus saw some of the harshest features of the slavery 
system enacted before their very eyes, were easily incited to 
riotous opposition. One case that attracted nation-wide atten- 
tion occurred in Boston in February, 1851, when a runaway 
named Shadrach was forcibly taken from the United States 
marshal and spirited away into Canada. Some months later, in 


October, the seizure of Jerry McHenry, for several years a resi- 
dent of Syracuse, New York, led to another lawless rescue, under 
Gerrit Smith's leadership, followed by the Negro's flight across 
the border. 

Nor did the course pursued by the new administration at 
Washington augur well for the finality of the Compromise. 
Franklin Pierce, a small-town New Hampshire lawyer chosen to 
head his party because none of the real leaders could be nomi- 
nated, lacked both the experience and ability to cope with the 
complex forces that portended a renewal of sectional strife. 
When taking the oath of office on March 4, 1853, he expressed 
the fervent hope that "no sectional or ambitious or fanatical 
excitement may again threaten the durability of our institutions 
or obscure the light of our prosperity." Yet a definite pro- 
slavery influence was reflected in his choice of a cabinet. Under 
Southern pressure he withdrew his offer of the post of Secretary 
of State, first made to a New Yorker with antislavery leanings, 
and appointed instead another New Yorker, William L. Marcy, 
who more nearly met the Southern requirements. Jefferson 
Davis, noted as an implacable opponent of the Compromise, re- 
ceived the important office of Secretary of War. 1 

Moreover, in his inaugural address Pierce, while expressing 
interest in developing "new channels of trade," placed chief 
emphasis on his intention of not having his course as President 
deterred "by any timid forebodings of evil" from territorial ex- 
pansion. The reference, as everyone knew, was to the scheme 
of annexing Cuba, which Polk and his Secretary of State, James 
Buchanan, had fostered but which their Whig successors had 
failed to press. This proposal to enlarge the slave area of the 
United States greatly pleased Southern extremists who during 
the Whig lease of power had helped fit out filibustering expedi- 
tions in a fruitless endeavor to free the island from Spain. 
With Marcy's assistance Pierce prepared to translate his words 
into action. In August, 1854, Buchanan, Pierre Soule and 
John Y. Mason, the American Ministers to Great Britain, Spain 

1 The other members of the cabinet were James Guthrie of Kentucky, Secretary 
of the Treasury; James C. Dobbin of North Carolina, Secretary of the Navy; 
Robert McClelland of Michigan, Secretary of the Interior; James Campbell of 
Pennsylvania, Postmaster-General; Caleb Gushing of Massachusetts, Attorney- 


and France, were instructed to confer as to the best means of 
acquiring Cuba. In Belgium in October, they drew up a re- 
markable document, known in history as the Ostend Manifesto. 
Their recommendation, in brief, was that, if Spain refused to sell 
the island and should our national interests require, we would 
be justified "by every law, human and divine/' in wresting it 
from her by force. The President, however, was not prepared 
to go to such lengths. The recommendation was coldly pigeon- 
holed, but it produced wild excitement in the free states when its 
contents leaked out. 

The administration also coveted territory across the Mexican 
border, including Lower California. Pierce 's diplomatic ap- 
proaches, however, fruited in an acquisition of unimpressive 
extent. In 1853 James Gadsden, acting for the United States, 
negotiated the purchase of an irregular tract south of the Gila 
River for $10,000,000. By this act a boundary difficulty was 
settled with Mexico and, at the same time, land acquired which 
Secretary of War Davis deemed desirable for a Southern rail- 
way route to the Pacific. The Gadsden Purchase was the sole con- 
sequence of the administration's efforts at expansion southward. 

Meantime other events were rendering unavoidable that re- 
vival of sectionalism which Pierce's imperialistic program pre- 
figured. A chance combination of circumstances afforded an 
unexpected opportunity for extending the slave area within 
American borders. The region between the Rockies and the 
western boundary of Missouri, Iowa and Minnesota had never 
been given territorial organization, remaining, for the most part, 
a vast reserve for wild Indians and roving buffaloes. Located 
north of the parallel 36 30', the entire domain was destined to 
be free soil by the Missouri Compromise of 1820. The need for 
opening the country to settlers was fast becoming urgent. As 
population thickened in the upper Mississippi Valley, more and 
more people hankered for the virgin lands to the west. Further- 
more, national security made desirable a continuous zone of 
settlement from the heart of the continent to the distant com- 
munities on the Pacific Coast. Still others desired to have the 
region inhabited and the Indian title extinguished in order to 
facilitate their plans of obtaining governmental support for a 
transcontinental railway. 


On January 4, 1854, Douglas as chairman of the Senate com- 
mittee on territories offered a bill for organizing the whole do- 
main as the " Territory of Nebraska." His accompanying report 
explained that the status of slavery in the proposed territory 
should be determined in conformance with the principles under- 
lying the Compromise of 1850. These were said to be the right 
of the territorial legislature to admit or exclude slavery (popular 


sovereignty), and the final determination of all questions involv- 
ing legality of slave ownership by the Supreme Court. Greeted 
by a storm of criticism and protest, Douglas was obliged to change 
the bill in certain particulars. In its final form it provided not 
for one territory but for two, Kansas and Nebraska, with the 
fortieth parallel dividing them. The Missouri Compromise was 
explicitly repealed, and the people of the territories were author- 
ized to regulate their domestic institutions as they chose, < sub- 
ject only to the Constitution of the United States." All ques- 
tions involving title to slaves might be appealed to the Supreme 


From the standpoint of practical politics Douglas undoubtedly 
won favor for his cause by claiming that the regulations in the 
Compromise of 1850 as to slavery in New Mexico and Utah had 
been intended as a rule of universal application; but historians 
find no warrant for this assumption. He was on equally unsafe 
ground in alleging that these regulations embodied the principle 
of popular sovereignty. 1 Indeed, not all who supported the Kan- 
sas-Nebraska act believed popular sovereignty to be the import 
even of that measure. Senator A. G. Brown of Mississippi went 
so far as to say, "If I thought that in voting for the bill as it 
now stands I was conceding the right of the people in a territory 
to exclude slavery, I would withhold my vote. ... It leaves 
the question where I am willing it should be left to the ultimate 
decision of the courts." 2 The provision for two territories in- 
stead of one aided passage, for it was believed that Kansas, 
lying next to Missouri, would become slave soil while Nebraska 
would fall to the antislavery Northerners. 

The passage of the bill through Congress precipitated a des- 
perate struggle. The Missouri Compromise -was consecrated 
in the hearts of Northerners as if a part of the Constitution itself. 
Though Congress possessed the legal power to undo what it had 
once done, the proposal for repeal deeply outraged the moral 
sense of the North. The opposition in the Senate was directed 
by Chase and Sumner, but the Little Giant, ceaselessly active, 
proved more than their match. In the House the shrewd assaults 
of ex-Senator Benton were counteracted by the parliamentary 
adroitness of the proslavery Whig, Alexander H. Stephens. 
President Pierce, abetted by Jefferson Davis, threw all his pres- 
tige and power of patronage in favor of the bill. Its success was 
assured by the support of an almost solid South, seconded by 
Democrats from the Midwest. The bill, signed by the President 
on May 30, 1854, was avowedly a Democratic measure, but 

J See H. C. Hockett, Political and Social Growth of the United States, 1492- 
1852^ 602-603. 

2 Douglas himself later said of the Kansas-Nebraska act: "We did not pretend 
to decide the question whether the Territorial Legislature had the power or not to 
prohibit slavery, but we did agree to give them all the power we had; and, if they 
exercised it in such manner as to violate the constitutional rights of any portion 
of the people, their remedy is to be found in an appeal to the Supreme Court, and 
not to Congress." 


throughout the stormy contest sectional rather than party ad- 
vantage had been the prime consideration. 

So far-reaching were the effects of the Kansas-Nebraska act 
that the motives which led to its introduction are a matter of 
continuing interest. At the time, Douglas was accused by his 
antislavery foes of making a conscienceless bid for Southern 
support for the presidency, but it is hardly probable that a man 
of his political acumen would have risked Northern defections 
to gain additional favor in the South. Douglas himself found 
ample justification for his course in the democratic character 
of his plan and in the belief that popular sovereignty would 
permanently " withdraw the question of slavery from the halls of 
Congress and the political arena. " In any case, as he pointed 
out, climate would make impossible the deep rooting of slavery 
in the new territories. It is only fair to say that nothing in his 
career, either before or after 1854, warrants us in doubting his 
unselfish devotion to the principle of local self-determination. 

Other factors, however, were involved in the situation. The 
agitation for a transcontinental railroad had created rivalry be- 
tween the Northwest and the Southwest, each seeking new means 
of nourishing its own sectional prosperity. Though an engi- 
neering survey of the War Department reported the superior 
feasibility of a Southern route, enterprising men in the North- 
west were not willing to yield the point, and they believed that 
rapid settlement of the Nebraska country would be a potent 
argument for a centrally located line. Douglas, eager for the com- 
mercial preeminence of Chicago, was a natural leader in any 
such movement. Thus the economic interest of the Northwest, 
as well as its democratic idealism, favored the bill. The South 
was willing temporarily to weaken its chances because of the 
opportunity for slavery extension afforded by popular sover- 
eignty. 1 As a matter of fact, sectional rivalry was to prevent 

1 Additional support for the bill resulted from a factional fight in Missouri within 
Democratic ranks. Senator D. R. Atchison, seeking reelection and finding a bold 
course necessary to rally his slaveholding constituents, publicly promised that 
when he returned to Congress in December, 1853, he would work to have the rich 
prairie lands west of the state opened to settlers without the Missouri Compromise 
restriction. Besides, like the Illinois Senator, he desired to connect his state with 
California by rail. Had not Douglas fathered the Kansas-Nebraska bill, It seems 
certain that Atchison would have. 


federal aid to any transcontinental project until after secession 
caused the withdrawal of Southern representatives from Congress 
and left the North in control. 


The Ordeal of Nationality. The years from 1853 to 1865 are treated, 
Tvith a wealth of detail and from differing points of view, in the standard 
comprehensive histories, notably Channing, A History of the United States, 
embracing the period 1000-1865; Von Hoist, The Constitutional and Politi- 
cal History of the United States, covering the period 1750-1861; McMaster, 
A History of the People of the United States, dealing with the period 1784- 
1865; Rhodes, History of the United States from the Compromise of 1850 to 
the Final Restoration of Home Rule at the South in 1877; and Schouler, 
History of the United States, covering the years from 1783 to 1877. In a class 
with these large-scale treatments by a single hand are the major cooperative 
works, dealing with American history from the beginning: Hart, ed., The 
American Nation: A History; Johnson, ed., The Chronicles of America Series; 
and Schlesinger and Fox, eds., A History of American Life, the last a social 
and intellectual history. Individual volumes of these series are cited later 
in appropriate connections. Various aspects of American development are 
treated pictorially in Gabriel, ed., The Pageant of America. Among the 
standard biographical series are Morse, ed., American Statesmen; Ober- 
holtzer, ed., American Crisis Biographies; Howe, ed., The Beacon Biographies; 
and Nevins, ed., American Political Leaders. For briefer reference, the 
Dictionary of American Biography, edited by Allen Johnson and Dumas 
Malone, is indispensable. The most useful historical atlas is Paullin, Atlas 
of the Historical Geography of the United States. 

Special phases of American history have received separate attention. 
Stanwood, A History of the Presidency, is concerned with presidential elec- 
tions. General sketches of economic development include Bogart, Economic 
History of the American People; Faulkner, American Economic History; 
and Kirkland, A History of American Economic Life. More particularized 
are Clark, History of Manufactures in the United States; Dewey, Financial 
History of the United States; Taussig, Tariff History of the United States; 
Commons and others, History of Labour in the United States; Schmidt and 
Ross, eds., Readings in the Economic History of American Agriculture; and 
Frederick, The Development of American Commerce. Textbooks on diplomatic 
relations include Fish, American Diplomacy, and Latane, History of Ameri- 
can Foreign Policy. Bemis, ed., The American Secretaries of State and Their 
Diplomacy, provides a biographical approach to the subject. 

Mid-century America. Cole, The Irrepressible Conflict, treats the subject 
as a whole. Industrial and technological changes may be followed in Clark, 
History of Manufactures in the United States, and Byrn, The Progress of In- 
vention in the Nineteenth Century. Johnson and others, History of the Domestic 
and Foreign Commerce of the United States, the most extensive general 
account, should be supplemented by Spears, The Story of the American 


Merchant Marine; Clark, The Clipper Ship Era, 1843-1869; and Morison, 
The Maritime History of Massachusetts, 1783-1860, which joins scholarship 
with unusual literary charm. On railway development the standard works 
are Sanborn, Congressional Grants of Land in Aid of Railways; Haney, A 
Congressional History of Railways in the United States, 1850-1887; MacGill 
and others, History of Transportation in the United States before 1860; and 
Riegel, The Story of the Western Railroads. Bidwell and Falconer, History 
of Agriculture in the Northern United States, 1620-1860, and Gray, History 
of Agriculture in the Southern United States to 1860, contain much informa- 
tion in regard to the fifties. Hutchinson, Cyrus Hall McCormick, Seed-Time, 
1809-1856, describes the role played by the chief inventor and maker of 
farm implements. Phillips, Life and Labor in the Old South, includes material 
on economic and social conditions in the fifties, while Ingle, Southern Side- 
lights, supplements Phillips at various points. Bancroft, Slave-Trading in 
the Old South, is the best treatment of its subject. Russel, Economic Aspects 
of Southern Sectionalism, 1840-1861, and Wender, Southern Commercial 
Conventions, show, with full documentation, the importance of economic 
inferiority as a factor in the movement for Southern independence. Diplo- 
matic phases of the era are treated in Dennett, Americans in Eastern Asia; 
Treat, Diplomatic Relations between the United States and Japan, 185^1865; 
and Williams, Anglo-American Isthmian Diplomacy, x8 15-191 5. 

Foreign Influences* The interest of the American people in the mid- 
century European revolutions appears in Curtis, The French Assembly of 
1848 and American Constitutional Doctrines; Gazley, American Opinion of 
German Unification; and Marraro, American Opinion on the Unification of 
Italy, 1846-1861. General accounts of immigration include Fairchild, 
Immigration; Garis, Immigration Restriction; and Stephenson, A History of 
American Immigration. For particular racial elements Adams, Ireland and 
Irish Emigration to the New World, Faust, The German Element in the United 
States > and Blegen, Norwegian Migration to America, 1825-1860, should be 

The Rise of a New Generation. For biographies of Northern leaders, see 
Bancroft, The Life of William H. Seward; Hart, Salmon Portland Chase; 
Haynes, Charles Sumner; Woodburn, The Life of Thaddeus Stevens; Johnson, 
Stephen A . Douglas; and Linn, Horace Greeley. Lives of outstanding Southern 
figures include Dodd, Jefferson Davis; Pendleton, Alexander H. Stephens; 
Phillips, The Life of Robert Toombs; Craven, Edmund Ruffin, Southerner; 
White, Robert Barnwett Rhett; Merritt, James Henry Hammond; and Flippin, 
Herschel V. Johnson of Georgia. Bleyer, Main Currents in the History of 
American Journalism, portrays the new era in the newspaper world. 

The Revival of Sectional Discord. Political development and party 
conflict during the decade are traced in Smith, Parties and Slavery; Cole, 
The Irrepressible Conflict, deals with the divisive economic and social 
forces. Nichols, Franklin Pierce, appraises Pierce's presidency with relent- 
less honesty. Two phases of foreign policy are treated in Garber, The Gads- 
den Treaty, and Ettinger, The Mission to Spain of Pierre S&uU, 1853-13$$. 
Difficulties of enforcing the fugitive-slave act may be foEowed ia Siebert, 


The Underground Railroad from Slavery to Freedom. The question of the 
motives behind the Kansas-Nebraska act has provoked considerable dis- 
cussion among historians. Rhodes lays it all to Douglas's personal ambition 
for the presidency. According to Ray, The Repeal oj the Missouri Compromise, 
the act should be understood as the execution of a campaign pledge made 
by Senator Atchison of Missouri in his contest for reelection. Hodder in his 
" Genesis of the Kansas-Nebraska Act," Wisconsin Historical Society, 
Proceedings for igi2, 69-86, and elsewhere, represents the act as one phase 
of the rivalry between Northern and Southern commercial interests to se- 
cure the terminus of the proposed Pacific railway. 



NO law ever passed by Congress produced such momentous 
consequences as the Kansas-Nebraska act. While the bill 
was yet before Congress, Chase predicted, "It will light up 
a fire in the country which may, perhaps, consume those who 
kindle it. 3 ' The reasons are not far to seek. The measure not 
only revived all the old rancors over slavery extension, which 
Pierce had promised were at an end, but did so at the cost of 
annulling a long-standing sectional pact which, in the North at 
least, had assumed an almost sacred character. Hardly less im- 
portant was the fact that the self-interest of the Northern 
farmers, both native and foreign-born, was directly threatened 
by the law. Accustomed to think of the new territories as a 
Promised Land to which they would eventually fall heir, they 
now faced possible competition with slave labor there. Nor were 
they made less apprehensive by the fact that, while the Kansas- 
Nebraska measure was under consideration, a bill which would 
have encouraged Northern settlement through free homesteads 
had been blocked by the proslavery Senate after passing the 
House. Greeley declared that Douglas and Pierce had made 
more abolitionists in three months than William Lloyd Garrison 
and Wendell Phillips could in half a century. 

To the Whig party the act dealt a death blow. Already weak- 
ened by sectional differences, the two factions of the party now 
found themselves occupying opposing camps. Most of the 
Southern members in Congress had voted for the measure while 
every Northern one had opposed it. The next few years witnessed 
the dispersion of the Whigs into the ranks of other parties. The 
Democrats also suffered, though in less degree. If their numbers 
were diminished in the North by the desertion of "Anti- 
Nebraska" Democrats, the loss was in considerable degree 
offset by accessions from the Southern Whigs. A. H. Stephens 



and Robert Toombs who now turned Democrat were hosts in 
themselves. Under the circumstances the party became more 
firmly allied than ever with the interests of cotton capitalism. 

The most significant outcome of the Kansas-Nebraska con- 
test, however, was the rise of two new organizations. One was 
the Republican party. While the act was yet pending in Con- 
gress, antislavery leaders there had issued an appeal to the 
people, branding it as " a gross violation of a sacred pledge" and 
"an atrocious plot to exclude from a vast unoccupied region 
immigrants from the Old World and free laborers from our own 
States." Three political factions were ripe for union on a pro- 
gram opposed to slavery extension: most of the Northern Whigs> 
the old Free Soilers (who had called themselves Free Democrats 
in the campaign of 1852) and the Anti-Nebraska Democrats. 
Another source of strength lay in the immigrant farmers of the 
Midwest, whose probable political course was charted by the 
anti-Nebraska editorials in eighty out of eighty-eight German 
newspapers. Horace Greeley took a leading part in urging in- 
dependent political action, but the party actually sprang into 
being from a spontaneous uprising of the people in the Midwest. 
On February 28, 1854, a local gathering at Ripon, Wisconsin, 
heralded the new party; other localities fell into line; and on 
July 6 a giant mass meeting in an oak grove near Jackson, 
Michigan, organized the party on a state-wide basis. By the fall 
of 1854 the new organization was active in all the Western states 
and in some Eastern ones, though the name Republican was not 
yet everywhere employed. 

In the East progress was slower because of the powerful com- 
petition offered by the newly formed American party. This 
party was an outgrowth of the strong nativist prejudice against 
immigrants and especially Catholics. Having as its nucleus the 
Supreme Order of the Star-Spangled Banner, it was organized 
as a secret society with grips, passwords and ritualistic cere- 
monies. Since members declined to satisfy outside curiosity in 
regard to the organization, they were popularly called "Know 
Nothings." As a matter of fact, each member swore a solemn 
oath to oppose any but American-born Protestants for office. 
The secrecy and charm of novelty won many persons to the 
party, especially in the East where aliens were least welcome and 


most in evidence. At the same time, important accessions came 
from people all over the North, who hoped by magnifying the 
new issue to drive the slavery question out of politics. Many 
Southern Whigs joined because loath to make common cause 
with their traditional enemies, the Democrats; indeed, to oppose 
immigration seemed a means of curbing the growth of anti- 
slavery power. 

The fall elections of 1854 revealed the remarkable advance 
of the two new parties. With no public campaign the Know 
Nothings cast over a fourth of the total vote in New York and 
more than two 'fifths in Pennsylvania. In Massachusetts they 
elected every state officer and nearly the entire legislature, while 
lesser successes greeted them elsewhere. The Republicans swept 
Maine, Vermont and all the Midwestern states but Illinois. 
The Democrats lost control not only of the House of Representa- 
tives but of nine states besides. Nearly everywhere the Whigs 
revealed great weakness, their success in New York being due to 
Seward's reluctance to leave the party until after his reelection 
as Senator. Vastly elated, the Know Nothings laid plans to 
capture the presidency two years later. In order to consolidate 
the support which had come from voters averse to sectional 
strife, they now added to their ritual a "Union oath/' pledging 
all members to resist the election to office of disunionists as well 
as immigrants. But with the political waters in turmoil it was 
impossible for any party to steer a middle course. The Northern 
and Southern sections inevitably fell into contentions over 
slavery, and by 1856 the Know Nothings found themselves of- 
ficially committed to popular sovereignty. Since this doctrine 
was, in a political sense, copyrighted by the Democrats, the fate 
of the party was sealed. Its activities in local politics, however, 
were not without effect, for Know Nothing influence was re- 
sponsible for the enactment of literacy tests for voting in Con- 
necticut in 1855 and in Massachusetts two years later the 
first laws of the kind in our history. 1 The object was to reduce 
the number of naturalized voters. 

Meantime the Republican-controlled states proceeded to take 
whatever legal steps they could to impede or defeat the operation 

1 These states stood alone until 1889 when Wyoming and presently certain other 
commonwealths imposed literacy requirements. 


of the fugitive-slave act. Such statutes usually prohibited the 
use of local jails to confine fugitives and punished severely the 
seizure of a free Negro with intent to enslave him. The personal- 
liberty laws, as they were called, were hailed by the South as 
proof positive of the aggressive and lawless character of the 
party. In the free states, however, the Republicans steadily 
gained in popular favor. Seward, a giant of strength, took over 
the reins of leadership in the East in 1855; the fiery partisan dis- 
cussions in Congress helped educate the Northern masses; and 
in May, 1856, occurred a brutal assault on Senator Sumner 
which, in a different way, aided the Republican cause. A few 
days after Sumner had made a violent speech against Southern 
machinations in Kansas, he was attacked and caned into in- 
sensibility by Preston Brooks, a member of the House and 
nephew of a Southern Senator whom Sumner had assailed with 
particular venom. The deed enraged the North which saw in 
it additional evidence of the ruthlessness of the "Slave Power." 
An attempt to expel Brooks from his seat failed, every Southern 
member but one voting to sustain him. 

The Republicans faced the campaign of 1856 in a resolute 
mood, meeting at Philadelphia on June 17, the anniversary of 
Bunker Hill. The presidential nomination went to John C. 
Fremont of California, a popular figure by reason of his explora- 
tions in the Far West and at the same time a man unhampered 
by past political antipathies such as embarrassed Seward and 
Chase. For second place W. L. Dayton of New Jersey was chosen 
over Abraham Lincoln, the Midwestern candidate. The plat- 
form called for the exclusion of slavery from all territories as a 
requirement of the Constitution, flayed the Pierce administration 
for the efforts it was making to impose slavery on Kansas, and 
stigmatized the Ostend Manifesto as "the highwayman's plea 
that 'might makes right.' " The convention of the Know Noth- 
ings was marked by angry debates, ending in the withdrawal of 
most of the antislavery delegates. In their platform the Know 
Nothings denounced the election of immigrants and Catholics 
to office, demanded twenty-one years' residence for naturaliza- 
tion, and advocated an indestructible Union with popular 
sovereignty in the territories. Millard Fillmore, whose signature 
had given legal effect to the Compromise of 1850, was nominated 


for President with A. J. Donelson of Tennessee as his running 
mate. Later in the year these nominations were indorsed by a 
national convention composed of remnants of the old Whig party. 
The Democrats, fearing to nominate either Pierce or Doug- 
las as too deeply tainted by their sponsorship of the Kansas- 
Nebraska bill, chose instead James Buchanan of Pennsylvania, 
who had been Minister to Great Britain during most of the con- 
troversy. With him was associated John C. Breckinridge of 
Kentucky. The platform vindicated popular sovereignty and 
the Kansas-Nebraska act as consistent with the Compromise of 
1850, while condemning the "political crusade" of the Know 
Nothings as contrary to the American "spirit of toleration and 
enlightened freedom." The campaign that followed was a thrill- 
ing one. In the North the Republicans conducted a canvass 
rivaling that of 1840 in enthusiasm and having behind it what 
the earlier campaign lacked a dynamic moral drive. With the 
slogan of " Bleeding Kansas" they sought to arouse the latent 
fear of every Northerner against the proslavery "Buchaneers." 
They made an especial appeal to the wage-earners, circulating 
campaign material which represented slaveholders as declaring, 
for example, that " Slavery is the natural and normal condition 
of the laboring man, whether WHITE or black." Alarmed by the 
success of such tactics, the conservative elements of the country 
assailed the Republicans as a radical sectional party. Both Bu- 
chanan and Fillmore maintained that Fremont's election would 
cause a break-up of the Union. It was repeatedly declared in 
Philadelphia that, if Buchanan should be defeated, the South 
would decline to pay the $60,000,000 which it owed the mer- 
chants and manufacturers of that city. Southern pamphleteers 
recklessly charged that the antislavery men were " committed to 
Socialism and Communism to no private property, no church, 
no laws, no government to free love, free lands, free women 
and free churches. 35 Conservatism triumphed. Buchanan polled 
174 electoral votes, including every slave state except Maryland 
whose eight votes alone Fillmore succeeded in winning. Fremont 
received 114 votes from eleven Northern states. Though the 
Democratic party was returned to office, the surprising vote 
polled by the Republicans marked them as a political force to 
be reckoned with. 


Buchanan, the new President, had behind him a record of 
holding public offices of one sort or another for forty years with- 
out having attained real distinction in any of them. A Northerner 
by birth and upbringing, he had always been favorable to the 
political objects of cotton capitalism. Reaching the goal of his 
ambitions at the age of sixty-six, he surrounded himself with 
advisers who shared the same point of view. Lewis Cass of 
Michigan, head of the cabinet and a man older than his chief, 
was widely known because of his Southern sympathies as the 
"archdoughface." Four other members were from slave states 
and two from free states. 1 To the new administration fell the 
difficult and delicate task of healing the wounds inflicted by 
the revival of sectionalism. But this was a course for which Bu- 
chanan was ill fitted since one of his dominant purposes was 
to find new territory for Southern expansion. The admission of 
California as a part of the Compromise of 1850 had destroyed 
the " sacred balance" of free and slave states in the Senate, and 
the rapid increase of Northern population produced two more 
free-soil states during Buchanan's term Minnesota in 1858 and 
Oregon in 1859. In the President's mind the permanence of the 
Union depended upon a restoration of the old equality. From 
this point of view he approached all the great problems of the 

Like his two Democratic predecessors, he espoused a policy 
of tropical annexation. Since westward expansion had built 
up the power of the free states, why should not Manifest Destiny 
now direct the course of empire southward? In three annual mes- 
sages he urged upon Congress the acquisition of Cuba "by fail- 
purchase." Central America, he predicted in his message of 
1858, would fall to the United States "at no distant day" by 
the natural course of events. Upon the same occasion he pro- 
posed a protectorate over northern Mexico. Repeating his recom- 
mendation the next year, he asked authority to invade Mexico 
to restore order. But his efforts were ill timed. With the coun- 

1 Howell Cobb of Georgia, Secretary of the Treasury; J. B. Floyd of Virginia, 
Secretary of War; Isaac Toucey of Connecticut, Secretary of the Navy; Jacob 
Thompson of Mississippi, Secretary of the Interior; A. V. Brown of Tennessee, 
Postmaster-General; Jeremiah S. Black of Pennsylvania, Attorney-General. 


try embroiled over the question of extending slavery within 
boundaries already possessed, Congress declined to heed the 
President's call to foreign adventure. 

The attempt to apply popular sovereignty had reached a 
critical stage when Buchanan entered office. The Republican 
campaign slogan of " Bleeding Kansas" hardly exaggerated 
conditions. If the new territory had contained a settled popula- 
tion when Pierce signed the law, the slavery question might 
perhaps have been peaceably decided. Since the region was 
virtually unoccupied, however, the Kansas-Nebraska act pre- 
cipitated a mad scramble on the part of each section for political 
control. Many organizations were formed in the North, among 
which the New England Emigrant Aid Company was outstand- 
ing, to urge colonization and assist settlers with reduced trans- 
portation fares and necessary equipment. While the Southern 
planters, hampered by smaller numbers and an undersupply of 
slaves, could not meet this competition in kind, secret lodges 
along the Missouri border held themselves ready to cross into 
Kansas and stuff the ballot boxes in behalf of Southern interests. 
The intense rivalry resulted in the establishment of two groups 
of settlements. The Northerners flocked into the Kansas River 
Valley, naming their principal town Lawrence in honor of the 
chief patron of the New England Emigrant Aid Company. The 
proslavery strongholds, on the other hand, were Atchison and 
Leavenworth on the Missouri River and Lecompton on the 

The free-soil settlers already outnumbered their antagonists 
when the first territorial legislature was chosen on March 30, 
1855, but the pro-Southern forces carried the day with the 
illegal help of the "Border Ruffians." While the legislature 
thus elected proceeded to adopt laws establishing slavery, the 
free settlers in protest set up a de facto government of their own 
and, in October, held a constitutional convention at Topeka 
which proposed to Congress a state constitution banning slavery. 1 
President Pierce, had he been so disposed, might at this junc- 
ture have solved the difficulties by declaring both governments 
irregular and holding a fresh election under the protection of 

1 A bill to admit Kansas under the Topeka constitution passed the House of 
Representatives on July 3, 1856, but received scant consideration in the Senate. 


federal bayonets. Instead, he adopted a narrowly legal view, 
siding with the proslavery legislature and pledging the full 
power of his office "to support public order." Emboldened by 
such high sanction, the pro-Southern leaders took vigorous steps 
to crush the Topeka government. The free-soil "governor" 
and his chief associates were indicted for treason and on May 21, 
1856, a proslavery force, acting as a posse, invaded Lawrence 
and sacked it. 

A few days passed and then the country, for the first time, 
heard the name of John Brown. Born in Connecticut, he had 
grown to manhood amidst frontier conditions in northern Ohio. 
Both his mother and grandmother had died insane and a sister 
and five cousins suffered from the same affliction. Imbibing an 
intense hatred of slavery in childhood, he became convinced 
that he was, in some way, divinely appointed to accomplish its 
doom. In August, 1855, he set out for Osawatomie, Kansas, 
where his five sons had preceded him, traveling in a one-horse 
wagon filled with guns and ammunition. Incensed by the at- 
tack on Lawrence, he resolved, in the spirit of Old Testament 
justice, to slay five pro-Southerners to atone for an equal number 
of deaths of free-soilers. On the night of May 24 he and his band 
fell upon a settlement on Pottawatomie Creek and ruthlessly 
executed his purpose. The massacre served as fuel to the spread- 
ing flames. For several months parties of men from each side 
roamed the country, plundering and killing. In all, two hundred 
lives were lost and two million dollars' worth of property de- 
stroyed. Only a vigorous employment of United States troops 
finally brought the guerrilla warfare to an end in November, 

Though the proslavery party occupied the seats of power in 
the territory, it was certain that the next election would go 
against them. In anticipation of the event they summoned a 
constitutional convention which, meeting at Lecompton in 
September, 1857, drew up a proslavery constitution. To make 
assurance doubly sure, the convention refused to give the people 
a clear choice between accepting or rejecting the instrument. 
The voters were, in effect, permitted merely to affirm whether 
they favored the Lecompton constitution with or without the 
further introduction of slaves. Outraged by this fresh perversion 


of popular sovereignty, the free-soil partisans, who had already 
declined to participate in the election of delegates, once more 
stayed away from the polls. The constitution was ratified with 
the extreme slavery clause by a vote of 6226 to 569. When the 
free-soilers captured the new legislature in October, they resub- 
mitted the constitution to the people on the express issue of ac- 
ceptance or rejection. It was defeated by 10,226 to 162, the pro- 
Southerners this time refusing to vote. 

However irregular these proceedings, it was clear that a large 
majority opposed the proslavery constitution. Yet President 
Buchanan, as narrowly legalistic as his predecessor and laboring 
under a similar influence, urged Congress to grant statehood to 
Kansas under the Lecompton instrument. One Democratic 
chieftain, however, none other than the great proponent of 
popular sovereignty himself, held differently. Douglas warned 
Congress that he would not have the doctrine used as " trickery 
and jugglery to defeat the fair expression of the will of the people." 
In bold defiance of the administration he set about to prevent 
favorable action. Feeling ran high in Congress, Buchanan per- 
sonally threatened the Little Giant with political oblivion, and 
the administration press charged him with having turned u Black 
Republican." Though Douglas's efforts proved unsuccessful in 
the Senate, the House on April i, 1858, defeated the President's 

For a month the Kansas matter stood at a halt; then the dead- 
lock was broken by a compromise measure, the so-called English 
bill. This act authorized a third submission of the Lecompton 
constitution to popular vote, with the provision, however, that, 
in case of acceptance, Kansas should receive a specified grant of 
government lands within the state and, in case of rejection, 
statehood should wait until the population reached the number 
(93,560) necessary for a Representative in Congress. Though the 
bill was manifestly unfair and Douglas voted against it, it at 
least gave the people a chance to reject the instrument entire. 
This the voters proceeded to do in August, 1858, by a majority 
of 11,300 to 1788. The protracted conflict over Kansas added 
immeasurably to sectional ill will, for the nation was deeply 
stirred by the dramatic and ruthless struggle. Though the con* 
test was conducted by fanatics on the two sides, the law-abiding 


citizens of each section came to regard the extremists of the other 
as representing the general state of mind. Meantime Kansas 
remained a territory until January, 1861, when the withdrawal 
of Southern Congressmen made possible its admission as a free 


In his inaugural address Buchanan had voiced the hope that 
all contention over the status of slavery in the territories would 
soon be stilled by a forthcoming judgment of the Supreme Court. 
Two days later, on March 6, 1857, the famous decision of Dred 
Scott v. Sandford was announced. Dred Scott was a Missouri 
slave who some twenty years before had been taken by his then 
master, an army surgeon, to reside at various posts in the free 
state of Illinois and, later, to a fort in the northern part of the 
Louisiana Purchase where slavery was forbidden by the Missouri 
Compromise. Returning to Missouri and becoming discontented 
with his lot, Dred was prompted by some antislavery lawyers 
to begin suit for liberation on the score of his residence on free 
soil. 1 Meantime he was sold to an absentee master residing in 
another state. After a long period of litigation the case finally 
reached the federal Supreme Court. The Negro's right to sue 
there rested upon the constitutional provision granting the fed- 
eral judiciary jurisdiction in cases arising between citizens of 
different states. The Supreme Court, therefore, had to decide 
the preliminary question, was Dred really a citizen? before it 
could consider the question, was he a freeman? If it decided 
against his claim to citizenship, the practice of the court dic- 
tated that it would not then pass upon the more important 
question of his freedom. 

The majority of the court held that he was not a citizen, 
asserting that Negroes had not been citizens of any state at the 
time of the formation of the Constitution, and that the Consti- 
tution, in their judgment, was intended to apply only to the white 
race. Here, according to precedent, the case should have ended, 
but Chief Justice Roger B. Taney and his associates felt that an 
opinion on the merits of the case from the preeminent judicial 

1 The fact that the Missouri Compromise was repealed in 1854 had, of course, 
no bearing upon Dred Scott's rights under that law while it was still in force. 


tribunal would remove a dangerous question from the political 
arena. The court, therefore, went on to declare that the Missouri 
Compromise had all along been void, for Congress lacked the 
constitutional right to enact a law which arbitrarily deprived 
persons of their property, slave or otherwise, in the territories 
of the United States. 1 Accordingly; Dred Scott was not entitled 
to freedom and, by the same token, masters had a constitutional 
right to hold slaves anywhere in the territories. The court 
attached no importance to Dred Scott's sojourn in Illinois, argu- 
ing that, since Ms residence was only temporary, his status as 
slave or freeman depended upon the laws of Missouri, not 

The decision created fierce excitement throughout the North, 
increased by the fact that the court itself had not been in agree- 
ment, two members from the free states dissenting. Mr. Justice 
B. R. Curtis, challenging the assumption that Negroes had 
never been citizens in any of the states, insisted that Dred Scott 
was a citizen within the meaning of the Constitution. He justified 
the Missouri Compromise by the constitutional power of Con- 
gress to "make all needful rules and regulations" for the federal 
territories, rejecting Taney's view that this grant of authority 
was limited to the original area of the United States. He further 
contended that the judgment of the court in regard to the 
Missouri Compromise was an obiter dictum, that is, a pronounce- 
ment on matters not properly before the judges. As such, it had 
no legal binding effect. 

Republican indignation was unrestrained. Not even in Jef- 
ferson's time had the judiciary come in for such bitter condemna- 
tion. Republican spokesmen made the most of the fact that seven 
of the nine judges were Democrats, five of them from slave 
states. Greeley declared in the Tribune that Taney's decision 
was "entitled to just so much moral weight as would be the judg- 
ment of a majority of those congregated in any Washington 
bar-room." Thousands of copies of the dissenting opinions were 
printed and circulated as campaign documents. In reality, the 
party was in a bad predicament, for, if the Dred Scott decision 
were binding, then the Republican platform was unconstitutional 

1 "Nor shall any person ... be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without 
due process of law." Constitution, Amendment V. 


and the party must disband. For the Southern Democrats the 
decision was a great victory, since it gave judicial sanction to 
the extreme theory of slavery in the territories. Northern Demo- 
crats, on the other hand, accepted it with mental reservations. 
Douglas and his followers did not fail to see that the doctrine 
of the Dred Scott case ran counter to, if it did not outlaw, the 
theory of popular sovereignty. 


The Republicans, conscious of the growing appeal of their 
party in the North, looked eagerly to a new trial of strength in 
the fall elections of 1858. To Northern wrath over "Bleeding 
Kansas" was now added resentment over the Dred Scott decision; 
and both meant converts to the cause. In 1857 occurred another 
event which, in the minds of the unthinking, further discredited 
the party in power: a financial storm burst upon the country 
that did not entirely clear away during Buchanan's term of 
office. The Panic of 1857 was the price exacted for the excessive 
commercial and industrial development which had marked the 
years that went before. Flush times had produced the usual orgy 
of speculation and imprudent investment. In anticipation of the 
future growth of the country, railroads, manufacturers and pro- 
moters of all kinds had burdened themselves with indebtedness 
beyond their existing power to repay. The crash came in the 
summer and autumn. Fourteen railway corporations failed; 
banks and insurance companies suspended; factories closed their 
doors. As untold numbers of wage-earners faced the winter of 
1857-1858 without work, " hunger meetings/ 7 often tinged with 
revolutionary bitterness, took place in Eastern centers. The 
Western farmers, too, were involved in the disaster. Crops were 
scarcely moved in some localities and grain exports diminished 
by half. Even the South, despite the relative absence of specu- 
lation there, did not wholly escape. According to Senator Ham- 
mond of South Carolina, the Northern failure to advance money 
as usual to market its crops inflicted a loss of $35,000,000. 
Many Southerners discovered in this default a fresh reason why 
their section should live its economic life apart from the North. 

As the country recovered from the shock of the panic, the 
autumn elections were at hand. Throughout the North the 


Republicans waged active campaigns and in every state but Illi- 
nois and Indiana their opponents lost ground. Even the Presi- 
dent's own state of Pennsylvania turned from him because of 
umbrage at the tariff of 1857 (see page 9) and the inroads of 
the panic on the iron industry. The senatorial contest in Illinois 
possessed unusual features of interest. The Republicans there 
had nominated Abraham Lincoln, a lawyer of local repute with 
some slight experience in the state legislature and Congress. Op- 
posed to him was the veteran Douglas whose recent break with 
Buchanan over the Lecompton constitution had earlier prompted 
Greeley and other Easterners to advise their Illinois brethren 
not to put up a candidate against him. They saw in the Little 
Giant a possible accession of strength to their own party. 

As the new Senator was to be chosen by a legislature not yet 
elected, the rival candidates went before the voters of Illinois 
in a series of seven joint debates to acquaint them with the issues. 
Upon the lean and ungainly Lincoln rested the burden of the 
attack. Not only was he challenging Douglas's right to con- 
tinue in the Senate, but he was also spokesman for a new party. 
Striking the first blow in his speech accepting the nomination , 
he undertook to convince the people of the aggressive proslavery 
purposes of the Democrats. Before it was too late, he asserted, 
the free-soil North must take a bold stand against the "Slave 
Power/' for the Dred Scott decision was merely an entering 
wedge for a later pronouncement that would legalize slavery 
throughout the land. U 'A house divided against itself cannot 
stand.' I believe this government cannot endure permanently 
half slave and half free. ... It will become all one thing or all 
the other." Lincoln, of course, was expressing not a purpose 
but the perception of a great truth; but Douglas, seizing the 
opportunity, made an adroit countercharge that the Republicans 
were plotting to destroy slavery within the Southern states. 

Lincoln next undertook to show that Douglas, despite his 
stand against the Lecompton constitution, was unworthy of 
Republican support. Douglas's opposition, he pointed out, had 
been actuated not by antislavery motives but by his attachment 
to popular sovereignty. With fine rhetorical effect he quoted 
Douglas's own words in Congress: "If Kansas wants a slave- 
state Constitution T she has a right to it; if she wants a free- 


state Constitution, she has a right to it. ... I care not whether 
it [slavery] is voted down or voted up." Finally, Lincoln took 
occasion to bring to sharp public notice the contradiction be- 
tween the Dred Scott pronouncement, which legalized slavery 
in all federal territories, and Douglas's doctrine of 1854, which 
left the matter to the territorial legislature. By asking Douglas 
to reconcile the two positions Lincoln placed him in a dilemma. 1 
If he reaffirmed the right of popular sovereignty, he would re- 
tain the loyalty of the Illinois farmers, imbued with frontier 
ideals of democracy, but such a declaration would deprive the 
Dred Scott decision of its force and alienate Southern backing 
for the presidency in 1860. On the other hand, a confession that 
popular sovereignty had been outlawed by the action of the 
Supreme Court would insure his defeat in the election at hand. 

Douglas's reply is known as the Freeport Doctrine or ? as the 
Southern Democrats called it, the Freeport Heresy. He drew a 
distinction between theory and practice in the application of 
the Dred Scott decision. In theory, slavery might exist through- 
out the federal domain; in practice, no master would go where 
his right of slaveholding was not fully protected by territorial 
law. Therefore, he concluded, the failure of a legislature to 
enact such a body of law, or "slave code," would have the prac- 
tical effect of excluding slavery. 2 Whatever other motives may 
have influenced him, Douglas's stand at Freeport revealed his 
fidelity to cherished convictions long held. Taking the side of 
his neighbors and friends, he won reelection to the Senate, but 
his utterance cast dismay into the ranks of the Southern mem- 
bers of his party. 

The year 1859 found sectional strife once more assuming the 
ominous form of anarchy and bloodshed. Since his gory exploit 
three years before in Kansas, John Brown's ill-balanced mind 
had continued to brood over the evils of slavery. Now, aided 

1 Lincoln's question was: "Can the people of a United States territory, in any 
lawful way, against the wish of any citizen of the United States, exclude slavery 
from its limits prior to the formation of a state constitution? " 

2 This was his soundest contention, but, as a matter of fact, he also claimed that, 
since the Dred Scott decision merely forbade Congress to exclude slavery from the 
territories, the territorial legislative still retained that power, at least until the 
Supreme Court should declare to the contrary. In other words, a free-soil legis- 
lature might prevent the existence of slavery by "unfriendly legislation." 


and abetted by a few antislavery extremists in New England, he 
planned a more desperate stroke against it. Gathering a band 
of twenty-one followers, five of them Negroes, he seized the 
federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia, on Sunday night, 
October 16. His scheme was to summon the slaves of the South 
to his standard and, from the mountain fastnesses near by, dic- 
tate the terms of their liberation. When dawn came, men armed 
with a medley of weapons poured into the village and, with the 
help of some militia companies, began a counterattack. That 
night Colonel Robert E. Lee arrived with a company of United 
States marines, and early the next morning Brown and his sur- 
viving men were overpowered and made prisoners. 

A thrill of horror ran through the nation. For many South- 
erners Brown's fanatical attempt confirmed their worst fears 
as to the hidden purposes of the " Black Republicans." In re- 
taliation, governors of several states recommended opening 
Southern ports to foreign trade and levying high excise taxes on 
Northern-made goods. Antislavery zealots, on the other hand, 
hailed Brown as a noble martyr to a great cause. Most North- 
erners, however, repudiated the exploit, for they rightly saw in 
it an assault not against the South but upon all organized so- 
ciety and democratic methods of securing progress. Brown was 
promptly tried for conspiracy, treason and murder. Seventeen 
affidavits by neighbors and friends attesting their belief that he 
was insane were not considered, and on December 2, 1859, he 
was publicly hanged. The nobility of his bearing in these last 
weeks impressed all who saw him. To the end he believed he 
was an instrument in the hands of God. 


In the new Congress which met a few days after John Brown's 
execution, the Northern and Southern members faced each other 
like enemies belonging to hostile nations rather than like brethren 
of a common country. Charges and countercharges punctuated 
the discussions. Threats of secession were made with increasing 
vehemence by Southern "fire-eaters," and Senator Seward was 
openly accused of having instigated Brown's criminal adventure. 
"The members on both sides are mostly armed with deadly 
weapons," Senator J. W. Grimes of Iowa wrote to Ms wife, "and 


it is said that the friends of each are armed in the galleries." 
On several occasions violent clashes between members were only 
narrowly averted. While the administration party still controlled 
the Senate, in the House a Democratic majority of twenty-five 
had changed to a Republican plurality of twenty-one. The 
Republicans lacked an absolute majority, however, and it re- 
quired nearly two months before they could elect one of their 
number Speaker. 

The bitterness of the struggle over the speakership was sharp- 
ened by angry allusions of Southern members to an abolitionist 
tract, Hinton R. Helper's The Impending Crisis of the South, 
which sixty-four Republican Congressmen had formally indorsed 
in print. The animus of this latest assault on slavery was differ- 
ent from that of Uncle Tom's Cabin. The author, himself a 
nonslaveholding North Carolinian, asked the pregnant question: 
for whose good was slavery? Fortified by a mass of facts gleaned 
from the census reports, he answered that its direct benefits 
accrued to but a fraction of the white population, the " lords 
of the lash." This minority alone possessed the wealth, luxury 
and culture of which the Southland boasted, leaving the bulk 
of the people in " galling poverty and ignorance," deprived of 
equal economic, social and political opportunities. The slavery 
system had cursed Dixie with "comparative imbecility and 
obscurity," while the North without this incumbrance had 
attained " almost unexampled power and eminence." Helper's 
book was a forthright and convincing argument on behalf of 
the Southern white proletariat against cotton capitalism and all 
its works. Though virtually without circulation in the slave 
states, the Republicans printed a hundred thousand copies for 
Northern reading in the approaching presidential campaign, 
winning many converts to their cause among voters who had 
been left untouched by the real or fancied wrongs of the 

The basic antagonism between the slavery and free-labor sys- 
tems was further impressed upon the Northern farming and wage- 
earning classes by Buchanan's veto of a homestead bill in June, 
1860. For more than a decade efforts had been made to secure a 
law giving actual settlers free farms of 160 acres from the public 
domain. In the House Andrew Johnson, a "poor-white " member 


from Tennessee, had pressed the matter, workingmen's associa- 
tions in the North had championed it, and it will be recalled that 
in 1854 a bill for the purpose had passed the lower branch, only 
to suffer defeat in the upper. Again in February, 1859, a similar 
proposal, adopted by the House, failed in the proslavery Senate. 
The Southern members, viewing the measure through the dis- 
torting lenses of sectional hostility, saw truly that such a law, if 
enacted, would quickly fill the federal territories with antislavery 
Northerners who would lightly brush aside court decisions op- 
posed to their interests or convictions. 

When the matter came before Congress once more, in the 
spring of 1860, the Democrats had to tread warily for fear of 
offending possible Northern support in the coming .national elec- 
tion. The demand for free land was particularly popular in the 
Midwest, and everywhere it enlisted the enthusiasm of the Ger- 
mans and other recent citizens. The Senate, however, could not 
quite bring itself to accept a new House bill for free homesteads. 
Instead, it finally compromised upon a measure authorizing the 
sale of tracts of 160 acres at the low price of twenty-five cents 
an acre, one fifth the existing rate. But Buchanan, bolder than 
his party associates in Congress, vetoed the bill, alleging it 
would tend to depopulate the older states, sap the frontiersmen's 
"noble spirit of independence," and even propagate ^ : pernicious 
social theories which have proved so disastrous in other coun- 
tries/ 7 

Meantime, while fighting the common enemy, the members of 
the President's party had sought vainly to patch up their internal 
differences. Douglas's independent course, begun at the time of 
the Lecompton fight and continued in the Freeport Heresy, 
had made him a frail reed for the planting interests to lean on. 
Without delay the proslavery leaders notified him of the price 
he must pay for their backing in the impending Democratic con- 
vention: he must agree to support the passage of a congressional 
slave code applicable to all the federal territories. This was 
their reply to his assertion at Freeport that slavery could be 
barred from a territory by the failure of the local legislature 
to enact protective laws. Resolutions framed by Jefferson Davis 
and declaring the obligation of Congress to provide a territorial 
slave code were presented in the Senate in February, 1860, and 


eventually adopted by the Democratic majority. But Douglas 
disregarded the ultimatum. 

When the party convention met on April 23 at Charleston, 
South Carolina, the matter was pressed to a decision. Two plat- 
forms were submitted to the delegates, one embodying in sub- 
stance Davis's demand and the other phrased in the spirit of 
Douglas's Freeport utterance. The Northern faction carried 
the day, though at the cost of the withdrawal of eight Southern 
delegations from the hall. In the voting for the presidential 
nomination Douglas led on all fifty-seven ballots, but could not 
command the necessary two thirds of the convention's original 
membership. His nomination, however, was accomplished sev- 
eral weeks later at an adjourned session in Baltimore under a 
rule requiring a two-thirds majority of only those present. As 
a sop to the South, Herschel V. Johnson of Georgia was asso- 
ciated with him as running mate. Meantime, the Southern 
Democrats, deciding to place their own ticket in the field, held 
a convention at which they unanimously adopted the proslavery 
platform rejected at Charleston and chose as their candidates 
John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky and Joseph Lane of Oregon. 
Apart from the central question, the rival platforms agreed in 
demanding the acquisition of Cuba on " honorable " terms and 
the building of a Pacific railway. 

While the Democrats were quarreling among themselves the 
Republicans proceeded exultantly to their own nominations. 
The chief aspirants for head of the ticket were Seward and Lin- 
coln. The former, an Easterner long prominent in national affairs, 
seemed to have a prior claim to the honor. Though generally 
moderate in his views, he had recently won Northern applause 
by his resounding declaration that the issue between North and 
South was "an irrepressible conflict between opposing and en- 
during forces." Lincoln's greatest asset, on the other hand, was 
his relative obscurity. Unlike the New Yorker, he bore no 
obvious handicap of old political enmities, no burden of past 
antagonisms likely to prove harmful in doubtful states. Be- 
sides, as a son of "poor- white" parents and a self-made man, 
" Honest Abe, the Rail-Splitter," would appeal strongly to the 
plain people of the North. 

When the convention assembled in Chicago on May 16, his 


friends left nothing undone to bring success. The Indiana and 
Pennsylvania delegations were won over by promises of cabinet 
positions, agreements to which Lincoln himself was not a party 
though he later carried them out. Seward's supporters were no 
less active, but on the third ballot the Westerner captured the 
prize. The second place went to Hannibal Hamlin of Maine. 
The platform was marked by moderation, being framed espe- 
cially to attract Northern voters who had not yet identified 
themselves with the party. Reaffirming opposition to slavery in 
the federal domain, it demanded statehood for Kansas and de- 
nounced "the new dogma that the Constitution, of its own force, 
carries slavery into any or all the territories." With an eye to 
the Midwest the party promised free homesteads and, with a 
squint at the Pennsylvania iron districts, advocated a tariff to 
encourage "the industrial interests." No mention was made of 
the fugitive-slave law, and John Brown's raid was branded as 
" among the gravest of crimes." Like their opponents, the Re- 
publicans indorsed a transcontinental railway. As for threats 
of disunion, they declared that "the union of the States must 
and shall be preserved." 

Still another convention was held on May 9, composed mostly 
of old men who were one in spirit with the venerable statesmen 
who had saved the nation in 1850. Adopting the name of the 
Constitutional Union party, they drew up a brief platform 
recognizing "no political principle other than the Constitution 
of the country, the union of the States, and the enforcement of 
the laws." They hoped to settle the sectional question by ig- 
noring it. As candidates they named John Bell of Tennessee 
and Edward Everett of Massachusetts. Though the ensuing 
campaign was less exciting than that of 1856, James Russell 
Lowell in the newly established Atlantic Monthly rightly called 
it "a turning-point in our history." The shrewdness of the Re- 
publican tactics became quickly evident. Everywhere profiting 
from Northern resentment against the "Slave Power," the party 
found the tariff a particularly potent issue in Pennsylvania and 
New Jersey, while the slogan, "Free Homes for the Homeless," 
proved equally effective among the Western farmers. Special 
efforts were made, with the help of Carl Schurz and other immi- 
grant leaders, to mobilize the German and Scandinavian vote. 


Seward, campaigning vigorously for his erstwhile rival, took 
occasion in St. Louis and other appropriate places to praise the 
"onward striving, freedom-loving German inhabitants," 1 

The large moneyed interests of the East, on the other hand, 
feared lest Republican victory bring secession and a general 
derangement of business. William B. Astor and other financial 
magnates are said to have raised two million dollars to defeat 
the ticket in New York state. In most of the South the Republi- 

Lincoln (Hep.) 180 elect, votes 
Breckinridge (Sou. Dem.) 72 el 
ell (Const. Unionist} $9 elect, votes 
las (Nor. JDem.) 12 elect, votes 


cans made no efforts, for their platform "could not cross the 
Ohio River." Indeed, many voters in Dixie supposed that Lin- 
coln's running mate was a mulatto. As election time drew near, 
Douglas, alarmed by the increasing violence of Southern threats 
of secession in the event of a Republican triumph, made a speak- 
ing tour through five slave states. Everywhere he pledged his 
support to an undivided country. At Norfolk, Virginia, he de- 
clared flatly that the next President, "whoever he may be, should 

1 It is noteworthy that shortly before the Republican convention a group of 
representative Germans, meeting in Chicago, had called upon the party to favor a 
homestead law, oppose the extension of slavery and resist measures unfriendly to 
naturalized citizens, Lincoln himself, while angling for the nomination, had found 
it expedient to become owner of a German paper in Springfield for a period lasting 
until after his election as President. 


treat all attempts to break up the Union by resistance to its 
laws, as Old Hickory treated the nullifiers of 1832." In the elec- 
toral count Lincoln received 180 votes, all from free states, 
Breckinridge 72, all from slave states, while Bell and Douglas 
divided the border states between them, receiving 39 and 12 
votes respectively. These figures, however, do not correctly re- 
flect the relative popular following of each candidate, for Lin- 
coln polled about forty per cent of the popular ballots, Douglas 
more than twenty-nine, Breckinridge eighteen and Bell nearly 
thirteen. Lincoln's three opponents commanded a total vote of 
almost a million more than he. Yet if all the ballots cast for them 
had been given to any one of the three, the Republican candidate 
would still have won a majority in the electoral college. The 
party, however, failed to carry either branch of Congress. 


The Party Revolution. The disintegration of the old Whig organization 
is treated in Cole, The Whig Party in the South, and Mueller, The Whig 
Party in Pennsylvania. Scisco, Political Natimsm in New York State, is the 
best of the state studies of the Know Nothing movement. The other new 
party is the special theme of Crandall, The Early History of the Republican 
Parly, 1854-1856, while further light is thrown on it by Nevins, Fremont, 
and Bartlett, John C. Fremont and the Republican Party. 

The Drive for Slavery Extension. Curtis, Life of James Buchanan, is 
useful for this period. Efforts to secure Cuba receive detailed discussion in 
Callahan, Cuba and International Relations. Of the many accounts of the 
Kansas struggle perhaps the most objective is Spring, Kansas; the Prelude 
to the War for the Union. 

The Supreme Court and Slavery Extension. Two excellent discussions 
of the Dred Scott decision may be found in Warren, The Supreme Court in 
United States History , and Beveridge, Abraham Lincoln, the latter a detailed 
biography carrying its subject through the year 1858. 

The Widening of the Sectional Breach, The Panic of 1857 is given spe- 
cial study in D unbar, Economic Essays. The Lincoln-Douglas debates are 
fully treated in Beveridge's Lincoln, II. Of the numerous lives of Brown, 
Villard, John Brown, 1800-1859, is the best balanced. 

The Crucial Election of 1860. The efforts for a homestead law are pains- 
takingly traced in Stephenson, The Political History of the Public Lands from 
1840 to 1862. The major aspects of the presidential contest of 1860 can be 
followed in Fite, The Presidential Campaign of 1860, which has an anti- 
Douglas bias, and the early chapters of Dumond, The Secession Movement, 



'THHE election of Lincoln roused a storm of emotions in the 
JL breasts of Southern leaders. Did Republican success justify 
execution of the oft-threatened withdrawal from the Union? 
Notwithstanding the fulminations of the " fire-eaters/ ' the tide 
of American nationality ran strong in Dixie, and a decision in- 
volving dismemberment of a nation which Southern statesmen 
had done so much to build was not lightly to be made. The right 
of separation was generally admitted, but did the existing cir- 
cumstances justify the exercise of the right? In an address before 
the Georgia legislature on November 14 Alexander H. Stephens 
declared emphatically in the negative. He pointed out that the 
President could "do nothing unless backed by power in Con- 
gress/' and in that body the Republicans lacked a majority. 
If the new chief executive should violate the Constitution, then 
would come the time for action. Certain other leaders also 
counseled delay, but for the purpose of insuring that the several 
slave states should act as a unit in the crisis. Still others favored 
secession, not as an irrevocable step, but as a temporary ex- 
pedient, believing with the Georgian, T. R. R. Cobb, that "We 
can make better terms out of the Union than in it." 

The psychology of the situation, however, played inevitably 
into the hands of the extremists. Twenty-five years of sectional 
bickering had tended to make Southerners and Northerners 
forget they were two branches of the same people. All the influ- 
ential agencies for the dissemination of propaganda the print- 
ing press, the church, the school had fed the flames of mutual 
distrust, hatred and fear. As Dr. Francis Lieber, a political 
economist who had lived in both sections, wrote in 1860, "What 
Thucydides said of the Greeks at the time of the Peloponnesian 
War applies to us at the present. 'The Greeks,' he said, 'did 
not understand each other any longer, though they spoke the 



same language; words received a different meaning in different 
parts.' " Exaggerated fears of what might happen under a " Black 
Republican" administration became transformed into a convic- 
tion of assured calamities. Moreover, Lincoln's kindly and essen- 
tially conservative nature was unknown to most Southerners, 
who, however, were well apprised of his threatening sentiment 
that the Union must become all slave or all free. Was it not better 
to secede, they argued, before the abolition party completely 
dominated the federal government? 

The extreme secessionists were strongest in the seaboard and 
Gulf states from South Carolina to Texas. Here, amidst a 
dense slave population, where King Cotton reigned supreme, 
sensitiveness to antislavery criticism was keenest. Under the 
urging of such men as Toombs in Georgia, Yancey in Alabama 
and Hammond and R. B. Rhett in South Carolina, the movement 
for disunion plunged on. Jefferson Davis, though at first advis- 
ing delay and cautious action, soon joined the others. While 
most Southerners held that, in any case, the inalienable right 
of revolution justified their course, the seceding states never- 
theless took care to observe legal forms in severing the bonds 
of union. In conformity with the teachings of Calhoun, special 
state conventions were summoned to adopt ordinances of seces- 
sion, thus reversing the process by which the Constitution had 
originally been accepted. Appropriately enough, South Carolina 
took the lead. Upon receiving word of Lincoln's election, the 
legislature, having remained in session for the express purpose, 
issued a call for a state convention. On December 20, 1860, 
amid intense excitement, that body formally repealed the act 
of 1788 ratifying the Constitution, and " dissolved " the "union 
now subsisting between South Carolina and other States, under 
the name of the l United States of America.'" By February r, 
1861, similar action had been taken successively by Mississippi, 
Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas. 

The ordinances of secession were usually accompanied by a 
formal statement of the justifying causes. In general, four 
reasons were assigned. The growing preponderance of the North 
in Congress was pointed to as the prolific source of policies and 
legislation designed to promote Northern economic welfare at 
the cost of the South. Much was made, also, of the waxing 

THE GREAT DECISION, 1860-1861 49 

strength and increasing aggression of the antislavery forces, as 
exemplified by the personal-liberty laws, defiance of the Supreme 
Court and John Brown's raid. Such acts were held to violate 
the "constitutional compact" and thereby to release the Southern 
states from their obligations. Next, slavery was justified as a 
positive good. In the words of the Mississippi convention, slave 
labor "supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest 
and most important portions of the commerce of the earth . . , 
and by an imperious law of nature none but the black race can 
bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become 
necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at com- 
merce and civilization." But the most fundamental justification 
of all, in the minds of Southerners, may be summed up in the 
modern expression: the right of self-determination. The South 
demanded the right to live its own life in its own way under 
such social institutions as it found satisfactory. In this sense, 
the official statements of causes may be regarded as declarations 
of independence. As Mississippi said, "We must either submit 
to degradation and to loss of property worth four billions of 
money or we must secede from the Union framed by our fathers, 
to secure this as well as every other species of property. For far 
less cause than this our fathers separated from the Crown of 

That the seceding states, in following their separate courses, 
acted in response to an underlying sense of Southern nationality 
became quickly apparent. Delegates from the several states, 
meeting at Montgomery, Alabama, on February 4, 1861, organ- 
ized a new federal government under the name of the Confed- 
erate States of America. Davis was chosen President, though 
much against his wishes, for he aspired to command one of the 
armies of the new nation. As a concession to the moderates, 
the vice-presidency was bestowed upon Stephens, who had done 
more than any other Southerner to postpone and defeat secession. 
The Confederate Constitution was closely modeled upon that of 
the United States, but there were certain significant differences. 
One body of provisions aimed to establish beyond question the 
Southern position on the various sectional questions that had 
arisen in the past. Congress was forbidden to subsidize internal 
improvements (except as an aid to navigation), or to lay pro tec- 


tive tariffs, or to grant bounties. Negro bondage was to be safe- 
guarded in aU territories, and property in slaves should never 
be impaired. Nothing specific, however, was said about the 
right of secession, though three distinct proposals to affirm the 
right had been presented in the convention. A second group of 
clauses provided for certain reforms in governmental procedure, 
suggested by experience under the old Constitution. For ex- 
ample, the President was limited to a single six-year term, 
he could veto individual items in appropriation bills, and an 
executive budget system was provided for. 

Only seven states were represented at Montgomery, but the 
architects of the new republic expected the early adhesion of the 
eight slave states which, as yet, continued loyal to the old Union. 
Indeed, in their high enthusiasm, they anticipated an extension 
beyond these natural limits. Stephens, now an ardent supporter 
of the Confederacy, predicted in a notable speech at Savannah, 
" Looking to the distant future, and perhaps not very far distant 
either, it is not beyond the range of possibility, and even prob- 
ability, that all the great states of the north-west will gravitate 
this way." The sequel was to show that the Confederate leaders 
were too optimistic, even in regard to all those states which had 
domestic institutions like those of the Lower South. 


The Northern people watched these developments in the 
Lower South with bewilderment and indecision. Few had antic- 
ipated such an eventuality, for Southern threats of secession 
had been looked upon as mere bombast and brag. Nor was the 
North a unit on the slavery question a fact amply evident 
from Douglas's success in polling well over a million votes in the 
free states. In any contingency, many people preferred a perma- 
nent disruption of the Union to the terrible alternative of a 
fratricidal war. Antislavery radicals, for their part, declared 
publicly that the departure of the slave states was good riddance. 
"If the cotton States shall decide that they can do better out of 
the Union than in it," asserted the New York Tribune, "we insist 
on letting them go in peace." A national convention of working- 
men at Philadelphia in February, 1861, agreed that "our Gov- 
ernment never can be sustained by bloodshed but must live in 

THE GREAT DECISION, 1860-1861 51 

the affections of the people; we are, therefore, utterly opposed 
to any measures that will evoke civil war." On the other hand, 
there were those who could declare, like Senator E. D. Baker 
of Oregon, "We of the North are a majority of the Union, and 
we will govern our Union in our own way. 7 ' 

The responsibility for formulating a policy to cope with the 
crisis devolved upon the outgoing President and his Congress, 
but their course was inevitably influenced by the uncertain 
state of public opinion. Buchanan was at this time nearly 
seventy years of age, by nature timid, and a strict constitution- 
alist accustomed to view public questions through Southern 
spectacles. Flinching from any action likely to precipitate civil 
conflict, he felt also an obligation to maintain the status quo 
until the new administration took hold. In his message of De- 
cember 4, 1860, he outlined his policy. He denied absolutely 
the constitutionality of secession, but at the same time declared 
the Constitution nowhere gave the federal government authority 
to compel a state to remain in the Union by force. 1 Placing the 
chief blame for the difficulties upon the North, he proposed an 
amendment to the Constitution, which would concede the ex- 
treme Southern contentions in regard to the Dred Scott decision, 
the fugitive-slave act, and the unconstitutionality of the personal- 
liberty laws. 

Unfortunately for the President's peace of mind the situation 
called for more than well-intentioned words. What should be 
done about the seacoast forts and other federal property within 
the borders of the Confederacy? Buchanan was torn alternately 
between the advice of proslavery disunionists and Northern 
nationalists. The most critical situation existed at Charleston, 
South Carolina, where Major Robert Anderson and a small body 
of men occupied Fort Sumter on an island in the harbor. Old 
General Winfield Scott urged swift and decisive action, seeking 
to stiffen the President's resolution by recounting the military 
measures he had taken years before at Jackson's behest to meet 

1 In one portion of his message, he made allusion to the obligation of the Presi- 
dent to enforce the laws throughout the land, but, unlike either Jackson in 1832 or 
Lincoln when he entered office, he failed to find therein ample power for the sup- 
pression of an unlawful movement against federal authority. Yet, if Buchanan 
had begun a second term in March, 1 86 1, it is not impossible that his course might 
have been much like Lincoln's. 


the nullification crisis in South Carolina. Buchanan's indecision 
caused Cass's resignation as Secretary of State in December. 
Finally, in January, 1861, Buchanan dispatched an armed 
steamer, the Star of the West, to Fort Sumter with military sup- 
plies and reinforcements of two hundred men. Upon her arrival 
at daybreak on January 9, the Confederate batteries on the shore 
opened fire. Since Major Anderson, ignorant of the government's 
plans, was unprepared to lend prompt support, she hurried back 
to New York. The firing upon the Star of the West was really 
an act of war, but Buchanan did not make an issue of it. Mean- 
time, the secessionists took peaceable possession of two unoccu- 
pied forts in Charleston Harbor and of the customhouse and 
arsenal. Elsewhere in the Confederacy the federal forts and 
arsenals, left unprotected, were also quietly taken over, save only 
Fort Pickens at Pensacola, which remained in Union hands 
throughout the war. 

Buchanan's inaction may, in part, be accounted for by the 
belief of statesmen in both sections that civil war might yet be 
averted, as in 1850, through compromise measures. The most 
conspicuous champion of this solution, Crittenden of Kentucky, 
Clay's successor in the Senate, proposed a constitutional amend- 
ment reestablishing the Missouri Compromise line in the terri- 
tories, with the protection of slavery south of the line. But the 
Republican Congressmen would have none of it, believing with 
their President-elect that such an arrangement would merely 
redouble proslavery exertions for territorial expansion southward. 
"The tug has to come, and better now than later," advised 
Lincoln. While countless other proposals were aired in Con- 
gress, the only measure actually adopted fell pathetically short 
of the needs of the occasion the submission to the states on 
March 2, 1861, of an amendment pledging Congress never to 
interfere with slavery within a state. Meanwhile, efforts for 
conciliation had been undertaken outside of Congress. In De- 
cember, 1860, seven Republican governors, meeting in New 
York, agreed to recommend to their legislatures the repeal of 
the personal-liberty laws. Such a step was taken by Rhode 
Island in January, Massachusetts and Vermont soon following 
with drastic changes in their statutes. Had any real hope inhered 
in this plan, other Northern states would probably have done 


likewise. A final attempt at adjustment was made at a " Peace 
Convention," presided over by ex-President John Tyler of Vir- 
ginia and attended by delegates from twenty-one states. Assem- 
bling in Washington on February 4, 1 86 1, at the call of Virginia, 
the gathering drafted a series of proposed amendments. The 
principal one provided that no new territory should be acquired 
without the consent of a majority of the Senators from the free 
and from the slave states. Apart from Crittenden and Douglas, 
however, the proposals found little favor when they were offered 
in the Senate. 

As James Russell Lowell wrote in the Atlantic Monthly, the 
"panacea of palaver" had failed. Nevertheless, the months of 
discussion served the purpose of convincing the Northern people 
that, peaceable means of settlement having come to naught, no 
alternative remained but war. Responsibility for the next move 
fell upon the man whose election had precipitated the crisis. It 
was the act of an inscrutable providence that Abraham Lincoln 
should have been called to the helm of state to undertake a task 
which, as he told his neighbors in Springfield upon departing for 
the capital, was " greater than that which rested upon Washing- 
ton/ 7 Born in 1809 in the border state of Kentucky, there coursed 
through his veins the blood of a vigorous stock inherited on the 
one side from New England and on the other from Virginia. 
Migrating with his parents to Indiana and then to Illinois, he 
imbibed from his youthful pioneer surroundings a passionate be- 
lief in American nationality and an ardent faith in the common 
man. His broad humanity arrayed him instinctively on the anti- 
slavery side. Yet he had little patience with the precipitate 
methods of the abolitionists, who, he believed, hurt rather than 
helped their cause, and even less with those zealots who valued 
the freedom of the Negro above national preservation. 

To the great majority of his countrymen he was but an un- 
couth backwoodsman when he entered the presidency. Indeed, 
his true greatness did not dawn on most men until after his death. 
Of the common clay himself, his mind was attuned to the un- 
spoken hopes of the masses. "The Lord must love the plain 
people," he once said in his whimsical way, "that's why he made 
so many of them." But unlike the first great American commoner, 
Jackson, he regarded himself as an instrument, rather than the 


dictator, of events. Conscious of his political inexperience, he 
counseled with all sorts and conditions of men. Yet, once having 
formed his political principles, he never yielded them. He dis- 
played endless tact and patience in the management of his 
cabinet with its contentious personalities, and submitted to dis- 
courteous treatment from overbearing men like E. M. Stanton 
and G. B. McClellan for the good of the cause. He had a deep 
understanding even of those who were seeking to destroy his 
beloved Union, adjudging them misguided rather than depraved. 
"Destruction for the idea, infinite clemency for the person such 
was his attitude." Lincoln would have been the first to protest 
against the attempts of posterity to idealize him. Human in 
every pore, homely to the verge of ugliness, awkward in manner, 
he sometimes shocked dignified statesmen by receiving them in 
slippered feet. Nor were his humorous stories always in the best 
taste, thereby winning him a reputation for flippancy on grave 
occasions. His greatest mistakes were made as an administrator, 
for he was often unfortunate in his judgment of men. But these 
qualities made him resemble the average man and endeared 
him to the plain people. 

Lincoln arrived in Washington ten days before the close of 
Buchanan's term, escaping a plot to assassinate him as he passed 
through Baltimore. The day of the inauguration dawned, dis- 
agreeable and stormy. Most of the participants were agitated 
and apprehensive. General Scott kept an anxious eye upon the 
crowd, which was commanded by cannon. Chief Justice Taney, 
author of the Dred Scott decision, administered the oath of office 
in words scarcely intelligible from emotion. Then came Lincoln's 
inaugural address, delivered with deep feeling and a trace of 
nervousness, and containing his long-awaited announcement of 
policy. Dwelling first upon the nature of the Union, he affirmed 
that it was "older than the Constitution/ 3 for it grew out of the 
fundamental sense of nationality which had animated the colonies 
in their struggle against Britain. The so-called ordinances of 
secession were "legally void," from which it followed that violent 
efforts to uphold them were " insurrectionary or revolutionary*" 
As for his own duty in the crisis, the Constitution expressly en- 
joined the President to execute the federal laws in all the states. 
"The power confided to me will be used to hold, occupy, and 

THE GREAT DECISION, 1860-1861 55 

possess the property and places belonging to the Government 
and to collect the duties and imposts." He closed with an elo- 
quent and touching plea for a restoration of the ancient bonds of 

The address was phrased cautiously, with the object of pre- 
venting the secession movement from spreading to the eight 
slave states still loyal. Yet Lincoln announced the principle 
upon which the federal government was later to wage war 
against the South. Ignoring Buchanan's assertion that the 
federal government could not legally coerce a state, he dwelt on 
his constitutional duty to execute the laws in all parts of an in- 
divisible country. In his mind, the whole situation reduced it- 
self to a transaction between the national authority, on the one 
hand, and lawless persons or groups, on the other. This view, 
he held, was in accord with the central principle of the Constitu- 
tion that the federal government operates directly upon individ- 
uals, not upon states. 

Lincoln chose a cabinet that at once commanded Northern 
confidence. All elements which had contributed to Republican 
success were represented, including his chief rivals for the nom- 
ination. Seward was appointed to the State Department, Chase, 
head of the Treasury, Simon Cameron of Pennsylvania, Secre- 
tary of War, and Gideon Welles of Connecticut, Secretary of 
the Navy. Two border slave states were recognized by the choice 
of the Missourian, Edward Bates, as Attorney- General and of 
Montgomery Blair of Maryland as Postmaster- General. 1 Almost 
at once events forced the President to put into effect the course 
he had forecast in his inaugural address. Word came from 
Major Anderson that he would have to surrender Fort Sumter 
unless he were reenforced and provisions sent. All the members 
of the cabinet, except Chase and Blair, advised evacuation, 
while General Scott gave his weighty opinion that, to relieve the 
fort now, would require a force of twenty thousand which did 
not exist. 

Lincoln, almost without support, pitted his judgment against 
that of his more experienced counselors. It seemed to him that 

1 Caleb B. Smith of Indiana was appointed Secretary of the Interior. Cameron 
was succeeded by Edwin M. Stanton of Pennsylvania as Secretary of War in 
January, 1862. There were also other changes. 


the abandonment of Sumter without resistance would not only 
impair Northern morale, but would, in a sense, constitute a 
recognition of the Confederacy. In accordance with a prior 
agreement, he therefore served formal notice on the government 
of South Carolina of his intention to reprovision the fort and, on 
April 6, ordered the dispatching of a relief expedition. The 
Confederates summoned Anderson to surrender and, when he 
refused, their batteries opened fire. By the next day, the thir- 
teenth, his position had become untenable, and just as the relief 
ships which could in no case have really helped him ap- 
peared in the offing, he surrendered with the honors of war. The 
period of irresolution was ended. The nation "a house di- 
vided" faced the terrible certainty of a brothers 7 war. 


The bombardment of Fort Sumter had a galvanic effect upon 
the men of both sections. All hesitation was now swept from the 
minds of the Northern people. On April 15, 1861, President 
Lincoln issued a call for 75,000 volunteers for three months, fol- 
lowed early in May by a request for 42,000 more for a term of 
three years. Other proclamations added about 23,000 men to 
the regular army and 18,000 to the navy, and declared the coast 
of the Confederacy under blockade. The drums beat in every 
town and village, and the rush to arms of the young men was 
universal. Although the Northern people were of many minds 
concerning the Negro question, patriotism clearly demanded 
of them the maintenance of an undivided nation. Greeley and 
other editors, casting aside their earlier timidity, rallied strongly 
to the cause. Douglas, having but a few more months to live, 
declared in a great speech in Chicago, " There can be no neutrals 
in this war; only patriots or traitors." u For my own part," 
wrote Lincoln, "I consider the central idea pervading this strug- 
gle is the necessity of proving that popular government is not 
an absurdity. We must settle this question now, whether, in a 
free government, the minority have the right to break up the 
government whenever they choose." Meanwhile, with equal 
fervor, the people of the seven seceded states responded to 
President D avisos appeal for 100,000 men- Regiments sallied 
gayly forth from the Southern towns and hamlets, as if on holi- 

THE GREAT DECISION, 1860-1861 57 

day parade, little dreaming how awful a struggle was about to 

Even the religious world felt the shattering blow. The Meth- 
odists and Baptists had split along geographic lines nearly twenty 
years before. As the fifties advanced, six Southern synods com- 
prising 15,000 communicants withdrew (1857) from the New 
School Presbyterian Church; and sectional antagonisms plagued 
other sects as well. A contributor to the Southern Presbyterian, 
writing shortly after the fall of Sumter, believed, "This revolu- 
tion has been accomplished mainly by the churches. " While 
B. M. Palmer, the Southern Presbyterian divine, proclaimed 
that "In this great struggle, we defend the cause of God and re- 
ligion," the Philadelphia synod of the same denomination prayed 
for the suppression of "the most groundless, cruel, and wicked 
rebellion in the history of any people." The outbreak of war 
precipitated the division of the Old School Presbyterians and the 
Protestant Episcopalians into sectional bodies. Of the principal 
nation-wide religious groups, only the Roman Catholics, held 
together by a central authority outside the national borders, 
escaped organic rupture. 

Both sections anxiously awaited the action of the eight slave 
states which had thus far continued loyal. Bordering the Con- 
federacy on the north were Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina 
and Virginia. These states were less identified with cotton pro- 
duction than the Lower South, having fewer slaves as well as a 
larger proportion of slaveless whites. The majority of the in- 
habitants believed in the right of secession, yet until now had 
denied that sufficient provocation existed. But their doubts 
were dispelled by the attempt to relieve Sumter, followed by 
Lincoln's call for troops. Virginia took the fateful step on 
April 17, Arkansas on May 6, North Carolina two weeks later 
and Tennessee on June 24. No state left the Union with greater 
reluctance than the Old Dominion. Her statesmen had not only 
been indispensable to the winning of independence and the fram- 
ing of the Constitution, but she had also furnished five Presi- 
dents. On April 5 her state convention had rejected secession, 
only to be overwhelmed by the whirlwind of disunionism raised 
by Lincoln's warlike proclamations. With Virginia went Colonel 
Robert E. Lee, a man of noble character and superb military 


ability, who declined the command of the Union army out of 
loyalty to his state. The importance of Virginia's action to the 
South is indicated by the prompt removal of the Confederate 
capital from Montgomery to Richmond. 

The mountaineers of northwestern Virginia, however, refused 
to abide by the decision of the state. These folk, prevailingly 
Scotch Irish and Pennsylvania German in stock, owned few 
slaves, and had long been pitted against their tidewater brethren 

States seceding before April 15, 1801 
%% States seceding after April 15, 1861 
Slave States which did not secede 


in state politics. Shielded from Southern interference by federal 
troops, they determined to erect a state of their own. As a pre- 
liminary move, a convention at Wheeling in June, 1861, set up 
a loyal government of Virginia, composed chiefly of men from 
the upland counties and those districts under federal military 
control adjoining Washington. A later convention representing 
only the people of forty-six northwestern counties was held in 
November and, with the consent of the rump " state gov- 
ernment/ 7 made application for admission into the Union as the 
state of West Virginia. Congress acted tardily, statehood being 
finally granted in June, 1863, with a constitution providing for 

THE GREAT DECISION, 1860-1861 59 

gradual emancipation. Since West Virginia runs up like a wedge 
between Ohio and Pennsylvania, the disaffection of the inhabit- 
ants had the important military result of securing to the federal 
authorities the command of essential rail and telegraph facilities 
between the East and the Ohio Valley. 

Between the enlarged Confederacy and the free-soil North lay 
the four remaining slave commonwealths the border states of 
Maryland, Delaware, Kentucky and Missouri. Cotton capital- 
ism was negligible in these states, and slaves, being relatively 
scarce, were regarded as only one among many forms of property. 
Torn in their affections between South and North, and bound by 
substantial economic ties with both, these states knew not which 
way to turn. Vigorous action by the federal authorities saved 
Maryland to the Union. Hemming in the District of Columbia 
on three sides, it would have been a fatal military blunder to per- 
mit the state to pass under enemy control. When Maryland dis- 
unionists severed telegraphic communications between Wash- 
ington and the North and sought to prevent the passage of Union 
troops, Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus, ordered the 
arrest of suspects, and stationed troops at strategic points 
throughout the state. By the middle of May, 1861, all danger of 
secession had vanished. With Maryland went Delaware, as a 
matter of course; in any case, slaves formed an insignificant 
fraction of the latter's population. 

Farther to the west, Lincoln's native state of Kentucky, lying 
athwart the military highway between North and South and 
rent by internal dissension, found a temporary solution for her 
problem in May, 1861, in a declaration of neutrality. Lincoln's 
policy here was in marked contrast with his treatment of Mary- 
land. Feeling confident of Kentucky's eventual decision, he re- 
spected her negative attitude, while quietly laboring to promote 
the spread of nationalist sentiment. When Confederate troops 
violated her neutrality in September by occupying Columbus, 
the newly chosen legislature declared for the Union. In Missouri, 
on the other hand, the state government was openly disunionist. 
But the special convention, called to consider secession, proved 
unexpectedly nationalist in sentiment. Each body claimed to 
voice the true will of the people, and each summoned military 
force to its support. Led by Francis P. Blair, Jr., and Captain 


Nathaniel Lyon, and supported by militia companies of St. Louis 
Germans, the forces of nationalism triumphed. The state con- 
vention in July, 1861, deposed the pro-Southern governor and 
established a loyal government. While conflict between the an- 
tagonistic elements continued sporadically throughout the war, 
the crisis was safely passed. In all the border states save Dela- 
ware, thousands of citizens, unwilling to accept the decision of 
the majority, flocked into the Confederate armies. 


The people of each section entered the war with high hopes 
for an early victory. In material resources, however, the North 
enjoyed a decided advantage. Twenty-three states with a pop- 
ulation of twenty-two million, including about half ^ a million 
slaves, were arrayed against eleven states containing nine million 
people, of whom three and a half million were slaves. Though 
the Southern white population was more homogeneous, the 
diversified make-up of the Northern people proved a source of 
strength rather than weakness, for, in proportion to their^ num- 
bers, more English, German and Irish immigrants served in the 
Union armies than native-born Northerners. 1 The industrial 
superiority of the North even exceeded its preponderance in 
man power. Unlike the rural South, the free states had abundant 
facilities for the manufacture of arms and ammunition, clothing 
and other supplies. Their investment in manufacturing was 
nearly ten times as great. 

Indeed, three of the most powerful allies of the North in the 
war were mechanical agencies that had been developed to high 
efficiency in the decade or so preceding. One of these, the 
McCormick reaper with its various competitors, caused the 
Secretary of War to declare in 1861: "The reaper is to the 
North what slavery is to the South. By taking the places of 
regiments of young men in the Western harvest fields, it releases 
them to do battle for the Union at the front, and at the same 
time keeps up the supply of bread for the nation and the nation's 

1 Franz Sigel, Carl Schurz and other Germans prominent in the Revolution of 
1848 gave the benefit of their military experience to the untrained federal armies, 
rising high in the service. Count Zeppelin, who later perfected the dirigible airship 
in Germany, served as a cavalry officer and engineer from 1863, making his first 
ascent in a military balloon in this country. 

THE GREAT DECISION, 1860-1861 6l 

Hardly less important was the sewing machipe. Be- 
sides providing factory-made garments in unlimited quantities, 
the introduction of the McKay sewing machine in 1861 made 
possible the large-scale production of well-made, low-priced shoes, 
In the first year 1,500,000 pairs were manufactured, twice as 
many as in any previous year. Though factory workers joined 
the army in large numbers, the output of clothing, undergarments 
and shoes, so necessary for the comfort of both soldiers and 
civilians, actually increased during the war. 

The rapid spread of rail mileage in the North after 1850 had 
an even more direct relationship to federal military success. 
Assisted by the telegraph, the railroad helped promote the rapid 
movement of troops and supplies. Among the early war-time 
laws was one of January, 1862, giving the President authority 
to commandeer the rail and telegraph lines, if necessary for 
military purposes. A director of railroads was appointed, charged 
with responsibility for more than two thousand miles of track, 
chiefly in the border states, which were taken over and operated 
by the government during the conflict. 1 

The principal advantage of the South in the struggle consisted 
in its geographic position, added to the fact that the people 
were fighting on their own soil. Though adequate railway facil- 
ities were lacking, the Confederacy, with a compact, well- watered 
territory, could protect its military front with a minimum of 
exertion and upon a smaller war budget than the North. The 
Union forces, on the other hand, operating on unfamiliar ground, 
were constantly drawing farther away from their base of supplies. 
Besides, the aristocratic social system of the South was conducive 
to the development of natural leaders and the cultivation of the 
martial spirit. Many of the Confederate generals had fought in 
the Mexican War and, when secession occurred, an undue propor- 
tion of able officers resigned their federal commissions to join the 

1 Curiously enough, another invention was neglected, which would have greatly 
increased the destructive power of the army adopting it. This was the breech- 
loading rifle. In 1857 a board appointed by the Secretary of War had reported unan- 
imously in favor of a single-shot breechloader. Since the old muzzle-loader re- 
quired sixty seconds to load and tire as against four seconds for the new gun, the 
superiority of the latter would seem obvious. After the battle of Gettysburg 
18,000 muzzle-loaders were picked up with two or more unexploded charges in 
them. Yet the purchase of the newer type did not become a regular policy until 
1864. Perhaps 100,000 breechloaders were in use when the war closed. 


South. It was a common boast in Dixie that any Confederate 
could lick three Yankees, which provoked President Davis's 
sober retort, "Only fools doubt the courage of the Yankees or 
their willingness to fight when they see fit. 33 

The chief hope of the Confederacy lay in a speedy victory, 
or else in foreign intervention. For the latter, they relied upon 
their virtual monopoly of the world's cotton supply, a product 
so necessary for the operation of British textile mills. Time 
fought on the side of the North, for, given sufficient time, raw 
armies might be whipped into shape, material resources utilized 
and effective military leadership developed. In reality, from a 
military point of view, neither section was prepared for a great 
war. Few officers on either side had ever commanded so much 
as a regiment, and as for commanding armies there was no 
experience. Many of the opposing generals were West Point men, 
oftentimes classmates; but the regimental and company officers 
in the volunteer armies were commissioned by the governors. 
Though this system was quickly altered in the South, politicians 
continued to secure high military posts in the North, where 
2537 generals of all grades made their appearance during the war. 
Moreover, the insistent clamor and officious meddling of Greeley 
and of busybodies in Congress embarrassed the success of North- 
ern military plans, sometimes even serving as a source of in- 
formation to the enemy. In the Confederacy, too, there was 
lacking that unity of support so necessary for an infant nation 
struggling for existence. The old conception of state rights 
constantly battled with the new ideal of Southern nation- 

Both sides faced the task of creating efficient fighting units 
out of the ranks of a people who, however warlike, were essen- 
tially unmilitary in their habits. In the first flush of war enthu- 
siasm the call for troops was met in both sections by an excess 
of volunteers. Training camps were established, where the raw 
recruits, many of them mere youths, hastily learned the manual 
of arms and were then rushed to the front. Enthusiasm began 
to wane, however, as the war showed signs of lasting much 
longer than at first expected, and as individuals saw a chance 
to reap unusual profits in civilian jobs. The private 3 s pay of 
$13 a month (later raised to $16) was hardly sufficient to counter- 

THE GREAT DECISION, 1860-1861 63 

act such influences. Under the circumstances, both governments 
supplemented the system of voluntary enlistments with the 
inducement of bounties and, when that failed to raise sufficient 
troops, with compulsory recruiting. 

The bounty system was first employed in July, 1861, when the 
federal government offered a bonus of $100 to each volunteer, 
a sum increased during 1863 to $302 for raw recruits and $402 
for veterans. States, counties and cities granted additional 
amounts. In 1864 a volunteer in New York county could obtain 
$300 from the county and $75 from the state, besides the still 
larger federal bounty. At the same time an Illinois district paid 
an average bounty of $1056. The system was bad, for it led to 
the crime of "bounty- jumping." Unprincipled men would en- 
list, claim the bounty, desert and reenlist elsewhere under a 
different name, repeating the process indefinitely. In all, the 
federal government paid out $300,000,000 in bounties, while 
the state and local governments expended an additional 

Conscription was first resorted to on August 4, 1862, when 
President Lincoln ordered a draft of 300,000 militia through the 
medium of the states. The results were unsatisfactory, and on 
March 3, 1863, Congress enacted the statute upon which all 
later drafts were based. This law operated directly upon the 
people of the nation. It applied only to those districts which 
failed to furnish their quota of volunteers a fact which helps to 
explain the generous bounties offered by local authorities. All 
unmarried men between the ages of twenty and forty-five and 
all married men between twenty and thirty-five were made 
subject to compulsory enlistment at the President's call, the 
names in each draft to be selected by lot. Certain classes were 
exempt: high public officials, men who were the sole support of 
dependent families, the physically unfit and criminals. A drafted 
man might avoid service by providing a substitute or by paying 

The conscription act provoked much discontent in the North, 
for it ran counter to the traditional military policy of the nation. 
Moreover, the laboring classes and poor people generally ob- 
jected to the provision which made it easy for the well-to-do 
to purchase exemption. When the first draft under the new law 


was undertaken, the provost marshal general admitted that 
"Every imaginable artifice was adopted to deceive and defeat the 
enrolling officers. Open violence was sometimes met with. . . . 
In certain mining regions organized bodies of men openly op- 
posed the enrollment, rendering it necessary that the U. S. author- 
ities should send troops to overcome their opposition." The most 
notorious resistance took place in New York in July, 1863. When 
it appeared that most of those drafted in that city were working- 
men, rioting ensued. For four days the citizens were at the 
mercy of a mob which pillaged, burned and, in particular, vented 
their hatred against Negroes, who were blamed as the cause of 
the war and the draft. No less than a thousand persons were 
killed or wounded. In most parts of the North, however, the 
draft went quietly into effect. While it did not directly furnish 
many new soldiers, it did serve to speed up volunteering. 

In the South, also, bounties were offered to accelerate enlist- 
ments. Conscription was resorted to earlier than in the North. 
By acts of April and September, 1862, President Davis was 
empowered to impress into service all able-bodied male whites 
between the ages of eighteen and forty-five. The exempted 
classes included state and Confederate officials, preachers and 
teachers, persons employed in rail transportation and important 
war industries, newspaper proprietors and overseers on the larger 
plantations. Toward the end of the war an act of March, 1865, 
even provided for the enforced service of Negro slaves^ The 
exercise of conscription by the Confederate government violated 
the strong state-rights tradition, and produced spirited opposi- 
tion on the part of Rhett and Stephens as well as by some of the 
states. Governor J. E. Brown of Georgia, pronouncing the law- 
unconstitutional, refused to permit its enforcement within his 
jurisdiction, though he was zealous enough in raising troops by 
state action. The North Carolina legislature, after formally 
protesting against conscription, passed an act, in direct contra- 
vention of the Confederate law, exempting additional classes 
from military service. 

Faulty statistics make it impossible to know just how many 
men actually served under the opposing flags. Yet it is probably 
within the range of truth to assume that approximately 800,000 
individuals fought on the Southern side, and from two to three 

THE GREAT DECISION, 1860-1861 65 

times as many on the Northern. Of the latter number, it should 
not be overlooked that over 50,000 whites and more than ioo r 
ooo Negroes were recruited from within the seceded states. 


The Movement for Southern Independence. Stephenson, The Day of the 

Confederacy, gives a good general account. Carpenter, The South as a Con- 
scious Minority, 1789-1861, traces the evolution of Southern political 
thought to the goal of secession. Dumond, The Secession Movement, 1860- 
1861, is a detailed, analytical study. Biographies of Southern leaders are 
listed at the end of Chapter I. 

The North and Secession. A special study is Scrugham, The Peaceable 
Americans, 1860-1861. In James Buchanan and His Cabinet on the Eve of 
Secession Aucharnpaugh offers an antidote to the received opinion of 
Buchanan as timorous and time-serving. Among the best of the many 
biographies of the war President are Charnwood, A braham Lincoln; Stephen- 
son, Lincoln; and Barton, The Life of Abraham Lincoln. 

The Appeal to Arms. Smith, The Borderland in the Civil War, is a special 
study of the role of Kentucky, Missouri, northwestern Virginia and the 
southern halves of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois in the secession movement 
and the war. Further consideration is given certain of these states in Mc- 
Gregor, The Disruption of Virginia; Coulter, The Civil War and Readjust- 
ment in Kentucky; and McElroy, The Struggle for Missouri. The impact of 
the secession movement on organized Christianity is discussed in Vander 
Velde, The Presbyterian Churches and the Federal Union, iS6i-i86g; Heath- 
cote, The Lutheran Church and the Civil War; and Sweet, The Methodist 
Episcopal Church and the Civil War. 

The Embattled Hosts. In The Organization and Administration of the 
Union Army Shannon deals authoritatively with the problems of raising, 
equipping and maintaining the armed forces, with particular reference to 
the common soldier. Lonn, Desertion during the Civil War, is the standard 
treatment of that embarrassing subject. Northern military legislation is 
summarized in Huidekoper, The Military Unpreparedness of the United 
States. The military problems of the Confederacy behind the lines are 
dealt with in Moore, Conscription and Conflict in the Confederacy; economic 
problems in Schwab, The Confederate States of America; and political prob- 
lems in Owsley, State Rights in the Confederacy. 



Confederate armies, for the most part, fought on the 
1 defensive in the Civil War. To the North fell the task of in- 
vading and conquering a country three times the size of France. 
For success in this effort two objects must be secured: the seal- 
ing of Southern ports against munitions and supplies from abroad, 
and a clear military preponderance in the field of fight. Had the 
first purpose failed of accomplishment, it may be doubted whether 
the second could have been attained. Yet, when Lincoln in- 
augurated the blockade in April, 1861, the federal navy con- 
sisted of but ninety-odd vessels, most of them small and anti- 
quated and some of them absent on distant cruises; and the 
seacoast to be guarded was 3500 miles in length. Nevertheless, 
by pressing all sorts of vessels into service, the blockade was 
already reasonably effective by summer. Federal naval opera- 
tions were, in general, lacking in spectacular exploits, though 
constant watchfulness was required to thwart the efforts of 
blockade runners. Evasion of the blockade was not only an 
adventurous but also a lucrative business; occasional vessels, 
like the steamer Kate which made forty-four successful trips, 
disclosed the possibilities of the traffic. Charleston and Wilming- 
ton were the principal ports for this irregular trade, but it never 
assumed formidable proportions. As prewar supplies became 
depleted, the Southern people began to suffer acute discomfort. 
Coffee, tea, soap, paper, clothing and matches were extremely 
hard to get at any price. Even more serious was the scarcity of 
common medicines, like quinine and morphia, indispensable for 
the treatment of sick and wounded soldiers. Lack of salt alsc 
created difficulties, for salt meat formed a large part of the 
army ration. 

The Confederates made one ingenious but unsuccessful efforl 
to relieve the situation. On March 8, 1862, there suddenl3 



appeared off Hampton Roads, Virginia, a Confederate vessel, the 
Virginia, made over from the former United States frigate 
Merrimac and plated with iron. The wooden ships of the block- 
ading fleet were helpless before the iron monster, two being sunk 
and another driven aground. But the federal authorities had 
also been experimenting with the new type of vessel and, thanks 
to the ingenuity of John Ericsson, a Swedish immigrant, had 
contrived an armored craft of a different model. On the next 
day the Monitor, a low-decked ironclad vessel with a revolving 
turret carrying heavy guns, took up the gage of battle. While 
neither won a decisive victory, the Virginia was prevented from 
doing further mischief. This marine duel was epoch-making in 
the history of nautical architecture, for it proved conclusively 
what the naval constructors of leading maritime powers abroad 
already knew that the day of the wooden warship was past. 
A fleet of " monitors" was presently built by the United States, 
and performed valuable service during the remainder of the war. 
The work of the navy was not confined to maintaining the 
blockade, for vessels of war cooperated with the land forces in 
opening up the Mississippi and other rivers. In Lincoln's ex- 
pressive language, " Uncle Sam's web-feet" were present not 
only on "the broad bay, and the rapid river, but also up the 
narrow, muddy bayou, and wherever the ground was a little 
damp." The navy was also responsible for the eventual destruc- 
tion of the Confederate raiders engaged in harassing Northern 
commerce on the high seas. 


The federal operations on land were determined in part by 
the objectives of the fighting and in part by the physical con- 
tour of the country. From the early days of the war, one of 
the major purposes was the capture of the Confederate capital. 
Other important objectives were the military control of moun- 
tain passes and navigable streams and the seizure of railway 
junctions means whereby the economic life of Dixie and the 
transportation of troops and munitions might be paralyzed. 
The Appalachian system, one hundred and fifty miles wide, 
divides the South into two unequal parts: each area became 
promptly a theater of war. During the first three years and more, 






July s Engagement at Carthage, Mo. 

Aug. 10 Engagement at Wilson's Creek, 

Sept. 2 Capture of Fort Scott, Mo. 

Nov. 7 Battle of Belmont, Mo. 

April 12-14 Attack on Fort Sumter. 
June 3 Engagement at Philippi, W. Va. 
June 10 Engagement at Big Bethel, W. Vi 

July 8 Engagement at Laurel Hill, W. Va. 
July 21 First battle of Bull Run, Va. 

Aug. 28-29 Capture of Fort Hatteras, N. C. 

Sept. 12-15 Fighting at Cheat Mt., W. Va. 
Oct. 21 Engagement at Ball's Bluff, Va. 
Nov. 7 Capture of Port Royal, S. C. 

Jan. 19-20 Battle of Mill Springs, Mo. 
Feb. 6 Capture of Fort Henry, Tenn. 
Feb. 16 Capture of Fort Donelson, Tenn. 
Mch. 5-8 Battle of Pea Ridge, Ark. 
April 6-7 Battle of Shiloh, Tenn. 
April 7 Capture of Island No. 10. 
April 28 Capture of New Orleans, La. 

May 30 Capture of Corinth, Miss. 

June t 

Capture of Fort Pillow, Tenn. 
Occupation of Memphis, Tenn. 

Sept. 14-16 Battle of Munfordsville, Ky. 

Sept. 19 Battle of luka, Miss. 
Oct. 3-4 Battle of Corinth, Miss. 
Oct. 8 Battle of Perryville, Ky. 

Dec. 29 Sherman's repulse at Vicksburg, 


May 4 Capture of Yorktown, Va. 
May 5 Battle of Williamsburg, Va. 
May 25 Battle of Winchester, Va. 

May 3i-June i Battle of Seven Pines, Va. 

June 25-July i Seven Days' Battles, Va. 
Aug. 9 Battle of Cedar Mt., Va. 
Aug. 30 Second battle of Bull Run, Va. 
Sept. 14 Battle of South Mt., Md. 
Sept 17 Battle of Antietam, Md. 

Dec. 13 Battle of Fredericksburg, Va. 

simultaneous campaigns were waged on opposite sides of the 
mountain barrier, usually with little or no relation to each other. 
West of the Mississippi River lay a third area of conflict, involving 
military movements of distinctly minor consequence. 

To take a look ahead, the subjugation of the South proved a 
slow, difficult and much interrupted process. Having been block- 
aded by sea, the Confederacy was gradually cut off from its 
western territory and deprived of its main internal lines of 
communication. The Southern capital, against which the North 
began to move within the first three months of the war, did 
not fall until nearly four years later, after the victorious Union 
army in the West, sweeping all before it, had rounded the 
southern end of the mountains and advanced northward along 
the coast, prepared to join forces with the troops assailing 


6 9 










Dec. si-Jan. 2 Battle of Murfreesboro, 

May 16 Fighting at Champion Hill, Miss. 

July 4 Capture of Vicksburg, Miss. 
July 9 Capture of Port Hudson, La. 

Sept. 9 Occupation of Chattanooga, Tenn. 
Sept. 19-20 Battle of Chickamauga, Ga. 
Nov. 23-25 Battle of Chattanooga, Tenn. 
Dec. 6 Occupation of Knoxville, Tenn. 

May 2-5 Battle of Chancellorsville, Va. 

June 13-15 Fighting at Winchester, Va. 
July 1-3 Battle of Gettysburg, Pa. 

Sept. 7 Capture of Fort Wagner, S. C. 

Feb. 14 Occupation of Meridian, Miss. 
April 8 Battle of Sabine Cross Roads, La. 

May 13-16 Fighting at Resaca, Ga. 
May 1 8 Fighting at Rome, Ga. 

June 27 Battle of Kenesaw Mt, Ga. 
July 22 First battle before Atlanta, Ga. 
Aug. 5 Capture of Mobile Bay, Ala. 
Sept. 2 Capture of Atlanta, Ga. 

Sept. 26-27 Fighting at Ironton, Mo. 

Nov. 30 Battle of Franklin, Tenn. 
Dec. 15-16 Battle of Nashville, Tenn. 
Dec. 20 Capture of Savannah, Ga. 

May 5-6 First battle in Wilderness, Va. 
May 8-12 Battle of Spottsylvania C. H., 

June 1-3 Battle of Cold Harbor, Va. 
June 19 Siege of Petersburg, Va., begins. 

Sept. 19 Battle of Opequon, Va. 
Sept. 21 Battle of Fisher's Hill, Va. 

Oct. 19 Battle of Cedar Creek, Va. 

May 26 Kir by Smith's surrender at Baton 
Rouge, La. 

Jan. 15 Capture of Fort Fisher, N. C. 
Feb. 17 Capture of Columbia, S. C. 
Feb. 18 Capture of Charleston, S. C. 
Feb. 22 Capture of Wilmington, N. C. 
Mch. 19 Fighting at Goldsboro, N. C. 
April i Battle of Five Forks, Va. 
April 2 Occupation of Petersburg, Va. 
April 3 Occupation of Richmond, Va. 
April 9 Lee's surrender at Appomattox, Va 
April 26 Johnston's surrender at Hillsboro, 
N. C. 

The North enjoyed an initial advantage in the West, for the 
decision of Missouri, Kentucky and West Virginia to remain 
with the Union placed the original battle front on a line some- 
what north of the center of those states. The Confederates were 
thus deprived of the Ohio River, which would have formed a 
splendid boundary for defense and offense. When the campaign 
of 1862 began, the federal forces set about to open up the Missis- 
sippi, and thereby accomplish the double purpose of isolating 
the Confederate states west of the river and of providing the 
upper Mississippi Valley with its accustomed channel of com- 
merce. The key to the situation was the control of the Tennessee 


and Cumberland rivers, two tributaries of the Ohio, which 
penetrated southward toward the heart of the enemy country. 
The first major movement, therefore, was an expedition up these 
streams by a combined gunboat fleet and army under command 
of General U. S. Grant. In the early weeks of February, 1862, 
Forts Henry and Donelson, situated on these rivers near the 
Kentucky-Tennessee border, surrendered with more than 14,000 
prisoners. The expedition pushed on, capturing Nashville, the 
Tennessee capital, on the Cumberland, while continuing the 
southward advance along the Tennessee. Grant's objective 
now was the village of Corinth in northern Mississippi, one of 
the principal railway centers of the South, lying at the junction 
of lines from Memphis, Vicksburg, Mobile and Chattanooga. 
After desperate fighting on April 6-7 at Pittsburg Landing and at 
Shiloh, where the federals departed from the river, the advance 
was resumed under General H. W. Halleck. On May 30 Corinth 
was occupied. 

Meantime, corresponding progress had been made elsewhere 
in relaxing the Confederate hold on the Mississippi. Union forces 
operating from the north under General John Pope captured Is- 
land No. 10 (April 7), an important river fort near the Kentucky- 
Tennessee border, while the occupation of Corinth obliged the 
Confederates to abandon Fort Pillow and Memphis. A north- 
ward thrust from the Gulf by a naval force under D. G. Farragut 
secured also the fall of New Orleans on April 28 after ten days 7 
fighting. In September and October the Confederates made a 
bold attempt to compel the withdrawal of the Union forces by 
a raid into the North. Braxton Bragg and Kirby Smith, moving 
rapidly into Kentucky, actually approached within a few miles 
of Cincinnati. But the Kentuckians failed to rally to the Con- 
federate cause; and, fearing disaster, the invaders retreated, 
fighting notable battles at Perryville, Kentucky, and at Mur- 
freesboro in Tennessee. The year 1862 closed with the North in 
possession of the western half of Tennessee, and in control of 
the Mississippi River save for a two-hundred-mile stretch guarded 
at either end by the Confederate strongholds of Vicksburg and 
Port Hudson. 

The first business of the campaign of 1863, on the part of the 
North, was to complete the task begun in the preceding year 

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federal States 
Slave-holding Federal States 
Confederate States 

Restriction of territory oy yearly campaign* 
tihown by heavy lines 



that of freeing Mississippi navigation. This involved one of 
the most difficult operations of the war, for Vicksburg was a 
natural fortress, perched on a high bluff commanding the Missis- 
sippi, and almost unapproachable from the north or northeast 
because of swamps. In April Grant began his active movement 
against Vicksburg, assisted by a gunboat flotilla. Many weeks 
passed with nothing to show but blocked attacks, heavy losses 
in battle and deaths from malaria and smallpox. Finally, on 
July 4, the Confederates, themselves stricken with disease and 
on the verge of starvation, gave up the fight. Thirty thousand 
men surrendered. Five days later, when Port Hudson was taken, 
the " Father of Waters," in Lincoln's phrase, again flowed "un- 
vexed to the sea." The Union forces in Tennessee were now ready 
to press forward the conquest of the remainder of that state, 
their special objective being Chattanooga in the extreme south- 
eastern portion, which commanded the shortest rail route be- 
tween Richmond and Atlanta. A skillful campaign, conducted 
by General W. S. Rosecrans, brought the desired culmination on 
September 9; but General Bragg's army, strengthened by re- 
enforcements from Lee, turned on the federals at Chickamauga 
Creek on September 19-20, driving them back into Chattanooga, 
to which it laid siege. Grant, now taking command in person, 
waged a hot battle from November 23 to 25, dislodging the Con- 
federates and forcing their retreat into Georgia. 

The campaign of 1863 marked a turning point in the war. Not 
only did it complete the conquest of Tennessee, but it rent the 
enemy country in twain, crippled the Southern transportation 
system, and placed the Union army in a strategic position to 
rive the Confederacy in a new direction. Hardly less significant 
was the fact that it brought to the fore the greatest military 
genius on the Northern side, thereby causing Lincoln to appoint 
Grant to the supreme command of the nation's armies. With 
Grant's removal to the Eastern theater of war, W. T. Sherman, 
who had proved one of his ablest generals, took charge at Chat- 
tanooga as the campaign of 1864 got under way. To him fell the 
task of breaking through the mountains of northwestern Georgia 
and capturing Atlanta, the principal railroad center left to the 
Confederacy and its chief manufacturing city. His army out- 
numbered the foe almost two to one, but it took him from May to 


July to arrive before Atlanta, where after weeks of hard fighting 
he took possession on September 2. The Confederate general, 
J. B. Hood, who had saved his army only by evacuating the city, 
set about to imperil Sherman's line of communications and base 
of supplies at Nashville, and thus compel his withdrawal. But 
Hood suffered irreparable defeat at the battle of Nashville on 
December 15-16 at the hands of General G. H. Thomas. 

Meantime Sherman, undeterred by Hood's operations in his 
rear, resolved upon a southeasterly march across Georgia to the 
ocean. This would enable him to establish a safe base which 
could be supplied by sea from the North and, at the same time, 
to strike a disastrous blow at the granary which fed Lee's army. 
He believed that if the war in all its frightfulness and ruin were 
brought home to the people of the Lower South their morale 
would break and the Confederate armies melt away. Beginning 
the advance on November 12, 1864, his army of sixty thousand, 
marching in four columns and foraging off the country, destroyed 
265 miles of railway, and left in its wake a belt sixty miles 
wide in which nothing of military value remained. According to 
Sherman's own estimate, the damage amounted to a hundred 
million dollars, four fifths of it " simple waste and destruction." 
He met with no opposition worthy of the name and, on Decem- 
ber 20, took possession of Savannah. Thus the campaign of 1864 
ended with the Confederacy cut into three parts, and Sherman 
in a position to sweep northward along the coast toward the 
Union forces massed in Virginia. 

The fighting west of the Mississippi River had little effect 
upon the campaigns farther east, most of it being desultory and 
guerrilla in character. It was not until the spring of 1862 that 
the Confederates gave up hope of imposing their will upon Mis- 
souri. They had succeeded in regaining a good part of the state 
by September, 1861, but the issue was definitely settled against 
them at the bloody battle of Pea Ridge, in northwestern Arkan- 
sas, on March 5-8 of the next year. General S. R. Curtis, the 
victor in this fight, rapidly enlarged his area of authority until 
at the close of 1862 the northern half of Arkansas was in Union 
hands. The center of Confederate power was at Shreveport in 
the Red River Valley in northwestern Louisiana. Various un- 
successful attempts were made by the Union forces to dislodge 


the foe from this region in 1863 and 1864, but General Kirby 
Smith retained possession until the end of the war. 


Meanwhile the Eastern theater of war presented a different 
story. From the very first both sides had realized the importance 
of decisive action in Virginia. The rival capitals stood only a 
hundred miles apart, one on the Potomac, the other on the 
James rivers running approximately parallel to each other. 
The intervening country, rough and wooded, was traversed by 
numerous streams which lay athwart an invader's path, while 
furnishing the Confederates natural moats of defense. Still 
another feature of Virginia topography gave the South a military 
advantage. Along the northwestern border of Virginia lie two 
mountain ranges, cradling the Shenandoah, a river flowing 
northerly into the Potomac at Harpers Ferry, above the federal 
capital. This valley formed a natural passageway into the North 
and, under the protective screen of the mountains, Confederate 
commanders were constantly able to threaten Washington or 
harry the rear of federal armies. 

Lincoln's enterprise in preventing the secession of Maryland 
in the spring of 1861 had the strategic value of saving to the 
United States the control of the Potomac River. Spurred by the 
popular cry of "On to Richmond/ 7 General Irvin McDowell 
attacked the enemy at Manassas Junction on the little stream 
of Bull Run, twenty-five miles west of Washington, on July 21, 
1861. Both armies were raw and undisciplined, but the superior 
leadership of the Confederate general, Joseph E. Johnston, threw 
the Union forces into confusion, causing a disgraceful rout. 
Lincoln now placed General George B. McClellan in command. 
Though he showed marvelous energy and success in whipping his 
armed mob into an efficient fighting unit, the remainder of the 
year passed without offensive operations. 

The campaign of 1862 opened with McClellan's decision to 
' launch a drive against Richmond from an unexpected quarter 
the shore of Chesapeake Bay thereby avoiding the difficult 
overland march. His plan was to ship his army to Fortress Mon- 
roe, then advance up the peninsula between the York and James 
rivers and capture Richmond. The Peninsular campaign was 


marked by McClellan 's characteristic timidity and overcaution. 
It required a month for him to take Yorktown, his first objective. 
Proceeding slowly in the teeth of stubborn resistance, he battled 
his way across the Chickahominy and, by early June, came within 
sight of Richmond. Though his force outnumbered Lee's army 
of defense by thirty thousand, he allowed the latter to assume 
the offensive. In the Seven Days' Battles (June 25-July i), the 
Union troops were driven steadily backward, both sides suffering 
terrible losses. 

Realizing the moment for victory had passed, Lincoln recalled 
the army, replacing McClellan with Pope who was enjoying tem- 
porary fame for his capture of Island No. 10 on the Mississippi. 
Boastful and overconfident, Pope began the overland march 
against Richmond, only to meet needless disaster at the second 
battle of Bull Run on August 30, 1862. Lee, seizing the oppor- 
tunity, undertook a counterinvasion of the free states, crossing 
into Maryland by way of the Shenandoah Valley. With such a 
bold stroke he might hope to incite a pro-Southern uprising in 
Maryland, capture the federal capital, and force the war to an 
abrupt close. But as Lee advanced northward, McClellan, again 
in command, paralleled his movements with a force vastly su- 
perior in numbers. On September 17 the two armies met at 
Antietam Creek, near Sharpsburg, Maryland. Desperate fight- 
ing ensued with heavy casualties. Lee was forced to give way, 
but, thanks to McClellan's inactivity, he effected an orderly 
retreat into Virginia. Late in October, when the federals once 
more undertook the overland march on Richmond, McClellan 
was presently replaced by General A. E. Burnside. Oddly enough, 
the latter had protested against his own appointment on the 
plea of incapacity, and the sequel justified his candor, for he was 
defeated with heavy slaughter at the battle of Fredericksburg 
on December 13. The Eastern campaign of 1862 thus ended in a 
draw, though with the advantage distinctly on the side of the 

The next year's campaign began badly for the North. Under 
"Fighting Joe" Hooker, the Union forces once more attempted 
the overland advance on Richmond. At Chancellorsville a 
bloody battle from May 2 to 5, 1863, resulted in a severe repulse 
for the federals. The Confederate victory was gained at a 


high price, for it cost the life of General T. J. (" Stonewall") 
Jackson, who, next to Lee, was the ablest Southern commander, 
Lee, seeing the way open for a new invasion of the North, and 
again using the Shenandoah Valley for the purpose, crossed the 
Potomac late in June. Meantime the Union army, with General 
G. G. Meade in command, occupied the heights at Gettysburg, 
which commanded several important highways, and awaited 
attack. Here, in southern Pennsylvania, occurred three days of 
terrific fighting on July 1-3, involving casualties of nearly forty 
thousand men, shared almost equally by the two sides. In the 
end Meade won the advantage, for Lee's invasion was checked. 
Yet Lee retired southward in such good order that the Union 
general dared not risk another battle. The remaining months 
passed with small skirmishes but no general engagement. Ac- 
cordingly, the close of the year 1863 saw the Northern army as 
far away from Richmond as when the war began. 

The federals had all along possessed an advantage over the 
enemy in man power and equipment, but had suffered from in- 
ferior leadership. With unexampled patience Lincoln had tried 
a succession of generals, but without satisfactory result. The 
campaign of 1864 opened with the choice of yet another com- 
mander, Ulysses S. Grant. A former West Pointer, he had en- 
tered the war in 1 86 1 as a colonel of Illinois volunteers and, 
through his military successes in the West, had won rapid promo- 
tion. On March 9, 1864, he was appointed to the newly revived 
position of lieutenant general with supreme command, under the 
President, of all the Union armies. Grant differed from his 
predecessors mainly in his pertinacity and in his resolution to 
crush the South by his superiority in men and resources. Fur- 
thermore, his plans embraced concerted movements by the armies 
East and West. For himself he reserved the Eastern command. 

On the night of May 3, 1864, Grant began the oft-attempted 
march on the Confederate capital by crossing the Rapidan, en- 
camping the next day in the Wilderness, a densely wooded, 
marshy tract ten miles across. Here Lee measured his strength 
with his new opponent in an inconclusive two days' battle 
(May 5-6). Grant now moved southeastward toward Spottsyl- 
vania Court House and, for the next month, was almost con- 
stantly engaged in desperate combat while battering his way 


stubbornly toward Richmond. Lee was the abler strategist, and 
Grant's men were constantly being hurled against well-chosen 
intrenched positions, protected by the new device of wire en- 
tanglements. Two costly engagements at Spottsylvania on 
May 8-12, and at Cold Harbor on June 1-3, the latter near the 
scene of McClellan's misadventure caused Grant to shift his 
base to the James River, south of Richmond. By this time he 
had lost 55,000 men, or about half his original force, but fresh 
troops kept his ranks fuU. Still, repeated attacks failed to pierce 
the Confederate defense. Grant laid siege to Petersburg, an 
important railroad junction connecting Richmond with the 
South. When Lee sought to draw him off in July by sending Gen- 
eral J. A. Early down the Shenandoah Valley in a raid against 
Washington, Grant retaliated by dispatching General P. H. 
Sheridan with a force which defeated Early by weight of num- 
bers at Opequon Creek and elsewhere. Sheridan ravaged the 
valley so thoroughly that it could never be used again for a 
Confederate invasion. The year closed with Grant still before 
Petersburg, twenty-two miles from Richmond. 

Grant's inexorable advance in 1864 foreshadowed the end. 
From all sides Yankee troops were closing in on Richmond. On 
February i, 1865, Sherman began his march northward from 
Georgia. The lay of the land made it necessary for his men to 
cross innumerable streams swollen by spring freshets. Every- 
where a desperate enemy obstructed their progress. The Union 
soldiers, living off the country, systematically destroyed rail- 
ways and machinery. The march through South Carolina was 
marked by pillaging and general lawlessness. On February 17, 
the Confederates abandoned Columbia, the South Carolina 
capital, and in the confusion of federal occupation it was partly 
destroyed by fire. Charleston fell into the hands of the federal 
fleet without a battle when her railroad connections with the 
interior were cut. On March 19 Sherman's advance ran into the 
Confederate forces under General J. E. Johnston at Goldsboro 
in central North Carolina, and was temporarily checked. 

Meantime, the Confederate positions in Petersburg and Rich- 
mond had proved no longer tenable, and on April 2 Lee aban- 
doned them, intending to effect a junction with Johnston or; if 
that failed, to secure himself in the mountain fastnesses. But 


Northern cavalry got ahead of him, tearing up railways he had 
hoped to use, and blocking possible mountain passes. On April 9 
Lee found himself at Appomattox Court House, some seventy 
miles west of Petersburg, hemmed in by the enemy and with 
no alternative but surrender. A conference ensued between the 
two generals Lee, erect in a new full-dress uniform of Confed- 
erate gray with a jeweled sword; Grant in the shabby blue of a 
private, wearing the straps of lieutenant general but no sword. 
The terms of surrender were magnanimous. The officers were 
permitted to retain their sidearms, and both officers and men 
rode off on their own horses. On his return from the conference, 
Grant quieted the noisy demonstrations of his soldiers by re- 
minding them, "The rebels are our countrymen again." When 
the news reached Johnston, he asked Sherman for terms. The 
two men met at Hillsboro, and on April 26 Johnston yielded on 
the same conditions as Lee. The two events occurred within 
ninety miles of each other. A month later Kirby Smith at Baton 
Rouge surrendered his force of 18,000 men. The war for Southern 
independence had become the "Lost Cause." 


The financing of the war placed an enormous burden upon a 
people unused to heavy taxation. In the four years the govern- 
mental expenditures overtopped those of the whole previous 
period of national independence. Yet, when Lincoln entered 
office, custom receipts were almost at a standstill, the treasury 
was nearly empty and public credit on the ebb. In December, 
1861, the banks of the North suspended specie payments, an 
action soon followed by the government. People promptly began 
to hoard gold and silver coins, and the country went on a paper- 
money basis. In a frantic effort to meet the mounting war costs 
and restore confidence, Secretary of the Treasury Chase and 
Congress resorted to every known device for obtaining revenue. 
There were three principal sources to draw upon: taxation, 
legal-tender issues and loans. In all these respects the crying 
need for funds caused the government to depart widely from time- 
honored policies. 

Hardly a session of Congress passed without some increase 
in the tariff until the act of 1864 advanced the average rate to 


forty-seven per cent, an unprecedented figure at that time, 
though not excessive according to later standards. The chief 
purpose of such legislation was to protect Northern industrial- 
ists from foreign competition, in order to enable them to pay 
high domestic taxes. A total of $35>3 6o > 000 was raised from 
tariff duties during the war. In imposing internal taxes Congress 
broke even more sharply with the past. Such levies had been un- 
known for more than a generation, while an income tax had never 
been tried. The first comprehensive law, that of July, ^1862, 
left hardly anything untaxed from tobacco, liquors and billiard 
tables to advertisements, occupations, manufactures^ railroads 
and inheritances. Two years later these rates were increased. 
The first tax on incomes, in 1861, levied three per cent on in- 
comes above $800, but by 1865 the rates had risen to five per 
cent on those between $600 and $5000 and to ten per cent on 
larger ones. The total yield from internal taxes of all kinds dur- 
ing the war was $356,846,000. 

A second financial expedient one whose effects were to 
plague the country for years to come was the issue of legal- 
tender notes or "greenbacks." By the simple process of working 
the printing press, the United States acquired abundant funds to 
expend for soldiers' wages and war supplies. This paper money 
was not unlike the Continental currency of Revolutionary days, 
being fiat money, unsupported by a gold reserve. Creditors were 
required to take the greenbacks at face value, and their ultimate 
redemption in gold depended on the good faith and future finan- 
cial ability of the nation. In February, 1862, Congress author- 
ized $150,000,000 worth of these notes, to be receivable for all 
debts due to or from the federal government, except import 
duties and interest on bonds. Further inflation was provided 
for in 1862 and 1863 until, at the close of the war, greenbacks 
to the amount of $431,000,000 were in circulation. In addition, 
the government issued $50,000,000 in fractional currency in 
denominations as low as three cents. These shinplasters, as they 
were called, were needed to replace the smaller metal coins that, 
as the war went on, disappeared from use. From a fiscal point 
of view, all such issues amounted to a forced loan from the peo- 
ple, for the notes quickly declined in value, both because of 
their superabundance and because of the people's wavering faith 


in the government in times of military misfortune. As is always 
the case, there resulted a rapid rise in the cost of living. In 
July, 1864, a hundred greenback dollars were worth thirty-nine 
dollars in gold; in April, 1865, with victory assured, but sixty- 
seven dollars. 

The government's main reliance, however, was on borrowing 
money through the sale of bonds and treasury notes. In order to 
compete with commercial investments, high rates of interest 
had to be offered. The two issues of "five-twenties 77 (bonds re- 
deemable at the government's option from five to twenty years 
after date), authorized in 1862 and 1864, bore interest at six 
per cent; the " ten-forties," issued in 1864, paid five per cent. 
Short-term loans were effected through treasury notes, offered 
in smaller denominations, and sometimes carrying interest as 
high as 7.3 per cent (the " seven- thirties"). In all, the govern- 
ment obtained a revenue of $2,621,917,000 by such means 
more than three times as much as from all other sources com- 

The need for speeding up the sale of bonds hastened the adop- 
tion of the national banking act. Other causes, however, were 
more fundamental. On January i, 1862, there were fifteen 
hundred banks that issued notes. Chartered by the several 
states, they possessed different privileges and operated under 
different restrictions, their bank notes being based on a wide 
variety of securities, unlike in quality or amount. In some 
states, boards of bank commissioners made frequent and thor- 
ough examinations, while elsewhere no such boards existed or 
existed in name only. All told, about seven thousand different 
kinds of notes were in circulation apart from successful counter- 
feits. The situation was improved over that of Jackson's day, 
but depositors in many states were still uncertain as to the 
security of their funds, and bank notes in constant use might, 
or might not, be worth their face value. Some system of federal 
regulation and control was clearly called for. The national 
banking act of 1863 (amended in 1864) did away with these 
irregularities, supplied a safe and uniform bank currency and, 
at the same time, provided a new market for government bonds. 
Incidentally, it enlisted a strong and active financial interest 
for the preservation of the Union. Banks chartered under the 


system were required to buy federal bonds to the extent of a third 
of their capital stock, and to deposit them with the Secretary 
of the Treasury. On the basis of this security they might issue 
bank notes up to ninety per cent of the market value of the bonds 
they owned. They must also keep on hand a cash fund for the 
current redemption of notes and as a safeguard for their deposi- 
tors. Depositors were further protected by the provision for 
periodical examination by federal inspectors. Though a large 
number of state banks, because of the many restrictions, at first 
held aloof from the national system, Congress brought most of 
them into line by providing in March, 1865, for a ten-per-cent 
tax on their bank notes, thus reserving the note-issuing func- 
tion for national banks alone. The legislation of 1863-1865 
remains the foundation of our national banking system to this 
day. 1 

Federal expenditures for the army and navy from 1861 to 
1865 amounted to more than three billion dollars. This figure, 
however, does not include the interest charges on the war debt. 
Furthermore, several years elapsed after the peace before the 
appropriations for military and naval purposes returned to a 
normal basis, and already in the last year of the conflict pen- 
sions began to swell the government's outlay. In 1879 an esti- 
mate was made of the expenditures growing out of the war down 
to that date, showing a total of $6,190,000,000. But even this 
amount does not take into account the extraordinary expenses 
for war purposes borne by the state and local governments. 

The financial difficulties of the Confederacy were incompa- 
rably greater. While the North had the revenue machinery of 
the United States government to work through, the South had to 
build from the ground up. At the outset, however, the Confed- 
eracy had over a million dollars in its treasury, nearly all of it 
confiscated from federal mints and customhouses within its 
borders. Like the United States, the Richmond government 
expected to obtain a substantial revenue from custom duties. 
The blockade, however, quickly put an end to this expectation. 

1 The system was changed in detail by subsequent acts, notably the one of 1908, 
which permitted a national bank to deposit certain other securities besides United 
States bonds as a basis for its note circulation. It was also affected, in certain, 
respects, by the establishment of the federal reserve system in 1913 (see pages 


The Confederate Congress then asked each state to levy a prop- 
erty tax for the general treasury the old requisition system 
of the Articles of Confederation but the results proved dis- 
appointing. Finally, in April, 1863, the Congress adopted an 
internal-revenue measure, comparable to the federal act of 1862, 
and including even a ten-per-cent tax on farm produce, payable 
in kind. The levy on farm products caused bitter resentment 
among the agricultural classes, particularly in North Carolina. 

Borrowing was also resorted to, through long-term bonds and 
short-term treasury notes, but this method proved less successful 
than in the North where money for investment was plentiful. 
Since the first bond issue, in 1861, absorbed most of the avail- 
able specie, the issue of 1862 was made payable in produce. As 
a result, the government came into possession of vast stores of 
cotton, tobacco and other commodities that had no sale. In 
1863, however, some success was met in selling a bond issue of 
$15,000,000 abroad. As in the North, the tempting expedient of 
irredeemable paper money was also adopted. In its extremity, 
the Confederacy printed nearly a billion dollars of this currency, 
with the inevitable sequel of rapid depreciation and inflated 
prices. The total volume of such money was swollen by un- 
recorded issues of state governments, banks and private busi- 
ness firms. Of course, the enormous war debt of the South was 
outlawed by the failure of the rebellion, and the Fourteenth 
Amendment of the federal Constitution, adopted in 1868, for- 
bade either the United States or any state to pay any part of it. 


Naval and Military Operations. Well-balanced, brief accounts may be 
found in Rhodes, History of the Civil War (condensed and revised from his 
more elaborate work) ; Hosmer, The Appeal to Arms, and his Outcome of the 
Civil War; Wood, Captains of the Civil War; Paxson, The Civil War; Eggles- 
ton, The History of the Confederate War; Dodge, A Bird's Eye View of Our 
Civil War; and Wood and Edmonds, A History of the Civil War in the United 
States. Among the best war biographies are Henderson, Stonewall Jackson 
and the American Civil War; Maurice, Robert E. Lee, the Soldier; and Cool- 
idge, Ulysses S. Grant. Meneely, The War Department: 1861, is a special 
study. The war on the water in its various aspects is the concern of Baxter, 
The Introduction of the Ironclad Warship; Mahan, Admiral Farr&gut; Porter, 
The Naval History of the CM War; and Scharf, History of the Confederate 
States Navy. Bradlee, Blockade Running during the Civil War and the Effect 


of Land and Water Transportation on the Confederacy, is the best treatment 
of its subject. In The Irrepressible Conflict Cole gives an intimate picture 
of the conditions of fighting. 

Filling the War Purse. A concise analysis of federal finances and the new 
national banking system appears in Dewey, Financial History of the United 
States. A biographical approach is afforded by Hart, Salmon Portland 
Chase; Oberholtzer, Jay Cooke, Financier of the Civil War; and Burton, 
John Sherman. For Southern finances, Schwab, The Confederate States of 
America, is important. 





OOUTHERN secession came as a severe blow to Northern 
O industry. As the banks suspended specie payments, mer- 
cantile failures multiplied until over 12,000 firms were driven to 
the wall. Not only was business subjected to the usual shocks 
incident to the outbreak of a great war, but merchants and 
bankers were confronted with the loss of $300,000,000 owing 
them from the South private debts which the Confederate 
and state authorities promptly outlawed. After 1861, however, 
a boom set in, which lasted through the remainder of the conflict. 
The enormous purchases and high prices paid by the govern- 
ment for uniforms, munitions and other supplies kept factory 
after factory running month after month; and the closing of 
the Mississippi greatly augmented the freight traffic of the rail- 
roads. At the same time, currency inflation and the steadily 
ascending protective tariff acted as a powerful stimulant to 

As the cost of living shot upward, the wage-earner's pay 
lagged far behind, causing a widespread revival of trade unions 
and an increasing resort to strikes, until by 1864 labor had re- 
gained much of the ground it had lost. Meanwhile, the farmer 
made rich profits, thanks to the army demand for food and to bad 
crops abroad. Wheat production had never been so great as 
during the war. The general well-being was mirrored in the 
growth of savings-bank deposits in the five-year period from 
$149,278,000 to $242,619,000, and of the number of depositors 
from 694,000 to 981,000. In only one respect did Northern 
enterprise suffer a serious setback. The increased hazards to 
shipping from the depredations of the Alabama and other Con- 
federate raiders enabled the British to take over much of the 
trade hitherto carried in American vessels. All together, there 



was a loss of a million tons during the conflict. An injury was 
inflicted upon the merchant marine from which it never recov- 
ered, for, when peace returned, capitalists preferred the certain 
profits to be gained from factories and railways to the doubtful 
venture of restoring American shipping. 

In the train of war-time prosperity came the usual brood of 
war-time evils: corruption, profiteering and^fast living. The 
government was cheated without conscience in its purchases of 
military supplies. A committee of the War Department in 1862 
exposed frauds of $17,000,000 in contracts amounting to $50,000,- 
ooo. The Michigan legislature formally charged that " traitors 
in the disguise of patriots have plundered our treasury/' and 
James Russell Lowell, agreeing, asserted, "Men have striven to 
make the blood of our martyrs the seed of wealth. 7 ' The term, 
" shoddy aristocracy/ 7 came to stigmatize those who reaped 
fortunes out of government contracts, particularly from supply- 
ing the soldiers with inferior clothing. In the mad strife for gain 
Northerners even engaged in illicit traffic in cotton with the 
enemy, often with the corrupt connivance of army officers in the 
field. Not only food and money but also powder and bullets 
reached the Confederates by this means. Before the trade was 
effectively regulated in 1864, the South had sold more cotton to 
the North than it managed to send through the blockade to 
England. As profiteers multiplied and wealth piled up, luxury 
flaunted itself in American cities as never before. "The in- 
dulgence in every variety of pleasure, luxury, and extravagance 
is simply shocking/' reported the correspondent of the London 
Times in 1863. "Washington is mad with gayety, reeling in the 
whirl of dissipation/' declared the Springfield Republican a year 

Against this unedifying picture, however, must be set another 
and more inspiring one. No previous war in history had called 
forth such heroism and self-sacrifice on the part of noncombatants 
associated with the troops or from the bulk of civilians behind 
the lines. The army casualties mounted so rapidly that the med- 
ical department was obliged to make use of volunteer nurses. 
Clara Barton, future founder of the American Red Cross, who 
resigned a government clerkship to take up nursing and the work 
of organizing hospital supplies, was merely more famous than 


the countless others whose labors were no less devoted. To the 
service of medical treatment came an epochal discovery, for 
which chief credit belongs to Americans in the years before the 
war. In 1844 Horace Wells, a dentist in Hartford, Connecticut, 
demonstrated that nitrous oxide gas might be used to deaden 
the pain of operations. Two years later a Boston dentist, W. T. 
Morton, acting upon the advice of C. T. Jackson, a chemist, 
first employed ether as an anaesthetic. 1 Before these discoveries, 
a patient in a severe surgical operation had to be restrained by 
force, or even bound by straps to the table. Since a patient's 
movement might fatally deflect the surgeon's knife, anaesthesia 
so named by Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes from the Greek word 
meaning "without pain" added greatly to the number of 
recoveries as well as to the relief of suffering. Chloroform was 
most widely used for this purpose during the Civil War. Un- 
fortunately, the era of antiseptic surgery had not yet arrived 
and, in order to prevent wound infections, surgeons resorted 
freely to amputations. Of the thirty thousand that were per- 
formed in the Union army, the great majority were successful. 
For many years following the war, armless and legless veterans 
were a pathetic reminder of the great conflict. Sanitary science 
also lingered in the dark ages, with the result that, despite the 
heavy losses incurred in fighting, deaths from dysentery, camp 
fevers, pneumonia and other diseases proved almost twice as great. 
In no armed conflict in history before the World War was 
civilian relief work organized on so vast a scale. Every local 
community in the North had its Ladies' Aid Society for making 
bandages, shirts and other necessaries and comforts; and these 
groups cooperated with a national body, the United States 
Sanitary Commission, which the government created in June, 
1861, to help in looking after disabled soldiers and their dependent 
families. The Sanitary Commission developed an elaborate 
organization, employing at times five hundred agents. Store- 
houses were maintained in Boston, New York, Cincinnati, Chi- 
cago and other centers, to which local branches sent their sup- 
plies with the assistance of free transportation by the railroads 

1 A Georgia physician, C. W. Long, had made the same discovery in 1842, but 
failed to publish his results. The third common anaesthetic, chloroform, was first 
used for this purpose in 1847 by Sir James Y. Simpson of Edinburgh. 


and express companies. Through its labors, conditions of camp 
life were greatly improved, and assistance was given in caring for 
the wounded on the field of battle and in hospitals. In the few 
days following Gettysburg, clothing and food valued at $75,000 
were distributed among the men, including such delicacies as 
poultry, butter, eggs, milk and ice. To provide funds for the 
Commission's activities, "sanitary fairs" were held in all the 
leading cities, a total of $7,000,000 being raised in this and other 
ways. The services rendered by the countless women connected 
with the work inspired Lincoln's oft-quoted eulogy: "If all that 
has been said by orators and poets since the creation of the 
world in praise of women were applied to the women of America, 
it would not do them justice for their conduct during this war." 
Nor were the soldiers' spiritual needs neglected. For this purpose 
the United States Christian Commission was formed in Novem- 
ber, 1 86 1, upon the initiative of the Young Men's Christian As- 
sociation. Besides providing the camps with free reading rooms, 
where magazines, newspapers and religious literature might be 
perused, it set up a system of diet kitchens for injured soldiers 
extending to every corps of the army. 

In the South the burdens borne by the noncombatant popula- 
tion were even heavier than in the free states, for a larger propor- 
tion of the white men were at the front. Relief work was not 
organized; but the proud Southern women brought into use old 
spinning wheels and looms in order to make clothing for the 
soldiers, they denied themselves meat and drink that it might be 
sent to the army, and, like their Northern sisters, they nursed 
the wounded and worked in munition plants. Living in an in- 
vaded country, they experienced the horrors of war all about 
them homes destroyed, fields ravaged, hostile soldiers at every 
hand. Nothing was more remarkable perhaps than the peaceable 
labor of the several million slaves, whose presence in the South 
had caused the " irrepressible conflict 77 and whose freedom became 
a major purpose of the invading hosts. 


Among the most perplexing problems that confronted the 
nation was the question of the limits to which criticism of the 
government might be allowed to go. The democratic system is 


better adapted to peace than to war, for the efficient conduct of 
war requires the assumption of extraordinary powers by the 
government, with a consequent tendency to override the lawful 
rights of individuals and minorities. During the Civil War 
President Lincoln performed acts that in peace time would have 
been unconstitutional, and which could be justified only by his 
authority as commander-in-chief of the army and navy. Not 
only was the administration determined to permit nothing to 
cripple its efforts to maintain public safety, but, under guise of 
his war powers, Lincoln even accomplished the great humanita- 
rian feat of freeing the slaves. If President Davis was more 
cautious in the lengths to which he went, minority groups in 
both sections denounced the course of government as intolerable 
and despotic. 

Lincoln's suspension of the writ of habeas corpus called forth 
particular condemnation. Early decisions of the Supreme Court 
had implied that this cherished safeguard of the individual could 
be set aside only by Congress. But without consulting that 
body Lincoln temporarily suspended the writ in Maryland in 1861 
at a time when the arbitrary arrest of suspects seemed necessary 
to nip the developing secession movement in the bud. In a 
proclamation of September 24, 1862, he went even further, 
denying the privilege of habeas corpus in the case of all persons, 
wherever found, who sought to discourage enlistments or were 
guilty of any other " disloyal practice." Thousands of men in 
all parts of the North were promptly arrested upon suspicion 
and imprisoned without hearing or trial, or else sentenced by 
military tribunals without jury. To still criticism, Congress 
passed a law on March 3, 1863, providing that suspects should 
not be detained longer than twenty days without indictment by 
a grand jury. The President, however, ignored this statute, and 
arrests continued to be made by executive or military order. 
On the other hand, Lincoln sought to mitigate the rigors of this 
policy by paroling many political prisoners. That the govern- 
ment acted with excess zeal, and often unlawfully, was made 
clear by the Supreme Court in the case of Ex parte Milligan. 
This decision, however, rendered in 1866, came too late to be of 
service. Milligan, an Indiana Democrat, had been sentenced to 
death for conspiracy by a military tribunal in 1864. The Supreme 


Court reversed the judgment, holding that the constitutional 
rights of an individual under criminal prosecution could not be 
denied in places where the regular civil courts were "in the 
proper and unobstructed exercise of their jurisdiction." 

Meanwhile, in the South, President Davis had in February, 
1862, declared martial law and suspended the writ of habeas 
corpus in disaffected districts and at important military points. 
Though, unlike Lincoln, he acted with express sanction of his 
Congress, strong opposition developed against this interference 
in the accustomed sphere of state action. The North Carolina 
courts contested its legality, freely issuing the writ to persons 
imprisoned by Confederate authority. A Georgia statute in 
1864 declared that refusal to grant habeas corpus would subject 
the judge to a penalty of $2500. In this campaign of protest 
Vice-President Stephens took an active part; and "military 
despotism" was roundly denounced in resolutions of public 
meetings and legislative memorials. The Confederate Congress 
gradually restricted the President's authority in this respect, 
finally withdrawing it entirely on August i, 1864. 


The freeing of the Negro was by no means a necessary conse- 
quence of the collision of arms. The avowed object of the vic- 
torious party in the election of 1860 was only to confine slavery 
to the states where it already existed. Even after the war began, 
Congress announced in July, 1861, that the government was 
actuated by no "purpose of overthrowing or interfering with 
the rights or established institutions" of the South, but sought 
merely "to preserve the Union with all the dignity, equality, 
and rights of the several States unimpaired; and that as soon as 
these objects are accomplished the war ought to cease." In the 
same session, acts were passed to organize the territories of 
Colorado, Dakota and Nevada with no restriction against slav- 
ery. When the popular outcry for emancipation rose high in 
1862, Lincoln took further occasion to define his position in a 
letter of August 22, elicited by a sharply critical editorial in 
Greeley's Tribune. "My paramount object in this struggle/ 7 
he declared, "is to save the Union, and is not either to save or 
destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any 


slave, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, 
I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving 
others alone, I would also do that." 

Lincoln's personal convictions as to the evil of human bondage 
had not altered since his debate with Douglas in 1858; but as 
President of the whole American nation, he shrank from righting 
one wrong at the cost of another, and no principle of the federal 
system went deeper than the right of each state to control its 
own domestic institutions. Furthermore, he realized the folly 
of committing the Northern people to a policy which many of 
them were not yet prepared to accept. Not only had he divided 
the vote of the North with Douglas, but those who supported 
him had voted against the extension, not the existence, of slavery. 
Many who sprang to the defense of the Union would have re- 
frained had they believed they were fighting a "nigger war." 
Nor did he ever lose sight of the fact that the four border slave 
states had sided with the North. Abolition would not only 
be an act of injustice to the loyal whites in those states, but 
might drive them into the arms of the enemy. Had Lincoln 
been permitted, undisturbed by men or events, to work out 
his own solution, he would have instituted everywhere a 
program of gradual emancipation, with compensation to the 
masters and removal of the freedmen to Liberia or Latin 

Under the prod of circumstances, however, steps were taken, 
almost from the beginning of the war, looking to the further 
restriction or eventual doom of slavery. On April 16, 1862, 
Congress provided for the compensated liberation of the three 
thousand slaves in the District of Columbia. Two months later 
(June 19) the Republicans enacted into law the principle which 
had brought their party into being eight years before the 
exclusion of slavery from the federal territories. Lincoln desired, 
further, to bring about emancipation in the border states, for he 
realized that their permanent loyalty could not otherwise be 
assured. At his suggestion, Congress in April, 1862, offered to 
aid these states financially in a program of gradual abolition, 
and Lincoln held earnest conferences with the border-state Con- 
gressmen to the same end. The latter, however, remained un- 
moved, asserting their constitutional right to hold slaves, and 

9 o 


declaring that any scheme of compensation, even with federal 
help, would inflict ruinous taxation on their people. 

The problem of dealing with the question in the seceded 
states proved far more difficult. To antislavery extremists the 
war presented a providential opportunity to deal a deathblow 
to slavery in the South, for, in their minds, the disloyal conduct 
of the planting class absolved the government from all obliga- 
tions to respect Southern property rights. They entirely mis- 
understood Lincoln's legal scruples and political caution, fiercely 
assailing him as a traitor to the holy cause of freedom. Such 
Republicans called themselves Radicals, and their quarrel with 
the President over emancipation led them to criticize him on 
other scores as well. In the cabinet they had an outspoken 
champion in Chase; in the House, in Thaddeus Stevens. Out- 
side of Washington their great spokesmen were Greeley of the 
Tribune and John C. Fremont, the latter an ambitious politician 
as well as a mediocre soldier. 

The matter was not merely one for abstract disputation. The 
invasion of the South brought the troops into direct contact with 
the slaves, raising questions which called for immediate decision. 
In the early weeks of the war an overwhelming number of Negroes 
flocked into the camp of General B. F. Butler in Virginia. Should 
these be returned to their masters under the fugitive-slave act? 
Butler propounded the ingenious doctrine that the fugitives were 
contraband of war, being a form of property used by the foe 
in hostile war service, and hence subject to confiscation. His 
position was promptly approved by the War Department, and, 
when Congress passed a confiscation act on August 6, 1861, it 
provided for the seizure of slaves as well as other property when 
used for insurrectionary purposes. 

No sooner was this question decided than General Fremont, 
then in command in Missouri, raised the issue in a different form. 
By a proclamation of August 30, 1861, he decreed the forfeiture 
of all property, including slaves, belonging to disloyal citizens 
there. This overstepped the provisions of the confiscation act, 
for the cause he assigned for liberation was the hostile service 
of the master, not of the slave. Lincoln, believing the action 
premature, overruled it. When General David Hunter, com- 
manding the recovered territory around Beaufort, imitated Fre- 


mont's example in May, 1862, by declaring free the slaves of 
South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, Lincoln again intervened 
and revoked the order. On July 17, however, Congress passed 
a second confiscation act, which applied, in modified form, the 
principle for which Fremont and Hunter had stood. After 
inflicting drastic penalties on all persons convicted of treason, 
the law declared that, when the slaves of rebel masters fell into 
federal hands, they should "be forever free of their servitude." 
Two months later Lincoln said, "I cannot learn that that law 
has caused a single slave to come over to us." 

In revoking General Hunter's order, Lincoln had declared, 
"Whether it be competent for me, as Commander-in- Chief of 
the Army and Navy, to declare the slaves of any State or States, 
free, and whether at any time, or in any case, it shall have be- 
come a necessity indispensable to the maintenance of the Gov- 
ernment . . . , are questions which, under my responsibility, I 
reserve to myself." This pivotal question was never absent from 
his mind. He was constantly weighing the political considera- 
tions involved, at home and abroad, and particularly whether an 
act of liberation would prove effective in weakening the enemy. 
At a cabinet meeting on July 22, 1862, he at last announced his 
readiness to take the fateful step. But Seward counseled further 
delay, for, in view of recent military reverses, a proclamation of 
emancipation might be regarded as a "last shriek on the re- 
treat." The wisdom of this advice was at once recognized. Ig- 
norant of what was in store, the Radicals redoubled their clamor. 
The Confederate repulse at Antietam provided a fit occasion, 
and on September 22 the President issued the preliminary procla- 
mation. Justifying his action as a "necessary war measure," he 
declared all slaves free in those parts of the Confederacy that 
should continue in rebellion on January i, 1863. 

When New Year's Day came, he issued the final proclamation, 
designating the states and districts affected, and inviting ex- 
slaves to join the armed forces of the nation. The proclamation, 
of course, did not apply to the four border states, nor did it 
involve the status of slavery in Tennessee or those parts of 
Virginia and Louisiana already occupied. Elsewhere Negroes 
became legally free by the executive edict, though actual liber- 
ation had to await the victorious advance of the Union forces. 


The propriety of emancipation as an exercise of war powers can 
be gauged only by the results which flowed from it. While it is 
doubtful whether more slaves than before sought refuge within 
federal lines, over 100,000 Southern Negroes enlisted as soldiers, 
performing services as fighters and in guarding and repairing 
railways, which, in Lincoln's judgment, hastened the final victory. 
Of even greater import was the effect of the proclamation on 
public opinion abroad, for, as we shall see, it precluded further 
danger of foreign intervention. 


Lincoln's action led by swift stages to the eradication of 
slavery everywhere. Several of the states unaffected by the 
proclamation fell into line. The Missouri convention, after pro- 
viding in June, 1863, for a gradual process, changed its plan to 
immediate freedom in January, 1865. During 1864 abolition was 
decreed by Maryland and by conventions of unionists in Virginia, 
Arkansas and Louisiana, with Tennessee following shortly after. 
Meanwhile, a strong sentiment had been developing to make 
abolition both universal and irrevocable by a provision in the 
federal Constitution. In April, 1864, the Senate approved the 
Thirteenth Amendment, forbidding slavery or involuntary servi- 
tude save as a punishment for crime. Though the House was 
unable at first to marshal the necessary two-thirds majority for 


its passage, the nation spoke unmistakably in the presidential 
election of 1864, causing the House in January, 1865, to reverse 
its earlier vote. The amendment became a part of the organic 
law on December 18, 1865. Its direct practical effect was to 
free the slaves in Kentucky and Delaware, and to substitute 
immediate for gradual emancipation in West Virginia. 


Largely because of strife over the emancipation question, the 
Republican party throughout the war was plagued by internal 
dissension. The Radical wing also criticized Lincoln's manage- 
ment of the war, while the Conservatives stoutly defended the 
President and agreed with him in placing national preservation 
before Negro freedom. In elections the two factions maintained 
a united front and, since the Republicans early in the war adopted 
the practice of nominating candidates under the name of the 
Union party, they also succeeded in commanding the support of 
one section of the Democrats. These War Democrats, as they 
were called, retained their belief in the historic economic doc- 
trines of their party, but believed that, in the existing crisis, the 
question of the Union overshadowed all other issues. 

Most Democrats, however, continued in the regular party 
organization, doggedly contesting with the administration forces 
for political control. The great majority of them supported the 
war, but charged Lincoln with incompetence and condemned 
his assumption of autocratic power. Their slogan became, "The 
Constitution as it is and the Union as it was," and in Horatio 
Seymour of New York they possessed their ablest leader. But a 
militant minority, headed by C. L. Vallandigham, an Ohio 
Congressman, opposed the war and demanded immediate peace 
without terms. The stronghold of the Peace Democrats was the 
old Northwest, particularly those parts whose inhabitants, like 
Vallandigham himself, were descended from settlers of Southern 
origin. In order to carry on their propaganda more effectively, 
many of their number joined a secret, oath-bound order vari- 
ously known as the Knights of the Golden Circle, the American 
Knights and the Sons of Liberty. Execrated by the public at 
large, this pacifist element quickly won the name of Copperheads, 
an epithet soon applied indiscriminately to all Democrats. 


The first test of strength between the contending forces came 
in the fall elections of 1862. The voters, suffering a reaction 
from the buoyant patriotism of 1861, were dismayed by the 
almost unbroken succession of military defeats as well as by the 
disclosures of graft in government contracts. The increasing 
number of arbitrary arrests gave additional cause for dissatis- 
faction, while many were disconcerted by Democratic jibes that 
the Emancipation Proclamation had changed the struggle to an 
"abolition war." 1 As a result, the Republicans lost ground in 
many parts of the country. Besides electing Seymour governor 
of New York, the Democrats carried New Jersey, Pennsylvania 
and the states from Ohio to Wisconsin. The administration, 
however, managed to save its majority in Congress. 

The next year proved an even more critical one. In Indiana 
the Peace Democrats in the legislature blocked every measure 
for the support of the war, and the lower house of the Illinois 
legislature declared for an immediate armistice and a peace con- 
vention. The President told Sumner he feared "the fire in the 
rear" more than he did the enemy's military prowess. In the fall 
of 1863 the efforts of the defeatists reached a dramatic climax. 
The Democrats in Ohio chose as their candidate for governor 
Vallandigham, who at the time was under sentence of exile 
because of his denunciations of "King Lincoln." Conducting his 
campaign from a safe refuge in Canada, it seemed for a while 
that he might be successful. 2 Though he received 187,000 votes, 
he lost the election by a majority of 101,000. The federal vic- 
tories at Vicksburg and Gettysburg proved a decisive argument 
against him. 

Vallandigham's defeat marked the turning of the tide, though 
Lincoln still had much opposition to encounter both within and 
without Ms party. A mass convention of Radical Republicans 

1 A favorite bit of Democratic verse ran as follows: 

Honest old Abe, when the war first began, 
Denied abolition was part of his plan; 
Honest old Abe has since made a decree, 
The war must go on till the slaves are all free. 
As both can't be honest, will some one tell how, 
If honest Abe then, he is honest Abe now? 

2 Edward Everett Hale's famous story, "The Man without a Country," was 
written for the purpose of affecting public sentiment at the time of this campaign. 


at Cleveland on May 31, 1864, even tried to prevent his renom- 
ination by putting forward Fremont as their candidate on a plat- 
form demanding sterner prosecution of the war and a constitu- 
tional amendment against slavery. But the maneuver failed. 
When the Union party convened a week later at Baltimore, 
they named the President on the first ballot, thus deciding, in 
Lincoln's homely phrase, that it was "best not to swap horses 
while crossing the river, " With him was associated Andrew 
Johnson, then military governor of Tennessee and a War Dem- 
ocrat. The platform praised Lincoln's conduct of the war and 
promised universal freedom by constitutional amendment. The 
ticket, however, evoked little popular enthusiasm. The prospects 
for success, especially during the military misfortunes of July 
and August, were decidedly gloomy. Advised by Greeley and 
others of his almost certain defeat, Lincoln recorded his own 
impressions on August 23 . " This morning as for some days past/ 7 
he wrote in a private memorandum, "it seems exceedingly 
probable that this Administration will not be reflected." 

The party's chances, however, were somewhat improved by the 
action of the Democrats at Chicago on August 29. After declaring 
the war a failure, their platform, written under Vallandigham's 
influence, called for an immediate armistice with a peace con- 
vention to restore the federal Union. But General McClellan, 
the victor of Antietam, chosen as the Democratic candidate, 
virtually repudiated this pronouncement in his letter of accept- 
ance. The effect of such divided counsels upon the country was 
indicated by the New York Tribune's version of the platform: 
" Resolved that the war is a very good war, and most unrighteous 
war, and while it should be stopped at once, it must be carried 
on with vigor/ 3 Yet success for the Union ticket was far from 
assured. In order to rally the support of the wage-earners, a 
campaign circular appealed, " Workingmen, stand by your order. 
Lincoln and Johnson were poor men and worked for their living.'' 
A few months earlier Lincoln had taken occasion to declare, 
"Labor is the superior of capital and deserves much the higher 
consideration," while pointing out that the war, in fact, was a 
"war upon the rights of all working people." In September, 
Sherman, Sheridan and Farragut won their great victories and, 
as Seward said, this news "knocked the bottom out of the 


Chicago nominations." Fremont now withdrew from the contest, 
and Lincoln was chosen by an electoral majority of 212 to 21. 
But he secured only fifty-five per cent of the popular vote. 


With a few exceptions the nations of the Old World sympa- 
thized with the South in the struggle. It was the purpose of the 
Confederacy to convert this sympathy into a recognition of 
independence, coupled, if possible, with armed intervention. 
The government at Washington, on the other hand, strove to 
defeat this expectation and, at the same time, to keep the South 
from procuring war vessels abroad. The efforts of both sides cen- 
tered upon Great Britain since it was known that Napoleon III 
of France would not act alone. British opinion on the American 
conflict was far from unanimous. The ruling class was friendly 
to the Confederacy, for the nobility and landed gentry looked 
upon the Southern planters as fellow aristocrats, and rejoiced 
that the great American experiment in popular government 
seemed on the verge of collapse. Citing Congress's own declara- 
tion at the opening of the war, they denied the North was fight- 
ing to abolish slavery, and held with the London Times that 
"The contest is really for empire on the side of the North and for 
independence on that of the South." On the other hand, the man- 
ufacturing and commercial classes were divided. They heartily 
disliked the Northern protective-tariff system and greatly feared 
a cotton famine, but a prewar surplus of cotton tided them over 
for more than a year, and the shipping interests reaped golden 
profits from their inroads on the Northern merchant marine. 

From the outset the United States had influential friends in 
Parliament, who, though in the minority, were strong enough to 
prevent the government from taking extreme measures. Reform 
leaders like John Bright, Richard Cobden and William E. Forster 
identified the contest with their own struggle for greater democ- 
racy, and declared insistently that the cause of the South was 
the cause of slavery and the " Slave Power," In this position they 
were joined by the wage-earners despite the fact that the latter 
became the chief sufferers from the cotton stringency. It is 
possible, too, that pro-Northern sentiment was strengthened by 
English crop failures in 1860-1862, which caused Northern grain 


for a time to be in greater demand than Southern cotton. 1 
Tennyson and Darwin were warm supporters of the Union, 
offsetting Dickens and Carlyle, who sided with the Confederacy. 

Relations between the two countries were sorely strained in 
the early years of the war. On May 13, 1861, the British gov- 
ernment issued a proclamation of neutrality, an action quickly 
followed by other countries. Such a proclamation did not 
amount to recognition of Southern independence, but it granted 
Confederate ships of war and commerce the same privileges in 
British ports all over the world as those accorded Northern 
vessels. The act also contravened Lincoln's contention that a 
rebellion, and not an international war, was in progress a 
position from which Lincoln himself had unwittingly departed 
when he established the blockade. However justified the proc- 
lamation may have been, it bore the appearance of action taken 
precipitately since it was issued on the very day the American 
Minister, Charles Francis Adams, arrived in England. 

Six months later occurred the Trent affair, which brought the 
two nations dangerously near war. Captain Charles Wilkes 
commanding an American warship stopped the British steamer 
Trent on the high seas on November 8, forcibly removing the 
Confederate commissioners, J. M. Mason and John Slidell and 
their secretaries, who had taken passage from Havana for South- 
ampton, both neutral ports. The news, greeted with extravagant 
joy in the North, caused England to blaze with resentment. 
Peremptorily demanding liberation of the prisoners, the British 
government hurried eight thousand troops to Canada and en- 
gaged in naval preparations. Since the seizure had been un- 
authorized and, indeed, ran counter to all previous American 
policy as to freedom of the seas, Lincoln allowed sufficient time 
to pass for public sentiment to cool and then, on December 26, 
ordered the men surrendered with a suitable explanation. 

No sooner was this incident closed than a new difficulty arose 
from Great Britain's lax interpretation of her neutral duties 
toward the clandestine construction of Confederate cruisers. 
In March, 1862, the authorities allowed the newly built Florida 

1 Thus, Forster in a speech, in Parliament in 1863 declared that, if Britain had 
an economic motive for intervention because of the cotton shortage, "it was al- 
lowable to ask, 'What would be the cost of the war in corn [grain]? '" 


to slip out of Liverpool, and in July the Alabama departed in a 
similar manner. In both instances Adams protested vigorously, 
presenting evidence in advance to prove Confederate ownership 
of the raiders. That the officials were swayed by friendship for 
the South cannot be gainsaid. Indeed, in September, Lord Pal- 
merston, the Prime Minister, deciding the time had arrived to 
recognize Confederate independence, arranged for a cabinet 
meeting with a view to proposing to France and other powers 
joint action in the matter. But before the meeting was held, 
the situation changed. For one thing, Adams let it be known that 
the United States would sever diplomatic relations. A more im- 
portant influence was the Union victory at Antietam on Septem- 
ber 17, followed by the Emancipation Proclamation. With her 
own strong antislavery traditions, Great Britain could not adopt 
a policy which would serve to perpetuate human bondage in 
America. From this time to the close of the war, the government 
stringently enforced its neutrality obligations. In 1863 the 
authorities seized three vessels destined for the Confederacy, 
two of them ironclad rams of great destructive power. Mean- 
time, the Florida and the Alabama, engaged in their mission of 
harassing Northern commerce, wrought damage to the extent 
of more than fifteen million dollars before their capture. 

Napoleon III was even more friendly to the South than the 
British leaders. He encouraged Confederate emissaries to build 
commerce destroyers in French shipyards, though only one, the 
Stonewall, was actually completed and delivered. Though the 
cotton shortage caused unemployment in certain sections of his 
country. Napoleon's chief motive was to cripple the military 
strength of the United States, so as to create conditions favorable 
for the realization of the long-cherished dream of reestablishing 
a French empire in the New World. About six months after the 
war began, he induced Great Britain and Spain to join him in an 
armed expedition against Mexico to collect the unpaid claims of 
their subjects. In April, 1862, after the allied forces occupied a 
number of customhouses, Great Britain and Spain came to 
terms with Mexico and withdrew. The French, left to their own 
devices, proceeded to overthrow the existing Mexican govern- 
ment and place Maximilian, an Austrian archduke, on a throne 
supported by French bayonets. All this, of course, was in direct 


violation of the Monroe Doctrine, but America, being engaged 
in a struggle for national existence, could do nothing but protest 
and bide her time. With the return of peace she became mistress 
of the situation. Napoleon was warned once more, and the French 
troops finally withdrew in the spring of 1867. Without foreign 
support Maximilian's bubble monarchy collapsed. 

Like France, Spain sought to profit by America's preoccupa- 
tion with internal embroilments. In 1861 she annexed the 
Dominican Republic, a part of the island of Santo Domingo. 
Three years later, having declared war on Peru, she seized the 
Chincha Islands, valuable for guano. The United States protested 
sharply, announcing again the principles of the Monroe Doc- 
trine. Early in 1865 Spain quietly relinquished both claims. 
On the other hand, Russia, Prussia and the Scandinavian coun- 
tries were favorable to the North, Russia conspicuously so. 
Czar Alexander II, who had emancipated the serfs in 1861, was 
strongly influenced by antislavery sympathies, and even more 
so by the fact that the European powers friendly to the South 
were unfriendly to his own country. At a critical time in the war 
(September, 1863), one Russian fleet visited New York and 
another San Francisco, where their presence gave much moral 
support to the cause of the Union both at home and abroad. 

Though Russia had acted from motives connected with her 
own national interests, the Northern people felt a deep debt of 
gratitude. Consequently, shortly after the peace, when she 
offered to sell Russian America (Alaska) to the United States, 
the government was agreeably disposed, though "Walrussia," 
as some wag proposed calling it, was looked upon as a frozen ex- 
panse with no possibilities of development. The purchase price 
being fixed at $7,200,000, the Senate ratified the treaty on April 9, 
1867, with but two dissenting votes. As the future was to dis- 
close, the United States had unwittingly made a noble purchase. 
Thereby, too, another European monarchy was eliminated from 
the Western Hemisphere. 


The decision that the United States should be one, not two 
nations, marks an epoch in the history of the American people. 
The great constitutional issue upon which the war was avowedly 


fought was resolved, once for all, in favor of the supremacy of 
the Union. Though this conclusion was reached under purely 
American conditions, it coincided with a world-wide movement 
for the consolidation of nationality. The Austrians having been 
driven out, the several Italian states in 1861 united under a king 
of their own choosing. In 1867 the dual monarchy of Austria- 
Hungary was founded with rights of self-government for both 
peoples. Three years later the third French Republic came into 
being, and the next year brought the final achievement of Ger- 
man unification. America was the first to recognize the new 
French government; and President Grant told Congress he saw 
in the united German Empire "an attempt to reproduce some 
of the best features of our own Constitution." Meanwhile, to 
the north of the United States, the provinces from Ontario east 
(Newfoundland excepted) combined in 1867 to form the Domin- 
ion of Canada, with full powers of local autonomy and provision 
for enlarging the dominion by the admission of the western 
territories. Northern triumph in the Civil War accorded with a 
deep-flowing historical trend. 

The war also resulted in the destruction of slavery and of the 
power of the cotton capitalists the real, though unconfessed, 
cause of the struggle. The United States was the last of the great 
Western nations to do away with human bondage, Russia having 
preceded her by a few years. Yet the abolition of slavery solved 
one problem only to create another, the Negro problem, which 
would vex the nation for many years to come. The undoing of 
the " Slave Power" removed from the political scene an aggres- 
sive force seeking objects peculiar to a section, but its going 
merely hastened the emergence of a new and more powerful 
economic class, domiciled in the North and intent on molding 
the entire nation to its will. The collapse of plantation capitalism 
signalized the rise of industrial capitalism. 

Posterity may properly ask whether the gains of the Civil 
War repaid for the terrific expenditure of blood and treasure. 
Slavery could hardly have lasted very much longer in any case : 
it was not only a costly system for the master, but it flew in the 
face of the conscience of the nineteenth century. If a divided 
country was not easy for a Northern patriot to contemplate, it 
may well be questioned whether the Southern Confederacy could 


long have maintained its life apart. The return of peace, more- 
over, thrust upon the nation problems such as it had never be- 
fore been called to face. The seceded states must be accorded 
their proper legal relations with the triumphant North and, 
what was equally important, the love of a common nationality 
must somehow be restored. An unprecedented war debt awaited 
payment, and some means had to be found to cure the ills aris- 
ing from greenback inflation. Finally, the presence of several 
million ex-soldiers among the voters portended a political in- 
fluence that would not only help keep alive war-time bitterness, 
but would burden the country for more than a generation with 
a staggering debt for pensions. 

Yet no such thoughts ruffled people's minds when the war 
ended at Appomattox. All was rejoicing in the North. Even in 
Dixie the sense of disappointment and blighted hopes was 
mingled with a feeling of relief. The disbanding of the troops 
and their dispersion into peace-time employments occurred 
without shock or incident. Nearly a million Northern soldiers 
were mustered out in 1865. Most of them took their final pay- 
ment with them as a "nest egg" and, with free farms awaiting 
in the West and abundant jobs in the new manufacturing in- 
dustries, they were quietly absorbed into the ranks of civil life. 
The Confederates wandered home, on foot and horseback, 
penniless. Bereft of their slaves, their plantations laid waste or 
unworked, peace meant to them the building of a new South. 


Life behind the Lines. Fite, Social and Industrial Conditions during the 
Civil War, is the best guide for the free states; Wesley, The Collapse of the 
Confederacy, for the South. Stephenson, The Day of the Confederacy, also gives 
a good picture of Southern life and politics. A detailed discussion of the dis- 
covery of anaesthetics is appended to Packard, The History of Medicine in 
the United States . . . to the Year 1800. The most complete account of the 
principal relief organization is Still6, History of the United States Sanitary 
Commission; and the services of women are more particularly treated in 
B rocket t and Vaughan, Woman's Work in the Civil War, and Underwood, 
The Women of the Confederacy. 

The Restraint of Civil Liberty. Randall, Constitutional Problems under 
Lincoln, supersedes all earlier treatments of the subject. 

Political Divisions during the War. The Peace Democrats receive careful 
study in Benton, The Movement for Peace without Victory during the Civil 


War, which should be supplemented by Kirkland, The Peacemakers of 1864. 
Other aspects of the political scene are treated at length in the standard 
histories by Channing, McMaster, Rhodes and Schouler. 

Europe and the Civil War. The most useful accounts are Adams, Great 
Britain and the American Civil War; Jordan and Pratt, Europe and the Ameri- 
can Civil War; West, Contemporary French Opinion on the American Civil 
War; and Thomas, Russo- American Relations, 1815-1867. Additional mate- 
rial may be gleaned from Perkins, The Monroe Doctrine, 1826-1867; Ban- 
croft, W. H. Seward; Adams, Charles Francis Adams; and Harris, The Trent 
Affair. For the Confederate side, consult Owsley, King Cotton Diplomacy; 
Callahan, The Diplomatic History of the Southern Confederacy; and Bonham, 
The British Consuls in the Confederacy. Martin, Maximilian in Mexico, is the 
standard treatment of that subject. 



T^vIRECTION of the process of Southern reconstruction be- 
J^ longed, as a matter of course, to the government at Wash- 
ington. Since a rebellion does not end in a treaty of peace, the 
conditions imposed by the President and Congress in the form 
of executive and legislative enactments and constitutional amend- 
ments were, in effect, the terms of Southern defeat. The prob- 
lem was really a threefold one: humanitarian in so far as it 
involved helping the ex-slave learn the difficult ways of free- 
dom; political in so far as it involved reestablishing the state 
governments and according them their former place in the fed- 
eral system; and economic in so far as it affected reviving the 
war-deranged economic life on a free-labor basis. Unhappily, 
the solution of these questions could not wait until war passions 
had cooled; action must be taken as need arose. Partisan preju- 
dice, sectional bitterness and motives of revenge colored the 
purposes of both victor and vanquished, and even embroiled 
the government itself. Negro welfare, at first envisaged simply 
as a philanthropic undertaking, assumed a different guise when 
the politicians made it a party issue. The President and Con- 
gress soon found themselves at loggerheads over fundamental 
policies, and the South grudgingly made such concessions as it 
must. Only in the matter of economic readjustment were the 
defeated people allowed to work out their salvation unhindered 
and unhelped. 

From the early days of the war when fugitive slaves began 
pouring into Union camps, relief work was carried on among 
them by the American Missionary Association and other North- 
ern bodies. Presently more than three thousand men and women 
were active in this service, including agents of the Sanitary 
Commission and of British benevolent societies. Not only 
physical aid but educational and religious instruction was given. 



Nevertheless, as the federal troops occupied additional territory, 
the scope of the work became too vast for private agencies to 
handle efficiently, and the chief responsibility inevitably fell 
upon the government itself. After some delay, Congress in 
March, 1865, established the so-called freedmen's bureau, 
charged for the period of the war and a year thereafter with the 
duty of relieving distress among refugees and freedmen, and of 
allotting them land from abandoned estates (not to exceed forty 
acres) at a low rental, with the privilege of eventual purchase. 
Placed at the head of the work, Major General 0. 0. Howard 
performed competent service in a difficult situation. Besides 
coordinating the activities of the private societies, the bureau 
organized local branches and assumed a general guardianship 
over the emancipated people. At a time when they were dazed 
and distracted by their new-found liberty, unprepared for its 
responsibilities, the bureau strove to impress them with the idea 
that freedom did not mean idleness, and to assist them in their 
dealings with the former master class. In its eventual four and 
a half years of existence, it issued 15,500,000 rations to freedmen, 
gave medical care to a million and expended more than $5,000,000 
on colored schools. That it speeded the process of social re- 
organization cannot be doubted, though the subordinate officers 
often proved trouble makers, doing much to antagonize white 
sentiment as well as to raise rainbow hopes in the breasts of the 
untutored blacks. 

Meanwhile, the question arose of how a (C seceded" state might 
regain its former place in the Union. In the absence of any 
specific provision in the Constitution, both the executive and 
Congress claimed prior authority in the matter. The President 
held that, since he as head of the army and navy had imposed 
military law on the South, he alone might declare the conditions 
of its withdrawal. The lawmaking branch, on the other hand, 
asserted its priority because of the constitutional guarantee of 
a republican form of government for every state and Congress's 
right to judge of the admission of its own members. Back of this 
abstract question, however, lay a more practical one, the fact 
that Lincoln favored a policy of generosity and speedy reconcilia- 
tion as contrasted with Congress's insistence upon a more drastic 
course. In his eyes the war had been fought to prove that the 


Union could not be broken and he planned to welcome the states 
back with as little offense to their pride as possible. 

From the early days of the war Lincoln had recognized as 
legal the makeshift government of Virginia which had been set 
up to sanction the separation of West Virginia (see page 58), 
for he believed that, once the Confederate power was crushed, 
the loyal legislature would quietly extend its authority over the 
entire state. When Tennessee, Louisiana and Arkansas came 
under federal control in 1862 and 1863, he appointed military 
governors to take charge until acceptable civil governments 
could be organized. Then, on December 8 of the latter year, he 
issued a proclamation of amnesty, which indicated a general 
procedure for guidance of the Southern people. All who took a 
prescribed oath of loyalty might again become voters, certain 
classes being excepted, such as prominent Confederate officials 
and persons who had joined the rebellion after resigning high 
federal posts. Whenever as many as a tenth of the electorate 
in 1860 should thus qualify in any state, they might establish a 
state government which he would recognize as the true govern- 
ment. Congress, he pointed out, must decide for itself whether 
members from the state should be admitted to seats. From other 
sources we know Lincoln did not favor the granting of Negro 
suffrage, except possibly to educated men and ex-soldiers. 
Under this " ten-per-cent plan" constitutional conventions were 
held and state governments organized during 1864 in Tennessee, 
Louisiana and Arkansas. Though these governments were but 
"as the egg is to the fowl/' Lincoln believed "we shall sooner 
have the fowl by hatching the egg than by smashing it." 

Congress viewed this progress with growing concern. Members 
chosen from the ten-per-cent states were refused admission; and 
in July, 1864, the body set forth its own terms in a proposed law 
known, from its chief authors, as the Wade-Davis bill. This 
measure not only made Congress, instead of the executive, the 
ultimate authority on reconstruction, but it also imposed more 
stringent conditions, notably the requirement that a majority of 
the white men must take an oath of allegiance. To this bill 
Lincoln applied a pocket veto, though by proclamation he 
offered it as a possible alternative to his own plan. He was dis- 
inclined to quibble over details if the end he was seeking could 


be as well attained otherwise. His attitude toward the Wade- 
Davis bill is an augury of how he might have dealt with Congress 
when the return of peace made reconstruction the paramount 
public issue. But hardly had Lee and Johnston surrendered 
before he fell victim to an assassin's bullet. In consequence, his 
place was taken on April 15, 1865, by a man ill fitted by tempera- 
ment and training to assume the reins of government at so criti- 
cal a juncture. 


The rise of Andrew Johnson from humble origins was even 
more remarkable than that of Lincoln himself. Starting in 
poverty and ignorance as a tailor's apprentice, unable to write 
until taught by his wife, he had fought his way upward by sheer 
pluck and native ability against tremendous odds and the scorn 
of the planting aristocracy. When scarcely of age, he was chosen 
mayor of his little mountain village in eastern Tennessee, an 
event which proved the first step in a political ascent that took 
him to the state legislature, the national House of Representa- 
tives, the governor's chair and, in 1857, to the United States 
Senate. Thick-set, swarthy, somber of countenance, he had many 
of Jackson's mental traits, being pugnacious, self-assertive, im- 
movable in his loyalty to duty as he saw it. He stoutly opposed 
the secession of Tennessee, and his selection as Lincoln's running 
mate was a sop to the War Democrats in the Union party. Long 
experience in public life wore off some of his rough edges, reveal- 
ing his sterling qualities of intellectual courage and inflexible 
purpose. Unfortunately, the situation before him called also for 
tact and patience, and these qualities were utterly foreign to 
his make-up. 

Lincoln's death at the hands of a drink-crazed Southern zealot 
put the North in an ugly humor. While the excitement was at 
fever heat, Johnson offered rewards for the arrest of Jefferson 
Davis and other leaders as accomplices in the terrible deed. 
Misled by this rash action, Radical chieftains hailed the removal 
of the gentle Lincoln as a "godsend to the country," and awaited 
his successor's announcement of a vengeful policy toward the 
South. On cooler thought, however, Johnson declared his ac- 
ceptance of the governments in Virginia, Tennessee, Louisiana 


and Arkansas, retained his predecessor's cabinet intact, and on 
May 29, 1865, issued a proclamation with reference to the re- 
maining states, which revealed his essential agreement with 
Lincoln's course. While excluding certain additional classes 
from amnesty, he directed that constitutional conventions be 
held as speedily as practicable on the basis of a loyal white 
suffrage. When these conventions met, he further made known 
his expectation that they should declare invalid the ordinances 
of secession and repudiate their war debts, and that their first 
legislatures should ratify the pending Thirteenth Amendment. 
The reorganization of the remaining seven states proceeded 
along these lines, and by December 4, 1865, when Congress 
assembled for the first time under the new President, all the states 
save one had substantially complied with his terms, Texas com- 
pleting her handiwork the following April. 

Congress, faced with the question of admitting members from 
the ex-Confederate states, decided in the negative. The Presi- 
dent's lenient policy affronted both Congress's sense of its own 
proper role in reconstruction and its desire to impose conditions 
to insure the South's future good behavior. Idealists like Charles 
Sumner, driven by conscience, maintained, further, the Negro's 
right to the ballot as an inherent human right; while othei 
Radicals like Thaddeus Stevens, driven by ambition and party 
loyalty, favored the same measure as a means of building up 
Republican strength in Dixie. Thanks to abolition, the white 
South, unless checkmated by the black South, would actually 
secure additional members in the House and the electoral col- 
lege, since the constitutional provision for counting three fifths 
of the slaves in apportioning representation no longer held. Nor 
did the conduct of the newly organized state governments excite 
confidence in the President's course or in the defeated people's 
penitence. Prominent ex- Confederates, such as Alexander H. 
Stephens who had just been chosen Senator from Georgia, were 
again entering politics, while the so-called loyal legislatures were 
adopting " black codes" that, in Northern eyes, seemed singu- 
larly like the old "slave codes." This legislation aimed chiefly 
to impose restraints which might discourage idleness, vagrancy 
and race friction. Thus, while according freedmen ordinary 
civil rights like making contracts and owning property, it affixed 


in some states special penalties for breaking labor contracts, 
excluded their testimony in cases involving whites, and forbade 
them to bear arms without a license. A few legislatures even 
provided that idle Negroes should be subjected to a fine which, 
if unable to pay, they must work out in the service of an employer. 
However justifiable from the standpoint of the former master 
class, such laws seemed to the Radicals a deliberate effort to 
nullify the result of the war. 

The Congress which passed these matters under review con- 
tained conservative, moderate and radical Republicans. If 
Johnson had been prudent enough to conciliate the moderates, 
he might, with the help of his conservative supporters and the 
Democrats, have commanded a majority for a slight modifica- 
tion of his own plan. On the contrary, his dogmatism and vio- 
lence soon drove many of his natural allies into league with the 
Radical leaders, Stevens and Sumner, iron-willed, imperious 
men who for two years were virtual dictators of the political 
scene. After the two Houses set up a joint committee on recon- 
struction to consider, conditions of admitting the Southern mem- 
bers, they proceeded to take action to safeguard the former 
slaves against the black codes. The first effort in this direction, 
the freedmen's-bureau bill of February 6, 1866, besides extending 
indefinitely the bureau's life, enlarged its powers and author- 
ized it to seek military aid when the Negro's civil rights were 
denied. The bill, promptly negatived by the President as in- 
expedient and unconstitutional, caused him in an intemperate 
speech to class Sumner and Stevens with Jefferson Davis as 
traitors to the American system of government. Never again, 
however, was Johnson able to thwart the will of the lawmaking 
branch. In April Congress adopted over his veto the civil-rights 
act, which accomplished the purpose of the earlier bill but in a 
more thorough way. All persons born in the United States 
(excluding untaxed Indians) were declared to be citizens of the 
United States and, as such, entitled to equality of treatment 
before the law, any "statute . . . to the contrary notwithstand- 
ing." Not only were heavy penalties inflicted for violations, but 
the military power might, if necessary, be employed to secure 
enforcement. A little later Congress assured the continuance of 
the freedmen's bureau. 


After months of taking evidence as to Southern conditions, 
the joint committee on reconstruction was ready to report. On 
the last day of April it proposed a new constitutional amend- 
ment dealing with every important aspect of the Southern prob- 
lem. With some changes at the hands of Congress this eventually 
became the Fourteenth Amendment. By its first section the 
principles of the civil-rights act were firmly imbedded in the 
Constitution, thereby setting at rest all question of its possible 
unconstitutionally. 1 The second section was an attempt to 
meet the desires of both the theorists of racial equality and the 
practical politicians, the states being given the option of en- 
franchising all adult male citizens or suffering a reduction of 
representation in Congress. The third section, designed to check 
the rapid return of rebel leaders into politics, barred from office- 
holding ex- Confederates who had been federal or state officials 
before the war, until they should be pardoned by a two-thirds vote 
of Congress. The next section declared that the war debt of the 
South should never be paid nor that of the Union repudiated, 
and further that former masters should never be compensated! 
for their slaves. On June 13, 1866, the amendment was sent to 
the states. The Radicals were willing to have the Southern gov- 
ernments ratify a constitutional amendment even if they did not 
deem them ee reconstructed " enough to send members to Con- 
gress. On July 19 Tennessee ratified, and five days later Congress 
declared her entitled to representation. The other Southern 
legislatures rejected the amendment by overwhelming majorities. 

Both Congress and the executive had now indicated their con- 
ceptions of a proper reconstruction policy, and the fall elections 
of 1866 gave the people a chance to choose between them. John- 
son's friends sought to attract the support of the moderates of 
both political parties, but their promising efforts were unwittingly 
defeated by Johnson himself when he undertook a " swing round 
the circle," making a series of blustering speeches in the large 
cities of the East and Midwest. His cause was further injured 

1 For the wording of this section, see page 277. Though ostensibly evoked by 
the necessities of the freedmen, its chief effect, as we shall see, has been to enable 
the federal courts to protect corporations ("persons") by the due-process clause 
from state and local regulation or interference. This purpose, it appears, was in 
the minds of certain members of the joint committee, notably J. A. Bingham 
of Ohio. 


by a bloody race riot in New Orleans on July 30, an affray which 
convinced many that the South did not intend to deal fairly 
with the freedmen. Both factions exerted themselves to win the 
soldier vote by assembling special conventions of the veterans, 
efforts that may be said to mark the formal entry of the old- 
soldier influence into postwar politics. In the end, the Radicals 
won an overwhelming triumph, securing more than two thirds 
of each branch of Congress. Perhaps if the President had stayed 
in Washington, the outcome would have been different. As it 
was, the Radicals acclaimed the result as a popular mandate to 
pursue a repressive policy toward the South. 


When Congress assembled shortly after the election, the Rad- 
icals decided to brush aside the governments set up by the 
President in the ten remaining states, and to exceed their own 
former demands. Stevens desired to place the South under 
military government pure and simple, and a bill embodying this 
idea passed the House. When it reached the Senate, its terms 
were somewhat softened, though Sumner succeeded in forcing 
into it the additional requirement of Negro suffrage. Congress 
accepted Sumner's alteration, notwithstanding the fact that at 
the very time colored men could vote in but six states of the 
North in New York and throughout New England except 
Connecticut. 1 The new plan was set forth in the basic recon- 
struction act of March 2, 1867, and in supplementary legislation 
of March 23 and July 19 and of March n, 1868. The ten states 
were to be divided into five military districts under the com- 
mand of generals, who were charged with preserving order and 
with continuing or supplanting civil officials as they saw fit. 
The people of a state might gain representation in Congress 
when a constitutional convention, chosen by voters of both 

1 Like Lincoln, Johnson would have welcomed a limited Negro suffrage if granted 
by the Southern states themselves. Even Harriet Beecher Stowe, whom Lincoln 
called "the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war," disapproved 
action by Congress to force Negro suffrage on the South. A Negro historian re- 
marks: "Had there been a close cooperation among the best whites in the South 
and a gradual incorporation of the intelligent freedmen into the electorate, many of 
the mistakes made would have been obviated; and the recent steps backward to- 
wards lynching and peonage would not have been made." See C. G. Woodson, The 
Negro in Our History (Wash., 1922), 256. 


races (excluding those disfranchised as former rebels), should 
frame a constitution establishing Negro suffrage; when this 
constitution should be ratified by the white and black elec- 
torate and accepted by Congress; when the new state legislature 
should ratify the Fourteenth Amendment; and, finally, when 
this amendment should have become a part of the federal 

Meanwhile, the feeling between the President and Congress 
had grown constantly more vindictive. Johnson vainly vetoed 
all the important reconstruction measures and, in turn, Congress 
set about to hamper and defeat his purposes in every conceivable 
way. One of their efforts, the tenure-of-office act of March 2, 
1867, made the President guilty of a "high misdemeanor" if he 
removed an officeholder without the Senate's consent. The 
statute specifically included cabinet officers who, unless the 
Senate consented to their dismissal, were to hold office " during 
the term of the President by whom they may have been ap- 
pointed and for one month thereafter. 77 Johnson in his unavail- 
ing veto declared the act unconstitutional. Not content with 
halfway measures, the Radicals determined to depose the Presi- 
dent. In their inflamed state of mind, his stubborn resistance 
to the measures they thought necessary amounted to nothing 
less than treason. The judiciary committee of the House labored 
for months to find evidence to justify impeachment on one of 
the grounds named in the Constitution "treason, bribery, or 
other high crimes and misdemeanors 77 and in December, by a 
vote of five to four, reported in favor of such action. But the 
House decided to await more specific evidence of misconduct. 

Their opportunity came on February 21, 1868, when Johnson, 
without consulting the Senate, removed the Secretary of War, 
Edwin M. Stan ton, who had long been acting in secret league 
with his enemies. Three days later the House amid intense ex- 
citement voted to impeach the President for "high crimes and 
misdemeanors. 77 The charges, set forth in eleven articles, in- 
volved much duplication and confusion of thought, but the 
principal accusations were that his dismissal of Stanton consti- 
tuted a "high misdemeanor 77 under the tenure-of-office act, and 
that he had attempted to bring Congress into contempt in his 
"swing round the circle 77 in 1866. The trial in the Senate began 


on March 13, with Chief Justice Chase presiding. It soon ap- 
peared that the charge based upon the tenure-of-office act lacked 
substance, for Stanton, a Lincoln appointee, had continued in 
service nearly three years after the term of the President who 
named him. Nothing daunted, the Radicals turned their chief 
efforts toward removing the President for reasons of general 
party expediency. 

The excitement throughout the North was intense, with pop- 
ular sentiment against Johnson. Even the General Conference 
of the Methodist Church, then in session at Chicago, set aside 
an hour of prayer that the Senators might be directed to do their 
"high duty." When the vote was taken on May 16, the Senate 
stood 35 to 19 for conviction, one vote short of the necessary 
two thirds. Seven Republicans defied public opinion to join 
with the Democratic minority in making this result possible. 
To posterity it is clear that Johnson had done nothing to merit 
removal. As Senator Lyman Trumbull said before casting his 
ballot for acquittal, "Oiice set the example of impeaching a 
President for what, when the excitement of the hour shall have 
subsided, will be regarded as insufficient causes, and no future 
President will be safe who happens to differ with a majority of 
the House and two thirds of the Senate on any measure deemed 
by them important." 

While these stormy scenes were being enacted at Washington, 
Congress's scheme of military reconstruction had gone into ef- 
fect in the South. Johnson, despite his deep-seated objections, 
designated the district commanders as required by law, and 
these officials proceeded to establish the paramount authority of 
the federal government in the ten states. Wherever possible, 
they cooperated with the civil authorities on the spot, but 
when this proved difficult they did not hesitate to remove gov- 
ernors (as in Louisiana, Texas, Georgia and Mississippi), or to 
substitute military for the ordinary civil courts. In due course, 
they provided for registering the voters as a preliminary to 
holding constitutional conventions. In Georgia the registrants 
were about equally divided between the two races; in South 
Carolina, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana the black 
voters actually outnumbered the white. The elections that 
ensued produced the most extraordinary constituent assemblies 



in American history. All the conventions contained Negroes, 
eager to quaff the heady wine of political privilege; in South 
Carolina they formed a majority. In the actual transaction of 
business, however, they were elbowed aside by the so-called 
Carpetbaggers, ambitious Northerners who, packing all their 
worldly goods presumably in a carpetbag, had gone South for 
purposes of revenue only. Allied with them were a small number 
of Southern whites the detested Scalawags who had for- 
saken their neighbors to espouse the Radical cause. The bulk 


Upper date, Government 

recoffnited by Congress 

Lower date, "Carpetbag" 

governments set up under Lincoln 
Loyal governments set up under Johnson 


of the colored members were of little consequence save as pawns 
in the hands of white or black leaders. 

During the late winter and spring of 1868 the conventions 
completed their handiwork in all the states but Texas. Surpris- 
ingly enough, the constitutions framed under these unpromising 
conditions embraced many excellent features, notably the manda- 
tory provisions for setting up free public-school systems. All the 
constitutions also guaranteed the civil and political equality of 
the two races, and some of them carried the principle of dis- 
franchising ex-Confederates beyond any previous limits. To the 
old master class the new frames of government seemed a reversal 
of the natural order of society. Acclaiming themselves defenders 


of "Caucasian civilization" against the inroads of " African 
barbarism/ 5 they left little undone to stir up popular feeling 
against ratification. But the hand of the national military 
authority proved too strong for them. Only in Mississippi, 
where the white-disfranchisement clause was unusually severe, 
was acceptance defeated by a majority of the votes cast. Else- 
where in Arkansas, the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, Florida 
and Louisiana the constitutions were approved, and the newly 
installed legislatures promptly ratified the Fourteenth Amend- 
ment. All the conditions having been met, Congress in June, 1868, 
authorized the admission of members from the seven states on 
the fundamental condition that Negro suffrage forever remain a 
part of their organic laws. As Virginia and Texas had not yet 
completed the process of adopting their constitutions, these 
two states, along with Mississippi, continued under martial rule. 
An important reason for hurried action in the case of the other 
seven had been the Radical desire to secure their electoral support 
in the impending presidential election. 


On May 20, while the impeachment trial was yet in progress, 
the Radicals, calling themselves the National Union Republican 
party, met in convention at Chicago. General Grant and Schuyler 
Colfax, the latter speaker of the House and an ardent Radical, 
were nominated on a platform applauding congressional recon- 
struction and pledging payment of the national debt in gold. 
Recommended by his war fame, Grant's nomination took place 
on the theory which came in with Jackson, that any American, 
particularly a military chieftain, is capable of holding any office, 
and that special training or aptitude is unnecessary. As a mat- 
ter of fact, Grant's political affiliations, so far as he had had 
any, had been Democratic, but shortly before the impeachment 
trial he had turned to the Radicals, thanks to a bitter quarrel 
with Johnson. 

The Democrats were in a difficult position. Discredited by 
Southern secession and Northern Copperheadism, the party faced 
the problem of recovering its former strength. For this purpose 
they must develop new leaders and new issues, a task hardly to 
be accomplished in one or even two presidential campaigns. 


There was an uncomfortable amount of truth in the remark 
of Kate Chase, politician-daughter of the Chief Justice, that 
"when the South seceded, the brains of the party went with it." 
Meeting in New York on July 4, the Democrats set about to 
clear their skirts of past offenses and strike out along fresh lines 
a course which in time became known in party circles as the 
"New Departure." As it happened, aside from reconstruction, 
a brand-new issue lay ready at hand. Certain war-time bonds 
about to fall due had been issued under a statute requiring the 
interest to be paid in coin, the principal in "dollars." Hard 
times in the Midwest, especially in 1867, had caused the farmers 
to insist that the "bloated bondholders" be paid off in depreci- 
ated greenback dollars such as they themselves used. "The 
same currency for the bondholder and the ploughholder " was 
their cry, and in the Democrat, George H. Pendleton of Ohio, 
they found an able champion. The "Ohio Idea," as it was called, 
had further charm for those Democrats who looked upon the 
war debt as having been incurred in an unrighteous cause. 

Accordingly, the platform, after declaring "the questions of 
slavery and secession . . . settled for all time to come," berated 
Radical reconstruction as "unconstitutional" and "revolution- 
ary," and demanded adoption of the "Ohio Idea" in paying the 
bonds. Andrew Johnson had some support for the nomination, 
Pendleton considerably more; but August Belmont and other 
Eastern Democrats, bent on undoing the mischief of the financial 
plank, succeeded on the twenty-second ballot in naming a sound- 
money man, ex-Governor Seymour of New York, who reluc- 
tantly accepted. F. P. Blair, Jr., of Missouri, was given the 
second place. The outcome was never in doubt. Republican 
orators easily diverted attention from the debt issue by " waving 
the bloody shirt," that is, denouncing the war record of the 
Democrats. Though both platforms promised pensions to the 
ex-soldiers, naturally the Republican pledge was looked upon as 
more certain of results. Grant received 214 electoral votes to 
80 for Seymour, though he polled but fifty-three per cent of the 
popular vote. 

The new President was purely a product of the war. A gradu- 
ate of West Point, he had left the army in 1854 rather than stand 
trial on a charge of drunkenness. He turned next to farming, 


then to real estate, but without success. The outbreak of war 
found him working in his father's leather store at Galena, Illinois, 
for $800 a year. This short, slouchy, taciturn man was acquainted 
with neither the theory nor the practice of politics. He had 
scarcely visited a state capital unless to capture it; and, as Presi- 
dent, he turned for advice to men who had selfish and often 
corrupt interests to serve. "The responsibilities of the position 
I feel," he said in his brief inaugural address, "but accept them 
without fear." Honorable himself, loyal to a fault to his friends, 
he retained unshaken his hold on the public which continued to 
revere him as the "Hero of Appomattox." The new administra- 
tion proceeded at once to dispose of the two questions raised by 
the campaign: the debt issue and reconstruction. On March 18, 
1869, Congress formally pledged payment of the public debt in 
coin. As regards the Southern problem, Grant, inclined at first 
to follow his own independent judgment, soon fell under the 
influence of the extremists, notably Benjamin F. Butler of Massa- 
chusetts, an unscrupulous demagogue who had mysteriously 
amassed a fortune while in the army. 

These men insisted that, since the Fourteenth Amendment 
was now a part of the Constitution, the three unreconstructed 
states be required to ratify the pending Fifteenth Amendment. 
This amendment, a purely Radical creation, provided that "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 
race, color, or previous condition of servitude." Its adoption 
was urged as the only sure way of establishing Negro suffrage, 
left optional in the previous amendment, and thereby of safe- 
guarding Southern support for the Republicans once the states 
were again full-fledged members of the Union, 1 The Radicals 
carried their point, and in the first three months of 1870 Virginia, 
Mississippi and Texas, complying with the new demands, were 
declared entitled to representation. But the process of recon- 
struction was not yet completed, for the newly installed Georgia 
legislature, under Democratic control, had aroused the ire of the 
Radicals by expelling all the Negro members. Egged on by Butler, 

1 Furthermore, the action of Ohio, Michigan, Kansas and Minnesota in 1867 
of refusing to place Negro suffrage in their state constitutions made the Radicals 
fearful lest the Fifteenth Amendment fail of ratification. 


Congress in December, 1869, placed that state once more under , 
military rule and, after requiring it to ratify the Fifteenth 
Amendment, allowed its members to return the following July. 
Congress, in admitting the last four states, affixed a final " funda- 
mental 57 condition, that Negroes should never be disqualified 
from holding office. The Fifteenth Amendment went into effect 
on March 30, 1870. 


Though all the ex- Confederate states were now back in Con- 
gress, the Radical leaders had no thought of allowing them to 
manage the internal affairs without further interference. The 
effect of Reconstruction had been to stand the social pyramid on 
its apex; left alone, it would be sure to try to right itself. The 
remaking of Southern life and politics by major force had, in- 
deed, been a process monstrous and intolerable to the former 
dominant class. Even as a penalty for rebellion it seemed irra- 
tional, since martial rule and Negro suffrage were imposed two 
or more years after the peace. Nor was their resentment lessened 
by the behavior of the ex-slaves. If the rank and file went quietly 
about their tasks, delusions of power dazzled others who, abetted 
by mulatto and white leaders from the North, did their utmost 
to stir the race to self-assertiveness. One outcome was the 
widespread formation of " Union Leagues/ 7 secret oath-bound 
societies composed mostly of Negroes, and pledged to maintain- 
ing the new political order. Their organization was often at- 
tended by violence toward the old master class, by the way- 
laying of men and the burning of houses and barns. The better 
elements among the whites were at first driven to anger, then to 
real alarm. 

Most exasperating of all was the conduct of the new state 
governments installed when armed rule was withdrawn. These 
governments were dominated by Carpetbaggers in the higher 
offices, by Scalawags and Negroes in the lower. In the seven 
states reconstructed in 1868, four of the governors and ten of the 
United States Senators had never seen their respective common- 
wealths before the war. Every legislature contained a substan- 
tial colored contingent, South Carolina's having a majority. In 
a well-known account James S. Pike, a Northern newspaper 


man, describes the lawmakers of Calhoun's state: "The Speaker 
is black, the Clerk is black, the door-keepers are black, the little 
pages are black, the chairman of the Ways and Means is black, 
and the chaplain is coal-black. . . . Every one esteems himself 
as good as his neighbor, and puts in his oar, apparently as often 
for love of riot and confusion as for anything else." But, he 
added, " underneath all this shocking burlesque upon^ legislative 
proceedings . . . there is something very real to this uncouth 
and untutored multitude. . . . Seven years ago these men were 
raising corn and cotton under the whip of the overseer. Today 
they are raising points of order and questions of privilege. . . . 
It is their day of jubilee." 

The new ruling class had, for the most part, no large property 
interests. In Alabama the taxes paid by the legislators were 
said to total less than a hundred dollars. Since the taxes would 
fall upon the hated aristocracy, the lawmakers saw no reason 
for staying their hand. Besides, there was real need of unusual 
expenditures for repairing roads, bridges and government build- 
ings and for the costly business of setting up a school system. 
The mounting costs, however, were due chiefly to other reasons 
the irresponsible character of those in power, their ignorance of 
the rudiments of finance and, most of all, downright corruption 
and fraud. A conservative estimate in 1872 put the increased 
indebtedness of the eleven states at about $132,000,000, much of 
it loans and guarantees to wildcat railroad enterprises. The orgy 
rose highest in Louisiana and South Carolina. In the latter 
state, a free restaurant and bar was maintained for the legisla- 
tors, and included in the item, "Supplies," were such articles as 
hams, perfumes, suspenders, bonnets, champagne and a coffin. 
The public printing bills during the eight years of Carpetbag 
rule exceeded by $717,589 the total amount expended for that 
purpose by South Carolina from 1789. 

Southern whites, trained in a different social philosophy, stood 
aghast at the social and political chaos that threatened to engulf 
everything in life most dear to them. How could the fine fruits 
of their civilization be saved from " Africanization"? From 
Congress no relief could be expected, and the Supreme Court, 
when appealed to, had turned a deaf ear to their pleas. 1 They 

J In the cases of Mississippi v. Johnson, Georgia v. Stanton and Ex Parte McCardle. 


therefore resorted to that mode of secret, terroristic resistance 
which oppressed peoples are apt to employ against tyrannical 
rulers. Best known of such organizations, the Ku Klux Klan 
had started innocently in 1866 at Pulaski, Tennessee, as a 
means of providing diversion for local youths bored after the 
excitements of army life. When it was seen that their weird 
nocturnal ceremonies roused the superstitious dread of the Ne- 
groes, the members quickly took advantage of the fact. Ap- 
pareled in ghostly manner and riding white-sheeted horses with 
muffled hoofs, they would visit the homes of unruly blacks and 
obnoxious whites at dead of night, and warn them to behave or 
flee. The Pulaski idea spread like wildfire, causing similar 
groups or "dens" to spring up elsewhere in Tennessee and the 
near-by states. At a secret meeting at Nashville in May, 1867, 
the dens were brought together into a unified system under the 
name of the Invisible Empire of the South with officers bearing 
awe-inspiring titles. 

The use of violence became more frequent as time passed, 
the midnight visitations sometimes ending in floggings, maimings 
and even death. Criminal bands, too, found it useful to don the 
disguise for purposes of loot or private vengeance. The situa- 
tion was already out of hand when in March, 1869, the men at 
the head of the order decreed its disbandment. But this only 
made matters worse, for many of the dens refused to obey, and 
the withdrawal of conservative members gave the turbulent 
elements full sway. Through a misapprehension of the true state 
of affairs, Northerners applied the term Ku Klux to all secret 
movements of terrorism in the South. In reality, the largest 
and probably most powerful of such bodies was the Knights of 
the White Camelia, which operated in the states from Texas to 
the Carolinas under nominal control of a supreme council at 
New Orleans. 

The multiplying excesses and disorders led inevitably to a 
revival of repressive measures by the government at Washington. 
In a series of statutes, beginning with the force act of May 31, 
1870, and followed by the federal elections law and the Ku Klux 
act on February 28 and April 20, 1871, Congress exerted its 
power to break up the undercover societies and assure the Negro 
the civil and political equality guaranteed by the Fourteenth 


and Fifteenth amendments. The President might, ^ for these 
purposes, appoint commissioners to supervise congressional elec- 
tions, employ armed force, or even suspend the writ of habeas 
corpus. In the months that followed, hundreds of men were 
haled before the federal courts on charges of conspiracy, troops 
reappeared in many parts of the South and, for a time in the 
fall of 1871, the privilege of habeas corpus was denied in nine 
South Carolina counties. By the close of 1872 "Ku Kluxing" 
had virtually disappeared. It is a sufficient commentary on 
the zeal of the Radicals surrounding Grant that the essential 
provisions of the force and Ku Klux acts were later declared 
unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. 1 

In spite of various handicaps the Southern whites were steadily 
advancing toward their former supremacy. As early as 1869 
the obnoxious " Parson'' Brownlj0*r government in Tennessee 
was overturned. After the federal legislation of 1870-1871 they 
learned to substitute craft for force. A mere threat of violence 
had the desired effect of frightening Negroes from the polls and 
usually left no trace on which to base hostile court action. In 
1870 and 1871 the Carpetbag governments toppled in North 
Carolina, Virginia and Georgia. In May of the next year Con- 
gress, in the general amnesty act, restored the right of office- 
holding to most of those disqualified under the Fourteenth 
Amendment, thereby allowing nearly 150,000 of the South's 
ablest citizens to resume active political life. 2 Meanwhile the 
Scalawags, growing weary of their alliance with ex-slaves and 
Northern adventurers, were beginning to make common cause 
with their white neighbors. As a result, Alabama, Arkansas, 
Texas and Mississippi were "redeemed" in 1874 and 1875. 

Only the presence of federal bayonets enabled the Carpet- 
baggers to retain their hold on the three remaining states. The 
contending elements came to a death grapple there in the presi- 
dential campaign of 1876, with the result that the electoral re- 
turns were in doubt and the whole nation was thrown into tur- 
moil (see page 167). The election of Tilden, the Democratic 

1 See U. S. . Cruikshank (1875), U. S. v. Reese (1875) and U. S. v. Harris (1882). 
An act of 1875 graiiting equal privileges to both races in hotels, churches, railways, 
etc., was also held unconstitutional in the civil-rights cases (1883). 

2 About 750 remained unpardoned. Not until June, 1898, when North and 
South joined in war against Spain, were the last disabilities removed. 


candidate, would have meant the withdrawal of the troops, but, 
as it happened, the sealing of Hayes accomplished the same end, 
for Hayes represented that wing of the Republican party which 
had grown desperately tired of federal interference in Southern 
politics. Early in 1877 the troops were removed, and South 
Carolina, Florida and Louisiana lapsed quietly into the control 
of the native whites. x 

Even more than the war itself, Reconstruction left scars 
that rankled deep in Southern breasts. Besides impeding the 
process of spiritual reconciliation with the North, so necessary 
for the restoration of a common love of country, it arrayed the 
mass of whites against the Republican party in the South as a 
"nigger party," and helped make the ex-Confederate states 
thick-and-thin supporters of the Democrats, an example which 
the old border slave states usually followed. Out of a total of 369 
electoral votes in 1880, the "Solid South" cast 95, the border 
states 35 more a substantial nucleus about which the Demo- 
crats of the North might hope to rebuild their shattered strength. 
Many years were yet to pass before people came to realize that, 
however galling Reconstruction had been, it might yet have 
been worse. The Radicals had avoided the crowning blunders, 
confiscating virtually no enemy land and putting no one to 
death for a political offense. After being held for two years as 
a state prisoner, even Jefferson Davis, though never pardoned, 
had been left to his own devices; and many other prominent 
leaders returned to civilian life without any kind of molestation. 
In James Bryce's opinion, "there was never a civil war or 
rebellion . . . followed by so few severities." 


Not only the political but the economic fabric of the South 
had to be remade as a result of the war. A transition had to be 
effected from a semifeudal order of society based on slavery to a 
modern system based on wage labor. Difficult as the process 
would have been under normal conditions, it was rendered in- 
finitely more so by the ravages of the struggle. Besides the direct 
damages inflicted on towns, railways and the like, whole fortunes 
had been wiped out by the collapse of Confederate bonds and 
currency and the confiscation of slave property, plantations had 


fallen into ruin, and land depreciated to half its prewar value. 
Nevertheless, the great planters hopefully set about to reestab- 
lish agriculture on its former large-scale basis. That they should 
fail was inevitable, for they had to operate on borrowed capital, 
and were hampered by the excessive taxation of the Carpet- 
bag governments as well as by the irresponsible character of 
their Negro labor. Salvation seemed possible only through a 
break-up of the great estates. 

Accordingly, the plan was generally adopted of leasing or 
selling tracts of from forty to eighty acres to Negroes and poor 
whites. From 1860 to 1880 the number of farms in Dixie more 
than doubled, reaching a total of 1,500,000, with 300,000 more 
added in the next decade. As farms increased in number, the 
average holding shrank in size from 335 acres at the begin- 
ning of the war to 214 in 1870, 153 in 1880 and 139 ten years later. 
Southern agriculture began rapidly to approach the Northern 
small-farm system. Yet there were significant differences. Most 
of the farmers were tenants in process of paying for their land, 
and in many cases the landlord, through his control over them, 
managed a whole group of farms as a unit, thus preserving many 
of the economic benefits of large-scale operation. As the tenants 
often found it hard to meet the terms of payment, they were con- 
stantly tempted to borrow from local money lenders at heavy rates 
of interest in anticipation of their harvest. This "lazy descent into 
hell, 3 ' as Ben Tillman called it, plunged many into a mire of debt- 
peonage from which extrication was heartbreakingly difficult. 

Yet, in the long run, the subdivision of the large estates made 
possible an independent economic footing for both Negroes and 
poor whites, the two classes which, as Helper pointed out in 
The Impending Crisis, had borne the yoke of the slavery system. 
More immediately, it benefited the small yeoman farmers : they 
were able to outbid their poorer rivals and so acquire the choicest 
lands. It was these small fanners who, as the old gentry retired 
from the countryside to the towns, were to seize the reins of 
political power and, in the i88o's, give Southern public life a 
distinctly plebeian cast (see page 258). The agricultural recon- 
struction of the South involved the emancipation of the white 
masses in as real a sense as the Thirteenth Amendment did that 
of the Negroes. 


Nor, in the long run, were the economic results disadvanta- 
geous. The new system caused a more careful husbanding of the 
soil through crop rotation and the use of fertilizers. Already 
by 1870 the average cotton yield per acre exceeded that of 1860, 
though not until 1876 did the total crop reach that at the start 
of the war. Though cotton remained the principal reliance, in- 
creased attention was paid to other products tobacco, fruits, 
vegetables, wheat, hay so that, in time, the total value of 
the minor crops came to outstrip that of cotton. Moreover, the 
quickened spirit of enterprise made Southerners vision the possi- 
bility of developing manufactures, "If we have lost the victory 
on the field of fight," declared a South Carolina newspaper in 
1 88 1, "we can win it back in the work shop, in the factory, in 
an improved agriculture and horticulture, in our mines and in 
our schoolhouses." The industrializing trend of the eighties and 
nineties, however, really belongs to a broader movement that 
was sweeping the entire nation, the Economic Revolution, and 
may best be considered in that connection. 


The close of the war left the North a score to settle with Great 
Britain as well as with the South. Thanks to the legacy of bad 
feeling, public opinion viewed with complacency the activities 
of Irish Americans to help free Ireland from British rule. In 
1865 leaders of the Fenian movement, as it was called, meeting 
within the safe confines of Philadelphia, elected a president of 
the wished-for Irish republic. Large sums were raised by pop- 
ular appeals, and in June, 1866, a small Fenian band launched 
a quixotic attack against Canada in the hope of bringing Britain 
to terms. Acting a bit tardily, the United States authorities 
nevertheless moved energetically to suppress the lawless effort. 
The lesson was not lost upon Great Britain. Mistress of many 
subject peoples, she had a striking demonstration of the im- 
portance of strict neutral conduct by other powers when her 
own sovereign authority was challenged by rebellion and seces- 

In January, 1869, she agreed to the Johnson-Clarendon con- 
vention for a settlement of the Alabama and other claims by 
means of a joint commission, in cases of disagreement the decision 


to be left to an umpire chosen by lot. But the Senate rejected 
the pact by a vote of 44 to i, holding that the national interest 
was not adequately safeguarded. In particular, Sumner con- 
tended that America was entitled not only to $15,000,000 for 
direct injuries to our commerce, but also to an additional $2,000,- 
000,000 for indirect damages, due to the decline of our merchant 
marine, assistance given Confederate raiders in British colonial 
ports, and the effect of the premature recognition of Confederate 
belligerency in prolonging the conflict. To satisfy this debt, he 
desired Great Britain to cede Canada. 

Sumner's extravagant demands temporarily dampened British 
ardor for a settlement, but early in 1871 the two governments 
appointed a joint commission to provide for an adjustment of all 
outstanding differences. The result was the comprehensive treaty 
of Washington, signed on May 8. This, besides effecting a new 
twelve-year agreement in regard to the fisheries and granting free 
navigation of the St. Lawrence and other waters of mutual con- 
cern to Canada and the United States, arranged to submit vari- 
ous other questions to special arbitration tribunals. A dispute 
over the international boundary along the channel separating 
Vancouver Island from the state of Washington was referred to 
the German Emperor, who later decided in favor of the United 
States. The claims of British subjects for damages suffered from 
military operations during the Civil War were submitted to a 
tribunal, which eventually made an award of nearly $2,000,000. 
The most important settlement of all, of course, concerned the 
question of the British government's conduct during the war. 
The treaty contained a frank expression of British " regret 77 for 
what had happened, and laid down certain principles which were 
to guide the arbitrators and also to govern the observance of 
neutrality in the future. In addition to one representative from 
each country, the court of arbitration comprised three members 
chosen respectively by Switzerland, Italy and Brazil Meeting 
at Geneva, the arbitrators excluded Sumner's indirect claims 
from consideration, and in September, 1872, awarded direct 
damages of $15,500,000 for the Alabama and other depredations. 
The outcome was a signal triumph for the cause of international 
peace and good will. Two great nations had found a better 
method than the sword for settling their differences. 



The Postwar South. Besides the wealth of material in Rhodes, History 
of the United States, IV-VII, and Schouler, History of the United States, VII, a 
detailed treatment of Southern Reconstruction appears in the first three 
volumes of Oberholtzer, A History of the United States since the Civil War. 
In Essays on the Civil War and Reconstruction and Reconstruction, Political 
and Economic, Dunning clarifies the constitutional aspects, while Nevins 
in The Emergence of Modern America stresses the social and economic phases. 
For an understanding of the Southern point of view, Fleming, The Sequel 
of Appomattox, and Hamilton, The Reconstruction Period, are useful. Bowers, 
The Tragic Era, is a popular account flavored with melodrama and a Demo- 
cratic bias. 

War-time Efforts at Reconstruction. The most careful discussion of re- 
lief work among Negroes is Peirce, The Freedmen's Bureau. A different phase 
of war-time policy is examined in McCarthy, Lincoln's Plan of Reconstruc- 

Johnson, Congress and the Southern Problem. This theme is developed 
with a wealth of incident and illustration in Dewitt, The Impeachment and 
Trial of Andrew Johnson. In The Critical Year Beale offers the ingenious 
thesis that the South was kept from representation in order that Northern 
industrial interests might more easily accomplish their fell designs. The 
two chief contending leaders are treated in Winston, Andrew Johnson, and 
Woodburn, The Life of Thaddeus Stevens. Milton, The Age of Hate, is a thor- 
oughly documented study, concerned primarily with Johnson's role in Re- 
construction. The origins of the Fourteenth Amendment are studied in 
Kendrick, The Journal of the Joint Committee of Fifteen on Reconstruction, 
and Flack, The Adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment. 

The Reign of the Radicals. The actual operation of Reconstruction, 
particularly in its political phases, may be studied 'in a series of monographs 
devoted to the different Southern states, of which the following are represent- 
ative : Ramsdell, Reconstruction in Texas; Hamilton, Reconstruction in North 
Carolina; and Thompson, Reconstruction in Georgia. Of a broader scope is 
Simkins and Woody, South Carolina during Reconstruction, which includes 
social and industrial as well as political changes. Such treatments should be 
read in the light of two studies by A. A. Taylor, a colored historian: The 
Negro in South Carolina during Reconstruction, and The Negro in the Re- 
construction of Virginia. A neglected phase receives detailed study in 
Knight, The Influence of Reconstruction on Education in the South. 

The Southern Struggle for White Dominion. Coolidge, Ulysses S. Grant, 
and Woodward, Meet General Grant, shed light on Grant's participation in 
Reconstruction. Carpetbag rule is thoroughly considered in the series of 
state monographs, while organized Southern opposition receives special 
attention in Lester and Wilson, Ku Klux Klan; Its Origin, Growth, and Dis- 

The Economic Reconstruction of the South. The general lines of develop- 
ment are set forth in Chandler and others, The South in the Building of the 


Nation, especially VI; Thompson, The New South; and Bruce, The Rise of 
the New South. Special phases are considered in Hammond, The Cotton 
Industry; Wesley, Negro Labor in the United States, 1850-1925; and Brooks, 
The Agrarian Revolution in Georgia, 1865-1912. 

The Postwar Settlement with Great Britain. The most extensive treat- 
ment appears in Moore, History and Digest of the International Relations to 
Which the United States Has Been a Party. 




"\ T 7HILE the smoke still lingered over the battle-fields of the 
V V Civil War and the Carpetbaggers ran their piratical course, 
mute irresistible forces beneath the surface of events were hurry- 
ing the nation on to a new destiny: modern America was in the 
making. In its lasting effects the Economic Revolution, as it 
may be called, was more significant than the war itself, for it 
wrought changes in American life so sudden, so profound, so 
far-reaching, that even today we have scarcely learned to adjust 
ourselves to them. The roots of this amazing transformation 
reached back to the earlier years of the century when steam and 
machinery first began to invade American industry. Already 
before the -war scattered mill districts had sprung up in the 
East, and certain kinds of manufacturing had secured a footing 
in the Midwest and even in parts of the South. Wherever sit- 
uated, however, such establishments were nearly always of lim- 
ited size, representing small outlays of capital. Every town, for 
example, possessed at least one slaughterhouse. New York had 
more than two hundred; what is now Fifth Avenue was often 
jammed with cattle wending their way toward great inclosures 
where today stand hotels, apartment houses and fine retail 
stores. Several hundred companies in different parts of the land 
made mowers and reapers ; and after the discovery of petroleum, 
in Pennsylvania in 1859, that business promptly fell into the 
hands of countless small independent producers. Most manu- 
factured wares bought by the public across the counter came 
from abroad. Even large supplies of coal and copper were im- 
ported, so little had been done to develop America's own splendid 
resources. Nor ; despite the great activity in the fifties, had 
railway development passed much beyond the period of its in- 
fancy. The little wheezy engines, the unheated, dimly lighted 
coaches, the rolled-iron rails and wooden bridges, fairly indi- 



cate the progress that was yet to be made. The typical fortunes 
of prewar days not only were inconsiderable as compared with 
later times, but derived from shipping, real estate and mer- 
chandising rather than from manufactures, railroads and mines. 

On these tender industrial growths the Civil War had the 
effect of a hothouse. For reasons already clear (see page 83), 
nearly every branch of industry grew lustily, the production of 
woolen and leather goods and of ready-to-wear clothing scoring 
particularly notable gains. Pittsburgh, lying in an area rich in 
coal, petroleum and natural gas, forged rapidly ahead as an 
iron-manufacturing center, and Chicago now took the lead in 
pork packing. The heat of war seemed also to quicken inventive 
talent: from 1860 to 1866 the number of patents annually 
granted .doubled. Meanwhile, the discovery of precious metals, 
starting with the famous Comstock Lode of gold and silver in 
1859 ' m Nevada, prefigured the enormous mineral development 
of the Far West in later years. A potent factor in this forward 
economic thrust was the absence of Southerners from Congress 
for nearly a decade after 1861. It is not necessary to believe 
that the Northern industrial and agrarian classes deliberately 
blocked the South's return in order more easily to impose their 
will upon the nation; but there can be no doubt that they seized 
the opportunity to enact far-reaching legislation which Southern 
opposition had earlier prevented. From these years date the 
revival of high protection and its conversion into a peace-time 
policy, the inauguration of free homesteads for settlers, and the 
adoption of lavish federal aid for the building of transcontinental 

Yet the Civil War phase was but the prologue to the drama. 
In the quarter-century following Appomattox, the Economic 
Revolution reached its full momentum, energizing man to further 
and equally amazing triumphs over nature in the years to follow. 
Everywhere an intensely materialistic spirit reigned the urge 
to exploit new sources of wealth, to make fortunes, to grasp 
power. While the heavy demands levied by the rapidly peopling 
West and the necessities of the postwar South acted as a stim- 
ulus, the transformation was based, more broadly, upon brilliant 
industrial leadership, American inventive genius, abundant cap- 
ital (mostly from abroad), mass production, an unmatched nat- 


ural wealth, and the availability of cheap and plentiful labor. 
To these should be added, in the words of the census officials of 
1900, America's favored position as "the largest area in the 
civilized world . . . unrestricted by customs, excises, or national 
prejudice," containing a people who, because of their relatively 
high standard of living, had "a larger consuming capacity than 
that of any other nation." 

As a result, the United States changed from a country em- 
ploying mainly primitive methods of tillage and importing the 
bulk of her manufactures from abroad into an industrialized 
nation with an export trade in farm and factory products that 
reached the outer fringes of the globe. "In short," asserted 
David A. Wells in Recent Economic Changes (1889), "to one whose 
present memory and life-experiences do not extend over a period 
of time more extensive than ... a generation, the recital of 
the economic experiences and industrial conditions of the gen- 
eration next preceding is very much akin to a recurrence to 
ancient history." Another economist, Edward Atkinson, writ- 
ing two years later, added: "There has never been in the history 
of civilization a period, or a place, or a section of the earth in 
which science and invention have worked such progress or have 
created such opportunity for material welfare as in these United 
States in the period which has elapsed since the end of the civil 

So swift and momentous a transition could not take place 
without shaking the foundations of the Old Order and necessitat- 
ing profound economic and social readjustments. Never before 
had American society suffered from such a severe attack of "grow- 
ing pains." The machine rose to its dominant place in industry, 
the rift between capital and labor dangerously widened, the mod- 
ern city with all it connotes moved to the forefront of American 
life, while inventions and conveniences galore came to relieve the 
drudgery of everyday living. Indeed, the social, political and 
intellectual consequences of the Economic Revolution form the 
central themes of American history since the Civil War. Indus- 
trial monopoly, the money question, tariff protection, political 
corruption, immigration, labor discontent, agrarian unrest, im- 
perialism, the unequal distribution of wealth such questions, 
r,?.w m kind or new in degree, illustrate the variety and gravity 







Population and Wealth 


























$9,372,437, 283 





4. 2 58,893 

Population per SQ mile 

Per cent of population in towns of 8000 


Improved farm land in acres . . 
Value of all farm property . . . 
Value of farm implements . 
Value of farm products . . . . 
Wool production in pounds . 
Wheat production in bushels . . 
Corn production in bushels . . . 
Cotton production in bales . . . 
Cane sugar production in tons . . 


Value of domestic manufactures . . 
Capital invested in manufactures . . 
No of wage-earners 

Importation of foreign manufactures . 
Exportation of Am. manufactures . . 
No. of patents issued in year named . 

Vessels built for foreign trade (tons) . 
Vessels built for domestic purposes 

Railway mileage in operation . . . 







. 27S 


Silver production (commercial value) . 
Tons of coal mined . . 
Gallons of petroleum mined 
Production of pig iron (tons) 
Production of steel (tons) . 
Production of copper (tons) 


Mileage of post routes 

Postal receipts 

No of telegrams sent .... 

Bvtiks and Savings 
No of national banks .... 

National bank capital . 

Deposits in national banks .... 
No of savings banks 

Deposits in savings bank's .... 
No. of depositors in savings banks 

of the problems that beset society. In the long run, the nation 
had to decide whether political agencies and instrumentalities, 
devised in the eighteenth century by a few million people living 
under rural conditions with easy means of livelihood, could be 
adapted to the pressing needs of a teeming population fast 


growing urbanized and industrialized. The far-reaching char- 
acter of this revolution can best be understood by examining its 
influence in the great fields of economic activity where the major 
changes occurred: agriculture, manufacturing, transportation, 
mining and communication. 


The revolution in agriculture and, to a lesser degree, that in 
transportation and mining resulted from the occupation of the 
vast open spaces of the Great West. In 1865 the frontier line, 
running north through central Texas, followed in a general way 
the western limits of the states bordering the Mississippi, bulging 
outward to include the eastern sections of Kansas and Nebraska. 
Behind this thin edge of pioneer farms was still much unoccupied 
land, and beyond stretched the unfenced prairies till they merged 
in the gray, sagebrush plains that extended to the foothills of 
the Rockies. Then, for nearly a thousand miles, the mountains 
lifted their enormous bulk, emboweling huge treasures of silver, 
gold and other metals. On the Pacific side lay other plains and 
deserts, reaching to the wooded coast ranges and the ocean. 
Settled districts adjoined San Francisco and San Diego, with 
others in the Willamette and Columbia valleys. Apart from 
scattered outposts of whites and notably the Mormon common- 
wealth in Utah, the vast inland region was inhabited by wild 
buffaloes and yet wilder Indians. It took twenty-five days to 
make the overland trip from St. Joseph on the Missouri by the 
stagecoach line, inaugurated in 1858, and more than ten days 
to carry mail to San Francisco by the swift pony express, estab- 
lished two years later. The Americans of 1865 looked upon this 
imperial expanse as a well-nigh inexhaustible reserve which would 
afford room for growth and provide farms and natural resources 
for generations to come. Yet, a quarter of a century later, virtu- 
ally all the country was carved into states and territories, and 
what was regarded as the last of the arable lands had passed 
from the government into private possession. Never before had 
so far-flung a frontier been so quickly overrun by civilization. 

Three factors speeded white colonization. One of these, the 
homestead act adopted in May, 1862, granted free farms of 160 
acres to adult citizens who would occupy and improve the land 


over a five-year period. 1 Already by 1880 nearly 56,000,000 acres 
had, through this channel, found their way into private hands. 
The other two influences were the opening of the country by the 
railways and the subjugation of the redskins. Long agitated, a 
transcontinental line at last became practicable when Congress 
on July i, 1862, voted a charter to the Union Pacific Railroad. 
While this company pushed its track westward from the Missouri 
River at Omaha, a California corporation known as the Central 
Pacific was to build eastward from Sacramento toward an un- 
determined junction point. Each company, besides obtaining a 
free right of way through the public domain, should receive vast 
subsidies in land grants and government loans for every mile of 
track it laid. 2 

When the active work of construction began in 1866, building 
operations at the eastern end were directed by the Credit Mobi- 
lier, a company organized by leading stockholders of the Union 
Pacific, while a similar construction company, headed by Leland 
Stanford, president of the Central Pacific, had charge in the 
West. The Orient made its contribution toward success, for 
Stanford drew his laborers from Chinese coolies who, pictur- 
esquely garbed in basket hats and flapping pantaloons, per- 
formed even heavier toil in the mountain country than did the 
Irish " paddies 77 and ex-soldiers on the plains of Nebraska and 
Wyoming. Because of Indian hostility, every mile of grading 
was done under the protection of scouts, and the laborers at a 
moment's notice had to be ready to drop their picks and shovels 
for rifles and revolvers. The engineering difficulties were often 
appalling. In traversing the Sierra Nevadas frequent tunnels 
and deep rock-cuttings were necessary, or long, high trestles 
must be built across ravines and gorges. The construction 
gangs worked without steam shovels, steam derricks and other 
modern appliances; it was virtually a " handmade 77 road. 

1 Alienation of the public lands was further encouraged by the timber-culture 
act of 1873, the desert-land act of 1877 an( i the timber and stone act of 1878, which, 
with his homestead grant and preemption right, enabled a person to acquire 1280 
acres in all. The land was free only under the homestead and timber-culture acts. A 
certain amount of fraud developed in the actual administration of these laws. 

2 The law, as revised in 1864, provided for a gift of ten alternate sections on each 
side of the track, and for a loan of United States bonds at the rate of $16,000, 
$32,000 or $48,000 per mile, according as the roadbed traversed plain, plateau or 


The imagination of the whole country was stirred as the two 
lines steadily closed the gap between them. Greedy for the federal 
subsidies, each group tried to outstrip the other in the amount of 
trackage laid. The result was often hasty and wasteful construc- 
tion, a failure to follow the shortest route, and other practices 
sufficiently scandalous to provoke a later congressional investiga- 
tion. Finally, on May 10, 1869, the two tracks met at Promon- 
tory Point, northwest of Ogden, Utah, a " wedding of the rails" 
celebrated with an impressive ceremony. Special arrangements 
made it possible for the blows of the silver sledge, which drove 
gold spikes into the connecting rails, to be recorded in telegraph 
stations throughout the land. The great adventure was at an 
end. Of the completed line, the Union Pacific had built 1086 
miles, the Central Pacific 689. The two oceans, hitherto sundered 
by a month of laborious travel, were now within a week's reach 
of each other. 

The zeal for transcontinental communication did not spend 
itself with the Union Pacific. Even before it was completed, 
Congress had granted charters to the Northern Pacific (1864) for 
linking Lake Superior with Puget Sound; the Southern Pacific 
(1866), originally called the Atlantic and Pacific, which extended 
eventually from New Orleans to San Francisco; and the Atchison, 
Topeka and Santa Fe (1866), which when completed started west 
from Kansas, reaching San Francisco by way of the desert regions 
and the Rockies. These railroads, though given no direct finan- 
cial aid by Congress, received even more princely land subsidies 
than the Union Pacific. In all, 242,000 square miles, an amount 
exceeding the area of France or Germany, fell to the transcon- 
tinental companies, including the Union Pacific, though some of 
it had later to be forfeited because of noncompliance with the 
terms of grant. By 1884 four great lines joined the central valley 
of the continent with the Pacific tidewater, while a fifth one 
paralleled them in Canada. The rival companies left no stone 
unturned to attract settlers. They scattered boom literature 
throughout the Eastern states and Europe; they advertised 
special rates and sometimes even offered free transportation. 
Settled communities not only meant increased traffic but also 
enhanced the value of railway lands. "Without the railroad," 
declared a prominent resident of Dakota territory in 1884, not 


without exaggeration, "it would have required a century to 
accomplish what has been done in five years under its powerful 

Meanwhile, marked progress had been made in allaying the 
Indian peril. The story is not one to excite pride in the vaunted 
American spirit of fair play, but it amply illustrates the inexorable 
character of the conflict between two civilizations, the one dy- 
namic and acquisitive, the other static and unenterprising. In 
1860 there were perhaps 300,000 Indians scattered through the 
Western country. In return for annual gifts of food, munitions 
and clothing from the government, the bulk of them had agreed to 
keep the peace, stay within their preserves and allow migration 
along their trails. But, as settlers penetrated into the region, these 
solemn treaty stipulations proved mere scraps of paper. The 
land-hungry or gold-crazy whites viewed the redskin as a bar to 
the advance of a higher culture and, whenever it suited their 
purpose, they seized his lands without further ado. In the end, 
the "Great White Father" at Washington acquiesced, removing 
the native bands to less desirable tracts. "Many, if not most, of 
our Indian wars," President Hayes told Congress in 1877, "have 
had their origin in broken promises and acts of injustice on our 

Almost incessant conflict prevailed between the two races from 
1862 to 1886 a tangled skein of petty wars which there is no 
need to unravel. Stung to reprisals by white encroachments or 
the exactions of greedy government agents, the tribesmen would 
suddenly take to the warpath, burning, scalping and slaying. 
Savagery, unhappily, was not always on the one side. On No- 
vember 28, 1864, a force under Colonel J. M. Chivington fell 
upon an unsuspecting Cheyenne village on Sand Creek in Colo- 
rado, killing and mutilating men, women and children. Most 
frontier fighters heartily echoed General "Phil" Sheridan's 
sentiment: "There are no good Indians but dead Indians." 
Toward the close of the sixties the government sought a more 
constructive solution of the difficulties. A commission, at work 
in 1867-1868, not only succeeded in clearing away all legal ob- 
stacles to the building of railways through Indian country, but 
also induced most of the Apache, Comanche and Kiowa bands to 
remove to Indian Territory and other tribes to diminish their 






reservations or accept new ones off the beaten tracks. On the initi- 
ative of President Grant, a warm advocate of peace on the plains, 
Congress in 1869 created a board of Indian commissioners to su- 
pervise government expenditures for the tribesmen. Though waste 
and graft were not eliminated, distinct improvement resulted. 

Presently, however, hostilities broke out with renewed feroc- 
ity, partly because of the decimation of the buffalo herds, the 
Indian's chief means of livelihood. From the buffalo or bison he 
obtained food, clothing, bowstrings and harness; the sale of hides 
provided his principal source of ready cash. Fifteen million of 
these great, ungainly beasts, it is estimated, were roving the 
plains at the close of the Civil War. The laborers on the railroads 
subsisted in large part on buffalo meat, William F. Cody winning 
his nickname of " Buffalo Bill " for killing 4280 in eighteen months 
while a scout in the employ of the Kansas Pacific. The worst 
slaughter, however, occurred at the hands of hunters who, for 
amusement, killed them by the tens of thousands, leaving their 
carcasses for coyotes and buzzards. By the end of the hunting 
season of 1875 the vast Southern herd had been virtually wiped 
out, and with the building of the Northern Pacific a few years 
later a similar fate befell the smaller Northern herd. When the 
Plains Sioux under Sitting Bull donned their war paint in 1876, 
however, their immediate purpose was to repel the onrush of gold 
prospectors into the Black Hills which lay within their reserva- 
tion. Though they annihilated General G. A. Custer's command 
of 265 men in a battle on the Little Big Horn on June 25, they 
were soon quelled by superior force and dispossessed of the Black 
Hill country. Other notable uprisings occurred among the Nez 
Perce Indians in the Snake River Valley in 1877 an d among the 
Apache in Arizona and New Mexico from 1882 to 1886. 

Never before had the United States carried on such extensive 
Indian warfare. A list of the engagements between 1868 and 
1882 alone fills over a hundred pages. The nature of the fighting 
required eternal watchfulness, instant preparedness and daunt- 
less personal daring. One never knew when, out of the vast 
treeless expanse, murderous bands would swoop down on the 
border settlements. No names perhaps stand higher in the annals 
of plains fighting than those of General Sheridan, General W. T. 
Sherman and General N. A. Miles. The savages had their great 


warriors in Sitting Bull, Black Kettle of the Cheyenne, and Red 
Cloud, a Sioux chieftain, all true patriots from the red man's 
point of view. Every mile of Western railroad increased the 
military effectiveness of the dominant race, while the widespread 
destruction of game also helped reconcile the Indian to a peace- 
able reservation existence. By the mid-eighties the Indian ques- 
tion was no longer troublesome as a problem of military police, 
but little or no progress had been made in solving the question 
in its broader aspects, that is, the assimilation of the tribesman to 
the white man's way of life. Yet a quarter-century of conflict 
had made the Great West safe for the more advanced people and 
placed the best lands at their disposal. 

The first great rush of population was into the interior moun- 
tainous region, impelled by the discovery of valuable metals, 
notably gold and silver. The Comstock Lode in Nevada was but 
the earliest of such fabulous strikes. In the same year (1859) 
prospectors found the yellow metal in Colorado, causing a head- 
long stampede from all parts of the nation for " Pike's Peak or 
Bust." Subsequent years saw the development of rich mineral 
deposits in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Arizona. In the 
wake of these finds boom towns sprang up like mushrooms in a 
lush soil. Of Virginia City, Montana, an inhabitant later wrote: 
"This human hive, numbering at least ten thousand people, 
was the product of ninety days. Into it were crowded all the 
elements of a rough and active civilization. . . . Gold was 
abundant, and every possible device was employed by the gam- 
blers, the traders, the vile men and women that had come in 
with the miners into the locality, to obtain it. Nearly every 
third cabin was a saloon. . . . Not a day or night passed which 
did not yield its full fruition of vice, quarrels, wounds, or mur- 
ders." These lawless conditions were, of course, only a passing 
phase, difficult to control because of remoteness from the seats 
of law and authority. In many cases, the more substantial 
elements of the community took the law into their own hands, 
forming bands of " vigilantes" to overthrow the reign of the 
badman and the desperado. Most of the adventurers failed in 
their quest of sudden wealth, but many of them remained in 
the new country, turning fanner or stock raiser to feed their 
luckier brethren. 


Meanwhile almost as powerful a magnet was drawing popula- 
tion into the Great Plains lying to the east. Cattle raising had 
long been an important industry in Texas ; after the war enterpris- 
ing men took advantage of the fact that if Texas longhorns were 
driven north across the unfenced public domain, feeding as they 
went, they would arrive at the railway shipping points in Kansas 
larger and fatter than when they started. Soon the "Long Drive " 
was a regular event, and for hundreds of miles the trails were 
dotted with herds of from one to ten thousand cattle moving 
ceaselessly northward. Dodge City, Kansas, on the newly built 
Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, became the greatest of the 
"cow towns," the focus of a reckless, turbulent life that won it a 
dubious repute as the "Bibulous Babylon of the Frontier." At 
the same time the cattle industry spread rapidly into the trans- 
Missouri region, thanks to the demand of railway laborers and 
mining camps for fresh beef and to the improved marketing 
facilities afforded by the completion of the railroads. Immense 
ranches appeared overnight, as it were, in Colorado, Wyoming, 
Kansas, Nebraska and Dakota, while Western cities flourished 
as centers for the slaughter and dressing of meat. 

Ranching introduced a stirring and colorful mode of existence, 
with the picturesque cowboy as its central figure. "We led a 
free and hardy life, with horse and with rifle," Theodore Roosevelt 
wrote in fond reminiscence of his own experiences in Dakota. 
"We worked under the scorching midsummer sun, when the 
wide plains shimmered and wavered in the heat; and we knew 
the freezing misery of riding night guard round the cattle in the 
late fall round-up. . . . But we felt the beat of hardy life in our 
veins and ours was the glory of work and the joy of living." 
The immense profits of the "cattle kings" fruited from the benev- 
olent neglect of the government. After branding their animals 
the cowboys allowed them to range at will over the public domain, 
and then, at the spring or summer round-up, sought them out 
for the drive to market. Cattle, costing only a few dollars, 
raised in vast numbers, fed on free pasturage and requiring 
but few men to tend them, were sold a few years later for 
four or five times the original investment: Peace did not al- 
ways dwell on the ranges. The ranchers often waged petty 
civil wars with each other over cattle stealing, the changing of 


brands, and other such matters. Sometimes, to vary the rou- 
tine, they made common cause against the sheep herders, who 
soon appeared to appropriate their share of free land and free 

By the mid-eighties the halcyon days of the cattlemen were 
over. Not far behind the rancher creaked the prairie schooner 
of the farmer or "nester," bringing his womenfolk and children, 
his draft horses, cows and pigs. Under the homestead act he 
staked off his claim, fenced it with barbed wire and, backed by 
the government, ousted the ranchman from the lands of which 
the latter held illegal possession. The prickly barriers began to 
render difficult the Long Drive and to destroy the unity of the 
open range. Moreover, abounding prosperity had caused the 
cattle industry to expand far beyond market demands, and a 
succession of severe winters ruined many owners. Hence the 
romantic "cow country" began to give way to settled commu- 
nities and prosaic fields of wheat, corn and oats. "It was right 
and necessary that this life should pass," added Roosevelt to 
the comment just quoted, "for the safety of our country lies in 
its being made the country of the small home-maker." In order 
to survive, the stock raiser had to reorganize his business on a 
new basis own his grazing grounds, provide winter feed, and 
breed better cattle. 

Under these circumstances the agricultural revolution gath- 
ered momentum. Including the older settled regions, the farms 
of America from 1870 to 1880 increased by an area as large as 
the British Isles and Sweden combined, and in the next two 
decades they grew by an amount equal to the British Isles and 
the three Scandinavian countries, with Holland, Belgium and 
Switzerland thrown in for good measure. Wheat growing was 
the main reliance in Dakota and Minnesota. South of the wheat 
belt, in Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas, corn predominated, going 
to market either as grain or in the converted form of hogs. 
Many of the farmers were immigrants from Germany and the 
Scandinavian states, who settled in the new lands in colonies. 
The production of corn and wheat doubled between 1860 and 
1880, doubling once more in the next twenty-year period. Al- 
ready by 1880 the United States had become the greatest wheat- 
exporting nation in the world. One of the major causes of agrarian 


unrest grew out of the difficulties connected with, the existence 
of a crop surplus. 

The enormous expansion resulted in part from a greater ap- 
plication of mechanical power to farming. With every husband- 
man a landholder, machinery was necessary to make up for the 
dearth of hired labor. Improvement followed improvement, in- 
vention followed invention, and many a homestead was mort- 
gaged to secure the new labor-saving tools. Of these implements, 
the twine binder, patented in 1878 and 1879 by J. F. Appleby 
of Wisconsin, is particularly noteworthy, for, by increasing 
greatly the speed of harvesting, it correspondingly enlarged the 
quantity of wheat that could profitably be grown. Meanwhile, 
through the establishment of the federal Department of Agri- 
culture (1862) and the passage of the Morrill act the same year, 
the government did what it could to change husbandry from a 
traditional folk exercise to a science. The Morrill act offered 
each state a generous land grant as endowment for a college 
devoted chiefly to teaching agriculture and the mechanic arts. 
The states applied the gift either to enlarging old institutions 
or to founding new ones. In the Hatch act of 1887 Congress 
went even further by subsidizing state experiment stations for 
carrying on original investigative work. Soon important dis- 
coveries began to be made in regard to soil fertility, animal 
breeding, and the methods of combating insect pests and plant 
and animal diseases. America led the world in developing the 
scientific principles of farming. 

The various influences that had quickened the westward flow 
of settlement from the early sixties led to the organization of 
the frontier country into self-governing communities. Between 
1861 and 1868 territorial governments were erected in Nevada, 
Colorado, Dakota, Arizona, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, 
leaving only Indian Territory without the usual provision. Ne- 
vada was admitted prematurely into the Union in 1864 because 
of Lincoln's need of support for his policies in Congress; and 
the state of Nebraska was carved out of the older frontier three 
years later. The phenomenal increase of population gave rise 
to the saying that it was impossible to tell the truth about 
the West without lying. From 1870 to 1890 Idaho grew six- 
fold, Montana and Wyoming each sevenfold, Colorado tenfold, 


Washington fifteenfold. Colorado achieved statehood in 1876, 
and in 1889-1890 six more states followed: North and South 
Dakota, Montana, Washington, Idaho and Wyoming. Utah 
was denied the privilege until 1896 when the Mormon Church 
finally satisfied Congress that the national laws against polyg- 
amy were being enforced. Aside from Oklahoma, formed 
largely out of lands acquired from the tribes in Indian Terri- 
tory, New Mexico and Arizona alone continued in a territorial 

The spectacular rush into the Oklahoma district, when the 
President opened a part of it to home seekers on April 22, 1889, 
heralded the end of the era of good farms for the asking. Twenty 
thousand " boomers/' as they were called, awaited the signal to 
cross the line. At exactly high noon a bugle shrilled, the troops 
stood aside, and the impatient throng on foot, on horseback, 
in buggies and buckboards began the mad race for claims. 
By nightfall Guthrie had sprung into being, a tented city of 
10,000 inhabitants, while over the countryside flickering camp 
fires told of farm homes in the making. The district held 60,- 
ooo people before the year closed. In consequence, Congress 
in 1890 created the territory of Oklahoma, embracing an ir- 
regular area in the western part of Indian Territory, together 
with "No Man's Land," a narrow rectangular strip bordering 
the northernmost section of Texas. 

Though public lands still remained for occupancy, the un- 
broken frontier was gone by 1890 and the best available sites 
were in private hands. From earliest times this reservoir of the 
people's wealth had served as a recurrent source of economic 
renewal and as a cradle of robust Americanism. By draining off 
the restless spirits from the older settled districts it had also 
acted as a safety valve of discontent. The rugged individualism 
and incurable optimism which the frontier engendered became a 
part of the national habit of mind. What had been a great 
historic force, shaping American life and ideals from the first 
days of colonization, was thus slowing to a halt. Yet there 
occurred no sudden shock to the economic and social struc- 
ture. The years ahead would reveal unsuspected vistas for hus- 
bandry as Americans learned the secret of dry farming and the 
government reclaimed countless acres through irrigation and 


drainage. 1 Moreover, cheap lands remained everywhere in abun- 
dance, while across the international border lay a vast pioneer zone 
open to those willing to cast in their lot with Canada. But most 
important of all was the rush of employment and opportunity 
afforded by the growth of urban centers and the launching of co- 
lossal new industries. Even in the iSyo's and i88o's the city was 
beginning to cast its spell over men of spirit and ambition, an 
enchantment which presently came to exceed that exerted by the 
great open spaces. If the townward drift meant turning American 
thought and energy in a new direction, at least it provided equally 
challenging opportunities for individual initiative, enterprise and 


From the standpoint of posterity the revolution in industry, 
mining and transportation was even more important than that 
in agriculture. The progress in manufacturing since the Civil 
War, according to the United States industrial commission in 
1902, was " probably the most rapid change in the methods of 
industry observable at any time in history." Through the sub- 
stitution of machinery for men, the widespread introduction of 
steam for water power, and the application of a minute subdivi- 
sion of labor to the processes of manufacturing, along with other 
favoring conditions, factory production advanced at an unpar- 
alleled pace. The records of the patent office shed some light 
upon the role played by invention. With less than 62,000 patents 
granted in all the years before 1865, the number during the re- 
mainder of the century reached nearly 638,000. Until the i88o's 
farming continued to be the chief fount of national wealth, but 
the census of 1890 gave first place to manufacturing, and ten 
years later the value of manufactured products was over twice 
that of agricultural. From less than two billion dollars in 1860, 
the output of American mills and shops grew more than double 
in a decade and from 1860 to 1880 trebled. The share of labor- 
saving machinery in this advance appears in the fact that : 
though from 1860 to 1890 the number of factory hands increased 
threefold, the total product increased fivefold. The rate of growth 
in particular industries was even more astounding. By 1894 

1 As a matter of fact, the homestead entries for the two decades following 1898 
were half again as great as those for the three decades preceding. 


the United States had leaped from fourth place, her rank as a 
manufacturing nation in 1860, to first in all the world. At that 
time her output exceeded the total for both Great Britain and 

The chief development took place in the East, where southern 
New England, eastern and southern New York and large sections 
of Pennsylvania and New Jersey became thoroughly industri- 
alized. New England excelled in textiles, the finer grades of 
paper, and boots and shoes; Pennsylvania in tanning and iron 
and steel products; New Jersey in silks; New York in the be- 
wildering variety and total value of her wares. At the same time 
factories spread into the Midwest in such numbers as to cause 
the center of manufactures in the nation to shift from western 
Pennsylvania in 1860 to northeastern Ohio (near Canton) in 
1890. Broadly speaking, industrial enterprise in Middle America 
turned to the fabrication of farm implements, railway supplies, 
building materials, furniture, prepared foods and drinks. Chicago, 
the center of a great network of transportation facilities, pos- 
sessed nearly eight hundred woodworking establishments, ma- 
chine shops and metal works by 1880, besides more than a 
hundred breweries and distilleries. 

During these years, too, the factory system commenced its 
extensive invasion of Dixie, attracted by abundant raw materials, 
cheap labor and cheap power. " Bring the mills to the cotton!" 
was the cry that rang through the seaboard South in the 
i88o's. Soon the fall line of the rivers began to be dotted with 
factories, built out of the meager savings of the people near by 
and manned by poor whites men, women and children 
drawn from the foothill and mountain country. Between 1880 
and 1890 the number of spindles and looms almost trebled, and 
another decade found nearly half the cotton mills of the land 
clustered there. The manufacture of iron, equally favored by 
natural conditions, made as notable progress. Great beds of ore 
were discovered near deposits of coal and limestone, as if nature 
had purposely associated the necessary ingredients for reducing 
the crude metal. During the eighties fifty new blast furnaces 
were erected in Alabama, Tennessee and Virginia, 1 Cottonseed 

1 Here and elsewhere new methods of smelting speeded the manufacture of iron 
and steel products. Most important was the Bessemer process (named after the 


mills, tobacco factories, furniture establishments, vehicle fac- 
tories and canneries represent other important undertakings. 
The prime movers in Southern industrialization were usually of 
the old yeoman strain rather than of the class which had ruled 
in prewar days, and Northern capital played a negligible part 
until toward the end of the century when the certainty of profits 
had been clearly demonstrated. An observer in 1889 scarcely 
needed to point out that "the nonsense that it is beneath the 
dignity of any man or woman to work for a living is pretty much 
eliminated from the Southern mind." 

The revolution in manufacturing everywhere rested on the 
exploitation of vast fields of coal and iron, the two minerals that 
have most vitally affected modern industrial civilization. Large 
coal beds were uncovered not only along the Appalachian system 
but also in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. With improved transporta- 
tion facilities and an increased use of steam-driven machinery, 
production leaped tenfold from 1860 to 1890. Meantime, to meet 
the voracious demands of industry, the yield of iron ore in western 
Pennsylvania advanced by leaps and bounds, and in the i88o's 
great ranges in the Lake Superior region began to be developed. 
Besides being extremely rich and pure, these new deposits lay 
near the surface, which made it possible to mine them with labor- 
saving machines. From 1860 to 1890 pig-iron production multi- 
plied elevenfold. The newest source of subsurface wealth, petro- 
leum, underwent an even more amazing development, increasing 
in the three decades more than ninetyfold. From the Far West 
came still other stores of minerals. In the eighties copper mines 
were opened in Arizona and Montana, rivaling the product 
hitherto furnished by Michigan. Large-scale silver mining was 
another undertaking, thanks to the discoveries in Nevada, 
Colorado and elsewhere. From a value of $157,000 in i86o, ( the 
output rose to $36,000,000 in 1873, with an even larger yield in 
the years to follow a fact that was to have important political 
reverberations. Gold production, on the other hand, having 
reached its peak in 1854, steadily declined from 1872 to 1893. 

Englishman Henry Bessemer), introduced into the United States in 1864, by which 
a cold blast is forced through the molten metal, thereby eliminating carbon im- 
purities. In the next century it was to be supplanted by the open-hearth or Martin 
process, which is superior for less pure ores. 


Meantime, all over the land, a spider web of metal rails was 
being spun to draw the remotest outposts into the common whole 
and everywhere give fresh impetus to commercial enterprise. 
From 30,000 miles of railroad in 1860, the number trebled by 
1880, reaching a total of 164,000 ten years later. Not only were 
the great transcontinental roads built, but rail lines multiplied in 
the older parts of the North and pushed southward to spur the 
industrial development of Dixie. The 193,000 miles at the turn 
of the century greatly exceeded in length the railways of all 
Europe. Moreover, expansion in mileage was attended by 
important improvements in service. Iron rails were replaced with 
steel to insure both heavier carrying capacity and greater safety. 
The inventor George Pullman in 1864 added to the comfort of 
travel through his ingenious "palace cars/ 3 described by one 
enthusiast as "gorgeous traveling hotels." In 1872 George 
Westinghouse took out his first patent on the automatic air 
brake, a device which permitted the engineer, by means of a 
steam-driven air pump, to set the brakes simultaneously through- 
out the whole train. About the same time automatic car coupling 
came into use. As more and more short roads were linked into 
through lines and a standard gauge of track was adopted, another 
improvement resulted. A traveler from the Atlantic Seaboard to 
the Mississippi before 1870 might have been obliged to change 
trains a half-dozen times. Now this inconvenience came to be the 
exception rather than the rule. 

No less profound were the changes in communication, a revo- 
lution based less on steam than on electricity, whose possibilities 
were just beginning to be glimpsed. In harnessing electricity to 
the service of mankind Americans led the way, notably Thomas 
A. Edison who from 1868 to 1900 took out nearly 800 patents, 
mostly in this field. His invention of quadruplex telegraphy in 
1874 allowed two messages to be sent simultaneously from oppo- 
site ends of the same line, thus multiplying the carrying capacity 
of the wires. Already in 1866 the principle of the telegraph had 
been applied, after several unsuccessful trials, to cable communi- 
cation with Europe, a great engineering feat for which Cyrus W. 
Field was responsible. Ten years later came a new marvel, the 
telephone, invented by Professor Alexander Graham Bell of 
Boston University as a by-product of his interest in teaching the 


deaf to talk. At first hardly more than a mechanical curiosity, 
improvements by Edison, Francis Blake, J. J. Carty and others 
soon rendered it an efficient instrument. The invention of a 
central switchboard by C. E. Scribner vastly extended its use- 
fulness and assured the telephone's commercial success. The 
number of subscribers rose from 50,000 in 1880 to 250,000 at the 
end of the decade. By 1892 Boston and New York were chatting 
with Washington, Chicago and Milwaukee. As presidential 
candidate in 1896 William McKinley talked from his home at 
Canton, Ohio, with his campaign managers in thirty-eight states. 
Meantime the postal service was placed on a modern basis. Free 
delivery was introduced in the larger cities in 1863, the system 
of money orders a year later. In 1883 the rate for single letters 
was cut from three to two cents a half ounce and, in 1885, to two 
cents an ounce. These various instrumentalities shed incalculable 
benefits on society, not only by facilitating business intercourse, 
but also by helping to break down rural isolation and in countless 
other ways promoting social solidarity. 


Just as the plantation had been the typical product of prewar 
Southern society and the small farm of the Northern agricultural 
system, so the modern city became the nerve center of the new 
industrial order. Within its borders were focused all the dynamic 
economic forces: the vast accumulations of capital, the business 
and financial institutions, the spreading railroad yards, the gaunt 
smoky factories, the white-collar middle classes, the motley army 
of wage-earners. Recruited from the countryside and from lands 
across the sea, villages grew into towns and towns sprang into 
cities almost overnight. In 1830 one out of every fifteen persons 
lived in places of 8000 or over; in 1860 nearly one out of every six; 
and in 1890 three out of ten. The older rural districts of the 
North, caught between the counterattractions of free farms on the 
frontier and alluring opportunities in the near-by city, suffered 
shocking losses. From 1880 to 1890 755 townships out of 1316 
in Ohio declined in population; 800 out of 1424 in Illinois. Two 
fifths of Pennsylvania and nearly five sixths of New York state ex- 
perienced a similar eclipse. In New England the townward exodus 
left mute witnesses in deserted hill villages and abandoned farms. 


No single city had as many as a million inhabitants in 1860, 
but thirty years later New York had a million and a half and 
Chicago and Philadelphia each over a million. By that time 
Brooklyn (which was to be merged with New York in 1898) 
possessed 800,000, and St. Louis, Boston and Baltimore had 
attained the half -million class. In the three decades Philadelphia 
and Baltimore doubled in population, Kansas City and Detroit 
grew fourfold, San Francisco fivefold, Cleveland sixfold, Chicago 
tenfold, while certain places like Minneapolis and Omaha, which 
had been mere hamlets when the Civil War began, grew fifty 
times or more. Though most towns were of lesser size, everywhere 
they sought to copy the enterprise and ways of the bigger ones. 
In Josiah Strong's phrase, the city was "the mighty heart of the 
body politic, sending its streams of life pulsating to the very 
finger-tips of the whole land. 77 As the centers of wealth and 
economic power, moreover, the great cities molded business in- 
stitutions and transportation facilities to suit their own particular 
needs and advantage, thus increasing the difficulties from which 
the farm dwellers suffered during these years. 

Earlier American cities had been hardly more than overgrown 
villages; now, as urban populations thickened, they began to 
change into modern municipalities. Volunteer fire companies 
were abandoned by New York in 1865 and by Philadelphia in 
1871 in order to make way for full-time, paid fire departments. 
The urgent need for swifter conveyance, no longer adequately 
met by horse cars, led New York in 1868 to introduce steam- 
drawn trains on elevated rails high above the streets. Five years 
later San Francisco demonstrated the utility of the cable car, 
contrived by A. S. Hallidie and operated by means of a grappling 
device reaching downward to an endless steel cable moving in a 
slotted trench between the tracks. Somewhat later came the 
even more successful electric trolley car, first installed for public 
use in 1888 at Richmond, Virginia, and adopted within three 
years by fifty-one towns. Meanwhile city streets, ill paved when 
paved at all, showed great improvement with the introduction, 
particularly in the i88o 7 s, of asphalt and brick surfacing. Serious 
attention was also given, for the first time, to problems of sewage 
and garbage disposal, and from 1860 to 1890 the number of pub- 
5ic waterworks increased nearly thirteenfold. 


At the same time, better illumination came to the aid of city 
dwellers, helping to dispel much of the darkness of night life as 
well as some of its dangers. Improving upon the efforts of others, 
C. F. Brush of Cleveland in 1878 devised a practicable arc light, 
the flame being caused by electricity passing vertically between 
two sticks of carbon. It was widely adopted for lighting streets 
and public squares, but the problem of indoor illumination 
remained unsolved until Edison two years later patented the 
first practicable incandescent electric light. Advances were also 
made in gas illumination, especially after T. S. C. Lowe's dis- 
covery in 1873 of the process of making water gas. Though mu- 
nicipalities differed in the quickness with which they adopted the 
new improvements, yet urban life everywhere assumed a different 
aspect, causing towns on the advancing frontier to flaunt con- 
veniences and comforts of living which the greatest centers had 
lacked a generation before. 

In the large cities, too, appeared startling contrasts of poverty 
and riches, squalor matching splendor, urban vice contending 
with civic virtue. New York reminded one English visitor of 
"a lady in ball costume, with diamonds in her ears, and her toes 
out at her boots." In the slums huddled the newly arrived immi- 
grant families, living under conditions which made for diseased 
minds as well as diseased bodies. Organized crime, long character- 
istic of frontier communities, now shifted to the great popula- 
tion centers, thanks to the concentration of wealth there and 
the inadequacy of police protection,. It may not be without 
significance that the bloody repulse of the James Boys' attempt 
to loot the bank at Northfield, Minnesota, in 1876 was followed 
two years later by the first great urban criminal exploit, the 
successful robbery of the Manhattan Savings Institution in 
New York of nearly $3,000,000 by " Western George" Leslie 
and his gang. The increase of lawlessness was due, in part, to 
the collusion of municipal officials with the wrongdoers. 

During these years the boss and the machine, abetted by the 
most vicious elements in city life, rose to a position of dominance. 
As in national politics, predatory men found opportunities for 
illicit gain in lax law enforcement, and particularly in obtaining 
control, by whatever means, of the expanding public utilities. 
Contracts for municipal works and franchises for the supply of 


water, lighting and rapid transit were too often granted cor- 
ruptly to private individuals and companies, with few or no 
safeguards for the public. One of the sensations of Grant's first 
term was the exposure of the Tweed Ring in New York City, 
whose members in two and a half years swelled the city's debt 
by $70,000,000, most of which lodged in their own pockets. 1 
Though Boss Tweed himself was finally brought to justice in 
1871, most of his confederates escaped, and later years found New 
York again wallowing in the mire of Tammany misrule. Other 
places fared hardly better Philadelphia with its Gas Ring, 
Washington with its Real-Estate Ring, St. Louis under the 
corrupt rule of Boss "Ed" Butler, Minneapolis under "Doc" 
Ames, San Francisco under "Blind Boss" Buckley. James Bryce, 
writing in 1888, called the government of cities "the one con- 
spicuous failure of the United States," The truth is that, while 
long experience had taught Americans how to rule populations 
scattered over large areas, they had yet to learn how to govern 
densely packed urban centers. This failure was all the more 
striking because of the mighty influence which, as we shall see, 
cities were exerting on American cultural life. 


The Coming of Modern America. Except for the intricacies of Southern 
Reconstruction, the standard comprehensive works are less helpful for the 
period 1 86 5-1 goo than for earlier times. Schouler devotes his seventh and 
last volume to the years 1865-1877. Rhodes, after canvassing certain as- 
pects of the era to 1877 in his seven-volume set, continues his narrative to 
1909 in two sketchy volumes. Oberholtzer alone has essayed a large-scale 
treatment of the entire postwar period to 1900 in A History of the United 
States since the Civil War. The journalist Mark Sullivan, though concerned 
primarily with the twentieth century, occasionally dips back into earlier 
years in Our Times. The various cooperative works cited at the close of 
Chapter I all span the period 1865-1900. 

The Development of the Great West. Light is shed on the occupation of 
the last continental frontier in a varied literature. Good general treatments 
include Paxson, History of the American Frontier, Ij6^-i8g^^ and Riegel, 
America, Moves West. For the adoption of the homestead act Stephenson, 
The Political History of the Public Lands from 1840 to 1862, and Du Bois 
and Mathews, Galusha A . Grow, the Father of the Homestead Law, are val- 
uable; for its operation, see Hibbard, History of Public Land Policies. Riegel, 

1 Thus, by ingenious bookkeeping, the taxpayers were charged $11,000,000 for 
an uncompleted courthouse which had actually cost $3,000,000. One entry credited 
a plasterer with earning $138,187 in two days. 


Story of the Western Railroads, is a useful summary, which may be supple- 
mented by Haney, A Congressional History of Railways in the United States, 
1850-1887; Smalley, History of the Northern Pacific Railroad; Hedges, Henry 
Villard and the Railways of the Northwest; and Sabin, Building the Pacific 
Railway. Pyle, The Life of James J. Hill, tells the story of one of the great 
railroad builders. Sakolski, The Great American Land Bubble, gives many 
interesting sidelights on land speculation. Border warfare is dealt with in 
Macleod, The American Indian Frontier; Seymour, The Story of the Red Man; 
and Paxson, The Last American Frontier. Branch, Hunting the Buffalo, 
considers one aspect of the plight of the Indians. Mining development is 
treated in Trimble, The Mining Advance into the Inland Empire, and Rick- 
ard, A History of American Mining. Vivid glimpses of life in the mining 
regions are given in De Voto, Mark Twain's America. From a group of 
studies, most of them recent, emerges a convincing picture of the cattleman 
and his social and economic significance. Notable among these works are 
Rollins, The Cowboy; Wright, Dodge City, the Cowboy Capital; Branch, 
The Cowboy and His Interpreters; Osgood, The Day of the Cattleman; Dale, 
The Range Cattle Industry; and Webb, The Great Plains. Salient aspects of 
the agricultural revolution are canvassed in Schmidt and Ross, Readings 
in the Economic History of American Agriculture, and notably in the U. S. 
Department of Agriculture, Yearbook for i8gg, a symposium by specialists. 
The opening of Oklahoma is the theme of Gittinger, The Formation of the 
State of Oklahoma. 

The Onward Push of Industrialism. While brief accounts may be found 
in any of the standard economic histories, the most thorough treatment is 
Clark, History of Manufactures in the United States, which devotes one vol- 
ume to the years 1860-1914. Particular aspects are dealt with in Wood- 
worth, American Tool Making and Interchangeable Manufacturing; Cope- 
land, The Cotton Manufacturing Industry in the United States; Cole, The 
American Wool Manufacture; and Smith, The Story of Iron and Steel. The 
industrializing trend in the South is studied in Mitchell, The Rise of Cotton 
Mills in the South; Armes, The Story of Coal and Iron in Alabama; and 
Brace, Rise of the New South. Besides general surveys of technological 
progress, such as KaempfTert, ed., A Popular History of American Invention, 
and Byrn, The Progress of Invention in the Nineteenth Century, there are 
many special studies, including Casson, The History of the Telephone; Hus- 
band, The Story of the Pullman Car; Martin and Coles, The Story of Elec- 
tricity; Dyer and Martin, Edison; and Mackenzie, Alexander Graham Bell. 

The Advent of Great Cities. Weber, The Growth of Cities in the Nine- 
teenth Century, considers the subject in its world-wide aspects. Fairlie, 
Municipal Administration, and Zueblin, American Municipal Progress, 
trace the expansion of municipal functions. Slum conditions in New York 
are examined in De Forest and Veiller, The Tenement House Problem, and 
criminality in that city is described in. Asbury, The Gangs of New York. 
Of special value for the Tweed Ring expos are Paine, Th. Nast, and Bige- 
low, The Life of Samuel /. Tilden. All phases of urban life in the iSSo's 
and iSgo's are the special concern of Schlesinger, The Rise of the City. 



GRANT'S eight years in the White House marked a significant 
transition in national political life. With sectional animosi- 
ties as yet unabated, American politics yielded increasingly to 
the tugs and pressures exerted by leaders of the new capitalistic 
order bent on extorting special privileges and immunities from 
the government. Unfortunately, these forces pushed forward at 
a time when the country was suffering a moral relapse from the 
lofty idealism of war days, and when the upswing of prosperity, 
set going during the war, made people careless as regards offi- 
cial rectitude. In the cities extravagance and luxurious living 
reached a new pitch, while everywhere throughout the North 
men launched fresh business enterprises and engaged in reckless 
speculation. Meantime, Tweedism fastened its hold on the great 
population centers, and the Carpetbaggers busily looted the 
prostrate South. 

Referring to the materialistic trend of politics, Senator Henry 
Wilson of Massachusetts, ancient foe of the "Slave Power/' 
declared in the Independent of June 10, 1869: "The power of 
wealth, individual and associated, concentrated and diffused, 
constitutes the new danger that is threatening us with its por- 
tentous and increasing dimensions." Another early Republican, 
George W. Julian of Indiana, cited particularly the "railway 
power," possessing a "consolidated capital of $5,000,000,000," 
and "sapping and mining its way through the consciences" of 
those vested with political control. "Men buy their way into 
the Senate," wrote James Russell Lowell, "and, of course, ex- 
pect a profit on their investment." As if to corroborate such 
views , a congressional investigating committee reported in 1873: 
"The country is fast becoming filled with gigantic corporations 
wielding and controlling immense aggregations of money and 
thereby commanding great influence and power. It is notorious 



in many state legislatures that these influences are often con- 

President Grant possessed neither the experience nor the will 
to stem the rising tide of materialism in political life. Himself a 
man who had vainly striven against poverty, he readily accepted 
the dollar sign as the hall mark of success, thus falling in with 
the sordid ideals of the time. Though his personal integrity was 
undoubted, he and members of his family received loans from 
the banks of Jay Cooke at a time when the Northern Pacific 
and other concerns in which Cooke was interested wanted public 
favors. He openly consorted with " Jim 77 Fisk, an unscrupulous 
stock manipulator, and accepted costly gifts from persons whose 
motives were dubious, if not corrupt. Nor, aside from two or 
three members, did his cabinet contribute much to the states- 
manlike quality of his administration. His first appointee as 
Secretary of State, an old personal friend, resigned shortly, 
making possible the selection of Hamilton Fish of New York, a 
man of real ability, who gained merited fame for his part in 
negotiating the treaty of Washington (see page 124). Grant, 
unaware of an old statute forbidding such a choice, named 
a wealthy business man as head of the Treasury, then rectified 
his mistake by appointing G. S. Boutwell, a Massachusetts pol- 
itician with no special fitness for the office. Of the remaining 
members only J. D. Cox of Ohio, Secretary of the Interior, 
and E. R. Hoar of Massachusetts, Attorney-General, had the 
qualifications usually expected. 1 

Grant's entry into office coincided with the rise of a new 
generation of political leaders. The giants of the Civil War 
era were fast passing away: Stevens died in 1868, Stanton in 
1869, Seward in 1872, Chase in 1873, Sumner (from whom Grant 
became estranged as early as 1870) in 1874 and Johnson in 1875. 
Their places were taken by men of lesser stature and of dissimilar 
ideals and interests. In Henry Adams's opinion, "No period so 
thoroughly ordinary had been known in American politics since 
Christopher Columbus first disturbed the balance of American 

x The original cabinet consisted of Elihu Washburne of Illinois, Secretary of 
State; A. T. Stewart of New York, Secretary of the Treasury; J. A. Rawlins of 
Illinois, Secretary of War; A. E. Borie of Pennsylvania, Secretary of the Navy; 
J. A. Cresswell of Maryland, Postmaster-General; and the other two members 
named above. 


society/' It is not unlikely that the men of creative vision and 
organizing genius the natural leaders of the time felt the 
challenge of the transforming economic life of the country, and 
renounced politics to become architects of the new industrial 
order. At any rate, the men who now seized the reins in Con- 
gress Roscoe Conkling of New York, James A. Garfield of 
Ohio, James G. Elaine of Maine, Samuel J. Randall and W. D. 
("Pig-Iron") Kelley of Pennsylvania, and their like speeded 
the exploitation of the nation's resources through lavish sub- 
sidies, charter grants and tariffs, and were often themselves 
personally interested as stockholders or lawyers in corporate 
enterprises which might be affected by their votes as legislators. 

At the same time the civil service was in a thoroughly demor- 
alized state. In vogue since Jackson's time, the spoils system had 
never before borne such evil fruit as during and after the Civil 
War when the rapid expansion of the public service brought an 
unusual number of worthless persons into appointive office. 
Grant was accused by the editor of the Nation (New York) of 
making not only "bad appointments but probably some of the 
worst ever made by a civilized Christian government." In June, 
1870, the President at the instigation of his politician cronies 
dismissed Attorney- General Hoar, and in October he allowed Cox 
to resign from the Interior Department where the latter had dis- 
played unwelcome zeal in resisting the demands of grafters and 
job seekers. Nevertheless, two months later, Grant asked Con- 
gress to enact a law for basing federal appointments upon per- 
sonal fitness as determined by competitive examinations. Such 
a system, already in operation in England and France, had been 
urged since 1865 by Thomas A. Jenckes, a member of the House 
from Rhode Island, and more recently by Carl Schurz, who early 
in 1870 had entered the Senate from Missouri. Congress granted 
the desired authority; the President declared the new rules oper- 
ative in the federal offices at Washington and New York from 
January i, 1872. His tardy action undoubtedly smacked of 
eleventh-hour virtue for the coming presidential election. Indeed, 
he soon chafed under the restrictions, and in 1873 Congress de- 
clined to renew the appropriation for the supervisory commission 
upon which the success of the plan depended. 

Meanwhile, the government dealt with the problem of re- 


organizing the national finances on a peace basis. Begun under 
President Johnson, a series of enactments converted the war debt 
into bonds at lower interest rates, reduced internal-revenue 
duties and, after lessening the income tax, in 1872 abolished it. 
But a proposal to lower the tariff roused the ire of the industrial 
interests, suckled by the war, which were determined to increase 
rather than diminish protection. From this time forward, swarms 
of lobbyists descended upon Washington whenever tariff meas- 
ures were under consideration, none shrewder or more effective 
than John L. Hayes, agent of the National Association of Wool 
Manufacturers. Though no Republican national platform had 
ever advocated protection, apart from a passing mention in 
1860, Congress raised the rates on wool and woolens in 1867, on 
copper in 1869, and on steel rails, nickel and marble in 1870. 
As a hostile critic said, the country had advanced from the 
five- and ten-per-cent protection of Alexander Hamilton to the 
twenty- and thirty-per-cent level of Clay and Webster, and now, 
with the duties ranging from thirty to five hundred per cent, 
still higher rates were being demanded. 

Yet the Republican leaders had reckoned without their farming 
constituencies, which felt pinched by the rise of prices. So strong 
was the Western protest that in 1870 Congress was obliged to 
make a gesture toward tariff reform. The reductions, however, 
affected chiefly tea, coffee, wines, spices and certain other articles 
in which no domestic manufacturing interest was involved, and 
failed to allay the discontent. Desiring to smooth matters over 
for the impending presidential campaign, the party chieftains 
brought about a new system of rates in acts of May and June, 
1872. Besides a sweeping reduction of nonprotective duties, this 
legislation provided a horizontal cut of ten per cent on imports 
competing with the products of the chief protected industries. 
A deficit in revenue caused by the Panic of 1873 led, however, to 
a restoration of the protective duties in 1875. At this point they 
were permitted to remain until the general tariff revision of 1883. 

Though the most shocking misdeeds of the administration 
remained as yet undisclosed, certain elements among Grant's 
following were already beginning to distinguish between the 
"Hero of Appomattox" and the peace-time incumbent of the 
White House. As early as 1870 a Republican faction in Missouri, 


led by Schurz and aided by the Democrats, carried the state 
elections. The Liberal Republicans, as they called themselves, 
favored a more generous treatment of their fellow citizens who 
had taken the Southern side during the war and, in addition, 
demanded civil-service reform and tariff revision. The Missouri 
incident was like a spark to a powder train. As similar bolts from 
the party occurred in other states, the movement assumed na- 
tion-wide proportions. With high hopes the Liberal Republicans 
convened at Cincinnati on May i, 1872, to nominate national 
candidates. The body contained diverse elements: tariff reduc- 
tionists, civil-service reformers, opponents of federal intervention 
in the South (see page 121) and disgruntled politicians nursing 
personal grudges. The proceedings quickly became snarled in a 
tangle of personalities and politics, which caused the Republicans 
to call the gathering the " Convention of Cranks." After a savage 
arraignment of the administration, the platform declared for 
civil-service reform and home rule in the South, but, in conse- 
quence of frankly confessed " irreconcilable differences, 77 it was 
noncommittal on the tariff. For President the convention made 
the preposterous mistake of naming Horace Greeley, lifelong foe 
of the Democrats and a rabid protectionist. Governor B. Gratz 
Brown of Missouri was made his running mate. Though it was a 
bitter pill for them to swallow, the Democrats when they con- 
vened saw nothing better to do than to indorse the ticket. 

The Republicans, meeting on June 5, unanimously renominated 
Grant, associating with him Henry Wilson of Massachusetts. 
Their platform, after justifying the administration's Southern 
policy, pledged tariff protection and paid sanctimonious respects 
to civil-service reform. The outcome was never in doubt. Many 
Democrats stayed at home rather than vote for Greeley. Yet, 
even with a stronger candidate, the Liberal Republican movement 
could hardly have triumphed, for the average Republican con- 
tinued to see Grant with his war-time halo, and the Carpetbag 
governments assured him Southern support. He received an 
electoral vote of 286 to 62 and a popular majority of almost 56 
per cent to 44. Greeley died a broken-hearted man a few weeks 
later. In the history of the Republican party the campaign was 
notable as marking the formal adoption of tariff protection as an 
article of party faith. The campaign also signalized the entry of 


labor into politics in the guise of the short-lived Labor Reform 
party. No presidential contest since has been without one or more 
minor parties devoted to the welfare of the urban or rural work- 


Six months after Grant's second inauguration the feverish 
prosperity that had infected the country chilled suddenly to 
depression, unemployment and distress. Men in their mad strife 
for gain had forgotten the distinction between possible and im- 
possible. An inflated currency and illimitable credit had caused 
millions of capital to pour into factories and mills until their 
productive capacity far outstripped existing needs. In the decade 
after the incorporation of the Union Pacific over a billion was 
sunk in rail construction alone. Only the future growth of the 
country could make many such enterprises profitable, and mean- 
time indebtedness piled up beyond their ability to pay. Moreover, 
much speculation was sheer dishonesty, foisted on the gullible by 
rascals. These were the years that Mark Twain and his collabo- 
rator, Charles Dudley Warner, called " The Gilded Age." " Beauti- 
ful credit!" they jibed, citing a "speculator in lands and mines," 
who boasted, "I wasn't worth a cent two years ago, and now I 
owe two million dollars." Even the farmers felt the contagion, 
heavily mortgaging their lands for tools and improvements. 

Much of the business expansion had been financed from abroad; 
and a panic in Vienna in May, 1873, spreading to other European 
money centers, caused a withdrawal of a great part of this sup- 
port. American bankers, already overburdened, were unprepared 
to carry the additional load. In September came the crash, pre- 
cipitated by the failure of Jay Cooke and Company, which had 
invested too heavily in the projected Northern Pacific Railroad. 
A frenzy of excitement and fear gripped the financial world. The 
Grant administration was helpless before the storm, and the 
foundations of credit began to crumble. Banking and business 
houses toppled, eighty-nine railroads defaulted on their bonds, 
and the industrial regions were stricken as by a paralysis. In all, 
more than 5000 concerns failed during the Panic year with an 
aggregate loss of about $228,500,000. Meantime, more than three 
million wage-earners were thrown out of work; and the Western 


farmers, their grain a drug on the market, found themselves with- 
out means to meet their mortgage payments. 

Five years were to follow the Panic of 1873 before normal 
conditions returned, years all the more trying because of revela- 
tions of the graft and dishonor that honeycombed the federal 
government. In the opinion of George F. Hoar, Republican 
Senator from Massachusetts, corruption " never got so dangerous 
a hold upon the forces of the Government, or upon a great polit- 
ical party, as in the Administration of General Grant." Early in 
1873 investigating committees of the House and Senate disclosed 
that the outgoing Vice-President and a number of Congressmen, 
including James A. Garfield and "Pig-Iron" Kelley, held stock, 
for which they had never paid, in the Credit Mobilier, construc- 
tion company for the Union Pacific. These shares had been dis- 
tributed by Oakes Ames, a Congressman and officer of the 
company, with the assurance given his business associates that 
he would place them where they would "protect us" and "do 
the most good" in averting inquiry into the company's affairs. 
The House, accepting the committee's opinion that most of those 
involved had acted without "any corrupt motive or purpose," 
contented itself with censuring Ames and another member. 
Other exposures followed with almost clocklike regularity, only a 
few of which need be noted. Thus the Secretary of the Treasury, 
W. A. Richardson, was found to have grossly abused his authority 
in order to divert some of the department's funds, through un- 
earned commissions, into the pockets of a political henchman of 
the notorious Ben Butler. In May, 1874, Richardson hurriedly 
resigned to avoid a vote of censure by the House. 

The public, racked by the hard times, but as yet unaware how 
far the moral poison had spread, turned on its rulers in the fall 
elections, giving the Democrats their first victory since before the 
war. While the Senate continued Republican, the House changed 
from two-thirds Republican to three-fifths Democratic, a fact 
which would give administration politicians sleepless nights when 
the time came to count the returns of the next presidential elec- 
tion. In addition, the Democrats swept twenty-three states out of 
thirty-five, including New York where Samuel J. Tilden, an 
active participant in the assault against the Tweed Ring, was 
chosen governor on a platform of political reform. But this 


stinging popular rebuke came too late to undo the damage. In 
1875 B. EL Bristow, Richardson's successor as head of the Treas- 
ury, exposed the rascality of a " whisky ring/' made up of wealthy 
distillers and revenue officers, which since 1870 had been de- 
frauding the government of millions of dollars in taxes. Grant's 
private secretary, 0. E. Babcock, also implicated in the conspir- 
acy, was saved from punishment only through the President's 
unwise intervention on his behalf. On the heels of these dis- 
closures, in March, 1876, came the precipitate resignation of 
Secretary W. W. Belknap of the War Department in order to 
escape impeachment on the charge of receiving an annual bribe 
since 1870 from an officeholder anxious to avoid removal. 

A few weeks more brought another scandal, one which was 
forever to tarnish the reputation of James G. Elaine, who had 
been Speaker of the House from 1869 to 1875. The investigation 
showed that, while holding his powerful office, he had acted as 
bond salesman for a land-grant railway, and that later he had 
permitted the Union Pacific and certain other land-grant corpora- 
tions to relieve him of a large block of the securities at a sum 
far in excess of their market value. By a trick Blaine got pos- 
session of the incriminating evidence, the so-called Mulligan 
letters, and though he refused to allow the documents to be 
examined, he made a brilliant speech in the House, which, if it 
left the critical unsatisfied, at least convinced orthodox Repub- 
licans of his innocence. But Elaine's penalty was to be a heavy 
one, for his connection with this affair was to prevent him from 
ever attaining the goal of his ambition, the presidency. 


Meanwhile, economic depression continued unabated, char- 
acterized by falling prices, constant bankruptcies and widespread 
unemployment. In the industrial centers hordes of the jobless 
crowded the bread lines or, turning hobo, wandered aimlessly 
about the country, pathetic caricatures of the restless hardy 
pioneers who had helped conquer the wilderness. Criminality 
increased, and the violence attending the railroad strikes of 1877 
(see page 207) further attested the spread of radicalism and 
despair. These grim years gave impetus to many a scheme of 
social and economic redemption labor amalgamation, "free 


silver," socialism, the " single tax" and the like while render- 
ing clamorous the demands for railway regulation and greenback 

As early as 1869 Massachusetts had established a commission 
with advisory power to deal with the unfair practices of rail- 
roads within the state. The chief victims of such abuses, however, 
were the Midwestern farmers with produce to market. Already 
beset with low prices for their overabundant crops, and obliged 
to pay middlemen excessive charges for tools and other supplies, 
they considered the rates demanded for hauling their products 
beyond all reason. The railroads, on their part, did not hesitate 
to impose extortionate charges, or even to discriminate against 
certain communities and shippers in favor of others. In 1867 a 
secret ritualistic order, named the Patrons of Husbandry but 
usually known as the Grange, had appeared among the farmers, 
originally for the purpose of fostering a pleasanter social life 
among rural dwellers of both sexes. The movement to curb the 
railroads is always associated with the rise of this organization, 
though the Grange was avowedly nonpolitical and it grew but 
slowly until the bad times after 1873 suddenly swelled its mem- 
bership to two and a half million. 

Inspired by "Farmers' Declarations of Independence" and 
pledged to emancipate " white slaves from the Slave-Power of 
Monopoly," local agrarian parties sprang up in the Midwest and 
bent the legislatures to their will. Acts were passed for regulat- 
ing railroad rates either by direct legislative decree or through 
official commissions set up for the purpose. Illinois and Minnesota 
led the way in 1870 and 1871, Ohio and Michigan following in 
the Panic year, and Iowa, Wisconsin and Missouri in the two 
years thereafter. These laws were based upon the then novel 
principle that railways should be treated as public-service enter- 
prises, not as mere private businesses for the enrichment of 
their stockholders. Some of the legislation was ill wrought or 
else tinged with a spirit of vengeance; but the fury of the railway 
magnates was directed less against such matters than against 
the constitutionality of any mandatory control by the state. 
The so-called Granger cases, decided in 1876, set all such doubts 
at rest, however. In Munn v. Hlinois ; the Supreme Court found 
in the state's police power (that is, its inherent right to protect 


the health, welfare and safety of its citizens) ample authority to 
regulate businesses " clothed with a public interest." " Property/' 
asserted the court, "does become clothed with a public interest 
when used in a manner to make it of public consequence and 
affect the community at large." 1 In Peik v. the Chicago & 
Northwestern Railway, the court dismissed a further objection 
by declaring that, until Congress acted under the interstate- 
commerce clause, states might even fix rates on shipments passing 
beyond their limits. 

The Grangers, without recourse to politics, also undertook to 
cure the price evil in respect to both the products they sold and 
those they bought. They set up central agencies to aid the sale 
of farm produce; in several states cooperative creameries and 
grain elevators, operated at cost, saved Grange members thou- 
sands of dollars. By pooling their funds farmers also effected 
great economies through ordering in wholesale lots directly from 
manufacturers. In Iowa the State Grange established its own 
factories for making plows and harvesters, sold to members at 
cost. But by 1876 most of these undertakings were abandoned, 
having failed for lack of adequate support or skilled business 
direction or because of the unfair practices of competitors. Yet 
the widespread interest in cooperation was not without result. 
Besides making middlemen less ready to ask exorbitant prices, 
it caused the development of great mail-order houses in Chicago, 
which, established with Grange sanction, did business directly 
with rural dwellers over the heads of local dealers. As the sev- 
enties drew toward a close, this first great farmers' movement in 
American history entered on a decline. 

Meanwhile, an increasing number of agrarian leaders had 
turned to currency inflation as a remedy for their ills. Since the 
early days of the war, it will be recalled, business transactions 
had been carried on largely in debased greenbacks which the 
government declined to redeem at face value in gold. When 
peace came, the substantial business classes in the East demanded 
the withdrawal of this " cheap money," or at least of enough of 
it to establish conditions under which all forms of currency 

1 Though this law really involved an Illinois law of 1871 for regulating grain 
warehouses, the principle, of course, applied equally to railway regulation. Further 
reference to the Granger cases appears on page 277. 


would have full gold value. In 1866 Congress authorized its 
reduction by gradual stages, but this process had to be discon- 
tinued two years later, when the amount stood at $356,000,000, 
because of the outcry from the Midwestern agricultural regions. 
Many farmers saw in contraction the chief cause of the low 
price of crops. Moreover, since a large number of farms were 
heavily mortgaged, they felt intolerably handicapped if, before 
their debts fell due, the volume of currency diminished. With 
less money in circulation greenbacks became harder to get, or, 
to put it differently, their value increased. If paper dollars, 
borrowed when they were worth sixty-five cents in gold, were 
repaid in paper dollars worth ninety-five or one hundred cents 
in gold, the debtor was repaying in principal considerably more 
than he had received. Many members of the " debtor class " 
began to insist that the greenbacks be retained as a permanent 
part of the monetary system. 

During the Panic of 1873 the Secretary of the Treasury, as a 
temporary measure of relief, reissued some of the greenbacks 
that had been retired, to the extent of $26,000,000. The demand 
became more insistent and in 1874 Congress passed an inflation 
bill, designed to increase the total volume to $400,000,000. 
Though an act of his own party, President Grant courageously 
vetoed it. When the fall elections of 1874 assured the Democrats 
control of the next House, the Republicans made use of their 
remaining months to enact a plan for the renewal, or resump- 
tion, of specie payments. The resumption act of January 14, 1875, 
has been called, not inaptly, the " deathbed repentance of the 
Republican party." Far from radical, its provisions sought to 
appease both the greenback notions of the West and the gold- 
standard sentiment of the East. John Sherman was its chief 
author. It provided that from January i, 1879, the government 
should stand ready to exchange gold dollars for greenback dollars, 
and that meanwhile, in preparation for the event, the government 
should retire part of the greenbacks and, at the same time, ac- 
cumulate a gold reserve through the sale of bonds. The purpose 
of this reserve was to assure the full specie value of the green- 
backs remaining in circulation. The amount of gold was subse- 
quently fixed at $100,000,000, and Congress decided in 1878 
that $346,681,016 of greenbacks should form a permanent part 


of our money supply. The plan proved entirely feasible, for, as 
it happened, the time of its execution coincided with the return 
of prosperity. After the date of resumption the full value of 
the greenback in terms of gold was firmly established. 

Grant's veto of the inflation bill incensed the small group of 
extreme greenbackers in the country, and the passage of the 
resumption act added to their anger. These persons subscribed 
to the doctrine of " absolute money"; that is, they contended 
that money derived its value solely from the stamp (or fiat) of 
the government, not from its intrinsic value or the fact that it 
was exchangeable for gold or some other precious metal. Hopeless 
of winning support from either of the old parties, they organized 
the National Greenback party in May, 1875, which presented 
candidates in the next three presidential elections. Their 
platform demanded repeal of the resumption act, and the estab- 
lishment of a national legal-tender currency redeemable only in 
low-interest United States bonds. Though attaining some pop- 
ularity in the Midwest and in Eastern labor centers, and polling 
1,000,000 votes in the congressional elections of 1878, the party 
never cast an electoral vote. It gradually succumbed to the 
rising tide of sentiment in favor of unlimited silver coinage. 


Quite content with the resumption act, the mass of voters 
were thinking of other things as the campaign of 1876 drew near. 
Already in December, 1875, two thirds of the Republican mem- 
bers of the House had voted with the Democratic majority in 
condemning the principle of a third presidential term. While 
this rebuke checked Conkling's scheme to continue Grant in the 
White House, it also helped fix public attention anew upon the 
malodorous record of the party in power. What could the Repub- 
licans do to avert disaster in the election? Elaine, himself the 
chief contender for the nomination, pointed the way in January, 
1876, when he delivered in the House a violent bloody-shirt 
speech which goaded Southern members into passionate and 
ill-considered replies. The Republicans took prompt advantage 
of the opportunity to frighten voters with the spectacle of an 
unrepentant South about to ride into power on the back of the 
Democratic party* 


When the Republicans assembled in Cincinnati on June 14, 
Elaine was the favorite in the balloting, but he failed of success, 
thanks to opposition both from the reform elements and from 
Conkling who cherished an invincible personal dislike for him. 
Instead, the prize went on the seventh ballot to Rutherford B. 
Hayes, a Civil War veteran of irreproachable character, then 
serving a third term as governor of Ohio. W. A. Wheeler of New 
York was named for Vice-President. The platform bristled with 
bloody-shirt allusions and, as four years before, declared for 
tariff protection and civil-service reform. The Democrats, meet- 
ing two weeks later in St. Louis, chose as their candidate Gov- 
ernor Samuel J. Tilden, who, by reason of his success in destroy- 
ing the corrupt " Canal Ring" in New York politics, had won 
nation-wide renown as a reformer. The second place fell to 
Thomas A. Hendricks of Indiana. The paramount issue, declared 
the Democratic platform, was reform financial, tariff, civil- 
service and administrative a duty which could not safely be 
intrusted to a party " honey-combed with incapacity, waste, and 

In the ensuing campaign the Democrats strove valiantly to 
rivet attention upon the need for change while, to quote James 
Russell Lowell, a Hayes supporter, "the worst element of the 
Republican party has got hold of the canvass, and everything 
possible is done to stir up the old passions of the war." Repub- 
lican orators even asserted that the Democrats, if elected, would 
pay the Confederate war debt and compensate the former slave- 
holders. On the other hand, the hard times following 1873 aided 
Democratic efforts. On the morning after the election Tilden's 
victory was almost universally conceded by the newspapers, but 
the Republican national headquarters stoutly claimed Hayes's 
success. Within a few days it became clear that, with 185 elec- 
toral votes necessary for election, Tilden had unquestioned right 
to 184, including the usually decisive states of New York, New 
Jersey, Connecticut and Indiana, while Hayes in like manner had 
won 165. Twenty votes one from Oregon, seven from South 
Carolina, four from Florida and eight from Louisiana were in 

The difficulty in Oregon was of a technical character. One of 
the successful Republican electors was, after the election, found 


to be ineligible. The state law provided, in such case, that the 
remaining electors should fill the vacancy, but the Democratic 
governor insisted that the highest Democratic candidate for 
elector was entitled to the place. In the three Southern states the 
question was more complicated. There the native whites, engaged 
in a final desperate effort to dislodge the Carpetbaggers, had, 
in countless instances, resorted to intimidation and violence to 
keep Negroes from the polls. But the state election machinery, 
capped by the famous or infamous " returning boards," was 
controlled by the Carpetbaggers who from their seats of power 
could manipulate the election returns as they pleased. The worst 
conditions prevailed in Louisiana, where the four members of the 
returning board refused to add a Democratic member as required 
by law, offered at one stage to sell out to Tilden for $1,000,000, 
and ended up by rejecting Democratic votes in wholesale lots in 
order to create the desired majority for Hayes. They actually 
threw out 13,213 Tilden votes, leaving the Hayes electors a safe 
margin of 3437 or more. 1 

From each of the four states double sets of returns went to 
Congress. Unfortunately, the Constitution makes no adequate 
provision for such a contingency and, since the two branches 
were controlled by opposite parties, compromise proved neces- 
sary. Accordingly, a law was passed on January 29, 1877, to 
create a special electoral commission of five Senators, five Repre- 
sentatives and five Justices of the Supreme Court, the fifth 
Justice to be chosen by the four named in the statute. The 
commission's decisions on disputed returns should be binding 
upon Congress unless rejected by the two Houses voting sepa- 
rately. It was understood that seven members of the commission 
would be Republicans and seven Democrats, and it was expected 
that the unselected Justice would be David Davis, a political free 
lance. But Davis's unexpected election as United States Senator 

1 To give an appearance of fairness, they also rejected 2415 Republican votes. 
President Grant believed that Tilden was entitled to Louisiana and hence to elec- 
tion. James Ford Rhodes concludes his discussion of the situation by saying, "If 
Hayes had envisaged the facts as I now do he would have refused to accept the 
presidency from the Louisiana Returning-Board." History of the United States, 
VII, 236. But another historian, while conceding "grossly partisan and illegal 
acts," expresses the belief that "in an absolutely fair and free election the state 
would have gone Republican by five to ten thousand." P. L. Haworth, The Hayes- 
Tilden+Disputed Election of 1876, 116, 121. 


from Illinois caused the appointment of a third Republican 
Justice, Joseph P. Bradley, the most acceptable to the Democrats 
of the remaining members of the bench. 

The electoral commission sat throughout the month of Febru- 
ary. The time was drawing perilously near to inauguration day, 
tense excitement pervaded the country, and Grant strengthened 
the military forces about Washington. Bent on averting the 
possibility of another terrible civil war, forty-two ex-Confederates 
in the House took a solemn pledge to oppose all attempts to 
frustrate the electoral count. Meantime, the commission took 
cognizance, in turn, of the cases of Florida, Louisiana, Oregon and 
South Carolina. On all crucial points the decision favored the 
Hayes electors by a vote of eight to seven and, on March 2, 
Hayes was formally pronounced victorious with a majority of 
185 to 184. The disappointment of the Democrats is indescrib- 
able, but, with angry mutterings, they yielded grudging ac- 
quiescence. It is hardly too much to say that, in the peaceful 
acceptance of Hayes's election, the supremacy of the law won the 
greatest victory in the history of popular government. 


Public Morals and National Politics, 1869-1872. For all subjects treated 
in this chapter, valuable material can be found in the general works by 
Rhodes and Oberholtzer; in Nevins, The Emergence of Modern America; 
and in Dunning, Reconstruction, Political and Economic. Postwar financial 
reorganization is treated compactly in Dewey, Financial History of the United 
States. Tarbell, The Tariff in Our Times, emphasizes the political and social 
forces in tariff making; Stanwood, American Tariff Controversies in the Nine- 
teenth Century, is especially good for the legislative history of tariff measures; 
and Taussig, The Tariff History of the United States, gives a scholarly ac- 
count from the standpoint of an economist. Barclay, The Liberal Republican 
Movement in Missouri, and Ross, The Liberal Republican Movement, offer 
special studies of the revolt against Grantism. 

Economic Collapse and Political Shame. Excellent accounts of the 
Panic of 1873 appear in Burton, Financial Crises and Periods of Industrial 
and Commercial Depression, and Oberholtzer, Jay Cooke, Financier of the 
Civil War, II. The general works cited earlier deal fully with political cor- 
ruption. For a friendly view of Blaine's involvements, see James Gillespie 
Blaine by Edward Stanwood, a relative of Mrs. Blaine. 

The Granger Movement and the Money Question. The standard treat- 
ment of the Midwestern agrarian crusade is Buck, The Granger Movement. 
The political aspects of the Greenback movement are sketched in Buck, 
The Agrarian Crusade, and Haynes, Third Party Movements since the Civil 


War; the more technical aspects in Hepburn, A History of Currency in the 
United States; Barrett, The Greenbacks and Resumption of Specie Payments; 
and Mitchell, A History of the Greenbacks. 

The Disputed Election of 1876. The most thorough study is Haworth, 
The Hayes-Tilden Disputed Presidential Election of 1876. See also Bigelow, 
The Life of Samuel /. Tilden, and Williams, The Life of Rutherford Birchard 




E narrowness of the Republican victory In 1876 frightened 
JL the practical politicians, hitherto overconfident of their hold 
on public opinion, and gave a strategic advantage to those mem- 
bers who wished to purify the party. Each age has its own abuses 
that call for cure and, as might be expected, the reformers of 
the 1870*3 and i88o's were interested, above all else, in the honest, 
efficient and economical conduct of government. Alarmed by the 
ominous creaking of the governmental machinery as operated by 
unskilled or unscrupulous hands, they feared lest the theory of 
democracy be defeated by its practices. Their constructive pro- 
gram embraced civil-service reform, prompt punishment of 
delinquent officials and the abolition of campaign assessments on 
officeholders. Some of them labored also for tariff reform. Chief 
among their leaders were Carl Schurz, George W. Curtis, editor 
of Harper's Weekly, Edwin L. Godkin, editor of the Nation, and 
Dorman B. Eaton, a New York lawyer and publicist. If to a later 
generation they seem to have occupied themselves with symp- 
toms rather than with the disease itself, they at least attacked 
evils that challenged all civic decency. While most of the re- 
formers were Republicans by preference, they placed their pur- 
poses above party, assuming an attitude of independence when- 
ever occasion demanded. Their potential freedom from party 
restraints, their insistence that parties were merely instruments 
for the public good, not ends in themselves, enraged the pro- 
fessional politicians. But their example helped gradually to 
fashion a tradition of independent voting at a period when the 
fetish of party regularity was stronger than at any other time in 
American history. 

Though he gained office under dubious circumstances, Presi- 
dent Hayes earnestly sought to live up to the maxim, announced 
in his inaugural address, that "he serves his party best who serves 



his country best." A simple, dignified man, conscientious and 
hard working, but devoid of qualities of leadership, he gathered 
about him an unusually able group of advisers, including William 
M. Evarts of New York as Secretary of State and John Sherman 
of Ohio as head of the Treasury. To the horror of Conkling and 
the practical politicians who had surrounded Grant, Carl Schurz, 
civil-service reformer and an anti- Grant campaigner four years 
before, was made Secretary of the Interior, and a Tennessee 
Democrat and ex-Confederate veteran, David M. Key, became 
Postmaster-General. 1 They found equally unpalatable other of 
the President's early acts,, such as his refusal to lend further 
military support to the Carpetbag governments, and particularly 
his zeal for civil-service reform. Soon they began to refer to him 
as only a "halfbreed" Republican in contrast to their own " stal- 
wart" Republicanism. The names, Halfbreed and Stalwart, 
clung to the two wings of the party throughout this administra- 
tion and the next. 

President Hayes made a resolute effort to secure administra- 
tive efficiency and to weed out dishonesty. Though his repeated 
appeals to Congress to renew the civil-service appropriation, 
which had lapsed under Grant, came to naught, he did make 
progress upon his own authority in reducing the ravages of the 
spoils system. Schurz placed the Department of the Interior on 
a merit basis and, in the teeth of bitter opposition from the Stal- 
warts, Hayes applied the reform to the federal offices in New York 
City. Besides reappointing to the postmastership there T. L. 
James, an ardent civil-service champion, he dealt strongly with 
the situation in the New York customhouse, where an investigat- 
ing committee had reported incompetency and graft. Other 
measures failing, he ousted Chester A. Arthur and A. B. Cornell, 
respectively collector and naval officer. The Senate, incensed, 
declined for two months to confirm their successors. Hayes's 
devotion to the cause undoubtedly won popular favor for civil- 
service reform and helped hasten its final accomplishment. 

Though the President's worst enemies were in the house of 
his friends, the Democrats in Congress left no stone unturned 

1 The other members of the cabinet were: George W. McCrary of Iowa, Secretary 
of War; Richard W. Thompson of Indiana, Secretary of the Navy; and Charles 
Devens of Massachusetts, Attorney-General. 


to discredit him as "Old Eight-to-Seven " and the "de facto 
President." Their purpose was, by keeping the issue alive, to 
sweep the country in 1880 in a dramatic campaign of vindication. 
In May, 1878, the Democratic House directed the so-called 
Potter committee to investigate Hayes's title to his office. After 
examining over two hundred witnesses concerning conditions in 
Florida and Louisiana in 1876, the committee by a strict party 
vote decided that Tilden had been rightfully elected. The edge 
of the findings was dulled, however, by the enterprise of a Repub- 
lican Senate committee in unearthing a batch of cipher tele- 
grams that had been sent, or received, by Democratic leaders 
during the heat of the campaign. These, when decoded, revealed 
efforts to bribe the Florida and South Carolina returning boards. 
Thanks to someone's foresight, Republican telegrams sent at 
the same time could nowhere be found. Most of the Democrats 
implicated by the " cipher despatches" did not deny the essen- 
tial charges, justifying their course on the plea that they were 
merely trying to "ransom stolen property from thieves." Tilden 
himself was shown to be innocent of any complicity. It was 
clear that the garments of both parties were soiled, and the f 'po- 
litical crime" as a Democratic campaign issue was robbed in ad- 
vance of much of its effectiveness. 

The Democrats also bestirred themselves to bring about a 
repeal of the force acts, passed in 1870-1871 during the Ku Klux 
troubles and already enfeebled by Supreme Court decisions (see 
page 120). By holding up the army-appropriation bill the House 
in June, 1878, forced the Senate and President to accept a bill 
barring the use of troops at the polls. Despite the success of 
the Democrats in winning both Houses in the fall elections of 
1878, they could get no further. Hayes vetoed eight different 
attempts at rescinding other features of the acts. Though ren- 
dered harmless by disuse, these last vestiges of the old Recon- 
struction machinery survived until repealed by a Democratic 
Congress and President in 1894. 

The aggressive tactics of the opposition helped the Republicans, 
despite internal differences, to present a united front as the pres- 
idential election drew near. Tired of too much virtue, Conkling 
and his group reverted again to the notion of another four years 
for Grant, who had just returned from a spectacular tour round 


the globe. The anti-Grant forces, thoroughly alarmed, organ- 
ized No-Third-Term leagues, and even held a national Anti- 
Third-Term convention. Nevertheless, when the Republicans 
convened in Chicago on June 2, 1880, 306 of the 757 delegates 
voted doggedly for Grant throughout the balloting. They did 
succeed in preventing the choice of Elaine, who stood second, but 
the convention on the thirty-sixth ballot stampeded to a "dark 
horse," James A. Garfield of Ohio. An ex-soldier and moderate 
Halfbreed, Garfield had seen continuous service in Congress 
since 1863. As a peace offering to the " Grant Phalanx/' the 
second place was given to Arthur of New York, the recently 
dismissed customs collector. The platform blended self -laudation 
with disparagement of the Democrats, praised the protective 
system and, with evident reluctance, indorsed Hayes's civil- 
service policy. 

The Democrats were in a dilemma. Tilden was not available 
as a candidate because of ill health and the powerful opposition 
of Tammany Hall in his own state. Meeting at Cincinnati on 
June 22, the convention on the third ballot chose General Winfield 
S. Hancock, with W. H. English of Indiana as his running mate. 
Hancock's nomination was an attempt to refute the customary 
Republican charge of disloyalty and, at the same time, to cap- 
italize the popularity of a faithful war veteran. The platform, 
while demanding civil-service reform and a tariff for revenue 
only, urged the " great fraud of 1876-77 " as the issue that "pre- 
cedes and dwarfs every other." In the campaign, however, the 
"great fraud" excited little attention despite the fact that 
Garfield had served on the commission that seated Hayes. Nor 
did the efforts to discredit Garfield because of his connection 
with the Credit Mobilier and other scandals yield any greater 
success. The Republicans, on their part, made the most of their 
nominee's rise from a barefoot canal boy in Ohio, while scoffing 
at Hancock as "a good man weighing two hundred and forty 
pounds." 1 Hancock's chief campaign utterance was a repudia- 
tion of the Democratic tariff plank on the score that the tariff 
Was necessarily a "local issue." The return of prosperity for the 

1 Appropriately enough, Horatio Alger, past master of the art of portraying the 
"success" theme in thrilling boys' books, presently produced From Canal Boy to 
President, or the Boyhood and Manhood of James A* Garfield, 


first time since 1872 undoubtedly helped the Republicans. Gar- 
field won by an electoral majority of 214 to 155, though polling 
only 48.3 per cent of the popular vote to 48.23 for his opponent. 


The announcement of Garfield's cabinet reopened the Repub- 
lican breach which had closed during the campaign. The 
choice of Elaine as Secretary of State was regarded by Conkling 
as a personal affront, while the other cabinet selections were 
scarcely more to his liking. 1 Even in the case of appointments 
in Conkling's own state, Garfield went his own way, ignoring 
the practice of "senatorial courtesy'' which customarily bound 
Presidents to rubberstamp the recommendations of Senators of 
their own party. Conkling determined to make an issue of 
W. H. Robertson's nomination as New York customs collector. 
Not only was the office the most lucrative in the whole govern- 
ment service, but Robertson was a Halfbreed and a Elaine man. 
When it became clear that his efforts to prevent confirmation 
by the Senate would be of no avail, Conkling and his fellow 
Senator, T. C. Platt, resigned their seats, appealing to the New 
York legislature for reelection as vindication. To their mortifi- 
cation and the country's amusement both were defeated after 
fifty-six ballots. Conkling retired permanently to private life, 
"Me Too" Platt to temporary oblivion. Meanwhile James, 
the new Postmaster- General, uncovered a nest of corruption in 
the postal service, involving, among others, T. W. Brady, who 
since Grant's time had been an Assistant Postmaster-General, 
and ex-Senator S. W. Dorsey of Arkansas. Brady attempted 
to block the investigation by threatening the President with 
unpleasant consequences. Garfield remaining unmoved, he made 
public a letter known to fame as the "My dear Hubbell" 
letter in which Garfield as a presidential candidate had ap- 
proved the practice of levying campaign assessments on office- 
holders. The trials of the conspirators in the "Star Route' 7 
frauds, as they were called, dragged on until 1884, when, on 
technical grounds, the chief culprits managed to escape prison. 

1 William Windom of Minnesota, Secretary of the Treasury; Robert T. Lincoln 
of Illinois, Secretary of War; W. H. Hunt of Louisiana, Secretary of the Navy; 
Wayne McVeagh of Pennsylvania, Attorney-General; T. L. James of New York, 
Postmaster-General; and S. J. Kirkwood of Iowa, Secretary of the Interior. 


Some good resulted, however, for the ring was broken up, and 
public attention called anew to the need of better officials. 

While still struggling with questions of patronage, Garfield 
was shot by a disappointed officeseeker on July 2, 1881, four 
months after his inauguration. At the time the Vice-President 
was with Conkling and Platt at the New York capital, working 
for their reelection; and when Garfield after a gallant fight died 
on September 19, many people shared the dismay of the man 
who exclaimed, "Chet Arthur President of the United States I 
Good God!" Handsome, affable, debonair, the new President 
was best known to his countrymen as a machine politician. Yet 
the responsibilities of office revealed him in a new light. As 
chief executive he displayed unexpected firmness and sagacity 
and, to the surprise of his erstwhile associates, devoted himself 
earnestly to the task of reform. Arthur presently reconstituted 
the cabinet, appointing F. T. Frelinghuysen of New Jersey as 
Elaine's successor in the State Department. Only Secretary of 
War Lincoln, son of the martyred President, was permanently 
retained. 1 Otherwise, most of Garfield's appointees remained 
undisturbed, including Robertson whose selection as customs 
collector had prompted Conkling's resignation. Nor did Arthur's 
devotion to the cause of good government stop here. In 1882, 
when the Republican Congress voted $19,000,000 for river and 
harbor improvements in five hundred different localities, he 
rejected the bill as unwise and extravagant. This first of our 
modern " pork-barrel" measures had many friends in both par- 
ties, however, and his veto was quickly overridden. As we shall 
see, he also worked for tariff revision. 

Most surprising of all was his interest in civil-service reform. 
In messages of 1881 and 1882 he urged upon Congress suitable 
legislation. Fifteen years of discussion had created a robust 
public opinion on the subject, and the President's efforts were 
reenforced by the agitation of state and national civil-service- 
reform associations and by countless articles in the Nation, 
Harper's Weekly and elsewhere. Revelations of a Senate investi- 

1 The other new appointments were C. J. Folger of New York, Secretary of the 
Treasury; W. E. Chandler of New Hampshire, Secretary of the Navy; B. H. 
Brewster of Pennsylvania, Attorney-General; T. O. Howe of Wisconsin, Postmaster- 
General; and H. M. Teller of Colorado, Secretary of the Interior. 


gating committee, showing that the Republicans had collected 
nearly $100,000 from federal employees in the congressional 
elections of 1878, touched the public on the raw, as did likewise 
the knowledge, derived from the "My dear Hubbell" letter and 
other sources, that this practice had been repeated in 1880. 
Garfield's death at the hands of a thwarted spoilsman seemed an 
irrefutable answer to all objections to immediate action; yet the 
politicians in Congress continued to delay. 

In the fall elections of 1882 the Democrats carried the new 
House, as well as thirteen of the sixteen states in which governors 
were chosen. Though Republican factionalism helped bring 
about this result, the failure of the party to reform the public 
service was a prime contributing factor. In the important state of 
New York Grover Cleveland, a Democrat and ardent civil-service 
reformer, was elected governor by the unprecedented plurality 
of 192,000. The expiring Republican Congress resolved to enact 
the desired legislation, both in order to propitiate popular senti- 
ment and to protect Republican officeholders from the effects of 
the severer act which the incoming Democrats were almost cer- 
tain to favor. The result was the Pendleton act of January 16, 
1883, drafted by Donnan B. Eaton of the National Civil Service 
Reform League and introduced, as it happened, by Senator G. H. 
Pendleton, an Ohio Democrat. It provided for a bipartisan com- 
mission which should set up and administer a system of competi- 
tive examinations as a test of fitness for appointment to federal 
office. It further forbade government officials to solicit campaign 
contributions from other officeholders and protected the latter 
from removal for failure to pay. The new plan applied at once 
only to the executive departments in Washington, the custom- 
houses and the larger post offices (those employing fifty or more) ; 
and the President was given discretion to extend the " classified 
list," as it was called, to other groups of employees. 

The statute left much to be desired. The rules affected only 
future appointments and, at first, less than 14,000 positions, 
leaving nearly nine tenths of the total still subject to partisan 
politics. Nevertheless, the Pendleton act has rightly been termed 
"the Magna Charta of civil-service reform/' for, through the 
provision for enlarging the classified list, Arthur's successors 
extended the merit system until, at the present time, about 


three out of every four federal employees enjoy its protection. 
While idealism contributed to this progress, gross partisanship 
also played a part, for an outgoing administration oftentimes 
increased the classified list in order to protect its followers from 
dismissal by the victors. This practice gave coinage to the say- 
ing, "To the vanquished belong the spoils." On the whole, few 
backward steps have been taken, the most rapid advances being 
made under Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Taft and Wilson, 
Incidentally, the passage of the Pendleton act strengthened the 
hands of civil-service reformers in local politics, leading Massa- 
chusetts and New York within a year to introduce the system 
for state offices and encouraging many municipalities to try 
similar measures, 


The victory for good government, signalized by the Pendleton 
act, was followed in the campaign of 1884 by further evidence of 
popular revolt against low political standards. Arthur desired 
the Republican nomination, but his chances proved slight: 
he had lost his former Stalwart support without wholly con- 
vincing the Halfbreeds of the genuineness of his conversion. 
The convention, meeting in Chicago on June 3, chose the peren- 
nial aspirant, Elaine, on the fourth ballot, though against the 
bitter opposition of George W. Curtis and of younger delegates 
like Theodore Roosevelt and Henry Cabot Lodge. As his candi- 
dacy lacked the customary recommendation of war service, 
amends were made by completing the ticket with General John A. 
Logan of Illinois. To the reform wing of the party Elaine's 
nomination meant a negation of all the governmental progress 
that had been achieved since Grant left office. A conference of 
Independent Republicans denounced the convention's action 
and called upon the Democrats to offer men whom they could 
support. Convening in Chicago on July 8, the Democrats rose 
to the occasion, nominating Grover Cleveland on the second 
ballot. Hendricks of Indiana, Tilden's running mate in 1876, was 
given the second place in a feeble effort to resurrect the old 
" fraud" issue. 

Cleveland's nomination admirably met the requirements of 
the situation. With none of the qualities of the dashing political 


cavalier or the wiles of the professional intriguer, he had strongly 
impressed himself upon the people, not only of his state but of 
the nation at large. As mayor of Buffalo in 1881, he had shown 
what an incorruptible official could do to stem the tide of munic- 
ipal misrule, and later, in the governor's chair, he had displayed 
a similar aggressive devotion to the public weal. In appearance 
Cleveland was rather unimpressive, his cheeks clean-shaven when 
most statesmen affected beards . What he lacked in height he 
made up in bulk, weighing over two hundred and fifty pounds. 
"We love him most for the enemies he has made/ 3 said General 
E. S. Bragg in seconding his nomination. The Independents at 
a later meeting indorsed him as an exemplar "of political courage 
and honesty and of administrative reform/ 3 while stigmatizing 
Elaine as "a representative of men, methods, and conduct which 
the public conscience condemns." 

The platforms of the two parties presented no real points of 
difference. Both pledged tariff revision without injury to domes- 
tic industries, both applauded civil-service reform, and both 
dangled pension promises before the old soldiers. Accordingly, 
the contest turned upon the pervasive influence of party loyalty 
and the personal fitness of the candidates. The Democrats made 
the most of Cleveland's precept, "Public office is a public trust/ 3 
while the Republican bolters, contemptuously dubbed "Mug- 
wumps 33 by the regulars, and captained by men like Schurz, 
Curtis and Godkin, stumped the East and Midwest, urging pub- 
lic rectitude as the issue paramount to all others. To their as- 
sistance came additional Mulligan letters, giving fresh cogency 
to charges of Blame's illicit financial relations with privilege- 
seeking corporations. The force of the attack seemed likely to 
be nullified, however, when Cleveland, accused of being the father 
of a seven-year-old illegitimate son, frankly admitted the truth. 
At once clergymen throughout the North carried the "moral 
issue 33 into the pulpit. A middle-class people, deeply imbued 
with rigid notions of chastity, faced the bitter choice between a 
candidate of loose private morals and one of loose public morals. 

Meantime, the Republican candidate employed his magnificent 
oratorical powers for waving the bloody shirt, while his campaign 
managers made heroic efforts to wean Irish Catholic voters from 
their traditional Democratic allegiance, Elaine's mother being. 


of that faith. Though they gained the fiery support of the Irish 
World, American organ of the Irish Land League, the Democrats 
had the better of the argument when the Reverend S. D. Bur- 
chard, presiding at a New York ministers 7 gathering a few days 
before the election, introduced the Republican nominee as leader 
of the party opposed to "rum, Romanism and rebellion" a 
remark which Democratic newspapers promptly attributed to 
Elaine himself. The contest proved so close that three days 
passed before the outcome was definitely known. Cleveland 
received 219 electoral votes to 182 for Elaine, and 48.9 per cent 
of the popular vote to 48.3. The Democrats carried the usually 
doubtful states of New Jersey, Connecticut and Indiana by a 
few thousand each, and the pivotal state of New York by but 
1149 out of a total popular vote of over a million. Had Cleveland 
lost New York with its 36 electoral votes, or had he lost New 
Jersey and either of the other two states, Elaine would have won 
a majority in the electoral college and hence the presidency. 
Many factors helped tip the scale for Cleveland: the lukewarm- 
ness of the Stalwarts toward Elaine, the deflection of Republican 
votes into the Prohibition party, Burchard's injudicious remark, 
a temporary business depression, and the participation of many 
new voters grown to manhood since the war. But, in last analy- 
sis, the major credit belonged to the Mugwumps who wielded 
their greatest influence in those states where the Republicans 
could least afford losses. 

Cleveland's election, the first Democratic triumph since 
Buchanan, evidenced less the strength of his party than a popular 
rebuke to reactionary Republicanism. Indeed, countless voters 
who had confidence in the victorious candidate disliked and dis- 
trusted his heterogeneous following. For many years the Demo- 
crats, itching for power, had relied upon opportunism rather than 
principles. To Cleveland fell the choice as once it had to 
Jackson of letting the party continue undirected and adrift, or 
of seizing the helm and steering a bold course. The new President 
was happily situated to pursue the latter alternative. A new- 
comer in national affairs, he was not only unhampered by political 
entanglements, but his temperament rendered him impervious 
either to flattery or to threats. Possessing little advance knowl- 
edge of national problems, he gave them unremitting study, and 


his conclusions, once formed, became his inflexible chart of 
conduct. The key to his political thinking appeared in the state- 
ment in his inaugural address: "The people demand reform in the 
administration of the government and the application of business 
principles to public affairs." As this indicates, he, like the pro- 
gressive members of the Republican party, was interested mainly 
in questions of administrative efficiency, being largely indifferent 
to those profound influences which were already breeding labor 
unrest and class friction. The opportunity of the Democrats, 
either for good or ill, was seriously limited, however, for the 
Senate remained Republican throughout Cleveland's term. The 
new policies, therefore, did not take the form of statutes, but 
were embodied in presidential recommendations, executive orders 
and veto messages. 

Cleveland's cabinet, headed by Thomas F. Bayard of Delaware, 
compared favorably in ability with those of his Republican 
predecessors. The Solid South was recognized by the appoint- 
ment of Senators A. H. Garland of Arkansas and L. Q. C. Lamar 
of Mississippi respectively as Attorney- General and Secretary of 
the Interior. 1 In dealing with minor appointments the President's 
sincerity as a civil-service reformer was sorely tried. Old-time 
party spokesmen, like A. P. Gorman in the Senate and Samuel J. 
Randall in the House, openly flouted the " Goody Two-Shoes" 
reform, and even introduced bills to repeal or modify the Pendle- 
ton act. Almost alone in its advocacy in his party, Cleveland had 
to move cautiously to avert factional dissension which might 
defeat other policies he hoped to accomplish. In general, he 
stilled the " everlasting clatter for offices" with places from the 
unclassified service, while quietly applying the merit system to 
12,000 more positions and extending the competitive principle to 
include promotions as well as first appointments. If he failed to 
realize the lofty ideals of the reformers, he alone knew, as he 
wrote Eaton in 1885, "the conditions which bound and qualify 
every struggle for a radical improvement in the affairs of govern- 

a The other members were Daniel Manning of New York, Secretary of the 
Treasury; W. C. Whitney of New York, Secretary of the Navy; W. C. Endicott of 
Massachusetts, Secretary of War; and W. F. Vilas of Wisconsin, Postmaster- 


In his desire to apply efficient business standards to govern- 
mental operation, he made a determined effort to weed out laxness 
and fraud in the granting of pensions. One of the worst abuses 
was Congress's habit of passing special acts to satisfy individuals 
whose applications had been, or were likely to be, rejected by the 
pension bureau. After painstaking examination the President 
vetoed 233 such bills. One applicant, who alleged a long and 
faithful service," was shown to have spent most of his time in 
prison for desertion. Another claimant, a veteran's widow, sought 
recompense for her husband's death at the hands of a neighbor 
who was trying to shoot an owl. In 1887 Congress sought to 
rebuke Cleveland by passing a general measure, based upon the 
novel principle of granting pensions to any ex-soldiers of ninety 
days' service who found themselves unable to make a living. This 
he promptly rejected on the ground that its loose phraseology 
would make the pension list a refuge for impostors instead of a 
"roll of honor." Followed shortly by an executive order (later 
revoked) for returning the captured Confederate battle flags, the 
veto was hailed by the old-soldier element as proof of the un- 
patriotic character of the party in power. 1 Yet Cleveland signed 
many more private pension bills than he vetoed, and in his four 
years the annual appropriation for pensions grew from $56,000,- 
ooo to $81,000,000. His determination to keep expenditures 
within reasonable bounds was further evinced by his refusal to 
sign an extravagant river-and-harbors bill in 1887, and by his 
rejection of a measure, passed the next year, for refunding to the 
states the direct tax of 1861. In all his vetoes he was rebuking 
a House, controlled by his own party, as well as a Republican 


Cleveland's interest in "the application of business principles 
to public affairs" caused him to devote increasing attention to 
the tariff, a subject about which he knew little before entering 

1 "May God palsy the hand that wrote the order!" shouted the head of the 
chief veterans' organization, the Grand Army of the Republic. In a public address 
in 1887, Senator John Sherman termed the Democratic party "the left wing of the 
new Confederate army," It is worth noting that, when Congress ordered the re- 
turn of the battle flags in 1905, the act was looked upon as "graceful" instead of 


office. Since 1881 a surplus had been piling up in the treasury at 
the rate of more than $100,000,000 a year. This excess of revenue 
over normal expenditures meant that the people were paying 
needless taxes, and also that money desirable for business de- 
velopment was being kept out of circulation. At the same time, 
the brimming treasury tempted Congress to intemperate ex- 
penditures " surplus financiering," as it was called. Some of 
the money went toward diminishing the national debt, but more 
characteristic were pork-barrel measures, such as Arthur and 
Cleveland vetoed, and the lavish outlays for pensions. By keep- 
ing the surplus expended, the Republicans hoped to avoid reduc- 
ing the tariff rates of 1875, the mainspring of the difficulty; but 
a growing popular demand obliged President Arthur to urge ac- 
tion to relieve " industry and enterprise from the pressure of 
unnecessary taxation." In May, 1882, Congress, somewhat 
reluctantly, provided for a special commission which, after study- 
ing industrial needs, should propose a revision of the tariff " just 
to all interests." The nine members appointed were protection- 
ists by conviction, four of them, including the chairman, John L. 
Hayes of the National Association of Wool Manufacturers, 
being directly connected with great protected industries. Never- 
theless, the tariff commission ended its investigations by recom- 
mending reductions averaging from twenty to twenty-five per 
cent. At once lobbyists flooded the capital, among them Hayes 
himself who now, as spokesman for the wool manufacturers, set 
about to defeat the recommendations which he as the com- 
mission's chairman had accepted. J. S. Morrill and Nelson W. 
Aldrich in the Senate, joining with such men as William Me- 
Kinley of Ohio and "Pig-Iron" Kelley in the House, worked with 
equal zeal; and, as finally enacted, the tariff of 1883 left the pro- 
tective system virtually unchanged. While substantial cuts were 
made in internal-revenue duties, the reductions in import duties 
averaged less than five per cent, and these concerned manufac- 
tures little affected by foreign competition. 

The attitude of the Democrats toward the tariff had been 
wavering and ill defined since the Civil War. Indeed, prominent 
leaders of the party, like Randall of Pennsylvania who voted 
for the tariff of 1883, were ardent protectionists. Nor had the 
Democratic majority in the House from 1875 to 1881 passed any 


bill to lower duties. Nevertheless, a rising sentiment among 
party members from the agricultural West and South favored 
tariff reform, and in the new House, meeting in December, 1883, 
helped defeat Randall's candidacy for the speakership. Yet a bill, 
fathered by W. R, Morrison of Illinois early the next year, pro- 
posing a twenty-per-cent horizontal cut of most duties, failed of 
passage, thanks to a coalition of forty-one Randall Democrats 
with the Republican minority. Even the platform on which 
Cleveland entered office reflected the protectionist influence, 
with the result that the party was pledged to tariff revision that 
would not " injure any domestic industries." 

Cleveland was little given to abstract theories and at no 
time did he espouse that extreme form of doctrine known as 
"free trade." Confronted, however, by a large annual surplus rev- 
enue, he studied the problem assiduously and resolved to attack 
the evil at its source, a resolution stiffened by the continued 
success of the Randall Democrats in obstructing action. From a 
rather vague indorsement of tariff reduction in his message of 
1885, he grew more definite in 1886 and finally in December, 1887, 
defied all precedent and startled the country by devoting his 
entire annual message to the matter. Branding the tariff of 1883 
as "the vicious, inequitable and illogical source of unnecessary 
taxation," he declared that the surplus revenue would inevitably 
produce business stagnation. He charged the system of high 
protection with enhancing the cost of living for the masses in 
order to give " immense profits" to an exclusive manufacturing 
class. As a remedy, he proposed "a readjustment" to eliminate 
the "hardships and dangers" of the present tariff without, 
however, " imperiling the existence of our manufacturing inter- 
ests." He excluded theoretical considerations as irrelevant, for, 
he added in a phrase quick to catch the public ear, "It is a 
condition which confronts us, not a theory." Cleveland's thunder- 
clap cleared the air. The Mills bill, incorporating bis ideas, 
passed the House in July, 1888, with only four Democrats oppos- 
ing. Since the Senate was Republican, further action awaited 
the outcome of the presidential election. 

Cleveland had already been renominated by the Democrats 
at their St. Louis convention the month before, with A. G. 
Thurman of Ohio as his running mate. The platform devoted 


most space to commending his tariff program. The Republicans 
lacked an outstanding man, for Elaine declined to allow his name 
to be considered. Meeting in Chicago on June 19, they finally 
gave the nomination on the eighth ballot to ex-Senator Benjamin 
Harrison of Indiana, a war veteran, strong protectionist and 
grandson of William Henry Harrison. Levi P. Morton of New 
York was associated with him. The platform resounded with 
praise of the " American system of protection/ 7 besides promising 
additional pensions from "an overflowing treasury/ 7 and declar- 
ing that the surplus should be wiped out by repealing internal- 
revenue taxes. The campaign was the first in American history 
to turn mainly on the tariff. Though the Democrats advocated 
merely lower duties, not a tariff for revenue only, Republican 
spellbinders shouted from every stump that their opponents 
were "free traders/' while the Philadelphia merchant, John 
Wanamaker, who had had wide experience in raising money for 
the Y. M. C. A., appealed to the protected manufacturers for 
financial aid. "If you were confronted with from one to three 
years of general depression by a change in our revenue and 
protective methods/ 7 he asked them, "what would you pay to 
be insured for a better year? " Funds rolled in with unprecedented 

Neither party, however, forgot the influence of the Irish vote 
in the election of 1884, and both platforms feelingly, though 
prematurely, congratulated the Irish Americans upon the ap- 
proach of "home rule }? in the Emerald Isle. This time the ad- 
vantage lay with the Republicans, for Democratic tariff reform 
might be represented as a surrender to British manufacturing 
interests. A campaign poster displayed the names of the Demo- 
cratic candidates under the British flag and the Republican 
ticket under the Stars and Stripes, with the statement, falsely 
ascribed to the London Times: "The only time England can 
use an Irishman is when he emigrates to America and votes for 
free trade. 77 * Next to the tariff, Cleveland's pension vetoes came 
in for unrestrained attack. Moreover, he received but half- 

1 In pursuance of the same purpose, the British Minister at Washington was 
tricked into writing a letter to a supposed former fellow countryman, in which he 
implied that Cleveland would be the better President for England. This corre- 
spondence was given wide publicity by the Republicans. 


hearted backing from the professional politicians in his own 
party, and in New York there is reason to believe that Tam- 
many Hall threw its support to his opponent. In the election 
Harrison, carrying the large states by small pluralities, secured 
an electoral majority of 233 to 168, though in the popular vote 
Cleveland was the favorite, polling nearly 48.7 per cent to 47.8 
for his rival. The buying of votes by Republicans in Indiana, 
Connecticut, West Virginia and certain other close states had 
been so bold and widespread as to make the campaign of 1888 
probably the most corrupt in American history. An important 
incidental result was the great impetus given the adoption of 
the so-called Australian ballot system, which required secret 
voting and the use of uniform, official ballots. Beginning early 
in the year with Kentucky and Massachusetts, all but four states 
of the Union adopted the reform, completely or partially, within 
3, decade. 

Harrison's chief claim to distinction before taking office had 
consisted in long and faithful service to his party. As President 
he shrank from leadership and, though gentle by nature, his 
cold manner tended to repel even his political friends, and 
gave point to the saying, " Harrison sweats ice-water. " From 
the outset he leaned heavily upon men high up in the Repub- 
lican organization: Elaine, who had helped bring about his 
nomination; Speaker Thomas B. Reed of Maine, whose iron rule 
of the new House won him the nickname of "Czar"; and, for a 
time, large-state bosses like Senators Platt of New York and 
"Matt" Quay of Pennsylvania. Harrison made Elaine head 
of his cabinet, and rewarded Wanamaker with the office of 
Postmaster-General. 1 In dispensing patronage he permitted the 
spoilsmen to have almost unobstructed sway in the unclassified 
service. J. S. Clarkson of Iowa, Assistant Postmaster- General, 
fairly won the title of "headsman" by changing thirty thousand 
officials in a single year before he was himself beheaded. Like 
Grant, Harrison gave many jobs to relatives by blood or mar- 
riage. On the other hand, after waiting two years, he extended 

1 TLe other members were William Windom of Minnesota, Secretary of the 
Treasury; Redfield Proctor of Vermont, Secretary of War; W. H. H. Miller of 
Indiana, Attorney-General; B. F. Tracy of New York, Secretary of the Navy; 
J. W. Noble of Missouri, Secretary of the Interior; and J. M. Rusk of Wisconsin, 
Secretary of Agriculture (a cabinet office created in 1889). 


the merit system to new classes of offices. His greatest service 
to the cause, however, was his appointment to the civil-service 
commission of Theodore Roosevelt, whose aggressive champion- 
ship of the reform made his name a source ol real terror to 
politicians in both parties during his six-year tenure. 

Congress, now Republican in both branches, quickly set about 
to cope with the problem of excessive revenue. The platform 
allusion to the " overflowing treasury " was not forgotten, and 
James ("Corporal") Tanner of New York, upon becoming head 
of the pension bureau, is reputed to have cried, " God help the 
surplus revenue!" At any rate, in the six months he was allowed 
to remain, he recruited new claimants, reopened cases formerly 
rejected, and increased allowances already granted. In June, 
1890, the general pension bill, which Cleveland had vetoed, was 
repassed by Congress. During Harrison's term the annual out- 
lay for pensions rose from $81,000,000 to $135,000,000. Congress 
in 1891 did away with $15,000,000 more of the surplus by re- 
passing the bill to refund the direct tax to the states, which 
Cleveland had also rejected. Increased appropriations for the 
navy account for other expenditures. 

The Republican leaders knew full well that such methods 
dealt with effects rather than causes, but they were resolved 
not to reduce the tariff unless they could do so without reducing 
protection. Under the guidance of William McKinley, head of 
the House ways-and-means committee, a solution was found. 
A son and grandson of iron manufacturers, McKinley had long 
made high protection an object of almost religious veneration. 
As he read the lesson of the country's growth, "We lead all 
nations in agriculture, we lead all nations in mining, and we 
lead all nations in manufacturing. These are the trophies which 
we bring after twenty-nine years of a protective tariff. Can 
any other system furnish such evidences of prosperity?" He 
also believed the customs wall to be the chief bulwark of steady 
employment and high wages. Though the new tariff of 1890 lifted 
the general level of duties from thirty-eight per cent to nearly 
fifty, yet, through ingenious arrangements, a smaller financial 
yield resulted. Thus, removal of the duty on raw sugar lopped 
off $50,000,000 from the surplus revenue, while a compensatory 
bounty of two cents a pound to domestic sugar growers accounted 


for $10,000,000 more. In other cases, such as cotton and woolen 
textiles and metal products, the rates were fixed so high as virtu- 
ally to exclude foreign importations. A further cut in the surplus 
came from lowering the internal taxes on tobacco and alcohol. 

In other respects as well the McKinley tariff was unique. 
Duties on farm products were substantially advanced in the 
hope of spreading the benefits of protection to the agriculturist 
in addition to the manufacturer. A second novel feature, that of 
reciprocity, was introduced at the urgency of Elaine, who charged 
that the bill as originally drafted disregarded the interests of 
our growing export trade, and particularly the possibilities of 
commerce with Latin America. As a result, certain articles 
commonly imported from Latin-American countries, such as 
molasses, tea, coffee and hides, were placed on the free list, with 
the proviso that the President might impose duties on them in 
the case of any nation which levied " unjust or unreasonable' 7 
duties on American products. The generally high rates pre- 
scribed by the new tariff were quickly reflected in retail prices, 
causing widespread dissatisfaction. The fall elections of 1890^ 
coming about a month after the act went into effect, inflicted a 
stinging defeat on the Republicans, McKinley himself failing to 
regain his seat. In the new House the Democrats lacked but a 
few votes of a three-fourths majority. Though this popular re- 
buke came as a surprise, the law met the expectations of its 
framers in drying up the source of superabundant revenue. The 
provisions for revenue reduction, together with Congress's lavish 
expenditures, rapidly wiped out the surplus, and in Harrison's 
last months a deficit appeared. 


The new Democratic House, standing alone, could not hope 
to alter the tariff situation, but it passed a succession of " pop- 
gun" bills, designed to fasten public attention on the worst 
spots in the McKinley act as the election of 1892 approached. 
Under the circumstances Cleveland, who had been quietly prac- 
ticing law in New York City since his retirement, inevitably 
became the Democratic candidate, though he was stubbornly 
opposed by the professional politicians, especially those con- 
nected with Tammany in his own state. After naming him on 


the first ballot, the convention, meeting in Chicago on June 21, 
added A. E. Stevenson of Illinois to the ticket. The platform, as 
presented to the convention, reiterated the pledge of 1888 for 
tariff reduction without injury to "any domestic industries"; 
but the radical wing induced the delegates to substitute a decla- 
ration that any tariff, except for revenue only, was unconstitu- 
tional. Though Harrison's renomination was regarded without 
enthusiasm by the Republicans, the party, hardly daring to 
repudiate a President of their own choosing, selected him on the 
first vote at Minneapolis on June 7, along with the New York 
editor, Whitelaw Reid. On the foremost question of the day the 
platform contained a ringing reaffirmation of the " American 
doctrine of protection. 7 ' 

As four years before, the storm center of campaign oratory 
was the tariff. Cleveland quietly disposed of the extreme utter- 
ance in the Democratic platform by declaring in his speech of 
acceptance, "We need not base our attack upon questions of 
constitutional permission." Once more the Republicans col- 
lected the sinews of war from the great industrialists, but a 
violent labor outbreak at the Carnegie steel works in Homestead, 
Pennsylvania (see page 208), helped turn public opinion against 
the party. The trouble stemmed from wage reductions and, 
since steel manufacturing enjoyed an unusual measure of pro- 
tection, the vaunted connection between high pay and a high 
tariff seemed disproved. Cleveland won a decisive victory, 
polling 277 votes in the electoral college to 145 for Harrison, 
and forty-six per cent of the popular vote as compared with less 
than forty-three. The remaining 22 electoral votes went to a 
third candidate, James B. Weaver of Iowa, nominee of the 
People's party. The spectacular rise of this party denoted the 
emergence of factors and forces with which the old parties had 
failed to reckon. The story of the Populists, however, can be 
better understood in connection with the later discussion of the 
rising demand for silver inflation (see pages 261-265). 

Cleveland returned to the White House, heartened by the 
people's indorsement of tariff reform and their confidence in his 
own unflinching integrity. At last the way seemed clear for the 
party to enact its policies into law since, for the first time in 
nearly a third of a century, the Democrats controlled Congress 


and the presidency. Appearances, however, proved deceptive. 
Cleveland's second term in office was cut across by currents and 
countercurrents in American political and social life business 
stagnation, labor conflict, agrarian unrest (see pages 263-265). 
These events roused all the President's fighting qualities; but 
what had formerly been termed sturdiness of character now some- 
times appeared to be mere stubbornness, while to many his 
independence of public opinion seemed indifference to the public 
welfare. Time, however, has softened such judgments, and has 
revealed him, in spite of his limitations, as an honest, fearless 
and patriotic executive. 

In express recognition of the low-tariff elements in the Repub- 
lican and Democratic parties, Cleveland made W. Q. Gresham 
of Illinois Secretary of State and John G. Carlisle of Kentucky 
head of the Treasury. 1 As in his first administration, he appeased 
the hunger for spoils with offices not yet in the classified list, 
but during the four years he more than doubled the number of 
positions under the merit system, bringing their total to about 
82,000 out of 2oo,ooo-odd in the public service. Work on a new 
tariff bill began at a special session of Congress in August, 1893, 
under the leadership of W. L. Wilson of West Virginia, chairman 
of the ways-and-means committee. In striking contrast to the 
object of the McKinley act, the committee's purpose was to 
increase the revenue and decrease protection. The Wilson bill, 
adopted by the House in December, embodied certain principles 
which, broadly speaking, have guided later Democratic efforts 
at tariff revision. Basic raw materials used in manufacturing 
and construction wool, sugar, lumber, iron ore and the like 
were placed on the free list. As this enabled industrialists to 
lessen costs of production, protective duties on manufactures 
were generally reduced. In order to offset losses in revenue, new 
internal duties were placed on domestic liquors, tobacco and other 
luxuries and, for the first time since Civil War days, an income 
tax was adopted. This last provision a two-per-cent levy on 
incomes above $4000 was the price the Democrats paid for 

1 The other members were D. S. Lament of New York, Secretary of War; Richard 
Olney of Massachusetts, Attorney-General; W. S. Bissell of New York, Postmaster- 
General; H. A. Herbert of Alabama, Secretary of the Navy; Hoke Smith of Georgia, 
Secretary of the Interior; and J. S. Morton of Nebraska, Secretary of Agriculture. 
On Gresham's death in June, 1895, Olney became Secretary of State. 


Populist support of the bill, and was championed as a means 
of shifting the tax burden to those best able to pay. 

Once more lobbyists swooped down upon Washington, deter- 
mined to undo in the Senate the mischief wrought by the House. 
Their path was eased by the willingness of Democratic members 
from the industrial sections to join the Republicans in seeking 
rates beneficial to their own states. The truth of Hancock's 
apothegm that the tariff is a " local issue" again found illustra- 
tion. Outright corruption may also have played a part. Sen- 
ator Quay, among others, admitted to an investigating committee 
that he had speculated in sugar stock for a rise when the sugar 
schedule was under consideration. "I do not feel that there is 
anything in my connection with the Senate," he asserted, "to 
interfere with my buying or selling the stock when I please; 
and I propose to do so." Under Senator Gorman's guidance 
634 amendments were attached to the House bill, altering it not 
only in detail but also in principle. The most important articles, 
including sugar, were taken from the free list, and protective 
duties generally advanced. Only the income tax and the internal- 
revenue duties remained without material change. After stub- 
born opposition by the House, the Gorman version was finally 
accepted; and in August, 1894, the President, bitterly assailing 
the Senate's action as "party perfidy and party dishonor," 
allowed the measure to become a law without his signature. 
The Wilson-Gorman act lowered the general scale of duties to 
about forty per cent. Another blow was yet to fall. In 1895 the 
Supreme Court by a vote of five to four held the income-tax 
provision unconstitutional, thereby reversing an earlier decision 
in 1880. The majority decided a tax on incomes was a "direct" 
tax and thus subject to the constitutional limitation of being 
apportioned among the states according to population. 1 

This series of mishaps, along with the hard times lasting 
from the Panic of 1893, helped discredit the Wilson-Gorman act 
with the public. While the tariff was only a minor issue in the 
next election, President McKinley when he entered office in 

1 In Pollock v. Farmers' Loan and Trust Company. All later income taxation 
by the federal government had to await the adoption of the Sixteenth Amendment 
in 1913 because, of course, distribution of population is no index of the relative con- 
centration of wealth. 


March, 1897, summoned Congress in special session to revise 
the tariff according to the Republican pattern. The outcome 
was the Dingley act of 1897, a thoroughgoing protective measure 
which raised the customs wall to the highest point it had yet 
reached, an average of fifty-seven per cent. The principle of 
reciprocity, abandoned by the Democrats, was restored, though 
in so complicated a form as to be virtually unworkable. After a 
decade of almost ceaseless controversy victory thus rested with 
the ultraprotectionists. The remarkable prosperity which shortly 
burst upon the country was hailed by the Republicans as vindi- 
cating their most extravagant claims for the protective system. 
For ten years the tariff disappeared as a. public question. 


Old Issues and New Attitudes, 1877-1897. Useful surveys, emphasizing 
party strife and political development, may be found in Dewey, National 
Problems; Peck, Twenty Years of the Republic, iSS^-igo^; Rhodes, History 
of the United States, VIII; and Oberholtzer, History of the United States since 
the Civil War, IV. 

Republicans and Reform, 1877-1881. Some of the main actors are por- 
trayed in Williams, The Life of Rutherford Birchard Hayes; Smith, The Life 
and Letters of James Abram Garfield; Fuess, Carl Schurz; Ogden, Life and 
Letters of Edwin Lawrence Godkin; and Gary, George William Curtis. Ostro- 
gorski, Democracy and the Party System, gives a connected account of the 
Independent movement. 

Sealing the Doom of the Spoils System. On this subject the best works 
are Fish, The Civil Service and the Patronage, and Stewart, The National 
Civil Service Reform League. 

The Emergence of Grover Cleveland. McElroy, Grover Cleveland, should 
be supplemented by Nevins, Grover Cleveland, and Thomas, The Return of 
the Democratic Party to Power in 1884. The pension system is clarified by 
Glasson, Federal Military Pensions in the United States, and Oliver, History 
of Civil War Pensions. 

The Surplus Revenue and the Tariff Question. For the evolution of tariff 
legislation and the triumph of protection, see the works by Taussig, Stan- 
wood and Tarbell referred to at the end of Chapter VIII; Barnes, John G. 
Carlisle; and Olcott, The Life of William McKinley. On Reed's ascendancy 
in the House, consult Follett, The Speaker of the House of Representatives, 
and Robinson, Thomas B. Reed: Parliamentarian. 



A 5 the tariff wall rose higher and higher, manufacturers 
benefited increasingly from the cutting off of foreign com- 
petition, and fresh capital poured into mills and mines. Mean- 
time the expanding network of rails, together with high-pressure 
advertising, facilitated conquest of the consuming public. To 
meet the waxing domestic demand as well as the growing export 
trade, business leaders turned more and more to quantity methods 
of production. Industry conducted with limited capital on a 
small scale in a restricted area began to give way to operation 
with unstinted capital on a large scale for far-flung markets. 
Whether in manufacturing or transportation, the drift set 
strongly toward the merging of smaller into larger units with a 
consequent reduction of competition and a corresponding con- 
centration of control. By the iSSo's organization on a nation- 
wide basis became a distinguishing feature of the economic world. 
Large-scale operation rendered possible improved processes and 
great savings: better machinery, more efficient management, 
quantity purchases of supplies, decreased costs of competitive 
salesmanship, more effective resistance to the demands of em- 
ployees. Such a plant could also make profitable use of wastes 
and by-products that smaller concerns had to discard. As 
"Mr. Dooley" (F. P. Dunne) with humorous license said of one 
* f the mammoth Chicago packing houses, "A cow goes lowin' 
iftlv in to Armours an' comes out glue, gelatine, fertylizer, 
SHf5Toid, joolry, sofy cushions, hair restorer, washin' sody, soap, 
Blirachoor an' bed springs so quick that while aft she's still cow, 
Forward she may be anything fr'm buttons to pannyma hats." 1 

1 Actually, the by-products include glue, gelatine, fertilizer, soap, leather, felt, 
knife handles, combs, buttons, brushes, pepsin, albumen, oils, oleomargarine, 
candles, glycerine, isinglass, lard, tennis strings, hair pins, umbrella handles, dice, 
perfume-bottle caps and artificial teeth. 


EMBATTLED INDUSTRY, 1865-1900 193 

With such advantages captains of industry could satisfy the 
clamor of investors for bigger returns and, in the long run, meet 
the public's demand for cheaper prices. 

In order to command the financial support needful for huge 
undertakings, corporate organization replaced individual owner- 
ship and the partnership, forms commonly employed before the 
Economic Revolution revealed the new possibilities. Through 
the sale of stock a wide reservoir of capital could be tapped. 
Besides the expectation of unusual profits, the investor was 
attracted by the fact that he was liable only to the extent of his 
stock in case of business failure, a salient consideration in spec- 
ulative enterprises; in a partnership each member could be held 
for the firm's full indebtedness. The corporation enjoyed the 
further advantage of being able to plan its activities without 
reference to the lifetime of particular individuals. Moreover, if 
it wished to hide excessive profits from the public, it could " wa- 
ter " its stock, that is, present additional shares to its stockholders 
and so disguise the rate of dividend. Thus, a corporation earning 
twelve per cent might, by doubling the stock held by each in- 
dividual, cut the nominal rate of return to six per cent without 
denying each stockholder his full profits. In such case the board 
of directors could, with a specious show of sincerity, combat the 
demands both of consumers for lower prices and of wage-earners 
for better pay. Watering was also a regular practice of unprin- 
cipled financiers who seized the opportunity to sell stock to 
gullible investors without warning them of its diminished value. 
One expert estimated in 1883 that more than a quarter of the 
railroad capitalization represented water. 

The actual process of absorption 'and consolidation was di- 
rected by business geniuses who, because of their daring, creative 
energy and relentless driving power, embodied many of the 
mythical elements of folk heroes. By common consent they were 
termed " steel kings/' "coal barons/ 7 " railway magnates/' 
" Napoleons of finance." Foremost among them were Cornelius 
and W. H. Vanderbilt, J. Edgar Thomson, Jay Gould, James J. 
Hill and E. H. Harriman in railroad organization; John D. Rocke- 
feller, H. H. Rogers and H. M. Flagler in the oil industry; 
Andrew Carnegie, H. C. Frick and Charles M. Schwab in steel; 
P. D. Armour, Nelson Morris and G. F. Swift in meat packing; 


and Jay Cooke and J. P. Morgan in the financial field. Sprung 
from obscure origins, unhindered by moral scruples, they were 
fired by a passionate will to power. Some were builders with far- 
reaching plans; others were wreckers with no plans at all. The 
story of their activities is a singular blend of the heroic and 
splendid with the sordid and sinister. 

For the most part, they were free to carry out their schemes 
without let or hindrance from the government, for the American 
people traditionally held to the gospel of individualism or laissez 
faire, that is, the right of citizens to be let alone in their economic 
pursuits. Yet the captains of the new order proclaimed the doc- 
trine with tongue in cheek: while they opposed governmental 
intervention to their detriment, they constantly advocated in- 
terference with the free play of economic forces through tariffs, 
subsidies and the gift of natural resources. The popular belief in 
individualism was an inheritance from pioneer days when the 
doors of opportunity swung wide for all; only gradually did the 
public come to realize that, under modem conditions, unbridled 
freedom for the few threatened economic servitude for the many. 
The philosophy of the new leadership was a primitive one. It may 
be summed up in the phrase, " everyone for himself/' or, in the 
terse expression attributed to W. H. Vanderbilt, "The public be 
damned!" "Law!" roared Cornelius the father, founder of the 
family fortune. "What do I care about the law? Hain't I got the 
power?' 7 Yet, with all their cynicism, the best of these men were 
spurred by the conviction that they were laying the foundations 
of a new America, that the accumulation of colossal wealth by a 
select class would indirectly benefit all ranks of society. 


Though occasional mergers of railroads had earlier taken place, 
the close of the Civil War ushered in the era of rapid and exten- 
sive amalgamation. Cornelius Vanderbilt was one of the first to 
vision the possibilities. Already past middle age, the possessor of 
riches amassed in steamboat trafifrc, he sold his vessels in 1865 
in order to give his whole attention to developing a uniform rail 
route from the Atlantic Seaboard to the heart of the Midwest. 
Starting with a line joining New York City with Albany, he 
acquired the New York Central in 1867, making possible con- 

EMBATTLED INDUSTRY, 1865-1900 195 

tinuous traffic from New York to Buffalo. In 1873 he extended 
the road to Chicago by leasing the Lake Shore and Michigan 
Southern. When he embarked on his railway career, Vanderbilt's 
wealth amounted to about $10,000,000; when he died twelve years 
later at eighty-three, he left $104,000,000, the first great modern 
fortune. Much of it came from unscrupulous manipulation of 
railway stocks and from methods of competition akin to the 
ethics of the jungle. Meanwhile the Pennsylvania Railroad, under 
J. Edgar Thomson's leadership, outgrew its line from Philadel- 
phia to Pittsburgh, gaining entry to Chicago and St. Louis in 
1869 and establishing connections with New York City. Its 
business methods, however, formed a welcome contrast to Vander- 
bilt's. By 1875 three other trunk lines had been completed be- 
tween the Atlantic and Lake Michigan: the Erie, the Baltimore 
and Ohio, and the Grand Trunk. Similar mergers took place in 
the Mississippi Valley. Three through lines linked Chicago and 
St. Louis by 1870, and others were later established. 

It is doubtful whether enough business existed as yet to support 
all these railways. At any rate, the rival companies engaged in 
furious strife for traffic between major shipping points. Certain 
practices resulted that harmed both the companies and the public. 
Thus in 1869, and again in the years from 1874 to 1876, the trunk 
lines between Chicago and the seaboard waged relentless rate 
wars. A standard freight charge of $1.88 per hundred pounds in 
1868 was slashed to twenty-five cents in 1869; sometimes the 
rates did not pay the expense of operating the trains. Such 
contests proved too costly to the railroads, however, to continue 
long at a time. Another scheme was to charge higher rates be- 
tween some places than between others. Intent on taking busi- 
ness from their rivals, the companies held down freight charges 
between cities having several rail connections, while exacting 
excessive rates between points on their roads served by but a 
single line. As a result, it cost less to ship goods from Chicago 
to New York than to places a few hundred miles east of Chi- 
cago. The "long-and-short-haul" device aroused public indig- 
nation, especially among rural inhabitants who were the chief 
sufferers, but the practice enabled the roads to offset losses 
elsewhere. Equally objectionable was the discrimination against 
small shippers in the form of secret rebates to dealers in the 


same city doing a larger freight business. When, as sometimes 
happened, railroads themselves conducted other businesses, such 
as coal mining, they had a special incentive to employ unfair 
methods against independent producers who might compete with 

To escape the evils of cutthroat competition, railroad managers 
from time to time tried various schemes of joint action. Rate 
agreements were entered into for the establishment of uniform 
charges, only to break down sooner or later for want of mutual 
confidence. Pooling, a somewhat similar device, proved more 
successful By this plan the rival companies divided the freight 
business according to some prearranged ratio, or placed the total 
earnings in a common fund for like distribution. The first notable 
pool, that formed in 1870 by the roads connecting Chicago and 
Omaha the Northwestern, the Rock Island and the Burlington 
lasted fourteen years. Each line retained about half its earn- 
ings on the through traffic, leaving the balance to be shared 
equally among them. Meanwhile, railroads elsewhere made 
similar arrangements, their duration determined usually by the 
willingness of erstwhile competitors to trust one another. 

Popular resentment at railroad practices deepened as the years 
rolled by. While the movement for state regulation, signalized by 
the Granger laws (see page 162), had a good effect, the transporta- 
tion problem was, by its very nature, interstate or national in 
character, calling for action by Congress. As early as 1874 a 
Senate committee, headed by William Windom of Minnesota, 
proposed that the government build and operate a double-track 
freight line from the seaboard to the Mississippi as a means of 
keeping down charges of private companies. In 1874 and 1878 
the House, under Western pressure, passed bills for the federal 
regulation of railroads, and in 1885 both Houses acted, though 
without being able to agree on a common measure. Final action 
was hastened by a decision of the Supreme Court which, reversing 
its earlier view, forbade individual states to fix rates on shipments 
passing beyond their borders. 1 In effect, the Wabash decision, 
announced in 1886, held that the ever increasing volume of 

1 Wabash, St. Louis and Pacific Railway Company v. Illinois. At this time about 
three fourths of the country's rail traffic was interstate in character. For the earlier 
decision referred to, see page 163. 

EMBATTLED INDUSTRY, 1865-1900 197 

interstate traffic could be regulated only by the federal govern- 

The upshot was the interstate-commerce act which Cleveland 
signed on February 4, 1887. It forbade excessive charges, pools, 
rebates and the long-and-short-haul discrimination, and provided 
for an interstate-commerce commission of five to guard against 
violations. This body, however, could not fix traffic rates or 
enforce its own decisions. If a railroad refused obedience, the 
commission must bring suit in a federal court. The law, being 
based upon the interstate-commerce clause, did not apply to 
traffic wholly within a single state. This first experiment in the 
national supervision of transportation proved a disappointment 
in many respects. In cases of appeal the Supreme Court was 
more apt to uphold the companies than the commission. More- 
over, repeated decisions restricted the commission's powers within 
the narrowest bounds. The railways, for the most part, were able 
to continue their evil ways, though they were obliged to pay 
greater regard to external appearances than before. For example, 
since pooling was banned, the companies attained much the same 
result through traffic associations, which regulated rates and 
punished disobedient members. When the Supreme Court in 
1897 by a vote of five to four held that traffic associations were 
illegal, a new consolidating movement began, which fruited in the 
combination of many hitherto independent lines. 1 

By 1900 great railway systems had come into being, designed 
to control all roads in a particular section of the country. More 
than half the nation's trackage belonged to six major financial 
groups, the Vanderbilt, Morgan, Harriman and Pennsylvania 
interests owning approximately 20,000 miles each, the Gould 
group 16,000 and the Hill interests 5000. Yet the act of 1887 was 
not without benefit. It paved the way for a better understanding 
of the railway problem, while the right of national regulation, at 
first disputed, was thoroughly established in principle, and a 
somewhat better adjustment of transportation charges secured. 
Moreover, official machinery now existed for railway control, 
machinery which Congress might strengthen and enlarge when- 
ever public opinion should demand. 

1 In this case, involving the Trans-Missouri Freight Association, the court held 
that the association contravened the Sherman antitrust act of 1890 (see page 200). 



The movement for the consolidation of manufacturing paral- 
leled that of railroad combination. Following the Civil War, 
industrial establishments, unhindered by legal barriers, waxed 
rapidly in size and, like the rail companies, waged desperate war 
with their competitors in the effort to absorb or destroy them. 
This stage in turn gave way to widespread attempts by the bigger 
concerns to stabilize particular industries through price agree- 
ments, pools and other devices for restricting output and boosting 
prices. Finally, with public opinion at full tilt against Big Busi- 
ness, both states and nation intervened with restraining laws. 
The unifying trend, while stronger in some branches than others, 
left untouched few industries of basic importance. 

As one of the earliest and strongest industrial combinations, 
the career of the Standard Oil Company illustrates the process of 
concentration in other fields. In 1865 John D. Rockefeller, then 
a young man of twenty-six, was the guiding spirit in a commission 
house in Cleveland, Ohio, a concern capitalized at $100,000. 
Joining hands with powerful capitalists there and in New York, 
he enlarged his operations, absorbed rival establishments and, in 
1870, organized the million-dollar Standard Oil Company of 
Ohio, which controlled four per cent of all oil refined in the United 
States. Now began a career of conquest that was Napoleonic in 
its boldness, scope and execution. By 1872 the Standard owned 
twenty of the twenty-five independent plants in Cleveland. In 
the ensuing three years Rockefeller and his associates acquired the 
biggest refineries in New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore. The 
Standard next obtained control of the refining business of western 
Pennsylvania. Thus, within a decade, ninety per cent of all the 
refineries in the land had passed into its hands. 

Many elements, good and evil, made possible this brilliant 
campaign. Not least was the remarkable group of men who 
gathered about Rockefeller Flagler, Rogers, J. D. Archbold 
and others, who strained every nerve to plan, plot and fight for 
the Standard, and exacted an equal devotion from their sub- 
ordinates. Another factor was the superior efficiency attained 
through large-scale operation. The Standard not only set up 
factories to make its own barrels and produce its own acids, but it 

EMBATTLED INDUSTRY, 1865-1900 199 

acquired tank cars and great underground mains, or pipe lines, 
for the transportation of crude oil. It also created selling agencies, 
and, instead of paying large storage charges, erected storage tanks 
at strategic points. In addition to its main product, kerosene or 
coal oil, it utilized and popularized many by-products, such as 
lubricating oils, gasoline, paraffin and vaseline. Its success was 
further assured by unfair methods of competition, ranging all the 
way from secret rebates (which it enjoyed for thirty years or 
more) to bribery and blackmail of public officials. In 1872 the 
Standard, joining certain Pittsburgh refining companies in the 
so-called South Improvement Company, induced the railroads to 
agree to grant them secret rebates not only on their own oil but 
also on their competitors' shipments. The conspiracy was dis- 
covered before the arrangement went into effect and, in the face 
of a mighty popular wrath, all parties to the agreement disowned 
it. Before the public exposure, however, agents of the Standard 
used its existence as a club to force the sale of rival refineries. 
The Standard's favorite method of crushing competitors was 
through ruinous price-cutting campaigns, followed by proportion- 
ate increases once the object was attained. 

By 1882 the Rockefeller group owned fourteen companies 
outright, besides a majority interest in twenty-six others. Price 
agreements and pooling arrangements had helped secure har- 
mony of operation in earlier years, but now, with so extensive a 
control, the Standard undertook a novel form of organization, 
the trust. It was an old device fitted to new conditions. Adopted 
in 1879 an d revised in 1882, the plan provided for a federation of 
the several companies under nine trustees to whom was confided 
all the stock of the individual companies and who thus exercised 
centralized direction. The original holders, in return for their 
stock, received " trust certificates," which entitled them to their 
proportionate share of the earnings of the whole. So successful 
did the scheme prove in securing unity of management that it 
prompted the organization of trusts in other fields, notably the 
American Cottonseed Oil Trust, the National Linseed Oil Trust, 
the National Lead Trust, the Distillers' and Cattle Feeders' 
Trust (popularly termed the whisky trust), the Sugar Refineries 
Company and the National Cordage Association, all formed be- 
tween 1884 and 1887. 


Meanwhile, the popular outcry against Big Business was 
reaching a climax. The benefits to the public from the improved 
quality and generally lower prices of commodities were obscured 
by the evil practices of strangling competition, corrupting legis- 
latures, extorting excessive profits, watering stock and opposing 
labor welfare. The idea of monopolies had always been abhorrent 
to the American mind. Now, under the reign of laissezfaire, not 
only the comforts but the very necessities of life "from meat 
to tombstones/ 7 declared Henry Demarest Lloyd were drifting 
into the maw of "soulless corporations." In 1884 an Anti- 
Monopoly party appeared in the national campaign, though with 
little success. Four years later the platforms of the major parties, 
recognizing for the first time the presence of the new industrial 
problem, joined in condemning trusts and combinations. As it 
happened, however, the first steps toward curbing them were 
taken by the states. In 1889 and 1890 fifteen commonwealths, 
mostly in the West and South, passed measures to ban conspir- 
acies or agreements in restraint of free competition. Before the 
movement spent its force, all but New Jersey, Delaware and 
West Virginia acted. Unfortunately, remissness on the part of 
some states proved fatal because a corporation chartered in one 
of them might trade unmolested across state lines. In order to 
shut off this means of escape, Congress on July 2, 1890, adopted 
a national prohibitory law known as the Sherman antitrust act. 
It declared illegal every " contract, combination in the form of 
trust or otherwise, or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or com- 
merce among the several States, or with foreign nations." 

Passed in response to an imperious popular demand, the 
statute was drafted in such haste that the meaning of its appar- 
ently simple and direct language was, for many years, the sub- 
ject of impassioned controversy. Should the words be taken 
literally, it followed that nearly every large business enterprise 
was illegal since, by its superior efficiency, it tended to be in 
restraint of competitive trade. If this were the true meaning, 
then the law aimed to prevent the benefits of large-scale opera- 
tion as well as its evils, and all industrial combinations were 
equally at fault. But it was contended by others that, inasmuch 
as the terms used in the statute had been employed since ancient 
times in the common law, they had acquired a technical meaning 


different from their everyday usage. If this were so, acts in 
restraint of trade, when reasonable and fair, were not intended 
to be affected. 1 Other obscurities lurked in the statute. Were 
railway combinations forbidden as well as other kinds? Were 
labor organizations prohibited along with capitalistic combina- 
tions? These and similar questions had to be decided eventually 
by the Supreme Court. 

The antitrust law, in its commonly accepted meaning, was too 
dangerous a weapon for the innocent to be used freely against 
the guilty. Largely for this reason the government made little 
effort to enforce it in the first ten years or so after its enactment. 
Furthermore, the Supreme Court, as in the case of the interstate- 
commerce law, took a conservative stand, usually construing the 
act as narrowly as possible. In reality, the last decade of the 
century beheld the formation of more industrial combinations 
than in the entire preceding period. Between 1860 and 1890 
twenty-four had been organized with a total nominal capital of 
$436,000,000, but in the next ten years 157 came into being with 
a total nominal capital of $3,150,000,000. The years 1898-1901 
were particularly prolific, ushering in an era of superconsolida- 
tion signalized by the formation of the United States Steel 
Corporation (1901), the first billion-dollar combination. 

The special type of organization known technically as the 
trust was, however, a thing of the past, thanks to a decision by 
a New York court in 1890 against a unit of the Sugar Refineries 
Company and another by the Ohio supreme court two years 
later against the Standard Oil Trust. 2 But the word itself con- 
tinued, in popular parlance, to denote any form of Big Business 
that in size approached a monopoly. In deference to the law the 
great capitalistic organizations now assumed a different legal 
framework. Some changed into single huge corporations. Others 
took the form of holding companies, organized to secure control 
of corporations in the same branch of industry through the pur- 

1 This view was eventually adopted by the Supreme Court in 1911 in the case of 
the Standard Oil Company . United States (see page 338) . The contrary view was 
upheld by Mr. Justice Harlan's separate opinion in the same case. 

2 The New York decision held that the combination partook of the nature of a 
partnership of corporations and hence violated the common law. In the Ohio case, 
the decision rested explicitly on the contention that the object was to form a 


chase of a majority of their stock. To many people the holding 
company seemed but the old trust doing business under a dif- 
ferent name and with better legal protection. Indeed, changes in 
legal structure had no perceptible effect on efficiency of opera- 
tion or the size of earnings. As a trust from 1882 to 1891 the 
Standard, for example, never made less than $8,000,000 a year; 
under a system of interlocking directorates from 1892 to 1896 
the individual companies totaled from $19,000,000 to $34,000,000; 
and as a holding company the annual profits from 1899 to 1905 
ranged from $34,000,000 to $57,000,000. 

The centripetal trend in manufacturing and transportation 
was symptomatic of a similar movement in almost every other 
sphere of economic activity. As the century drew to a close, the 
telephone, telegraph and express businesses gravitated into the 
hands of a few corporations. The Amalgamated Copper Com- 
pany, formed in 1899, controlled sixty per cent of all the copper 
produced in the land; and a few years later the United States 
Steel Corporation controlled about seventy per cent of the iron 
and steel production. In the field of banking and finance the 
Morgan and Rockefeller groups by 1900 dominated to such an 
extent that it was virtually impossible to launch any large 
business undertaking without the aid of one or the other. Thus 
the country was confronted with the spectacle of combinations 
and monopolies on nearly every hand. Thoughtful people were 
beginning to wonder how long democratic institutions could 
withstand the strain. 


If the public at large awoke only slowly to a realization of 
peril, the wage-earners had long since taken up the gage of battle 
with the new economic overlords. As industry changed over 
to large-scale methods and impersonal corporate control, the rift 
between those who worked for pay and those who paid for work 
steadily widened. More and more, workingmen lost the sense 
of being self-respecting craftsmen or masters of their own tiny 
shops, and became mere tenders of machines, their conditions of 
toil dictated by managers representing absentee owners. When 
stockholders clamored for bigger dividends or employers engaged 
in price-cutting competition, the laborers' pay was the first to 

EMBATTLED INDUSTRY, 1865-1900 203 

suffer. The workday, which in many branches had been cut to 
ten hours during the short-lived labor movement of the i83o's ? 
tended to grow longer rather than shorter, the employees toiling 
in gloomy, ill- ventilated structures amidst dangerous unguarded 
machinery. The rapacious demand for cheap labor drew in- 
creasing numbers of women and children into the mills and 
factories, while the plight of native workingmen was further 
aggravated by the hordes of immigrant laborers who contended 
with them for jobs. 

Meanwhile, the number of wage-earners advanced with seven- 
league boots, marking the first appearance of a genuine prole- 
tarian class in American history. In 1860 only about one and a 
third million were employed in factories, mines and rail trans- 
portation; thirty years later the total reached four and a quarter 
million, a rate of growth far exceeding that of the population 
in general. An aggrieved class in the United States usually 
turns to political action for relief from wrongs, but for the wage- 
earners the prospect was not encouraging in an era when gov- 
ernment and people were enchained by the doctrine of laissez 
faire. If some optimistic souls did from time to time try to 
launch labor parties, the shrewder labor leaders, mindful of the 
successes attained by capital through organized economic effort, 
devoted their energies to promoting similar combinations among 
the toilers. The factory system packed workingmen densely in 
cities where, mingling with their fellows and exchanging ideas, 
they responded readily to appeals to unite against the enemy. 

War-time prosperity had caused a rebirth of the earlier abor- 
tive labor movement, resulting in the formation of local unions 
in many occupations, the setting up of city trade assemblies 
for the safeguarding of common interests, and the advent of 
ten or more national unions. In the flush years that followed 
until the Panic of 1873 the labor forces continued to grow in 
power. A promising attempt was even made, under the leader- 
ship of W. H. Sylvis of the Iron Holders' Union, to federate the 
various organized groups, together with certain reform bodies, 
into a single country-wide association called the National Labor 
Union. This organization, dating from 1866, advocated the 
eight-hour day, arbitration as a substitute for strikes, and, with 
particular emphasis, cooperative shops in which the workers 


should supply the capital and share the profits. Such cooperative 
experiments as were tried, however, including the iron foundries 
conducted by Sylvis's own union, failed either from mismanage- 
ment or unfair competition. The National Labor Union held 
seven annual congresses, the last one for the purpose of launching 
a labor party. But internal dissension rent the organization, and 
the crash of 1873 administered the finishing blow. 

In the somber years that ensued, the labor movement reached 
a low ebb, most of the local and national groups dissolving or 
maintaining a bare existence. One of the survivors, however, 
furnished the nucleus for a second and more successful effort to 
combine the varied forces of labor on a nation-wide scale. 
Founded in 1869 at Philadelphia by Uriah S. Stephens and 
six other garment cutters, the Noble Order of the Knights of 
Labor differed from the National Labor Union in its insistence 
that all workers, skilled and unskilled, organized and unorganized, 
should band together in one comprehensive partnership without 
distinctions of trade or vocation. Otherwise its objects were 
much the same to champion the eight-hour day, advocate 
arbitration, promote cooperation, abolish child labor and seek 
other industrial reforms. For ten years it grew but slowly. To 
protect members from persecution by employers, complete secrecy 
cloaked its doings, even the order's name being withheld from 
the public. With the return of prosperity in 1879 and the open 
use of the order's name two years later, the membership shot 
upward until in 1886 it reached 700,000, drawn chiefly from the 
ranks of unskilled labor. A fund to assist cooperative under- 
takings, established in 1882, helped launch 135 stores and fac- 
tories, most of them in the mining, cooperage and shoe industries 
where wages were exceptionally low. These enterprises failed 
after a time for the usual reasons and, meanwhile, the sudden 
expansion of membership drew into the order many socialists, 
radicals and other jangling elements. In spite of their avowed 
attachment to arbitration, the Knights became embroiled in an 
increasing number of strikes, boycotts and other disturbances. 
The disastrous failure of some important railway strikes in 1886 
cast further discredit on the order, precipitating it into a decline 
as rapid as its rise. 

Another reason for its collapse was the advent of a rival labor 

EMBATTLED INDUSTRY, 1865-1900 205 

group based upon a wholly different principle of organization. 
Initiated in 1881 by disgruntled members of the Knights of 
Labor, this body adopted its present name, the American Fed- 
eration of Labor, when it reorganized on a broader basis in 1886. 
Discarding the idea of " one big union/' the American Federation, 
like the BritisK Trades Union Congress upon which it was mod- 
eled, was (and is) a confederation of self-governing labor bodies, 
supervised by a central board of officials. Not only national 
unions but also city trade assemblies, state federations of labor 
and local unions lacking national affiliations were eligible to 
membership. Thus the new organization made due allowance 
for the special interests of particular labor groups, and pro- 
tected skilled workers from inundation by the unskilled. The 
central officials confined their activities to strengthening and 
extending the union movement, acting in an advisory capacity 
during industrial conflicts, and agitating for labor legislation. 
Apart from cooperative undertakings, the Federation sought 
many of the same objects as the Knights, including the eight-hour 
day, legislative prohibition of child labor and the improvement 
of working conditions in factories and mines. 

From the outset the dominant figure in the new body was 
Samuel Gompers, born of Jewish parentage in a London tenement. 
As a member of the Cigarmakers' Union in New York, he had 
breathed into it a militant spirit which enabled it to issue from 
the depression years stronger than when it entered. President 
of the American Federation almost continuously until his death 
in 1924, he stamped it with his vigorous personality, being ever 
distrustful of intellectuals and theorists and firm against all 
efforts to commit it either to a socialist program or to the experi- 
ment of a labor party. The membership of the affiliated bodies 
grew from 150,000 in 1886 to 200,000 in 1890 and to 550,000 in 
1900. One important element of the labor movement, the four 
Railway Brotherhoods (engineers, conductors, firemen and brake- 
men), held aloof, however, feeling that, because of their strategic 
position in American economic life, they had everything to lose 
and nothing to gain from casting in their lot with the others. 
Moreover, the Federation, thanks to its peculiar structure, ex- 
cluded from membership the great bulk of unorganized and 
unskilled workers, perhaps ninety per cent of the whole. Its 


strength and opportunity lay in serving as the spearhead of a 
compactly welded minority. 


With the ranks of both labor and capital mobilized for defense 
and aggression, the stage was set for a trial of strength between 
the opposing forces. The antagonism usually turned on ques- 
tions of wages, the length of the workday or the right of em- 
ployees to organize, but behind such specific issues lay a funda- 
mental difference in point of view. Labor asserted its inalienable 
right to have a voice in determining working conditions, to 
share more amply in the profits of industry, to raise its standard 
of living through better homes and more leisure. In short, labor's 
spokesmen insisted that the lot of the toilers keep pace with 
the increase of the wealth they helped create. Employers, on 
the other hand, viewed labor as but one of many factors in in- 
dustry, its rate of pay to be governed by the "iron law" of sup- 
ply and demand, not by humanitarian considerations or notions 
of fancied right. Indeed, the role of the wage-earner seemed to 
them of small moment as compared with the indispensable part 
played by financial resources, machinery, managerial ability and 
business enterprise. 

With two such irreconcilable attitudes, protracted industrial 
warfare was inevitable, particularly in view of what Cleveland 
told Congress were the " grasping and heedless exactions 'of 
employers." Yet neither side was wholly blameless in these en- 
counters, for, in varying degrees, both were actuated by irrespon- 
sibility, greed and criminality. 1 Nor did either party envisage 
such contests as other than purely private affairs, of no concern 
to the public. It was many years before the American people 
came to realize that, whichever combatant won a strike, the com- 
munity was the loser, thanks to business paralysis, enhanced 
prices and the added costs of police protection and of charity. 
The first great struggle stemmed from a series of wage reduc- 
tions on the Pennsylvania, New York Central and Baltimore 
& Ohio lines during the lean years after the panic. In the latter 

1 The extreme of labor lawlessness is illustrated by the Molly Maguires, a secret 
organization of Pennsylvania anthracite miners, whose career of terrorism and 
assassination was finally ended in 1876 by the punishment of the ringleaders. 

EMBATTLED INDUSTRY, 1865-1900 207 

half of July, 1877, rioting and lawlessness convulsed rail centers 
all the way from Baltimore to St. Louis and San Francisco. At 
Pittsburgh the contest resembled a pitched battle. State guards- 
men in the neighborhood, called to arms, fraternized with the 
men. When militia from Philadelphia killed nearly twenty 
strikers, a raging mob besieged the soldiers for twelve hours in a 
roundhouse. Order was finally restored by patrols of citizens. 
Meantime, about 1600 cars, 126 locomotives and most of the 
railway shops and supplies had been destroyed, a loss estimated 
at $5,000,000. Yet here as elsewhere the strike failed. 

If the return of prosperity in 1879 did not lessen the tension 
between capital and labor, strikers generally found it easier to 
win their demands, for in boom times industrialists could offset 
added costs by raising prices. According to statistics compiled 
by the federal bureau of labor, nearly 24,000 strikes and lockouts 
of all kinds took place in the score of years from 1881 to 1900, 
involving about 128,000 establishments and over 6,600,000 wage- 
earners, at a total loss to employers and employees of $450,000,000 
and an incalculable cost to the public at large. The business 
recession of 1884-1885 yielded a startling harvest of industrial 
conflicts strikes, sympathetic strikes, lockouts, nation-wide 
boycotts causing the years 1885-1886 to be called the "Great 
Upheaval." Twice as many disturbances occurred as in any 
previous two-year period. Three involved the Gould railway 
system in the Southwest. The first, in March, 1885, resulted 
in the restoration of a ten-per-cent wage cut. Six months later 
a second strike, caused by discrimination against workers belong- 
ing to the Knights of Labor, also terminated triumphantly for 
the men. But the third and greatest of the disorders ended in 
their utter rout. Started as a protest against the discharge of a 
foreman affiliated with the Knights, the conflagration raged 
during March and April, 1886, in all parts of the Gould domain, 
throwing nearly 9000 employees out of work in five states and 
territories. The same year signalized a country-wide movement 
for an eight-hour day, a demand given special point by the need 
of work for the jobless. Sponsored by the American Federation 
of Labor, trade unions representing 340,000 men took part in it. 
Before May i, the date set for a general strike, 150,000 wage- 
earners secured a shorter day (eight or nine hours) without 


a demonstration, whereas of those who actually struck but 42,- 
ooo won their point. In many cases, the gains were presently 
lost through the aggressive activities of employers' associations 
formed for the express purpose of fighting labor's claims. Yet 
the conception of an eight-hour day excited wide popular interest, 
and the public gradually came to accept it as a just demand. 

The next historic strike took place in July, 1892, among 
employees of the Carnegie Steel Company at Homestead, Penn- 
sylvania, confronted with wage reductions and refusal to recog- 
nize the union. The arrival of 300 armed Pinkerton detectives, 
hired to guard the plant, precipitated a fierce battle, resulting 
in ten deaths and the injury of over sixty. Reenforced by 8000 
militia, the company gradually resumed operations with non- 
union men. The strike dragged to a close in November, and the 
unions lost their grip on the steel industry. Meanwhile, far to 
the west, successive wage cuts due to the falling price of silver 
ore goaded the miners of the Cceur d'Alene district in Idaho to 
bloody measures. To combat strike breakers imported by the 
management, they seized the property and harried the " scabs" 
out of the district. But, at the governor's request, President 
Harrison sent in troops, martial law was declared, and the 
strike failed. This affair, however, proved the forerunner of 
intermittent disorders that ravaged Cceur d'Alene for years. 

The widespread unemployment and distress bred by the Panic 
of 1893 plunged the labor world into another series of struggles 
which, because of their destructive character, made thoughtful 
men fear for the stability of the social order. The number of 
wage-earners involved in strikes during 1894 reached nearly 
750,000, surpassing the mark set in 1886. The gravest disturb- 
ance took place in Chicago as the outgrowth of a drastic wage 
cut by the Pullman Palace Car Company. The employees 7 
cause was promptly championed by the American Railway Union, 
a new organization formed by Eugene V. Debs in the hope of 
combining all rail workers in a single body. After demanding 
vainly that the company submit the dispute to arbitration, the 
American Railway Union ordered its 150,000 members to cease 
handling Pullman cars on all roads. In the last week of June the 
strike spread to twenty-three lines, affecting traffic operations in 
twenty-seven states and territories. The vortex of the storm, 


however, was Chicago. There, until the United States govern- 
ment took a hand, the principal antagonists were the General 
Managers 7 Association, representing the rail companies, and the 
American Railway Union. Lawless mobs and gangs of hoboes 
and criminals, always present on such occasions, terrorized the 
community, burning, looting and killing. The damages, direct 
and indirect, inflicted on the property and business of the 
country were later estimated at $80,000,000. 

Despite Governor J. P. Altgeld's refusal to ask for federal 
troops, President Cleveland boldly intervened. On July 2, the 
government secured a " blanket" injunction from the federal 
circuit court, which forbade Debs, his fellow strike leaders and 
"all other persons whomsoever" to interfere in any manner, 
direct or indirect, with the operation of the railways. The next 
day 2000 soldiers were dispatched to Chicago. Cleveland found 
warrant for his unprecedented course in the constitutional ob- 
ligation to safeguard the mails, protect interstate commerce and 
uphold the processes of the federal courts. On July 10 Debs 
was arrested on the charge of conspiracy in restraint of trade 
under the Sherman antitrust act. Released on bail, he was 
rearrested a week later on a new charge, contempt of court, that 
is, violation of the judicial injunction of July 2. The govern- 
ment's vigorous action broke the back of the strike, causing its 
complete collapse a few weeks later. 

Other than as a great labor insurrection, the strike of 1894 
is epochal because of the new legal conceptions and practices 
which issued from it. The employment of United States troops 
without consent of the state authorities marked a novel and 
impressive development of national authority. The application 
of the Sherman antitrust act to labor combinations later up- 
held by the courts threw unexpected light on that law. Per- 
haps most significant of all was the part played by the judiciary 
in using the injunction as a weapon in industrial warfare. Though 
this was not the first time it had so been used, the sweeping 
character of the injunction in the Pullman strike caused pro- 
found concern among the friends of labor. It was denounced as 
" judicial tyranny" unjust because it seemed to range the 
might of the government on the side of the employers, illegal 
because those violating the court order were sentenced without 


trial by jury and subjected to penalties not prescribed by statute. 
Opposition to " government by injunction" became a cardinal 
issue of the American Federation of Labor, resulting finally in 
action by Congress under President Wilson intended to restrict 
its operation (see page 347). 

The tumult and lawlessness attending this thirty years' war 
should not be aUowed to divert attention from the constructive 
forces which, quietly but surely, were breeding saner relations 
between labor and capital. As trade unions grew in strength and 
improved in leadership, they were slower to resort to methods of 
coercion and violence. Amidst the " confused alarms of struggle 
and flight" they slowly learned lessons of self-control and respon- 
sible action in the economic sphere, not unlike the lessons in 
political self-government which the early colonists had learned 
through the town meeting and the provincial assembly. En- 
lightened employers, on their part, betrayed a greater readiness 
to meet their demands. Gradually, the practice developed in the 
better organized industries of settling differences through joint 
conferences instead of the ordeal by battle, the arrangements 
being embodied in so-called trade agreements. If such adjust- 
ment proved impossible, the alternative still remained of peaceful 
arbitration by disinterested parties. 

At the same time, the gains won through trade-union methods 
were paralleled by an increasing departure by legislatures from a 
rigorous laissez faire attitude. Such concessions, though falling 
far short of the thoroughgoing statutes in Great Britain and 
Germany during these same years, attested the ever greater 
effectiveness of the lobbying activities of labor groups. Before 
1879 various states had adopted legislation for shortening the 
workday, but for one reason or another these acts failed of their 
purpose, being unenforced or unenforceable. 1 In that year, 
however, Massachusetts set an example for other commonwealths 
by making genuinely effective her earlier ten-hour law in regard 
to children and women in factories. Other industrial states 
followed, and the evil of child labor declined a third during the 
eighties, only to thrive again in the next decade as cotton mills 

1 In 1868 Congress took an advanced stand by specifying an eight-hour day for 
workmen employed by the federal government, but for nearly twenty years the 
law was ineffectively administered when not wholly ignored. 

EMBATTLED INDUSTRY, 1865-1900 211 

thickened in Dixie. During the eighties, too, acts began to be 
passed for guarding dangerous machinery, assuring better san- 
itary conditions in factories, and providing for government 

The ominous proportions of the Great Upheaval elicited, in 

1886, the first presidential message devoted solely to the labor 
problem. Tacitly recognizing the right of employees to organize, 
Cleveland proposed a national commission to assist in settling 
industrial controversies of an interstate character. Congress 
responded in 1888 with a law for arbitrating differences between 
interstate railways and their employees on condition that both 
parties should consent and neither be bound by the outcome. 
Not until ten years later did the Erdman act specify that, once a 
dispute was submitted to arbitration, the decision should be final. 
Meantime, fifteen states had enacted legislation for voluntary ar- 
bitration and nonenforceable decisions in cases falling within their 
jurisdictions. Not only these but many other measures for labor 
welfare left much to be desired, while even adequate laws were 
seldom adequately enforced. Least progress of all greeted the 
efforts to secure a shorter workday for men through legislation. 
When such acts were adopted, the courts invariably held them 
unconstitutional, save in especially hazardous employments, on 
the ground that they interfered with the individual's freedom 
of contract. 


The Trend toward Big Business. The methods and ideals of the new over- 
lords of business may be glimpsed in biographical treatments, notably 
Hendrick, The Life of Andrew Carnegie; Allen, Rockefeller; Harvey, Henry 
Clay Frick; Pyle, The Life of James J. Hill; Tarbell, The Life of Elbert E. 
Gary; Hovey, The Life Story of J. P. Morgan; Kennan, E. H. Harriman; 
and Burr, The Portrait of a Banker: James Stillman. A less favorable view 
is presented in Myers, History of the Great American Fortunes. 

Railroad Consolidation. Informing chapters may be found in Sparks, 
National Development, and Dewey, National Problems. Riegel, Story of the 
Western Railways, and Moody, The Railroad Builders, sketch the history of 
leading roads. For the legislative background of the interstate-commerce 
act, Haney, A Congressional History of Railways in the United States, 1850- 

1887, is important. Technical aspects are emphasized in Jones, Principles 
of Railway Transportation; Ripley, Railroads: Rates and Regulation; and 
Daggett, Railroad Reorganization. See also references at the end of Chap- 
ter VII. 


Concentration in Manufacturing. Hendrick, The Age of Big Business, and 
Moody, The Masters of Capital, offer excellent popular accounts. Moody, 
The Truth about the Trusts, is a statistical survey of capitalized industry 
and finance as it existed at the apex of the consolidation movement. For 
particular industries, see Tarbell, The History of the Standard Oil Company; 
Berglund, The United States Steel Corporation; Jones, The Anthracite Coal 
Combination in the United States; Mussey, Combination in the Mining In- 
dustry; Kuhlman, Development of the Flour Milling Industry in the United 
States; Copeland, The Cotton Manufacturing Industry in the United States; 
Clemen, The American Livestock and Meat Industry; and Thornton, The 
History of the Quaker Oats Company. 

The Rise of Organized Labor. The fullest treatment of labor develop- 
ment and industrial conflict is Commons and others, History of Labour in the 
United States. Less detailed and briefer in compass are Perlman, A History 
of Trade Unionism in the United States; Orth, The Armies of Labor; Beard, 
A Short History of the American Labor Movement; and Ware, The Labor 
Movement in the United States, 1860-1895. For varied aspects, valuable in- 
formation can be gleaned from Adamic, Dynamite: The Story of Class Vio- 
lence in America; Cahill, Shorter Hours: A Study of the Movement since the 
Civil War; Browne, Altgeld of Illinois; and Berman, Labor Disputes and the 
President of the United States. Among the important special studies of 
organized groups are Lorwin, The American Federation of Labor, and Rob- 
bins, Railway Conductors: A Study in Organized Labor. 



^ f^HE rank and file of organized labor were wage-conscious, 
JL not class-conscious. Like the discontented farmers, they 
sought a more generous share in the fruits of the capitalistic 
system, not its overthrow. In fine, far from declaring a class war 
on capitalism, they demanded a better chance to become capital- 
ists themselves. This psychology pervaded not only all trade- 
union effort, but also the programs of the political labor parties 
which sprang up from election to election to enjoy a brief moment 
of life. However roundly they might berate the existing economic 
order as the " prolific womb" which spawned "the two great 
classes, tramps and millionaires/ 7 they asked but piecemeal re- 
form, the correction of abuses that had become unbearable, such 
as the long workday, bad factory conditions, the exactions of 
monopolies, the dearth of money and the inroads of immigrant 
competition. 1 Polling but a handful of votes, they nevertheless, 
through their incessant agitation, did something to educate the 
public to the need for remedial action. 

At the same time, however, a radical fringe preached more 
drastic measures. Through the labor world stalked German 
Marxian socialists, Irish Fenians, French communards, Russian 
nihilists, all rankling from Old World wrongs and scornful of the 
bourgeois aspirations of American labor. Mingling with their 
compatriots in, the industrial centers, the startling extremes of 
wealth and want confirmed them in their belief that America was 
going the way of Europe. Socialist parties first became active in 
New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, St. Louis and other places 
shortly after the Civil War, making their chief bid to citizens of 

X 0f this type were the Labor Reform party (1872), an outgrowth of the Na- 
tional Labor Union; the Greenback-Labor party (1880 and 1884), which sought 
to combine the interests of rural and urban labor; the Anti-Monopoly party (i884J: 
and the Union Labor and the United Labor parties (1888). 



German stock. In 1877, under goad of the depression, the various 
local groups combined to form the " Socialist Labor party of 
North America." The socialist purpose was to apply surgery, not 
poultices, to the body politic. Seeing the source of all evil in the 
freedom of the few to amass colossal riches and acquire economic 
mastery over the many, they proposed to abolish the right of 
private property in the means of transportation and communica- 
tion and in other public utilities and large-scale industries. They 
advocated that these be socialized, that is, that the people 
collectively own them and, in a sort of partnership with the em- 
ployees concerned, operate them for the good of all. For a number 
of years the Socialist Laborites shunned ordinary political activ- 
ities, seeking rather to worm their way into control of the Knights 
of Labor or the American Federation. At last presenting a ticket 
in 1892, they mustered but 22,000 votes and only 34,000 in the 
next election. The party was too foreign in its make-up, too aloof 
from American ways, to gain wide support. The result was the 
formation of a rival organization, called at first the Social Demo- 
cratic party, then simply the Socialist party, which in 1900 won 
for its candidate, Eugene V. Debs, nearly 95,000 votes. Debs 
well represented the new influence in the movement. Born in 
Indiana, a friend of the poet James Whitcomb Riley, and Amer- 
ican to the core, he had imbibed his belief in socialism from 
reading tracts while jailed for his activities during the Pullman 
strike. Four times more he was to be the standard bearer, but 
neither his party nor the older socialist organization ever suc- 
ceeded in garnering an electoral vote. 

During the eighties another foreign philosophy contended for 
radical support. Anarchism was even more idealistic than social- 
ism: it proposed to abolish the political state, and replace it with 
loosely federated voluntary groups, each following its own way of 
life, owning its means of production and exchanging its products 
with the others. Strongest among Chicago Germans and never 
numbering more than five or six thousand adherents, it greatly 
restricted its appeal because of the terroristic methods which 
most of the leaders advocated. A national gathering of anarchists 
at Pittsburgh in 1883 issued a " manifesto 77 vociferating revolu- 
tion and confiscation, but the people generally remained ignorant 
of the movement until three years later. Then, on May 4, 1886, 


at a mass meeting in Haymarket Square, Chicago, addressed by 
anarchists in protest against the shooting of strikers by the police, 
an unknown hand hurled a bomb that killed one policeman and 
wounded many others. The fighting that ensued caused ten more 
deaths, six of them of policemen. In a burst of popular rage eight 
anarchist leaders (six foreign-born) were promptly haled to 
trial ; and although no trace of the bomb thrower could be dis- 
covered, nor the fact established that he had been incited by the 
accused, the jury found all eight guilty. 1 However unjust the con- 
viction, anarchism received a blow from which it did not recover. 
Alexander Berkman's attempt during the Homestead strike of 
1892 to kill H. C. Frick, head of the Carnegie Steel Company, 
confirmed the popular attitude, and President McKinley's 
assassination at the hands of another anarchist fruited in a 
law of 1903 banning anarchists from further admission to the 

Meanwhile, the philosophy of discontent had been blossoming 
in native proposals for a perfect society. Between 1884 and 
1900 over two-score American novelists indulged in such Utopian 
fancies, works significant less as good literature than as an ex- 
pression of the popular yearning to escape the chaos and injustices 
which the Economic Revolution had bred. One of these, Edward 
Bellamy's Looking Backward, 2000-1887, published in 1888, 
created a veritable sensation. The author visioned a social order 
in which the gigantic trust development had culminated in one 
all-embracing trust, owned and operated by the people in their 
own interest. Under a system of universal service everyone must 
work, hence everyone had leisure. Poverty and its attendant evil, 
crime, were unknown; hospitals served in the place of prisons; 
and the creative energies of mankind were released for unparal- 
leled cultural achievement and the speeding of mechanical in- 
vention. Within ten years 400,000 copies were sold in the United 
States alone; and the proposed system of " Nationalism" proved 
so alluring that in 1891 there were 163 Nationalist Clubs active 
in twenty-seven states, though no political party was formed. 

1 Four were hanged, one took his own life and three were committed to prison. 
In a public statement at the time the usually mild William Dean Howells vigor- 
ously denounced the "principle " of killing men because of "their frantic opinions, 
for a crime which they were not shown to have committed." In 1893 Governor 
Altgeld braved the fury of mob hysteria by liberating those in the penitentiary. 


Neither Bellamy nor any of his fellow Utopian novelists used the 
terms socialism or communism, a fact that suggests the purely 
American inspiration of their thinking. All agreed, too, that the 
changes must come through education and the ballot, not vio- 

Less sweeping in its scope, but quite as unacceptable to the 
bulk of the people, was another native solution, embodied in a 
book called Progress and Poverty, written in 1879 by Henry 
George, a self-taught economist. Impressed while living in 
California with the evils flowing from the practice of great 
proprietors in holding up land prices, he proposed a tax on land so 
adjusted as to take away the gain (" unearned increment") 
resulting from unusual natural fertility, mineral deposits, ad- 
Vantages of location and other values not due to the owner's 
exertions. This plan, he argued, would make it unprofitable for 
owners to let real estate lie idle; it would also tend to reduce the 
size of large individual holdings, thus multiplying the number of 
landholders. So considerable would be the revenue yield that the 
government could dispense with all other taxes, to the great 
advantage of business enterprise. The single tax, as it was called, 
excited wide interest, winning George a surprising vote in his 
unsuccessful race for mayor of New York in 1886, and forming 
the cornerstone of the United Labor party, which offered candi- 
dates two years later in the presidential election. Over 2,000,000 
copies of Progress &nd Poverty had been sold by 1905. Abroad, 
however, the idea exerted a deeper influence than in the United 
States, where its chief importance, in the long run, lay in directing 
attention to more rational methods of local taxation. 

The more extreme schemes for social redemption presumed a 
condition of human misery and despair in America which, save 
at times and in certain places, did not actually exist. Though the 
rich were growing richer and the poor had never before been so 
much in evidence, the middle class was increasing by leaps and 
bounds, constantly receiving additions from the lower orders and 
serving as a balance wheel in the social structure. Hence the new 
faiths made relatively few converts. On the other hand, the 
ferment of radical ideas helped leaven the thinking of many who 
had grown too complacent, or too acquiescent in things as they 
were. Not a few leaders of the progressive movement in the early 


twentieth century received their initial impulse from youthful 
reading of Bellamy, the socialist writers or Henry George. 


The typical social reformer in the years after the Civil War 
believed that his proper business was to correct present abuses 
rather than to draw up blueprints of a future society. The zeal for 
improving conditions betokened, in part, a resumption of reform 
energies which the sectional struggle had, for a time, driven into a 
single channel. Ex-abolitionists and ex-workers in the Sanitary 
Commission, spurning the notion that to the victor belongs re- 
pose, turned briskly to other tasks of uplift, their ranks swelled by 
younger men and women who beheld shocking evils in the feverish 
growth of cities and the factory system. Thus, once the Negroes 
were freed, Gerrit Smith helped found the Prohibition party, 
and Wendell Phillips occupied his restless spirit with feminism, 
the temperance cause, colored education, Indian reform and 
labor rights. The dynamic leadership, however, fell to the newer 

For many years the state and even some local governments had 
provided almshouses, orphanages, homes for inebriates, insane 
asylums and institutions for the deaf, dumb and blind. Most 
cities possessed, in addition, an infinite number of private benev- 
olent societies. The difficulty was that these institutions, whether 
public or private, were too often run by incompetents; and, in so 
far as they dealt with the problem of poverty, they contented 
themselves with old-fashioned methods of indiscriminate alms- 
giving instead of studying how they might help the needy make a 
new start. In 1864 Massachusetts led the way toward better 
things by setting up a state board of charities to supervise and 
coordinate tax-supported relief institutions. Before the end of the 
century over half the Union had taken like action. Meanwhile, 
in 1877, S. H. Gurteen persuaded the private philanthropic 
agencies in Buffalo to join in a Charity Organization Society after 
the manner of a similar body in which he had been active in 
London. The plan involved not only coordination of activities, 
but also constructive methods of aiding the poor. Other cities 
swiftly fell into line until the century's close saw 138 such-bodies 
in existence under various names. 


Even more significant perhaps was the migration of resident 
colonies of social workers into the slum districts. There, amidst 
conditions of squalor and vice, they offered opportunities of in- 
struction and recreation to all ages kindergartens, boys' clubs, 
gymnasiums, classes in arts and crafts, and the like on the 
principle that a fence at the top of a precipice is better than an 
ambulance at the bottom. The movement was deeply indebted 
to the example of Toynbee Hall in London, which many of the 
first American settlement workers had visited; and the effort 
appealed particularly to the idealism of young college men and 
women. From 1886 to 1900 more than a hundred social settle- 
ments were planted in American cities, the most famous being 
Hull House, founded in Chicago in 1889 by Jane Addams and 
her coworker Ellen G. Starr. Closely related to the general 
problem of aiding the poor was the question of decent housing. 
Jacob A. Riis, a reporter on the New York Sun, as well as other 
humane persons, agitated unceasingly for stricter legal regula- 
tions. Between 1865 and 1900 the New York legislature made 
four different attempts to regulate the building of tenement 
houses; but, thanks to the greed of landlords, faulty laws and lax 
enforcement, conditions only grew steadily worse. Nor was the 
situation much better in other large centers. 

Directly or indirectly, all such efforts had a vital bearing upon 
the welfare of the growing generation. As cities walled in an ever 
greater proportion of America's future citizenship, society for the 
first time was obliged to give energetic attention to what Kate 
Douglas Wiggin called " children's rights." The steps taken at 
first were halting, but grew firmer as the years went on. When a 
mother was haled before a New York municipal judge in 1874 
for beating and starving her nine-year-old daughter, the prosecu- 
tion was undertaken by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty 
to Animals, for as yet the law protected dumb brutes but not 
human offspring. In that dingy courtroom was born the Society 
for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, which quickly de- 
veloped branches in other places, and everywhere struck blows for 
more humane laws and better opportunities for the young. The 
crop of child-labor legislation in the North during the eighties 
(see page 210) stemmed partly from their agitation. Meanwhile, 
an awakened public conscience sought to restore to childhood a 


part of its heritage of outdoor play. In 1877 a minister at Sher- 
man, Pennsylvania, devised the scheme of " country week" for 
city waifs during the stifling hot season, a plan eagerly adopted by 
charitable agencies in leading cities and supported by the "fresh- 
air funds" of enterprising newspapers. A little later, in 1885, a 
Boston society tried the experiment of providing sand gardens for 
poor children. From this small beginning rose the public-play- 
ground movement, which spread to twenty-one cities by 1900 and 
was in after years to form a normal provision of every sizable 

Efforts were also made to deal more intelligently with juvenile 
delinquency, a problem whose gravity appears in the fact that in 
1880 one out of every five prisoners in the land was twenty years 
old or less. Under the influence of European example, Z. R. 
Brockway, E. C. Wines and other reformers declared that the 
purpose of penal discipline should be to regenerate rather than to 
punish offenders. In 1877 the New York state reformatory was 
opened at Elmira, under Brockway's direction, to give the new 
ideas a trial in the case of young men from fifteen to thirty years 
of age. The inmates, freed from the usual association with con- 
firmed criminals, were encouraged to shorten their stay through 
good conduct and earnest application to means of self-improve- 
ment; then, conditionally released, they continued under super- 
vision long enough to show evidence of the sincerity of their ref- 
ormation. These two principles, the indeterminate sentence and 
the parole system, worked so successfully that other Northern and 
Western states introduced the Elmira plan and, before the end of 
the century, even applied some of its features to older prisoners. 

Urban congestion obliged public authorities to deal increasingly 
with the problem of contagious diseases. Since colonial times 
recurrent epidemics had taken their toll of townsfolk, but never 
before had these scourges had such dense populations on which to 
feed. Under spur of the peril Louisiana and Massachusetts set up 
state boards of health in 1867 and 1869, and thirteen other states 
did likewise before 1878. Then came the terrible yellow-fever 
pestilence of 1878-1879, which blazed a trail of death through the 
South, nearly depopulating Memphis. Twelve more common- 
wealths wheeled into line before 1882, with the rest presently 
following. To the aid of these state boards and the corresponding 


municipal bodies came certain epoch-making medical discoveries. 
In the 1870*5 and i88o's Louis Pasteur, Robert Koch and other 
European scientists laid bare the germ theory of the transmission 
of disease, and thus provided; for the first time, a rational basis 
for the science of preventive medicine. Armed with the new 
knowledge, health officers could make early and definite diagnosis 
of communicable maladies and devise more effective means of 
control. Quarantine was extended to other ills than the tradi- 
tional ones of smallpox and yellow fever; and port cities were 
barred against the entry of imported plagues like cholera and 
typhus. Progress was made also in providing special hospitals 
for the isolation and treatment of contagious cases. At the same 
time, municipal enterprise in constructing water and drainage 
systems (see page 150) formed an important ally in the public- 
health campaign. The results, if not as far-reaching as later when 
the principles of public hygiene became more fully developed, 
were nevertheless profound, particularly in populous centers. 
For the country as a whole, the death rate fell nearly ten per cent 
from 1890 to 1900, while the average age at death rose from thirty- 
one to thirty-six and a half years. This improvement was due 
largely to diminishing mortality from tuberculosis, diphtheria 
and children's diseases. It was fortunate for America that, when 
the urban age dawned, medical advance made it possible to 
protect huddled populations from the dire scourges which for so 
many centuries had ravaged the cities of the Old World. 


Urban growth also attracted acute attention to the liquor 
problem. The impressive gains for state-wide prohibition made 
in the 1850'$ had been mostly lost during the Civil War. Not 
only did soldiering foster the drink habit anew, but the govern- 
ment gave the traffic a certain respectability by using it, for the 
first time, as a productive source of national revenue. When the 
war closed, only Maine and Massachusetts remained "dry," 
the latter soon falling by the wayside. The capital investment 
in liquor manufacturing rose from $29,000,000 in 1860 to $67,- 
000,000 in 1870 and to $269,000,000 in 1890. With so vast a 
financial stake, producers and retailers entered politics to ad- 
vance their interests and resist attempts at heavier taxation or 


prohibitory enactments. As early as 1867 the National Brewers > 
Congress resolved to "sustain no candidate, of whatever party, 
in any election, who is in any way disposed toward the total 
abstinence cause." We have already seen how, during Grant's 
sway, the whisky distillers were able to reach corrupt hands into 
the very precincts of the White House. The major parties avoided 
taking a national stand on the temperance question, fearing either 
to risk a new and uncertain issue or to lose campaign funds from 
the liquor magnates. 

In the cities were the principal battlements of the "wet" 
interests. There the drink traffic employed countless persons at 
every stage of manufacture and sale; there the teeming immi- 
grants saw no reason to forgo cherished folk customs in a land of 
freedom; there, too, the saloon with its free lunch and rough 
sociability served as a sort of poor man's club. Dry sentiment, 
on the other hand, predominated in the farming regions, as it 
long had. The churches most deeply rooted in rural villages 
and towns the Methodist, Baptist and Presbyterian cru- 
saded tirelessly against "King Alcohol" and lent driving power 
to such bodies as the Prohibition party, founded in 1869, and 
the Women's Christian Temperance Union, which came five 
years later. The Prohibitionists demanded statutory suppression 
of the traffic, and woman suffrage as the swiftest means to that 
end. Though they never won an electoral vote, they outrivaled 
other minor parties by managing at least to keep alive and, by 
that feat, they furthered the work of temperance propaganda. 
More important was the W. C. T. U. which, under Frances E. 
Willard's leadership, became the most militant force in the 
movement. It waged merciless war against the foe on every 
front, inducing legislatures to require "scientific temperance 
instruction" in the schools, and battling everywhere for restric- 
tion or destruction of the liquor business. Even in the cities the 
dry cause gained adherents, notably among those who, unmoved 
by the usual emotional appeals, turned against the saloon power 
as the invariable ally of corruption, criminality and political 
reaction. Here and there, too, large employers were beginning 
to see the advantages of a sober laboring force. In 1895 a new 
and aggressive body, the Anti-Saloon League of America, was 
formed to coordinate the efforts of the various organized groups. 


The actual tide of battle swept back and forth, with the 
saloonless area expanding or contracting as victory perched ^on 
one side or the other. Thus the question of state-wide prohibition 
was submitted to popular vote in at least sixteen commonwealths 
during the eighties, but only four rural Midwestern states 
Kansas, Iowa and the Dakotas emerged from the decade in 
company with the three rural New England states Maine, 
New Hampshire and Vermont that had it in 1880. Mean- 
while, on the principle of divide-and-conquer, the drys scored 
greater triumphs, particularly in the rural sections of the Mid- 
west and South, through local option, that is, self-denying reg- 
ulations adopted by local popular vote. Elsewhere, in the hope 
of lessening their number, saloons were obliged to operate under 
high licenses costing from $500 to $1000 a year. One state, 
South Carolina, from 1893 to 1907 even tried the experiment of 
exclusive government agencies for dispensing intoxicants. Not- 
withstanding the increasing restrictions, the per-capita consump- 
tion of alcoholic stimulants for the country at large nearly 
trebled from 1860 to 1900. The most optimistic drys hardly 
dreamed that within the span of another generation their cause 
would find lodgment in the federal Constitution. 


The leadership assumed by women in the temperance cause, 
the social-settlement movement and certain other reform enter- 
prises evidenced their changing role in the world of men. The 
impact of events had jarred them loose from the traditional 
seclusion of the home, obliging them whether they would or not 
to take an increasing part in the larger life outside. Thus the 
Economic Revolution forced more and more of them to find 
jobs as factory hands, sweatshop workers, telephone operators, 
typists, clerks and helpers in offices and shops. Between 1870 
and 1900 the total number of female breadwinners over sixteen 
years old leaped from 1,800,000 to 5,300,000. Meanwhile the 
portals of higher education swung open for middle-class girls as 
never before. Starting with Vassar in 1865, Wellesley and Smith 
following a decade later, women's colleges began to offer instruc- 
tion equal to that of the best men's institutions. More character- 
istic of the West was coeducation which, though dating from 


before the war, now enlisted the widespread support of the state 
universities. Between 1865 an( i ^74 at least fourteen state 
universities, all but three of them in the Middle or Far West, 
opened their courses to both sexes. Their number included 
Michigan which in 1870 admitted girl students after declining 
to do so for nearly three decades. The president of the university, 
at the end of ten years of the new system, solemnly assured an 
inquiring Englishwoman that "none of the ladies had found 
the curriculum too heavy for their physical endurance." By 
1880 the number of mixed colleges had grown from twenty-odd 
at the close of the war to 154. In another twenty years over 
seventy per cent of all institutions of higher learning were 

As higher education reached an ever widening circle of women, 
they began to push into the professions. The displacement of 
men as school-teachers took place so rapidly that in 1900 two 
out of every three were women. In law, medicine and theology 
their path was thornier because of the reluctance of professional 
schools to afford them training. Yet by 1879 tlie Y were avowed 
to plead before the Supreme Court, and the final years of the 
century saw over a thousand women lawyers in the nation, be- 
sides nearly as many dentists, more than 3000 ministers, and 
almost 7500 doctors and surgeons. As authors, too, they occupied 
an increasingly important place, and in Emily Dickinson sup- 
plied the most talented writer of poetry. Meanwhile, urban 
middle-class housewives, finding time for wider interests as a 
result of the rapid introduction of new household conveniences, 
took an active part in the development of women's clubs. From 
the first two groups in 1868, the Sorosis in New York and the 
New England Woman's Club in Boston, the number grew so 
rapidly and spread so far that in 1889 they joined in a nation- 
wide league called the General Federation of Women's Clubs. 
Such groups, as the years wore on, gave less attention to art, 
literature and cultural subjects and more to civic and social 
problems, some becoming centers of agitation for women's rights 
and equal suffrage. 

As a result of the inexorable march of events, the old common- 
law discriminations against married women, already beginning 
to crumble before the Civil War, continued to fall before the 


onslaught of new legislation. Through most of the Union wives 
were given the right to own and control their property, retain 
their earnings, make contracts, sue and be sued. In 1900 only 
a handful of commonwealths Georgia, Louisiana, New Mexico, 
the Dakotas and California still expressly designated the hus- 
band as head of the family and the wife subject to him. So 
generally was the principle of civil equality recognized that it 
was clear the remaining disabilities would presently be wiped out. 
Less heartening was the progress toward political equality. The 
proposal of universal suffrage encountered the inertia, prejudice 
and active hostility not only of most men but also of a majority 
of the women themselves. The opponents protested that woman 
would lose her charm, that sex equality would cause the loosening 
of family ties, and that the feminine intellect was unfit to cope 
with problems of state. On the other side were arrayed such 
forceful figures as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, 
Lucy Stone (who refused to take her husband's name of Black- 
well), Anna Howard Shaw and Carrie Chapman Catt. They 
held that each sex had a distinctive contribution to make to 
public life, and that failure to accept the logic of woman's altered 
status in society was an attempt to "put the bird back into the 


As in the case of temperance, the earlier interest in equal 
suffrage had been shoved into the background by the Civil War. 
When peace came, the feminist leaders, arguing from the vantage 
point of the unstinted war services their sex had rendered, 
flooded Congress with petitions to obtain the ballot along with 
the freedmen. Their hopes dashed, they proceeded in 1869, ^ith 
some difference of opinion, to organize two woman-suffrage 
associations, the National, which under Mrs. Stanton's leader- 
ship strove for the ballot through state action, and the American, 
which struck boldly for a federal amendment. Besides the clergy- 
man Henry Ward Beecher, who headed the latter body, other 
prominent men lent their pens and voices to the cause, among 
them George W, Curtis, Senator Hoar and John Greenleaf 
Whittier. The Knights of Labor and the American Federation 
also rallied to the standard. But if the outstanding suffragists 
hailed from the East, the chief gains were made in the demo- 
cratic West. Campaign after campaign was fought in state after 


state. The initial steps, as in Great Britain and the Scandinavian 
countries during these same years, took the form of the right to 
vote on certain questions in local elections. Though Kansas's 
example in 1861 of bestowing the vote in school elections went 
without emulation for a number of years, from 1875 to 1895 
similar action was taken by sixteen commonwealths, representing 
all parts of the nation but the old Confederacy. Moreover, 
several states Kansas and Montana in 1887, Iowa in 1894 
and Louisiana in 1898 gave women the ballot in local bond 
issues, taxation questions and the like. But full equality, the 
cherished goal of the feminists, was not attained in any state 
until Wyoming, which as a territory had practiced it since 1869, 
entered the Union in 1890. Colorado followed in 1893, Utah and 
Idaho in 1896. Meanwhile, determined efforts had been made to 
secure favorable action from the federal government. The great 
political parties ignored the question, while the Prohibitionists 
may have hurt it by linking it with their unpopular cause. 
Nevertheless, between 1878 and 1896, committees of the Senate 
reported four times in favor of a suffrage amendment, and House 
committees twice. But action went no further. For some years 
to come most Americans were to regard universal suffrage as 
merely an aberration of the wild and woolly West. 


These years, too, brought momentous changes in the field of 
religion. The growth of cities, the glut of immigrants there, 
the emergence of a proletarian class, raised problems which the 
church was ill prepared to meet. In the score of years after 
1868, 200,000 more people packed into the district below Four- 
teenth Street in New York, while seventeen Protestant churches 
moved out and only two Catholic edifices and one Jewish were 
added. When Miss Addams founded Hull House in Chicago, 
the neighborhood contained nine churches and missions and 
255 saloons. In the poorer quarters of these and other cities 
saloons and dens of vice sometimes outnumbered houses of 
worship a hundredfold. American Protestantism, the product of 
a rural, middle-class society, was rapidly losing its hold on urban 
wage-earners. Though the Y. M. C. A. and the Y. W. C. A., 
both dating from mid-century, provided countless young men 


and women with decent lodgings, gymnastic facilities and Chris- 
tian surroundings, these agencies too were middle-class institu- 
tions, out of touch with the toiling masses. Even such spirited 
revivalists as D wight L. Moody and Ira D. Sankey performed 
their chief work among laggard members of existing congrega- 
tions, doing little to reach the many without church affiliations. 
The growing rift was due partly also to the failure of organized 
religion to cry out against the malpractices of Big Business, a 
silence that caused labor leaders to assail the clergy as indifferent, 
if not antagonistic, to the plain people. 

Yet some countervailing influences were at work. The enor- 
mous foreign influx brought untold numbers of Catholics and 
Jews to American shores, and the success of these two faiths in 
attracting and holding the newcomers formed an object lesson 
for Protestant sects. In 1879 the Salvation Army, spreading from 
England to the United States, commenced its evangelistic labors 
on the city streets, preaching to "rumdom, slumdom and bum- 
dom" the exciting gospel of repentance and reform. Ten years 
later it branched out into social work, maintaining cheap lodgings, 
employment agencies and rescue homes. Meanwhile, Protestant 
churches in the larger centers began to develop "institutional" 
features, that is, conduct organized philanthropic and educa- 
tional work among the lowly. Anticipating the first social settle- 
ments by a few years, an increasing number of congregations in 
the eighties provided reading rooms, day nurseries, recreational 
facilities and manual-training courses for the poor along with 
religious instruction. Leaps in membership quickly justified 
their course and by 1894 institutional churches had become 
numerous enough to form a nation-wide league. 

In harmony with these new tendencies, ministers here and 
there began to insist that Christianity in every way be made a 
part of, rather than be apart from, life. Notable among these 
pioneers of the social gospel were Lyman Abbott, Beecher's suc- 
cessor both as editor of the Christian Union and as pastor in 
Brooklyn; Josiah Strong, general secretary of the Evangelical 
Alliance; and Washington Gladden, Congregational minister in 
Springfield, Massachusetts, and Columbus, Ohio. Gladden, for 
example, not only expounded his views in widely read books like 
Applied Christianity (1886) and Tools and the Man: Property and 


Industry under the Christian Law (1893), but took an active part 
in the hurly-burly of industrial strife, ever maintaining the 
"right and necessity of labor organizations." His hoped-for 
solution was an "industrial partnership" in which the workers 
would receive "a fixed share in the profits of production.' 7 He 
scourged religious bodies for accepting gifts from possessors of 
bloated wealth, branding such contributions as "tainted money," 
defiling the recipient as well as the giver. At the same time 
Cardinal Gibbons exerted a similar influence within the Roman 
Catholic fold. In 1886, through intercession at Rome, he saved 
the Knights of Labor from papal condemnation. Against opposi- 
tion from within his own ranks he also upheld the right of Cath- 
olics to espouse Henry George's panacea of the single tax. His 
bold course received high sanction in 1891 when an encyclical 
of Leo XIII, though denouncing socialism, approved of trade 
unions and called for the application of Christian ethics to the 
relations of capital and labor. In the case of all faiths such 
churchmen were the exception rather than the rule. Yet their 
advent marked a definite turning toward an increased social 
emphasis in religion. Later years would yield a fuller fruition of 
their teachings. 

As if the problem of social adjustment were not enough, 
organized religion also faced an intellectual crisis. To defenders 
of the old-time theology the validity of the Bible itself seemed 
challenged by new findings of science and scholarship. Religion, 
in other words, was confronted by one of those recurrent conflicts 
between orthodoxy and heterodoxy, between fundamentalism and 
modernism, which historically have formed a law of its growth. 
Those who led in the effort to socialize religious practice were 
usually also at the forefront of the effort to liberalize religious 
thought. One source of dissension was the theory of biological 
evolution, which gradually had won friends in America after its 
elucidation by Charles Darwin in The Origin of Species (1859). 
In apparent contradiction to the Biblical account of creation, 
the Darwinian hypothesis was generally condemned by the clergy 
as materialistic and atheistic. A growing number of American 
scientists, however, accepted it; and, following in their train, 
liberal ecclesiastics like Beecher, Abbott and Gladden insisted 
that the theory, at the most, imperiled theology, not genuine 


religion. Indeed, they saw in evolution a new and grander rev- 
elation of the mysterious way God moves his wonders to perform. 
The process of acceptance, however, was slow, particularly in 
those denominations which stressed emotional above intellectual 

Another shock to orthodoxy resulted from the " higher criti- 
cism," an attitude fostered by German scholars who had freshly 
studied the books of the Bible as historical and literary docu- 
ments. At the same time, an increasing knowledge of Buddhism 
and other Asiatic religious systems, popularized by James Free- 
man Clarke's Ten Great Religions (1871), seemed to take away 
from the exclusive character of the Christian faith. As a result of 
these various influences, sharp divisions occurred among both 
clergy and laity, fruiting oftentimes in heresy trials and the ex- 
pulsion of those liberally disposed. Yet, as the years went by, a 
spirit of tolerance began to make itself felt. If clerics could not 
always agree on points of theology, they slowly learned that, in 
the interests of common spiritual service, they could at least 
agree quietly to disagree. Equally indicative of a new attitude 
was the gradual admission into theological seminaries of courses 
on the higher criticism, comparative religion and the relations of 
science and religion. 

Many devout Protestants were also deeply disturbed by the 
growing secularization of the Sabbath. In the cities six days of 
grinding toil turned the masses to thoughts of pleasure on the 
seventh. There, too, the immigrant influence was strong the 
Germans accustomed to their Continental Sabbath, the Irish and 
other aliens with their Catholic Sunday, the Jews with their reli- 
gious observance of Saturday. In vain did the American Sabbath 
Union and other similar bodies try to stay the tide, though they 
were somewhat more successful when they joined with trade 
unions in resisting employers' demands for Sunday labor. 

Yet, despite the many difficulties which beset religion, church 
membership grew both numerically and relatively. The Catholic 
gain was particularly notable because of immigrant accessions. 
A new religious sect also appeared on the scene, Christian Science, 
based upon Science and Health, a book first published by Mrs. 
Mary Baker G. Eddy in 1875. The latest of a long succession of 
England-inspired cults, it rejected medicine as the science 


of health and substituted therefor a belief in the supremacy of 
mind over matter. " Disease is caused by mind alone/ 7 it taught, 
and may be banished by working in harmony with Christ's 
teachings as interpreted by Mrs. Eddy. The new system appealed 
particularly to nerve-racked urban folk and spread rapidly from 
Boston to New York and the cities of the Midwest. Outside 
strictly denominational activities, the religious spirit also per- 
vaded most of the philanthropic efforts of the time. A great 
majority of the social workers and other humanitarians were 
church members, and from religion they received an enduring 
bent toward the service of mankind. 


While most of the social maladjustments of the time were 
rooted in urban conditions, two major problems, both affecting 
race relations, were primarily rural in character. One, the Negro 
question, concerned the South; the other, the problem of assim- 
ilating the Indian, related to the Great West. President Hayes's 
withdrawal of the last federal garrisons in 1877, after a decade of 
ceaseless governmental activity on behalf of the ex-slave, was a 
tacit admission of the South's right to solve the Negro question in 
its own way, as well as evidence of the North's growing absorption 
in the complexities of its new industrial order. Moreover, for 
twelve years the Republicans lacked simultaneous control of both 
Congress and the presidency and hence could not have interfered 
if they had wished. The bulk of the Negroes continued to dwell in 
Dixie, content to work out their destiny in the land where slavery 
had planted them. Increasing from four million in 1860 to six in 
1880, their number advanced to eight million in 1900, a relative 
growth considerably less than that of the whites about them. 
Though the colored birth rate was higher than that of the dom- 
inant race, this fact was offset by greater infant mortality and by 
the inroads of diseases which the paternalistic life of the prewar 
plantation had served to check. 

Deserted by their erstwhile Northern allies, the Afro- Americans 
faced a long, sordid, unremitting struggle with ignorance and 
poverty. The statesman of this new emancipation was Booker T. 
Washington, himself a former slave, who in 1881 founded his Nor- 
mal and Industrial Institute at Tuskegee, Alabama, in the heart 


of the Lower South. Believing that his people should perfect the 
mechanical skills for which they had shown an aptitude in slavery, 
he and his coworkers, assisted by funds from the state legislature 
and Northern sources, provided training in all the trades and occu- 
pations necessary for gaining a foothold in Southern economic 
life. Deploring the incessant agitation by Negro demagogues 
for immediate equality, he constantly urged the race to "^make 
itself so valuable to the community in which it lives that it will 
not merely be tolerated, like a poor relative, but rather welcomed 
and sought after." "The opportunity to earn a dollar in a 
factory," he declared, " just now is worth infinitely more than the 
opportunity to spend a dollar in an opera-house." Washington's 
leadership influenced the course of colored education every- 
where. The rapid extension of teaching facilities was hampered 
by the postwar poverty of the South, and particularly by the 
policy of maintaining separate schools for the two races, a costly 
plan which commonly resulted in inferior instruction for the 
blacks. Northern philanthropy did something to relieve the 
situation, notably through the Peabody Fund, established in 
1867, the John F. Slater Fund in 1882 and Daniel Hand's gen- 
erous gift to the American Missionary Association six years later. 
Despite deterrent conditions Negro illiteracy declined from 
seventy per cent in 1880 to forty-four in 1900. 

The mass of the people continued to live on the land. Handi- 
capped on the one hand by the shiftless habits learned in slavery 
and, on the other, by the vicious crop-lien system (see page 122), 
they nevertheless advanced steadily toward the goal of inde- 
pendent farm ownership. By 1890 they owned nearly a fifth of 
their homes. Ten years later the total value of the farms they 
operated reached almost half a billion dollars. At that time about 
200,000 owned their farms, while about 500,000 more were 
employed as tenants. This progress was a substantial testimonial 
to a people who were virtually landless in 1860. Others worked in 
domestic and personal service, mostly in the towns, where also a 
growing minority entered the skilled trades. Generally speaking, 
the Afro-American might walk in the same direction as his white 
neighbor provided he walked apart. The color line was drawn 
most rigidly at points where racial association implied social or 
political equality. To the usual provision for separate schooling 


and the universal ban against intermarriage, Tennessee in 1881 
added a new restriction by passing a so-called Jim Crow law, 
requiring different coaches or compartments on trains. Other 
states followed, and presently colored persons throughout the 
South found themselves compelled, by law or custom, to accept 
separate and usually poorer accommodations in public convey- 
ances, hotels, restaurants and amusement places, when admitted 
at all. Violent racial antipathy sometimes broke out in the mob 
murder of individual Negroes. Between 1882 and 1900 there were 
over 1800 lynchings, mostly of blacks. Such blots on Anglo- 
American justice, however, served to emphasize the generally 
peaceable relations between the races. 

Meanwhile, the ruling class proceeded to steal away the polit- 
ical gains which the Reconstruction constitutions had guaranteed 
the freedmen. Without ceasing to stuff the ballot box and to use 
intimidation as means of neutralizing the colored vote, they 
invented discriminatory legal devices such as gerrymandering 
arrangements to reduce Negro representation and the poll-tax 
requirement for voting. For the same purpose they devised 
ingenious electoral regulations like that of South Carolina which, 
after 1882, rendered difficult the task of the illiterate black by 
requiring the voter to place each of his many ballots correctly 
in the eight or more boxes before him. In the next decade the 
dominant race went even further. The growth of agrarian unrest 
in the late eighties had divided the white electorate into two 
factions, with the result that the potential balance of power often 
lay with the Negroes. To allay this threat to white supremacy, 
steps were taken to alter the suffrage provisions in the state con- 
stitutions, though care had to be exercised not to infringe the 
letter of the Fifteenth Amendment (see page 116). The three 
commonwealths in which colored inhabitants predominated were 
the first to act. Mississippi set the pace in 1890 by limiting the 
ballot to paid-up taxpayers who were able to read a passage from 
the state constitution, or understand it when read to them, or give 
"a reasonable interpretation thereof." The flexible clause was 
avowedly designed to enable election officials to disfranchise 
illiterate blacks without disfranchising illiterate whites. Five 
years later South Carolina followed with a somewhat similar pro- 
vision, and then, in 1898, Louisiana found a means of exempting 


whites from the property and educational tests through the so- 
called grandfather clause. Over a period of several months she 
admitted permanently to the voting list all male applicants whose 
fathers or grandfathers had possessed the vote before 1867. Other 
states presently devised ingenious variants of these restrictions. 
Under the new arrangements the proportion of colored voters 
continued to fall. Torn from his giddy heights of Reconstruction 
times, the Negro became a negligible factor in Southern politics. 1 
The Indian problem was of a different character, though 
hardly less perplexing. Reduced to a subject people by the iSSo's, 
the vast majority of the red men lived the traditional tribal life 
within the narrow bounds of government reservations, their 
health impaired by the white man's diseases and their self- 
reliance sapped by annuities and rations supplied by the Great 
White Father in Washington. Many of the government agents 
to whose care they were confided proved corrupt or incompetent, 
while the licensed white traders with whom they dealt habitually 
overcharged and otherwise cheated them. To this record of 
mistreatment should be added the wholesale disregard of the 
natives' rights by both the frontiersmen and the government, 
resulting oftentimes in the grossest inhumanity. On the other 
hand, Congress, after aiding missionary schools among the tribes- 
men for over half a century, in 1873 embarked on the policy of 
providing educational facilities under direct federal auspices. 
The annual appropriation for this purpose rose in fifteen years 
from $20,000 to more than a million. As in the case of Negro 
education, the emphasis was on instruction in agriculture, home 
economics and other practical pursuits in order to fit the young 
people for a place in modern economic life. By 1880 over 7000 
were attending such schools. Yet education in itself was not 
enough so long as the Indians continued in the old reservation 
life with its tribal ownership of land, dependence on government 
gifts, and other enervating conditions. Congress for many years, 
however, resisted repeated recommendations by Presidents, Sec- 

1 In Williams v. Mississippi (1898) the Supreme Court declined to hold the Mis- 
sissippi suffrage provision contrary to the Fifteenth Amendment on the ground 
that the complainants had failed to prove actual discrimination against Negroes 
in its operation. In 19 14, however, the court held grandfather clauses in Oklahoma 
and Maryland in conflict with the amendment. See Guinn v. United States and 
Myers v. Anderson. 


retaries of the Interior and Indian commissioners to end the 
communal system and introduce individual ownership. 

That a more enlightened policy was eventually adopted was 
due to two influences. One was a strong protest on the part of 
Eastern humanitarians outraged by multiplying instances of 
Indian wrongs. First finding passionate expression in Helen Hunt 
Jackson's book A Century of Dishonor (1881), this sentiment in 
the two years following caused the formation of the Indian Rights 
Association and the annual Lake Mohonk Conference of Friends 
of the Indians. The other influence was the growing Western 
demand, as free homesteads grew scarcer, that the reservations 
be broken up in order to provide additional tracts for whites. 
The Easterners sought rights for the Indians, the Westerners 
lands for themselves. President Cleveland, whose sympathies 
had been deeply stirred by Mrs. Jackson's pathetic recountal, 
actively interested himself in the problem, and the upshot was 
the passage in 1887 of a general allotment law, sponsored by 
Senator Henry L. Dawes of Massachusetts. By the Dawes 
severalty act the President was authorized to end the tribal 
government in any reservation whenever time and circumstances 
seemed appropriate, and parcel out the land among individual 
owners according to certain fixed amounts. 1 To protect such 
owners from white avarice, they were denied the liberty to sell 
or mortgage their holdings for twenty-five years. In all other 
respects they should enjoy the same rights as white citizens, 
including the privilege of voting. The land remaining after 
allotments were made might be bought by the government for 
sale to actual settlers, the money to be held as a trust fund for 
educating and civilizing the Indians concerned. 

The fruits of the new law justified its popular nickname of 
the "Emancipation Act of the Indians." Over 21,000,000 acres 
passed into the hands of 150,000 red men between 1887 and 1906, 
while the government acquired some 53,000,000 acres for sale to 
settlers or for use as forest reserves. If members of the older 

1 The first plan was 160 acres for each head of family with lesser allotments for 
others, the amounts to be doubled in the case of grazing lands. Because this ar- 
rangement discriminated against the younger and more educable tribesmen, a 
supplementary law of 1891 fixed a uniform size of So acres. The principles of the 
Dawes act were not applied to the Five Civilized Tribes in Indian Territory until 


generation clung to tribal customs and traditions, the younger 
people increasingly broke away from the chief's influence and 
adopted civilized ways. But experience revealed certain defects 
in the law, Allotments were sometimes made prematurely. In 
other instances, capable and self-reliant individuals chafed at the 
inflexible twenty-five-year restriction. As voters, moreover, the 
Indians were often preyed upon by corrupt white politicians, 
and citizenship meant for many a free rein to drink to excess. 
To check the increase of drunkenness and crime, a supplementary 
statute in 1897 banned the liquor traffic during the probationary 
period. When the Supreme Court annulled this law in 1905 as a 
denial of the equal rights of citizens, Congress proceeded to a 
revision of the Dawes act. The Burke law, passed in 1906, 
instructed the executive branch thereafter to bestow full property 
title upon deserving individuals whenever satisfied of their fit- 
ness. At the same time, by postponing citizenship until full 
ownership was attained, it rendered illegal the drink traffic and 
helped safeguard the sanctity of the ballot. 

In the years that followed, the process of assimilation went on 
with quickened pace. Increasing numbers of children received 
instruction in special Indian schools and, as the reservations 
were gradually broken up, they attended the regular public 
schools side by side with white pupils. But the Burke law did 
not work out as well as had been expected, for it proved difficult 
to know when particular Indians were fit to become independent 
landholders. Many so favored promptly sold their lands and 
squandered the proceeds. In 1924, when over half the Indians 
had qualified as citizens, Congress signalized the event by ex- 
tending the boon to all of them. As time passed, the pure strain 
became more and more diluted through intermarriage with 
the whites, prefiguring a day when the American aborigine, 
like many another conquered race, would disappear in the blood 
of his conqueror. 


Panaceas. The general account of labor parties and social programs con- 
tained in Commons and others, History of Labour in the United States, should 
be supplemented by Fine, Labor and Farmer Parties in the United States; 
Haynes, Social Politics in the United States; and Hillquit, History of Socialism 
in the United States. As the title indicates, Schuster, Native American Anarch- 


ism, stresses American contributions to the antigovernmental philosophy. 
For socialist interpretations of American history, see Simons, Social Forces 
in American History; Lewis, The Rise of the American Proletarian; and Oneal, 
The Workers in American History. The "Prophet of San Francisco" and his 
doctrine are treated in George, The Life of Henry George, and Young, The 
Single Tax Movement in the United States. 

Coping with Urban Social Problems. Nevins, The Emergence of Modern 
America, and Schlesinger, The Rise of the City, treat urban problems as well 
as all the other subjects dealt with later in this chapter. For special works 
on the growth of scientific methods in charity, see Watson, The Charity 
Organization Movement in the United States; Warner, American Charities; 
and Woods and Kennedy, The Settlement Horizon. Child welfare is more 
particularly the concern of McCrae, The Humane Movement, and Rainwater, 
The Play Movement in the United States, the latter dealing with playgrounds. 
Henderson, ed., Correction and Prevention, contains authoritative articles, 
historical and descriptive, on prison reform, preventive agencies and allied 
topics. For the development of preventive medicine, Ravenel, ed., A Half 
Century of Public Health, is helpful. 

The Fight against the Liquor Traffic. The chief phases may be followed 
conveniently in Cherrington, The Evolution of Prohibition in the United 
States of America, and Colvin, Prohibition in the United States, both written 
with a temperance bias. Simkins, The Tillman Movement in South Carolina, 
contains a brief account of the dispensary system in that state. 

The Advance of Women. Bruce, Woman in the Making of America, and 
Irwin, Angels and Amazons, are interesting popular sketches. On the entry 
of women into industry and business, Abbott, Women in Industry, and Cal- 
houn, A Social History of the American Family, III, are helpful. Woody, 
A History of Women's Education in the United States, treats all levels of 
education. The rise of woman's clubs is traced in Croly, The History of the 
Woman's Club Movement in America. The contest for legal and political 
equality may be followed in Wilson, The Legal and Political Status of Women 
in the United States, or, biographically, in Harper, The Life and Work of 
Susan B. Anthony, and Blackwell, Lucy Stone. 

The Changing Church. Sweet, The Story of Religions in America, contains 
a quick, factual survey of the period, and Rowe, The History of Religion in 
the United States, is a penetrating interpretation of tendencies. Garrison, 
The March of Faith, confines itself to American religious development after 
1865. Emotional aspects are set forth in Beardsley, A History of American 
Revivals, and Loud, Evangelized America. White, A History of the Warfare 
of Science with Theology in Christendom, includes material on America. 
Among biographies of outstanding figures are Will, Life of Cardinal Gibbons; 
Hibben, Henry Ward Beecher; Bates and Dittemore, Mary Baker Eddy; 
and Powell, Mary Baker Eddy. 

White, Black and Red. The changing status of the Negro is treated by 
members of the race in Brawley, A Social History of the American Negro; 
Woodson, The Negro in Our History; Nowlin, The Negro in American National 
Politics since 1868; and Wesley, Negro Labor in the United States, 


Other useful general treatments include Evans, Black and White in the South- 
ern States, and Thompson, The New South. Lewinson, Race, Class, & Party, 
deals with Negro disfranchisement, and Cutler, Lynch-Laiv, with mob 
murder. The standard life of the foremost colored leader is Scott and Stowe, 
Booker T. Washington, written by his secretary hi collaboration with the 
grandson of Harriet Beecher Stowe. Besides the general wcrks on the 
Indian cited at the close of Chapter VII, the student should consult Moore- 
head, The American Indian in the United States; Schmeckebier, The Office of 
Indian Affairs; and Meriam and others, The Problem of Indian Administra- 



IF urban growth begot grave problems of social maladjustment 
and human misery, it should be remembered that the city 
also served as the generating center of a dynamic intellectual 
life. Concentration of wealth and population made possible 
heavier taxation and greater patronage than rural communities 
could afford for schools, libraries and the like, while benefactions 
of the rich added further to the city's cultural opportunities. 
In the urban communities were to be found the best schools, the 
best churches, the best newspapers and virtually all the book- 
stores, circulating libraries, art galleries, museums, theaters, 
concert halls and opera houses. From 1871 to the close of the 
century no less than a third of a billion dollars was given by 
private philanthropists to agencies for cultivating the higher 
life, half the amount going to colleges and universities. By critics 
of the economic order this generosity was cynically attributed 
to love of ostentation, to eagerness for public approbation or, 
as Dr. Gladden would have said, to the desire to quiet an uneasy 
conscience. That there was also developing a sense of richesse 
oblige Andrew Carnegie made clear in an article in the North 
American Review in 1889, in which he asserted that a successful 
capitalist's career should consist of two periods, first, that of 
acquiring wealth and, second, that of distributing it for the 
public good. Whatever motives stirred the princely givers, the 
urban dwellers who reaped most of the benefit profited richly in 
their cultural life. The city also provided favorable conditions 
for creative work in letters and the arts. Among its varied in- 
habitants gifted individuals could find others of similar interests 
and thus, in an atmosphere of mutual encouragement and stim- 
ulating criticism, ripen their powers to the fullest. At the same 
time, the nearness of publishers, art dealers and wealthy patrons 
afforded an opportunity to sell the products of their talent. 



It is not surprising that the great cultural advances came out 
of the city or that its influence penetrated to the farthest 

The postwar years witnessed an educational renaissance akin 
to that of the iSso's and i84o's. In the North, where a system 
of tax-supported elementary schools was already well established, 
expansion and development occurred in every part of the sys- 
tem. Among the innovations was the kindergarten: though it 
had been introduced at Watertown, Wisconsin, as early as 1855 
by Mrs. Carl Schurz, a pupil of Froebel, it did not become attached 
to the regular public schools until St. Louis set the example in 
1873. By 1900 there were in the nation nearly three thousand 
public kindergartens, where play activities enticed youngsters 
to take the first steps in learning. Methods of instruction im- 
proved at every level, partly through the introduction of better 
textbooks, and even more because an increasing number of 
commonwealths accepted the responsibility of teacher training 
by establishing tax-supported normal schools. At the same time 
the North made school attendance compulsory, thus register- 
ing its conviction that education was not merely an opportunity 
for the individual child but a civic obligation. Meanwhile, free 
public high schools multiplied, growing from about five hundred 
in 1870 to six thousand in 1900. As home economics, manual 
training and other new subjects suited to the times crept into 
the course of study, the typical secondary school lengthened its 
term for graduation from three to four years. In this way a 
twelve-year course of schooling came to be established as the 
standard period of preparation for college. 

In this amazing advance urban America blazed the way, the 
country districts trailing the towns and cities, the South lagging 
behind the North. Rural schools even in the East generally 
remained ungraded, the terms short, and the teachers ill trained 
and wretchedly paid. As a section primarily rural, Dixie was 
further handicapped by postwar poverty and by the unusual 
expense of maintaining separate schools for the two races, a 
burden borne chiefly by the whites. Moreover, having been 
little affected by the educational awakening of Horace Mann's 
time, the people had to build their system from the ground up. 
Despite such obstacles, before the century closed most of the 

THE CULTURAL RENEWAL, 1865-1900 239 

Southern states had made adequate provision for elementary 
instruction. The South at last formed a part of the national 
educational order. The principle of obligatory attendance was 
not applied, however, and the real development of high schools 
had to await the early twentieth century. 

In the nation as a whole the ever widening reach of the schools 
is evidenced by the growth of enrollment from about seven 
million in 1870 to fifteen and a half in 1900. Yet, because of 
the newness of the system in many parts of the land and the 
increasing horde of immigrant newcomers, vast numbers of adults 
continued to be handicapped by insufficient formal instruction. 
In 1870 the total amount of schooling received by the average 
person in his whole lifetime was about three and a third years; 
in 1900 it amounted to a little more than five. Fortunately 
educational agencies of a less systematic character were at hand 
that helped somewhat to offset the deficiencies of youthful 
opportunity. Of these none more strikingly evinced the popular 
zeal for knowledge than the rise of the Chautauqua movement. 
Starting in 1874, great annual summer assemblies on the wooded 
shores of Lake Chautauqua, New York, listened to authorities 
lecture on literary, scientific and political subjects, and large 
numbers who attended were inspired to undertake a four-year 
plan of home study and reading. Soon many parts of the coun- 
try began to blossom with " Chautauquas," modest copies of the 
original, meeting usually under a tent for a week or two during 
the hot season and acting as a stimulus to small- town intellectual 

In a different fashion the spread of public libraries served the 
same purpose. Though circulating libraries for the use of sub- 
scribers had been in existence since Benjamin Franklin's time, 
the legislatures of New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Maine 
in the mid-nineteenth century were the first to empower local 
units to set up free tax-supported libraries. In the last year of 
the Civil War other commonwealths began to follow until the 
entire Union had fallen into line. Soon libraries free to the 
public became a normal provision of municipalities. The number 
of such institutions possessing a thousand or more volumes 
increased from 2000 in 1875 to nearly 5400 in 1900. Of private 
philanthropists who aided the cause, the most noteworthy was 


the ironmaster Carnegie, who in 1881 began the practice of 
presenting library buildings to towns that provided sites and 
pledged adequate maintenance through taxation. He gave away 
ten million dollars by the end of 1900 and a total of sixty million 
before his death in 1919. Professional leadership in the movement 
fell to the American Library Association, formed in 1876, which 
promoted the adoption of progressive methods of service to the 
public and helped make American libraries the most efficient in 
the world. 

The majority of people, however, kept abreast the changing 
world by reading newspapers and magazines. American journal- 
ism entered a new era. The war had accustomed newspaper 
owners to lavish outlays of money and had aroused in the public 
an appetite for exciting news. In the years that followed, the 
fast tempo and high tension of city life reenforced the popular 
demand for a lively, colorful treatment of the day's happenings. 
As a result, editors began to fill their columns with items selected 
not because of their intrinsic importance but because of their 
human interest or sensational qualities. Charles A. Dana, be- 
coming editor of the New York Sun in 1868, set the new pattern, 
but his enterprise was presently surpassed by Joseph Pulitzer, 
a journalist of Hungarian birth, who took charge of the St. Louis 
Post-Dispatch in 1878 and five years later acquired the New York 
World. Pulitzer frankly directed his appeal to the increasing 
number of wage-earners the least literate section of the pop- 
ulation shrewdly suiting the form and content of his paper to 
their mental capacity and tastes. Most of the elements of 
present-day journalism developed under his hand: flaring head- 
lines, political cartoons, human-interest "stories" of scandal and 
crime, separate departments for sports, amusements and the 
interests of women, and, last but not least, the special Sunday 
edition, divided into many sections for the convenience of the 
family group and replete with pictures, feature articles and 
colored " comics." 

Within a few years the World became the most profitable and 
widely imitated paper in the land. Pulitzer's example, indeed, 
was responsible for bringing into the arena a young Californian, 
William Randolph Hearst, who acquired the New York Morning 
Journal in 1895 and quickly bested Pulitzer at his own game. The 

THE CULTURAL RENEWAL, 1865-1900 24! 

battle between these two masters of the craft involving in 
part the publication rights of "The Yellow Kid," a daily colored 
cartoon gave rise to the term yellow journalism, by which 
their brand of newspaper enterprise has ever since been known. 
Yet the influence of the yellow press was not wholly bad. Such 
newspapers often attacked flagrant political and social abuses in 
their communities and waged battles for their removal. James 
Bryce in 1888 testified that in the war against political corrup- 
tion "the newspapers of New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and 
Chicago have been among the most effective battalions." It 
should also be remembered that journals of the new type reached 
untold millions who in earlier times had read nothing at all. 

A different trend was indicated by the transformation of 
many of the great metropolitan dailies into vast business under- 
takings. Only rarely was a newspaper the external embodiment 
of a dominant personality as in Greeley's time. The heavy cost 
of operation under modern conditions caused them to pass into 
the hands of newspaper corporations and to be conducted with a 
main eye to profit. With the enormous growth of retail stores 
and nation-wide merchandising, revenue from such sources ex- 
ceeded the receipts from sales, and newspapers tended increas- 
ingly to become advertising sheets with a secondary attention 
to news. Gradually the control of policy shifted from the edi- 
torial sanctum to the office of the business manager, with a 
corresponding loss to the independence of the press. In William 
Dean Howells's A Modern Instance (1881) a newspaper owner 
loudly asserts that "the press is a great moral engine/ 7 but 
hastily adds, "it ought to be run in the interest of the engineer." 

The growing dependence of the average American upon his 
daily paper is shown by the increase of such journals from less 
than six hundred in 1870 to nearly twenty-five hundred in 1900 
and by the leap in their total daily sales from two and a half 
million to more than fifteen. To meet the huge jumps in cir- 
culation, new mechanical devices and more efficient processes 
were introduced, such as larger and ever faster presses and 
cheaper methods of making print paper. In 1885 the setting 
of type was transformed into a machine process through Ottmar 
Mergenthaler's invention of the linotype, a mechanical marvel 
which, under the fingers of a skilled operator, cast from molten 


lead solid lines of type ready for printing. To the aid of the 
reporter came the typewriter, devised in 1868 chiefly by C. L. 
Sholes of Milwaukee and later improved, and also the first prac- 
ticable fountain pen, placed on the market in 1884 by L. E. 
Waterman. At the same time newspapers, in the interest of 
economy and efficiency, began to cooperate in gathering and 
distributing news. While the original Associated Press dated 
from before 1860, in the years after the war numerous competing 
news associations sprang up and contested the field with one 
another. In the last decade the Western Associated Press, headed 
by Melville E. Stone of Chicago, gained the position of domi- 
nance, and in 1900 reorganized as the present-day Associated 


Though less widely read than newspapers, magazines also 
came to occupy a steadily larger place in American life. From 
1860 to 1900 the number of monthlies grew from 280 to over 1800. 
Never before had they reached so high a plane of general excel- 
lence or represented so well the diversified interests of the pub- 
lic. Magazines like the Atlantic, dating from 1857, the Century, 
reorganized under that name in 1881, and Scribner's Magazine, 
launched in 1887, welcomed to their pages the new generation 
of authors and provided them with their chief means of income. 
Journals appealing to special audiences appeared in abundance, 
such as St. Nicholas (1873) for children, Outing (1882) for sport 
lovers, the Ladies' Home Journal (1883) for women, and the 
Dial (1880) in the field of literary criticism. It was particularly 
fortunate that, in a period of the waning independence of the 
press, certain weekly magazines were at hand to jar complacency 
and perform the function of fearless public criticism. Of the 
free-lance editors the most significant was the Irish American, 
E. L. Godkin, who directed the Nation from 1865 to 1899 and 
deeply influenced the thinking of the educated minority. In 
the columns of Harper's Weekly Thomas Nast, whose cartoons 
had helped to expose the Tweed Ring and other frauds, laid the 
foundations of modern American political caricature, contribut- 
ing to the political zoo the familiar figures of the Republican 
elephant, the Democratic donkey and the Tammany tiger. The 
humorous possibilities of the American scene were even more 
fully exploited by the comic illustrated weeklies, Puck, Judge 

THE CULTURAL RENEWAL, 1865-1900 243 

and Life, founded between 1877 and 1883. The nineties brought 
the culminating development, the advent of a group of monthlies 
McClure's, Munsey's and others which, without sacrificing 
good standards, sold for ten or fifteen cents a copy instead of 
the traditional twenty-five or thirty-five. Cheaper manufactur- 
ing processes, large-scale production and a greater reliance on 
advertising revenues made this development possible, and the 
result was seen in a vast expansion in the number of magazine 


In the field of higher learning the number of students, the 
improvement of instruction and equipment and the founding of 
additional universities attested both the ardor for knowledge 
and the wider-felt need of education beyond the high school to 
prepare for the exacting tasks of a complex civilization. Many 
of the new institutions, such as Vanderbilt (1873), Johns Hopkins 
(1876), Leland Stanford (1885), Clark (1889), the University of 
Chicago (1892) and the Armour Institute of Technology (1893), 
were the creation of private philanthropists. Under spur of the 
Morrill act of 1862 (see page 142) twenty more state universities 
opened between 1865 and 1900, mostly in the Middle and Far 
West, while the older foundations increasingly freed themselves 
from denominational influences on the one hand and political 
entanglements on the other. Everywhere the cause of higher 
education was quickened. To give depth and direction to the 
new forces a remarkable group of university presidents came 
to the fore, including Andrew D. White of Cornell, James McCosh 
of Princeton, Charles W. Eliot of Harvard, James B. Angell 
of Michigan, Noah Porter of Yale, Daniel Coit Oilman of 
Johns Hopkins and William Rainey Harper of the University of 

Under the leadership of men of this caliber the traditional 
college curriculum, besides being enriched with new subjects of 
instruction, was extended upward to include training for research 
and the granting of graduate degrees. Since the i86o's increasing 
numbers of American college graduates had been frequenting 
German university centers where they drank deep of the learning 
of some of the greatest scholars and scientists the world afforded. 


In the eighties the exodus reached flood tide, embracing over two 
thousand. Imbibing the Teutonic ideal of patient specialization, 
of knowing all about a few things instead of a little about many, 
these eager young pilgrims returned to America resolved through 
their efforts to enlarge the world's store of knowledge as well as to 
disseminate it. Johns Hopkins University, devoting itself pri- 
marily to graduate work, numbered among its faculty scarcely^ 
professor who had not had German training. Under its tonic 
influence other institutions rapidly expanded their advanced in- 
struction, the total number of American-enrolled students in- 
creasing from about 400 in 1875 to nearly 5700 in 1900. By the 
century's close a dozen universities offered as rich opportunities 
for graduate training as could be found anywhere in the world. 
It is worth noting that, in a supposedly materialistic age, a larger 
proportion of American youth than ever before consecrated them- 
selves to careers in which the financial rewards at best were 

The zeal for extending the bounds of knowledge reminded 
James Bryce of "the scholars of the Renaissance flinging them- 
selves into the study of rediscovered philology/' For the first 
time, American research workers began to hold their own with the 
scientists and scholars of the Old World. To keep abreast the 
latest discoveries specialists in the different fields banded together 
in great nation-wide associations like the American Chemical 
Society (1876), the Modern Language Association (1883) and the 
American Economic Association (1885). The general govern- 
ment, too, turned to the active promotion of research, not only 
by means of the agricultural experiment stations (see page 142), 
but also through such agencies as the federal geological survey 
and the bureau of ethnology, both established in 1879. In nearly 
every branch of investigation the evolutionary hypothesis helped 
dispel the darkness surrounding ancient problems and light the 
way to new results. G. Stanley Hall, himself a contributor to the 
new study of experimental psychology, called it "the greatest 
intellectual stimulus of the modern age/' While some of the older 
scientists like Louis Agassiz at Harvard sided with leading the- 
ologians against the theory, far more typical was the course of two 
of his colleagues: Asa Gray who eagerly lent it the great weight of 
his reputation as a botanist, and John Fiske who, reaching a wider 

THE CULTURAL RENEWAL, 1865~1900 245 

intellectual audience through his popular lectures and writings, 
taught that the evolutionary process explained man's social as 
well as his biological development. 1 

Though the growth of knowledge stemmed primarily from the 
minute investigations of myriad workers, certain names stand 
out as of special note. Among such men in the natural sciences 
were A. A. Michelson who in 1879 began his epoch-making ex- 
periments in measuring the velocity of light; Simon Newcomb, 
famed for his recomputation of the elements of the solar system; 
and 0. C. Marsh and E. D. Cope whose excavations of vast fossil 
beds of prehistoric beasts in the American West enriched the 
world's knowledge of paleontology. Greater than any of these, 
however, was J. Willard Gibbs who laid the foundations for a new 
branch of research, physical chemistry, and who is generally 
termed the foremost scientist America has yet produced. Tower- 
ing figures also appeared in the social sciences; for example, 
Francis A. Walker and Richard T. Ely in economics, Lester F. 
Ward in sociology, Lewis H. Morgan in anthropology, John W. 
Burgess and Woodrow Wilson in political science, J. B. Me- 
Master, James Ford Rhodes, Henry Adams and Henry C. Lea in 
history. Frederick J. Turner, a member of this last group, in 
1893 S ave a f res k direction to historical study for years to come by 
pointing to the profound influence that the frontier, then rapidly 
vanishing, had exerted upon American development from the 
earliest days of settlement. In psychology William James was a 
dominant factor, as he also was in philosophy where he developed 
the theory of method known as pragmatism. These men and their 
kind were as truly discoverers, explorers, pioneers, in the in- 
tellectual realm as were their forbears who had hewn a path 
through the physical wilderness of forest and mountain. On their 
tireless labors and penetrating insights rests the vast superstruc- 
ture of American scientific achievement in the twentieth century. 


No less fruitful were the forces at work in letters and the fine 
arts. In 1871 Walt Whitman published his most noteworthy 

1 Though deeply indebted to the contemporary English philosopher Herbert 
Spencer, Fiske differed from Ms master in insisting that evolution implied the 
working out of a divine plan for the betterment of mankind. 


prose work Democratic Vistas. Boldly he called for a literary 
culture springing from the common life, one begot of the people, 
by the people and for the people. His challenge to the new era was 
what Ralph Waldo Emerson's The American Scholar had been to 
the generation of the thirties and forties. But where the Concord 
sage had pleaded for an aristocracy of literature for the lone 
man thinking his own thoughts Whitman pleaded for a 
democracy of literature, one "fit to cope with our occasions, lands, 
permeating the whole mass of American mentality, taste, belief, 
breathing into it a new breath of life." Know you not, he asked, 
"that the people of our land may all know how to read and write, 
and may all possess the right to vote, and yet the main things 
may be entirely lacking? " He himself, scorning rhyme, meter and 
other conventional poetic embellishments, sounded the new note 
in verse, free, ardent and spacious, its leitmotif the praise of 
common people and common things. 

As if evoked by his trumpeting, there trooped forth from every 
corner of the land young writers eager to record their impressions 
of a many-sided rural civilization fast disappearing before the 
standardizing influences of urbanism and industrialism. Im- 
patient with the bookishness and fastidious diction of their 
predecessors, they told their stories simply, often with uncon- 
scious idealization, and always with a careful attention to dialect 
and local color. Never before had American fiction so faithfully 
mirrored the amazing diversity that typified the human geog- 
raphy of the nation. Edward Eggleston in The Eoosier School- 
Master (1871) and later novels depicted mid-century conditions 
in rural Indiana. "Mark Twain" (Samuel L. Clemens), drawing 
on his own earlier experiences, gave a broadly humorous account 
of life along the Mississippi, producing his masterpiece in The 
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884). With Bret Harte and the 
poet Joaquin Miller he also helped make memorable the pic- 
turesque life of the Far West, while Helen Hunt Jackson in 
Ramona (1884) recalled the romance and drama of the passing of 
the old Spanish order in California. 

Nor were other sections of the nation less ably represented. 
There was a literary New South as well as a political and indus- 
trial one. In finely wrought sketches George W. Cable, Grace 
King and Kate Chopin introduced a wondering America to the 

THE CULTURAL RENEWAL, 1865-1900 247 

exotic, orange-scented atmosphere of Creole life in Louisiana; 
the chivalry of the old Virginia gentry lived again in the pages of 
Thomas Nelson Page and F. Hopkinson Smith. By contrast, 
In the Tennessee Mountains (1884) and other stories by "Charles 
Egbert Craddock" (Mary N. Murfree) told of the humble folk 
dwelling amidst the grandeur of the interior highlands, and Joel 
Chandler Harris revealed a new aspect of the Negro in his 
charming versions of animal myths as narrated by Uncle Remus. 
In authors like Sarah Orne Jewett and Mary E. Wilkins New 
England had its regional spokesmen, but they were concerned 
not with a colorful past but with the dun hues of the present, 
giving sympathetic portrayals of narrow, introspective lives in 
the era of New England's rural decline. 

Still other writers found their themes in the main stream rather 
than in the backwaters of American life. In a series of novels dis- 
tinguished by such works as The Rise of Silas Lapham (1884) and 
A Hazard of New Fortunes (1889) William Dean Howells dealt 
with the trials and foibles of middle-class urban people, with ever 
sharpening emphasis upon the " economic chance- world" which 
governed human destinies under modern conditions. Henry 
James, residing abroad and employing a style marked by pains- 
taking precision, discovered rich literary opportunities in the 
clash of Old World culture upon Americans in Europe. Both men 
strove to achieve realism, but, unlike the contemporary realists 
in France and Russia, they concerned themselves with life's 
normalities instead of its abnormalities. A harsher temper per- 
vaded the pages of Hamlin Garland, who in Main-Travelled 
Roads (1891) stressed the repellent aspects of Midwestern rural 
life, and of Stephen Crane whose Maggie, a Girl of the Streets 
(1892) exposed one of the tragic failures of the vaunted urban 
civilization. Even Mark Twain indirectly leveled deadly shafts 
at the inhumanity and injustices of modem industrialism in his 
burlesque on the Middle Ages, A Connecticut Yankee in King 
Arthur's Court (1889). The i88o's marked the full bloom of the 
new literary growths, with a greater number of good novels 
published than in any other American decade. Yet the epoch was 
even more distinctive for its profusion of short stories, " literature 
in small parcels/' a form which this generation molded into a 
finished work of art. It was peculiarly adapted to the taste of the 


hurrying, scurrying people who filled the cities. Through the 
short story America has made perhaps her greatest contribution 
to world literature. 

Equally significant was the renaissance in the arts of line, 
color and form. Just as young American scholars were flocking 
to Germany, so fledgling painters, sculptors and architects were 
besieging the studios of Paris, the world's art center. During the 
seventies, as they returned in ever increasing numbers, their 
advent was like a fresh wind on a sultry day, clearing the at- 
mosphere of muggy traditions and introducing breadth, freedom 
and vigor. In the field of painting the clash of schools was so 
sharp as to cause the " Younger Men" in 1877 to form the 
Society of American Artists in opposition to the long-established 
National Academy of Design. Into their ranks they quickly 
drew some of the more progressive older men like George Inness 
and John La Farge. The years that followed brought an epoch of 
creative achievement in painting such as the nation had never 
before known. A few names will illustrate both the quality and 
variety of the work performed. In Inness America discovered 
perhaps her greatest landscape painter, an artist with a poet's 
insight into nature's vagrant moods. By contrast Winslow Homer 
painted bold, realistic canvases of the sea. James A. McNeill 
Whistler's genius appeared best in his nocturnes, which conveyed 
inimitably the hue and mystery and quiet of night. His well- 
known painting, "The Artist's Portrait of His Mother," a study 
in grays, was bought in 1891 by the French government. 
A. P. Ryder devoted his brush to legendary and often nocturnal 
subjects, which he interpreted with great imaginative power. La 
Farge transformed American mural painting into a fine art and, 
through his invention of opalescent glass, helped revive the 
ancient glories of medieval stained-glass work. In response to the 
new interest in painting, art schools increased from less than forty 
in 1880 to nearly one hundred and twenty at the century's close. 
The establishment of public art museums by Washington, New 
York and Boston in the postwar decade led other large cities 
presently to make similar provision. In a less obvious way the 
waxing popularity of the camera, especially after the simplifica- 
tions introduced in the eighties by George Eastman of Rochester, 
helped to awaken in many a latent artistic sense. 

THE CULTURAL RENEWAL, 1865-1900 249 

In sculpture gifted men like Daniel Chester French, Frederick 
W. MacMonnies and G. G. Barnard pushed to the front and 
exerted a profound influence for higher standards. The foremost 
practitioner, however, was Augustus Saint-Gaudens, whose statue 
of Admiral Farragut (1881) in Madison Square Garden, New 
York, first revealed his genius to the public. His symbolic figure, 
"The Peace of God," erected at the tomb of Mrs. Henry Adams 
in Washington in 1891, is generally accounted the greatest sculp- 
ture America has yet produced. In no other branch of art had the 
national traditions been so poor. These men and their like raised 
it to a plane comparable with the best work of contemporary 

The new influences made slower headway in architecture, 
partly because of the enormous new construction required to 
accommodate the needs of the swift-growing cities, partly also 
because people did not discriminate between ostentation and 
good taste. Even men of wealth and note oftentimes lived in 
houses disfigured with towers, turrets, Moorish arches and fan- 
tastic jigsaw work in wood and iron. It was Henry Hobson 
Richardson who ushered in a better day. Employing the heavy 
Romanesque style of southern France, he taught the superiority 
of sturdiness, unity and restraint as elements of design. His 
crowning achievement was Trinity Church, Boston, in 1877, for 
which John La Farge provided the murals and much of the 
stained-glass work. Before Richardson died in 1886, many fel- 
low craftsmen had risen up to foster the superior standards, and 
from plans published in magazines like the Ladies' Home Journal 
the ordinary person might learn how to build an inexpensive 
house in approved taste. The younger men wrought character- 
istically in the classic mode or some of its Renaissance derivatives. 
The Chicago World's Fair of 1893 largely the architectural 
creation of D. H. Burnham, C. B. Atwood, R. M. Hunt and the 
firm of McKim, Mead and White marked the supreme attain- 
ment of the classic style, the effect being a poignant dream of 
loveliness. Louis Sullivan, one of the World's Fair group, pos- 
sessed a more individual genius. His work prefigured the func- 
tional architecture of a later time, so strikingly exemplified by 
the Chicago exposition of 1933. 

A special problem was presented by the need to economize 


ground space in the congested business quarters of big cities. 
The obvious solution was lofty perpendicular structures, whose 
use the recent introduction of the fast elevators rendered prac- 
ticable. Masonry construction, however, required supporting 
piers so huge as to devour much of the desirable space in the 
lower floors. The upshot was the invention of the skyscraper, 
a building riveted securely in a metal frame and employing 
brick or stone merely to screen off the weather. Less trammeled 
by tradition than the Eastern centers, Chicago first ventured 
upon the new departure, the original "skyscraper" being the 
Home Insurance Building (1885) which rose to what then seemed 
the dizzy height of ten stories. Soon Chicago and New York 
engaged in pushing their office buildings higher and higher 
until in 1898 the Ivins Syndicate Building in the latter city 
achieved twenty-nine floors, a mere hint of what awaited in the 
next century. These "proud structures, defiant in their altitude," 
fittingly symbolized the titanic energy, the willingness to experi- 
ment, the superb engineering competence, that characterized 
the age. Since historical research has denied to Americans the 
credit of devising the log cabin, the skyscraper stands as the 
nation's unique architectural gift to the world. 

If progress in musical composition was less brilliant, still the 
nation began in a modest way to repay its debt for the rich 
stores of melody it had long derived from Europe. The principal 
composers had all received their training in Germany. John 
Knowles Paine, George W. Chadwick and Horatio Parker won a 
transatlantic reputation for their orchestral and choral scores, 
while Edward A. MacDowell composed piano selections dis- 
tinguished by originality and haunting beauty. More significant 
perhaps was the heartening growth of popular musical apprecia- 
tion. Conservatories of music sprang up in the more important 
cities; artists' recitals enjoyed a profitable patronage; choral 
societies flourished, particularly in German centers; the founding 
of the New York Symphony Orchestra in 1878 and of the Boston 
Symphony Orchestra three years later signalized a new era in 
orchestral music. Grand opera, too, secured a firmer footing 
with the opening in 1883 of the Metropolitan Opera House in 
New York. Such evidences of public support and improving 
taste augured well for future musical attainments. 

THE CULTURAL RENEWAL, 1865-1900 251 

All classes in the cities faced the problem of making use of the 
increasing leisure at their disposal, even the wage-earners whom 
the gradual reduction of the workday gave unwonted freedom. 
Life under pioneer conditions had taught the people how to 
work but not how to relax. They therefore turned to pleasure 
with the same fierce energy that they devoted to money making. 
In Bryce's contemporary phrase, they "make amusement into a 
business." Society life in the greater cities became character- 
ized by frantic display, especially on the part of the newly rich 
determined to climb into the ranks of the exclusive. If Patrick 
O'Riley, formerly a familiar of the shirt-sleeved saloon gang, 
would win social recognition as Patrique Oreille, his womenfolk 
must somehow or other perform the miracle. Ways and means 
lay at hand. Palatial mansions and lavish entertaining helped 
obscure the rise from humble origins; liberal patronage of fash- 
ionable charities smoothed the path; proper "ancestors" were 
always procurable from the right genealogists. But the supreme 
goal was a brilliant international marriage. So successful were 
ambitious mothers in this quest that toward the end of the 
century it was estimated that over $200,000,000 had been 
exported to replenish the coffers of impoverished European no- 

For the ordinary man no use of leisure better suited his taste 
than to join one or more of the secret fraternal orders that sprang 
up as if by spontaneous generation. Attaining their greatest 
numerical strength in the urban centers, these lodges not only 
provided a substitute for the neighborliness of rural communities, 
but, through their elaborate ceremonialism, enabled members to 
recover a sense of self-importance lost in the solitude of crowds. 
A further attraction appeared in the sickness and death benefits 
usually provided. Between 1880 and 1901 no less than 490 dif- 
ferent fraternal organizations were founded. By the latter date 
America had fairly won its title of a "nation of joiners," with 
over six million names on the rosters of its secret societies. 

At the same time, the multiplication of city dwellers rendered 
possible new developments in the theater. The serious drama 
probably has never been better presented than by such native 


players as Edwin Booth, Clara Morris and Lawrence Barrett 
and by such foreign visitors as Sarah Bernhardt and Helena 
Modjeska. More characteristic of the times, however, was the 
enthusiastic patronage accorded to the minstrel show and the 
circus, and similarly to the endless series of blood-curdling 
melodramas that pleased a public taste whetted by the dime 
novel and the sensational press. Yet no form of stage entertain- 
ment so well embodied the restless urban spirit as vaudeville, 
which Tony Pastor, B. F. Keith and others made into a great 
success. Vaudeville, observed a contemporary, " belongs to the 
era of the department store and the short story." By the iSgo's 
it accounted for the attendance of perhaps half the theatergoers. 
Comic opera also made its appearance, floated into general favor 
on the wave of popularity that greeted " Pinafore" and other 
delightful concoctions of the Britishers, Gilbert and Sullivan. 
The tunes from such musical performances swiftly became known 
from one end of the country to the other, thanks to the inven- 
tion of the talking machine or phonograph. Devised by Edison 
in 1877-1878, the original crude instrument, consisting of a tin- 
foil cylinder record turned by hand, was presently improved by 
Edison and others through the adoption of flat waxlike disks and 
the use of spring or electric motors. Soon it was furnishing 
amusement and recreation in countless homes. 

These years also saw the rise of organized sport. As rural life 
receded into the background, as more and more people slaved 
long hours in office and factory, some form of outdoor diversion 
became indispensable. Unhappily, softened muscles did not 
encourage active personal participation. Most people therefore 
were content to take their more violent exercise vicariously, a 
tendency zealously abetted by sport promoters who coveted the 
gate receipts that professional contests made possible. The 
"audience habit," nurtured by the theater, thus came to infect 
sport lovers as well. Many of the new games were imported from 
Great Britain where an athletic revival had been proceeding since 
the mid-century; in the United States, however , they were deemed 
not a special perquisite of the upper classes but a boon to be 
enjoyed by everyone. In the case of basketball, invented in 1891, 
Americans contributed a game all their own. 

Of the older sports thoroughbred racing enjoyed an era of 

THE CULTURAL RENEWAL, 1865-1900 253 

unparalleled prosperity. Prize fighting, though viewed askance 
by the respectable elements, brought to the fore a succession 
of world's heavyweight champions in John L. Sullivan (1882), 
James J. Corbett (1892), "Bob" Fitzsimmons (1897) and James 
J. Jeffries (1899) Baseball, long a favorite amateur pastime, 
began to assume its aspect as " America's national game 7 ' when 
the Cincinnati Red Stockings in 1869 turned themselves into a 
professional team. Soon professional baseball overspread the 
land, leading to the formation of intercity leagues and, in 1884, 
to the first " World Series" between the pennant-winning teams 
of the two major leagues. Football, an American version of the 
English game Rugby, developed somewhat more slowly, being 
closely associated with the growth of college athletics. The first 
intercollegiate contest occurred between Princeton and Rutgers 
in 1869. Seven years later the American Intercollegiate Football 
Association was formed by Columbia, Harvard, Princeton and 
Yale; and in the next score of years the game, under constantly 
changing rules, spread to nearly all the colleges and most of the 
high schools of the country. At Connecticut Wesleyan Profes- 
sor Woodrow Wilson in his odd hours helped coach a team that 
in 1889 defeated Pennsylvania, Amherst, Williams, Rutgers and 

Lawn tennis, golf and polo were among the new sports intro- 
duced in the seventies. In these and other games, differences 
as to rules caused the formation of national associations to 
establish uniform regulations and often also to conduct annual 
tournaments. All classes took part in this new play life of the 
nation. The well-to-do signified their approval by the estab- 
lishment of athletic clubs, country clubs and yacht clubs. In 
between his political activities Theodore Roosevelt found time 
to box, wrestle, fish, hunt and play polo, exemplifying in these 
early years his later championship of the cc strenuous life." Pres- 
ident Hayes found relaxation in shooting at a mark in Rock 
Creek Park, and his successors, Arthur and Cleveland, were 
among the country's most expert fishermen. 

In the eighties the modern bicycle began its amazing career 
of popularity. Bicycling had been confined earlier to riders 
whose courage was undaunted by an occasional fall from the 
lofty perch over the high front wheel. But the introduction in 


1884 of the " safety" bicycle possessing two medium-sized 
wheels of equal height and the later substitution of pneumatic 
tires for solid rubber ones produced a cycling craze that ramified 
to every part of the nation. By 1893 a million bicycles were in 
use. Spurred by the League of American Wheelmen, over half 
the states enacted laws for improving their highways, a move- 
ment later to be accelerated by the advent of the automobile. 
For untold thousands cycling renewed the forgotten pleasures of 
open road and countryside. It also helped bring about more 
rational fashions for women. The generation little dreamed that 
the rattling, snorting "horseless carriage/ 7 with which inventors 
in the nineties were hopefully beginning to tinker, would presently 
spell the doom of the universally popular "bike." 


The Diffusion and Progress of Knowledge. The varied phases of civiliza- 
tion treated in this chapter are dealt with in Nevins, The Emergence of 
Modem America, and Schlesinger, The Rise of the City. Such works as Cub- 
berley, Public Education in the United States, Dexter, A History of Education 
in the United States, and Knight, Public Education in the South, sketch the 
expansion of the public school system. The latest and best survey of news- 
paper development is Bleyer, Main Currents in the History of American 
Journalism. Among the ablest of the individual newspaper histories are 
Davis, History of the New York Times, and Nevins, The Evening Post. The 
fathers of the yellow press are treated in Seitz, Joseph Pulitzer, and Winkler, 
W. R. Hearst, and another phase of journalism forms the theme of Rose- 
water, History of Cooperative News-Gathering in the United States. Ogden, 
Life and Letters of Edwin Lawrence Godkin, is concerned with the New York 
Nation and its editor. On major trends in higher education the writings of 
Thwing are enlightening, notably A History of Education in the United States 
since the Civil War and The American and the German University. Outstanding 
contributors to the advancement of knowledge are considered biographically 
in Jordan, ed., Leading American Men of Science, and Odum, American 
Masters of Social Science. 

Letters and the Arts. Of the many surveys of American literature, Pattee, 
A History of American Literature since 1870, and Parrington, The Beginnings 
of Critical Realism in America, devote detailed attention to postwar develop- 
ments. Hartmann, A History of American Art, which briefly reviews both 
painting and sculpture, should be supplemented by fuller treatments like 
Isham, The History of American Painting, and Taft, The History of American 
Sculpture. Weitenkampf, American Graphic Art, considers the various forms 
of illustrative art. Talhnadge, The Story of American Architecture, is an en- 
gaging presentation of the subject. The student will want to consult the 
excellent pictorial reproductions in Mather and others, The American Spirit 

THE CULTURAL RENEWAL, 1865-1900 255 

in Art, and Hamlin, The American Spirit in Architecture. Howard, Our 
American Music: Three Hundred Years of It, is informing and accurate. 

Recreation and Sport. Theatrical development is canvassed in Horn- 
blow, A History of the Theatre in America; Crawford, The Romance of the 
American Theatre; and Mayorga, A Short History of the American Drama. 
A particular phase is treated in Wittke, Tambo and Bones: A History of 
the American Minstrel Stage. Krout, Annals of American Sport, offers the 
best general historical discussion. For two major sports Weyand, American 
Football, and Spalding, America's National Game (baseball), are of special 



S the eighties wore on, rural life lagged ever farther behind 

the van of urban progress. The gains of the Economic 
Revolution accrued primarily to city dwellers. Few of the new 
mechanical inventions ameliorated life on the countryside. From 
their city ramparts captains of industry, as we have seen, directed 
the course of economic conquest heedless of how rural welfare 
might be affected. In the increase of national wealth the husband- 
man secured a rapidly dwindling share. Whereas the value of 
farms in 1880 just equaled that of urban real estate, ten years 
later city real estate had advanced to double the value of farm 
land. The contrast was even sharper if other forms of property 
were included. A contemporary economist estimated that in 
1890 the average wealth of rural families did not exceed $3250, 
while that of urban families surpassed $9000. This disparity in 
worldly goods and economic progress was emphasized by the 
many human advantages that city life afforded opportunities 
for choosing from among a variety of occupations, for working 
shorter hours, for social commingling, for educational and cul- 
tural development, for amusement and recreation. Under the 
provision of the homestead law for four different farms to each 
square mile, isolation and loneliness were the almost inescapable 
conditions of existence in the newer West, a fact that worked a 
special hardship on womenfolk and members of the growing 
generation. Though many country dwellers continued to value 
farming above every other type of life, the phenomenal migration 
from country to town suggests how greatly such contrasts affected 
rural psychology. " The farm youth sees only the dazzling, gaudy 
side of city life/ 3 lamented one student of conditions. "He sees 
not that for every success there are scores, nay hundreds, who sink 
into darkness and misery." 

This growing sense of rural inferiority, this deepening convio 



tion that the tillers of the soil were losing their ancient heritage 
of economic independence and equal opportunity, needed only 
specific bread-and-butter grievances to precipitate organized 
movements for farm relief. Such grievances the eighties provided 
in abundance. The return of prosperity in 1879 (see page 173), 
after six years of depression, chiefly benefited the urban and 
industrial sections. Because of the enormous expansion of West- 
ern agriculture and of stiff er competition in the world's markets 
with the wheat-growing regions of Russia, Australia and the 
Argentine, farm prices fell disastrously during the decade. Corn, 
which commanded 63 cents a bushel in 1881, sold for 28 in 1890. 
Wheat averaged but 73 cents a bushel from 1883 to 1889, oats 28. 
The farmer himself blamed the increasing woes of agriculture not 
on " overproduction/' but on the profits which middlemen 
garnered from his labors, the high transportation charges imposed 
by the railroads, and the heavy interest rates that his creditors 
(mostly Easterners) exacted. " There are three great crops raised 
in Nebraska/' wrote one embittered agricultural editor. "One 
is a crop of com, one a crop of freight rates, and one a crop of 
interest. One is produced by fanners who by sweat and toil farm 
the land. The other two are produced by men who sit in their 
offices and behind their bank counters and farm the farmers." 
As if the situation were not bad enough, an almost uninterrupted 
decade of drought, beginning in 1887 and attended by infesta- 
tions of chinch bugs, destroyed the plantings of countless settlers 
who had taken up homesteads in the semiarid zone embracing 
the western halves of Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas. It 
seemed as though the hand of both man and nature was raised 
against the husbandman. By 1890 mortgages averaged one for 
every two persons in Kansas and North Dakota, one for every 
three in Nebraska, South Dakota and Minnesota. In some coun- 
ties ninety per cent or more of the land was under mortgage. 

Meantime, the Southern agriculturist complained of similar 
difficulties: low farm prices, excessive transportation costs, heavy 
taxes, grinding debts. The market price of cotton, the principal 
staple, averaged less than nine cents a pound during the decade. 
The crop-lien system, by which the farmer mortgaged his growing 
crop at high interest charges, enmeshed perhaps eighty or ninety 
per cent of the cotton growers, reducing them to a condition of 


" debt-peonage." Throughout the South agricultural land tended 
to gravitate into the hands of money lenders, loan companies and 
a few of the financially stronger farmers. In the nation as a whole 
the mortgage indebtedness of farm lands grew from $343,000,000 
in 1880 to $586,000,000 in 1890. 

Meanwhile evidences of agrarian unrest multiplied. Under 
a bewildering variety of names farmers' clubs, associations, 
unions, alliances, sprang up in the South and West to consider 
common grievances and propose means of relief. In this manner 
two great organizations grew up in the cotton belt the National 
Farmers' Alliance, started in 1879, and the Agricultural Wheel 
three years later which in 1889 joined to form a body with 
over a million members, known popularly as the Southern Farm- 
ers' Alliance. Meanwhile a Northern Farmers' Alliance, founded 
in 1880, rose to a dominant position among the agricultural 
bodies of the trans-Mississippi West. At first the organized 
fanners pinned their faith to nonpolitical measures. Taking a leaf 
from the experience of the Grangers, they tried to cultivate a 
pleasanter rural life through picnics, lodge meetings and other 
neighborhood gatherings of one sort or another. Like the Grang- 
ers, too, local groups adventured in the field of economic co- 
operation, setting up their own stores, cotton yards, grain ele- 
vators, creameries, insurance companies and the like. But when 
these cooperative undertakings collapsed, as most of them did 
because of poor business direction or cutthroat competition, the 
farmers began to seek legislative remedies for their ills. In a 
number of Southern states new leaders "fresh from the soil/ 7 
like "Ben" Tfflman in South Carolina and "Jim" Hogg in 
Texas, leaped into prominence and, by rousing the rural masses 
against the leadership of the upper classes and the towns, cap- 
tured the Democratic party in their states. In the strongly 
Republican commonwealths of the West the agrarian elements 
usually formed independent parties, sometimes through fusion 
with the Democrats. Such successes, however, promised only 
limited relief; the ultimate goal was the control of Congress. 
From the national government the agrarians hoped to secure 
their chief means of salvation: currency inflation, a graduated 
income tax on the rich and public ownership of railroads. 

While the greenback notion still lingered fondly in the minds 


of many, the circumstances of the time directed chief attention 
to another form of money inflation, "free silver. 77 Until 1873 
the country had been on a bimetallic standard, that is, the govern- 
ment stood ready to coin into dollars all the gold and silver that 
might be brought to the mint. Congress in that year reorganized 
the monetary system and, among other things, omitted the 
standard silver dollar from the list of authorized domestic coins. 
The act excited little attention at the time because, thanks to the 
scarcity of silver metal, the amount of bullion required for a silver 
dollar exceeded its legal value, and hence none had actually been 
in circulation for forty years. Almost at once events occurred 
that put a different face on affairs. The law which had been 
passed by default gained an ugly repute as the " Crime of 1873," 
and in the political discussions of the next quarter-century the 
demonetization of silver was ascribed to a sinister and corrupt plot 
of Big Business and Wall Street. This sudden change of attitude 
was due partly to an enormous and unexpected leap in the world's 
supply of silver ore as a result of the fabulous finds in the moun- 
tain states of the West. At about the same time several European 
countries, deciding to adopt the gold standard, melted their 
larger silver coins and thus further increased the supply avail- 
able. 1 

With the nation wallowing in a slough of hard times, agrarian 
spokesmen in the West and South, abetted by labor groups 
in the Eastern industrial centers, demanded a return to free 
silver; in other words, a resumption of the unlimited coinage 
of the historic silver dollar as in the years before 1873. Confi- 
dent that their troubles stemmed from a shortage of circulating 
medium, they cited not only the " Crime of 1873," but also the 
fact that the world's annual production of gold was virtually 
stationary. By enlarging the volume of money in use, they 
believed the government would indirectly help them to get 
higher prices for farm crops and better wages in industry, and 
make it easier for them to pay their debts. They reckoned 
without the waxing strength of the Eastern business classes, 
which shrank from any measure that might diminish the pur- 

1 Germany demonetized silver in 1871, Denmark, Sweden and Norway in 1873. 
In the latter year the Latin Union, composed of France, Italy, Belgium, Switzer- 
land and Greece, limited silver coinage. 


chasing power of their incomes and enable debtors to discharge 
their obligations in " cheap money. 73 To the aid of the inflation- 
ists, however, came the small but energetic group of silver-mine 
owners in the Far West, who saw the market price of the bullion 
content of the old dollar drop from $1.02 in 1872 to 96 cents in 
1875, and to 82 in l88 5> witl1 the downward trend unchecked. 
If the government could again be induced to purchase all the 
bullion brought to the mint for coinage, they reasoned that the 
market price of the metal and the profits of silver production 
would rise in response to the unlimited demand. The money 
question did not become an issue between the parties for many 
years. Within each party, however, it produced jangling dis- 
cord, the members from the West and South generally opposing 
those from the moneyed East and the manufacturing sections 
of the Midwest. 

The first trial of strength between the forces came in Novem- 
ber, 1877, when a free-silver bill passed the House of Representa- 
tives with Western and Southern support. Its father was "Silver 
Dick" (Richard P.) Bland, whose advocacy bespoke his experi- 
ences in the Western mining country as well as his sympathy 
with his debt-ridden farmer constituents. Unwilling to go so 
far, the Senate at the instance of W. B. Allison of Iowa amended 
the bill by directing the Treasury Department to buy only from 
two to four million dollars of silver bullion each month for coin- 
age. President Hayes rejected the measure on the ground that, 
in the case of money borrowed after 1873, it involved a virtual 
scaling down of debts and hence a breach of contract. But the 
bill was easily carried over his veto in February, 1878. As a 
compromise settlement, the Bland-Allison act had the effect of 
allaying further agitation for several years, though both Arthur 
and Cleveland recommended repeal of the law. The least amount 
of bullion permitted by the statute was purchased and coined 
each month, adding about $31,000,000 annually to the circulating 

Toward the end of the eighties the movement sprang to life 
again. The reasons were various. For one thing, the government, 
bent on reducing the surplus revenue, was actively engaged in 
retiring the war bonds; and since the volume of national bank 
notes varied with the amount of federal bonds the banks owned, 


this course of action caused these notes to shrink from a total 
of $359,000,000 in 1882 to $186,000,000 in 1890. At the same 
time that this money was being taken out of circulation, the 
admission of six new plains and mountain states in 1889 and 
1890 (see page 143) strengthened the hand of the silver forces, 
particularly in the Senate. Besides, the Farmers' Alliances now 
loomed big on the national political horizon. Party politicians 
were scarcely surprised when the fall elections of 1890 placed 
fifty-three "Alliance men" in Congress. When the question of a 
new monetary law was taken up early in that year, it appeared 
that, contrary to their earlier attitudes, the Senate now favored 
free silver while the House wanted no change. The silverites 
in the House, however, finally forced the majority to make 
concessions by threatening to vote against the McKinley tariff 
bill, then in course of passage. In July, 1890, the so-called 
Sherman silver-purchase act went into effect. Though not pro- 
viding for free silver, it required the Treasury Department to 
buy 4,500,000 ounces of bullion each month (nearly twice as 
much as had been coined before), and to issue in payment therefor 
treasury notes of full legal-tender character, redeemable in either 
gold or silver at the government's option. William McKinley, 
who had supported the Bland free-silver bill in 1877 as a mem- 
ber of the House, advocated the new law as the next best thing 
to unlimited coinage. 


Unlike the Bland-Allison act, no respite of agitation followed 
the new silver law. Almost at once began another downward 
plunge in the prices of cotton, grain and livestock. An investiga- 
tion, made by the Department of Agriculture in 1893, showed 
that under existing conditions the cost of raising wheat and corn 
exceeded the prices received. In the single year 1891 no less 
than 18,000 covered wagons crossed from the Nebraska to the 
Iowa bank of the Missouri River in full flight before the scorpion- 
whips of disaster. Between 1889 and 1893 more than 11,000 mort- 
gages were foreclosed in Kansas alone. Meanwhile, despite the 
greater absorption of silver by the mint, the bullion value of the 
dollar fell from 81 cents in 1890 to 60 three years later. A wave 
of despair swept over the West and South. Hamlin Garland, 


who studied the phenomenon at first-hand, wrote many years 
later, "As ten-cent corn and ten per cent interest were troubling 
Kansas, so six-cent cotton was inflaming Georgia and both were 
frankly sympathetic with Montana and Colorado whose miners 
were suffering from a drop in the price of silver/' The new spirit 
was exemplified by Mrs. Mary E. Lease of Kansas, who, ex- 
horting the farmers to " raise less corn and more hell," shouted 
to great audiences, "The West and South are bound and prostrate 
before the manufacturing East." The effect on conservative 
Easterners was reflected in the caustic comment of the New 
York Evening Post, "We don't want any more states until we 
can civilize Kansas." 

Flushed by their successes in the November elections of 1890, 
the Farmers' Alliances laid plans to bring the urban wage-earners 
into the movement, and thereby enable the manual workers of 
the nation to present a united front to the old parties. In May, 
1891, over fourteen hundred representatives of various agrarian, 
labor and reform groups, meeting in Cincinnati, resolved to 
enter the national political arena as the People's party, and a 
mammoth convention in Omaha on July 2, 1892; made prepara- 
tions for the impending presidential election. The platform 
charged the Republicans and Democrats with sacrificing "our 
homes, lives, and children on the altar of Mammon," and prom- 
ised that the Populists would restore the government "to the 
hands of the plain people with whose class it originated." To 
this end it pledged such measures as free silver, greenbacks, a 
graduated income tax, government ownership of railways and 
telegraphs, a shorter workday for urban laborers, direct election 
of United States Senators, and the initiative and referendum. 
The adoption of the platform, according to an observer, evoked 
"cheers and yells which rose like a tornado . . . and raged 
without cessation for thirty-four minutes, during which women 
shrieked and wept, men embraced and kissed . . . , marched 
back and forth, and leaped upon tables and chairs in the ecstasy 
of their delirium." James B. Weaver of Iowa, veteran inflationist, 
who had headed the Greenback ticket in 1880, was named for 
President, with J. G. Field of Virginia as his running mate. 
In the ensuing election the new party amazed old-party leaders 
by polling twenty-two electoral votes and more than a million 


popular votes. For the first time since the birth of the Republican 
party, a minor party won representation in the electoral college. 

Nevertheless, as we have seen, Cleveland was elected by an 
enormous majority on the tariff issue and, should economic 
conditions improve, it seemed likely that the political stream 
would subside once more into its customary banks. But such 
did not prove to be the case. No sooner did the new President 
enter office than a panic crashed upon the country, which in its 
destructive effects rivaled that of 1873. The disaster of 1893 
was bred of a complication of causes. Overinvestment in railways 
and industrial combinations, including too many of a highly 
speculative character, was a prime factor. Widespread depres- 
sion in Europe since 1889, involving leading nations like Great 
Britain, Germany and France, had its influence by causing a 
withdrawal of part of the gold which foreign capitalists had 
invested in American enterprises. But most serious of all was 
the growing fear of the business classes that the flood of silver 
inflation under the Sherman act would sweep the government 
off a gold basis and force a suspension of gold payments. 

Though the Sherman law permitted the government to redeem 
the new treasury notes in either gold or silver, gold was a pop- 
ular symbol of the nation's financial integrity, and refusal to 
pay in the more precious metal would have destroyed public 
confidence. Yet no provision had been made in the act for en- 
larging the gold reserve. Hence, this fund of $100,000,000, 
established in 1875 to protect the greenbacks left outstanding 
(see page 164), must now serve, in addition, to back up the new 
treasury notes that were being issued at a rate of $50,000,000 
a year. 1 Indeed, since the gold reserve was not held separate 
from other public funds, there was the further danger that, under 
pressure of need, the government might use some of it for current 
operating expenses. Such an emergency confronted Cleveland 
when he took office. Thanks to lavish appropriations by Har- 
rison's outgoing Congress and the meager revenue produced by 
the McKinley tariff, the gold reserve within six weeks fell below 
the $100,000,000 mark, greatly to the alarm of the business and 

Greenbacks to the amount of nearly $347,000,000 were outstanding. The 
378,000,000 silver dollars issued under the Bland-Allison act were not, by law, 
redeemable in gold. 


financial classes. People everywhere rushed to get their treasury 
notes redeemed in gold, and foreign investors redoubled their 
efforts to secure prompt settlement of their American accounts 
in the only metal used in international trade. 

Even a sounder commercial structure might not have with- 
stood this shock to public confidence. As it was, a paralysis of 
terror gripped the business world. More than 8000 commercial 
concerns failed between April i and October i, with liabilities of 
nearly $285,000,000. Many banks also toppled, particularly ^in 
the West and South, and 156 railways went into receivership, 
including the Erie, the Union Pacific and the Northern Pacific. 
In the urban centers the problem of unemployment became acute, 
challenging all the resources of the new generation of social work- 
ers in the bestowal of relief. The fanners were now plunged even 
deeper into the abyss of adversity, wheat selling for but 49 cents 
a bushel in 1894. 

Cleveland, a hard-money man, was determined at all hazards 
to maintain the gold standard. This he planned to accomplish 
by two courses of action. In order to stop additional silver 
purchases and thus ease the strain upon the already overburdened 
gold reserve, he induced the House on August 28, 1893, to adopt 
a bill repealing the Sherman act. The upper chamber was in a 
more recalcitrant mood. Utilizing their opportunity of unlimited 
debate, the silver Senators for a time succeeded in delaying pas- 
sage through filibustering. On one occasion, W. V. Allen, the 
Nebraska Populist, held the floor for fourteen hours. Another 
persistent opponent was H. M. Teller, a Colorado Republican. 
But the majority eventually prevailed, and on November i the 
repeal bill became law. 

As a second measure, Cleveland proposed to borrow gold faster 
than it was drained from the treasury for redemption. In this 
way he hoped to protect the reserve of yellow metal without 
suspending gold payments. Unhappily, paper currency presented 
for redemption had to be paid out again to defray the govern- 
ment's running expenses, and this money the recipients promptly 
exchanged for gold. Under the operation of what the President 
called "an endless chain/' the gold fund dwindled from $95,000,- 
ooo at the end of June, 1893, to $65,000,000 a year later. Con- 
gress, inspired in part by silver arguments, refused to authorize 


bond issues to maintain the reserve, whereupon Cleveland, dis- 
covering authority in an earlier statute, sold $50,000,000 worth of 
bonds to the public for gold in January, 1894, and another 
$50,000,000 worth in November. Yet only temporary relief 
resulted, for the bonds were bought, in large part, with gold that 
had been drawn out of the treasury by the presentation of paper 
currency for redemption. In the quest for more substantial relief, 
the administration in February, 1895, arranged with J. P. Morgan 
and a financial syndicate for a loan of $65,000,000 worth of gold 
in return for government bonds. The unusual conditions were 
affixed that at least half the metal be procured from abroad, 
and that the bankers exert their influence to protect the gold 
reserve against further depletion. As a result, the strain on the 
government relaxed for the next four or five months, though the 
Populists and radical Democrats, embittered against capitalistic 
greed, charged Cleveland with allowing the financial group to 
take the bonds on too easy terms and thus make an excessive 
profit on the transaction. The peak of the financial crisis now was 
passed. Normal conditions, however, did not return until the 
next year, when they were assisted by a fourth bond sale this 
time directly to the public of $100,000,000 in January, 1896, 
and by a widespread improvement of business. 


When the bill repealing the Sherman law passed the House, 
" Silver Dick" Bland proclaimed that the struggle had but begun, 
and that it would end only in the establishment of free coinage. 
The events of the next few years made this prediction seem any- 
thing but an idle boast. The air was full of revolt against things 
as they were. The wage reductions and bread lines of 1893 P ro ~ 
duced a harvest of labor outbreaks in the spring of 1894, of which 
the Pullman strike was but the most portentous (see pages 
208-210). Among the two million unemployed the social con- 
tagion spread rapidly. Presently organized bands of the jobless 
began a march on Washington to make a personal presentation 
of their grievances. These " petitions in boots" moved slowly 
across the country, afoot and on horseback, sometimes stealing 
trains for faster transit, frightening some of the communities 
through which they passed and cheered on by others. They 


came from many points of the compass from Los Angeles, 
San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, Chicago, as well as from towns 
along the way and in New England. The "army" led by " Gen- 
eral" J. S. Coxey of Massillon, Ohio, though by no means the 
largest, excited the most attention. With depleted numbers, 
about twelve hundred men straggled into Washington from 
May to July, 1894. There they were able to accomplish nothing. 
Coxey himself was arrested on the technical charge of trespassing 
on the Capitol grounds, and his footsore comrades, facing starva- 
tion and harassed by the police, presently scattered for parts 
unknown. The failure of the movement, however, did not heal 
the conditions that had given it rise. 

Popular suspicion of the overweening power of Big Business 
was deepened by the Senate's betrayal of Cleveland's tariff 
policy in the Wilson-Gorman act in 1894 (see pages 189-190), 
and the Supreme Court's disallowance of the income tax in 
1895 provoked the greatest outburst of wrath against that 
tribunal since the Dred Scott decision. As Mr. Justice Harlan 
recalled many years later in the course of a judicial opinion, "a 
deep feeling of unrest" stirred the people. "The Nation had 
been rid of human slavery," he said, ". . . but the conviction 
was universal that the country was in real danger from another 
kind of slavery, . . . namely, the slavery that would result 
from aggregations of capital in the hands of a few . . . control- 
ling, for their own . . . advantage exclusively, the entire busi- 
ness of the country." 

Under the circumstances the battle over free silver took on the 
semblance of a holy war, arraying the West and South against the 
East, the countryside against the city, the debtor class against 
the creditor class. As a writer in the Arena magazine put it, the 
real meaning of the contest "lies far deeper than any question of 
one metal or two for a monetary base. It is a question of entrust- 
ing Federal power to men in hearty sympathy with the great 
common people or to men in sympathy with Wall Street." The 
growing enthusiasm for unlimited coinage displayed many of the 
elements of a mighty religious revival, and in 1894 appeared the 
Bible of the new faith in the form of a yellow-colored, paper- 
bound book entitled Coin's Financial School, written by W. H. 
Harvey. This little volume, enlivened with caricatures and 


addressed to the simplest understanding, set forth cogently the 
main silver arguments, and skillfully played upon the prejudices 
of the poor against the rich. Attaining a sale in 1895 f more than 
100,000 copies a month, it undoubtedly made numberless con- 
verts. In ten thousand schoolhouses throughout the West and 
the South the people assembled to debate the absorbing question 
not only the politician and the farmer, but the small merchant 
and the workingman, the preacher and the school-teacher. Or- 
ganized labor rallied to the cause, the American Federation of 
Labor warmly indorsing free silver. 

The old parties were badly frightened, but knew not what to 
do. In their state conventions before the autumn elections of 
1894, the platforms of both Republicans and Democrats varied 
from ambiguous generalities to forthright declarations for un- 
limited coinage. A significant demonstration among Western 
Democrats took place in June at Omaha where, under the leader- 
ship of William Jennings Bryan of Nebraska, a monster conven- 
tion demanded the immediate adoption of free silver. Handi- 
capped by Cleveland's unpopularity, the Democrats suffered 
severe losses at the polls. The Republicans were the chief gain- 
ers, but the Populists elected six Senators, and increased their 
popular vote over that of 1892 by nearly fifty per cent. 

On the heels of the election the silver Democrats began to 
make plans to cast off Eastern control and commit the party 
unequivocally to free coinage in the forthcoming presidential 
campaign. During 1895 numerous conferences were held, organ- 
izations formed, speeches made, pamphlets circulated. When the 
national convention assembled at Chicago on July 7, 1896, 
triumph was assured. A platform was adopted which acclaimed 
free silver as the question "paramount to all others/' assailed 
the income-tax decision, and denounced federal interference in 
labor disturbances. While the platform was before the conven- 
tion for discussion, there occurred one of the most exciting de- 
bates ever held on such an occasion. Senator David B. Hill 
of New York ably championed the cause of gold and the East, 
ending his address with an appeal not "to drive old Democrats 
out of the party who have grown gray in the service, to make 
room for a lot of Republicans and Populists, and political nonde- 
scripts." After other speakers had entered the lists, the debate 


reached a dramatic climax in the concluding address of the 
youthful Bryan of Nebraska. Speaking with a full-toned, richly 
modulated eloquence unmatched in his generation, he presented 
the free-coinage question as "a cause as holy as the cause of 
humanity." Turning to those who opposed the silver plank, he 
declared: " You tell us that the great cities are in favor of the gold 
standard; we reply that the great cities rest upon our broad and 
fertile prairies. Burn down your cities and leave our farms, and 
your cities will spring up again as if by magic; but destroy our 
farms and the grass will grow in the streets of every city in the 
country." His closing defiance to the gold adherents brought the 
vast audience in a frenzy to its feet: " You shall not press down 
upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns; you shall not crucify 
mankind upon a cross of gold." The "Boy Orator of the Platte" 
had made himself the man of the hour. Without strength before 
the convention met, he won the nomination on the fifth ballot, 
the second place going to Arthur Sewall of Maine. Most of the 
Eastern delegates abstained from voting. 

When the Republicans convened at St. Louis on June 16, 
their ranks were divided among advocates of the gold standard, 
those who preferred the customary policy of noncommittalism, 
and a resolute minority from the Far West bent upon a free- 
silver plank. The leading aspirant for the nomination was ex- 
Governor McKinley of Ohio, known to the public chiefly as an 
ardent protectionist. For his prominence before the convention 
he was indebted to the tireless exertions of his friend Marcus 
A. Hanna. The latter, an Ohio capitalist, had found in "prac- 
tical politics" an indispensable tool for amassing a fortune in 
mines, banking and street railways, but later became enamored 
of the political game for its own sake. Hanna's efforts and money 
had facilitated McKinley J s election as governor in 1891 and, when 
two years later McKinley became involved in heavy financial 
obligations, Hanna, Carnegie, Frick and others supplied the 
$100,000 that saved him from bankruptcy. In preparing the way 
for McKinley's nomination Hanna spent not less than $100,000 
in a campaign of publicity and personal canvass among the dele- 

The monetary issue presented serious difficulties for McKinley. 
After having long championed free silver, in his campaign for 


governor in 1891 he had upheld the limited coinage provided by 
the Sherman act as preferable to unlimited coinage. By tem- 
perament, as well as by previous conviction, he wished the party 
to straddle the question and focus all attention on the tariff. 
Furthermore, he feared that a less conciliatory course would lose 
him votes needed for the nomination. Hanna, sinking the 
business man in the politician, assented to the plan, but not so 
the powerful leaders from the industrial regions, who made a gold 
declaration the price of their support. The outcome of many 
secret conferences between the factions was a skillfully con- 
structed plank, which read in part: "We are ... opposed to the 
free coinage of silver except by international agreement . . , , 
which we pledge ourselves to promote, and until such agreement 
can be obtained the existing gold standard must be preserved." 
Taken literally, the platform declared for international free silver, 
but since international conferences in 1878, 1881 and 1892 had 
demonstrated the unwillingness of European countries to depart 
from the gold standard, the plank was rightly construed by the 
silverites as a repudiation of free coinage. Thirty-four delegates 
with Senator Teller of Colorado at their head withdrew from the 
convention in protest. In the completed platform the money 
plank occupied an inconspicuous place in the middle, the first 
nine paragraphs being devoted to disparaging the Democrats and 
praising the protective system. McKinley was named on the 
first ballot, with G. A. Hobart of New Jersey as his running mate. 
The decision of the major parties led to a disruption of party 
loyalties comparable only to the effect of the slavery issue on the 
voters of 1860. A convention of old-school Democrats, acting 
with Cleveland's approval, reaffirmed the gold standard, and put 
up J. M. Palmer of Illinois and S. B. Bucknerof Kentucky as 
their candidates. Had the Republican platform been less em- 
phatic on the tariff question, McKinley might have received their 
support. The Republican irreconcilables, calling themselves the 
National Silver party, gave their formal indorsement to Bryan 
and Sewall. As was to be expected, the People's party also backed 
Bryan, though for Vice-President they nominated one of their 
own followers in preference to the Maine banker. Even the 
Prohibitionists were affected by the all-absorbing issue, and 
broke into two parties with different platforms and candidates. 


The contest was unique and sensational to the end. Fearful 
of further defections from their ranks, Republican orators at 
first avoided the monetary question, placing all stress upon 
"Bill McKinley and the McKinley Bill." But it was Bryan who 
set the pace for the campaign when he undertook a remarkable 
stumping tour of eighteen thousand miles, addressing nearly five 
million people in twenty-nine states in fourteen weeks, and 
everywhere preaching free silver and the doctrine of discontent. 
Gompers and other leaders of organized labor exerted them- 
selves on his behalf. Of no little influence were Homer Daven- 
port's cartoons in Hearst's New York Journal, which portrayed 
Hanna as an ogrelike figure checkered with dollar signs and 
leading the child McKinley by a string. For campaign funds the 
Democrats leaned heavily upon the silver-mine owners, some- 
what over a half -million dollars being subscribed in all. To check- 
mate the efforts of the opposition, Hanna as head of the Repub- 
lican national committee collected from the great banking 
and business interests an election fund of unknown amount, 
probably between three and four million dollars, and launched a 
mammoth campaign of popular education. A small army was 
organized to address rallies, send out literature in ten different 
languages, and distribute campaign buttons. Besides, over five 
hundred different posters were prepared, the most popular being 
a lithograph of McKinley bearing the inscription, "The Ad- 
vance Agent of Prosperity." Most, though not all, leading 
economists and financiers were against Bryan on the money 
question, and the veteran independent, Carl Schurz, threw his 
influence to the Republican ticket. The candidate himself re- 
mained at home, delivering from his front porch in Canton, 
Ohio, impressive set addresses to visiting delegations. 

As the campaign drew to a close, the excitement of the coun- 
try became intense. Manufacturers made contracts contingent 
upon McKinley's election, and wage-earners were told the fac- 
tories would close in the event of Democratic success. By such 
newspapers as the New York Tribune Bryan was reviled as a 
"demagogue/' an "anarchist" and a "madman." One Repub- 
lican spellbinder, commending the designation, "Boy Orator of 
the Platte," asserted that that river was "six inches deep and 
six miles wide at the mouth." Even so sober an organ as the 


New York Evening Post characterized the contest as one between 
"the great civilizing forces of the republic" and "the still sur- 
viving barbarism bred by slavery in the South and the reckless 
spirit of adventure in the mining camps of the West." A rise 
in the price of wheat, due to crop failures in Russia, South Amer- 
ica and elsewhere, occurred a few weeks before election day 
and, by easing the farmers' distress, aided the Republican cause. 
The outcome was decisive. McKinley received fifty-one per cent 
of the popular vote to less than forty-seven for his opponent, 
the largest majority since Grant's victory over Greeley. His 
preponderance in the electoral college was far greater, 271 to 176. 
In general, the industrial and older grain-growing states sup- 
ported McKinley as against the cotton, prairie and silver-mining 
states. It was noteworthy, too, that all the great cities outside 
the former Confederacy cast Republican majorities. 1 The im- 
mediate issue, that of silver coinage, was conclusively settled; 
the farmers' attempt to beat back the new urban and industrial 
civilization had turned to rout. Yet the future was to disclose 
that the campaign marked the entry of novel and dynamic 
social forces into American political life. 

The new President went into office with both branches of 
Congress safely Republican. A man of quiet dignity, with deep- 
set eyes under a Websterian brow, he brought to public affairs 
qualities that sharply set him off from his Democratic predeces- 
sor: affability, tact, patience and a desire to keep in step with 
his party. To further Hanna's ambitions, he promoted Senator 
John Sherman to the office of Secretary of State, so that Hanna 
might succeed to the vacant senatorship. 2 Advanced years and 
mental impairment presently obliged the replacement of Sherman 
by William R. Day, another Ohioan, and the latter in turn re- 

1 "Moreover, 3 * added the Nation, November 12, 1896, "the cities having the 
largest population and the largest percentages of foreign-born citizens cast the 
heaviest majorities in support of sound money and social order." E. L. Godkin, 
the editor, made no allowance for the effect of economic coercion in producing this 

2 Other than Sherman, the members of the original cabinet were L. J. Gage of 
Illinois, Secretary of the Treasury; R. A. Alger of Michigan, Secretary of War; 
Joseph McKenna of California, Attorney-General; J. A. Gary of Maryland, Post- 
master-General; J. D. Long of Massachusetts, Secretary of the Navy; C. N. Bliss 
of New York, Secretary of the Interior; and James Wilson of Iowa, Secretary of 


tired in August, 1898, to make way for John Hay, also of Ohio, 
one of the ablest men who ever held the post. 

In spite of an apparently clear popular verdict against silver, 
McKinley chose to interpret his victory as primarily a mandate 
for tariff protection (see page 190). The fact was that Republican 
ranks remained divided notwithstanding the united front dis- 
played at the election, and it seemed to McKinley and his ad- 
visers the part of wisdom to let well enough alone so far as 
monetary reform was concerned. However, to carry out the 
platform pledge, an official commission was dispatched to France 
and Great Britain in 1897 to confer in regard to the establishment 
of free silver by international action. The anticipated refusal of 
Great Britain, followed presently by the distracting effects of 
the Spanish- American War, eased the path for the gold advocates. 
Other events also were working in their behalf. After 1896 a 
period of bewildering prosperity burst upon the country. Har- 
vests were generous and prices ample, thereby making agricul- 
ture profitable again and gladdening the heart of the farmer. 
At the same time, the introduction of rural free delivery of mail 
beginning in 1896, the spread of fanners' mutual telephone com- 
panies with the lapse of the basic Bell patents, the advent of in- 
terurban electric railways and the extension of the good-roads 
movement did something to relieve the loneliness of country 
life and appease the sense of rural inferiority. 1 Most impor- 
tant of all was an enormous increase in available gold as a re- 
sult of the cyanide process of extracting the yellow metal from 
low-content ores and the opening up of mines in Alaska and 
South Africa. The world's annual production, which had aver- 
aged between five and six million ounces from 1860 to 1890, 
reached nearly eleven and a half million in 1897 and twenty- 
two in 1910. Paper currency also grew in volume, thanks to the 
purchase by national banks of government bonds issued to 
finance the war with Spain and to liberalization of the national 
banking act. With prosperity widely diffused and all reasonable 
fear of the scarcity of money removed, the argument for silver 
inflation collapsed. 

On Margh 14^ 1900, the gold-standard act was adopted. This 

1 Rural-free-delivery routes lengthened from 1800 miles in 1897 to nearly 29,000 
in 1900 and 950,000 in 1916. 


statute definitely established the single standard by declaring 
other forms of money redeemable in gold on demand. It also 
enlarged the gold redemption fund to $150,000,000. In order 
to avoid the difficulties that had vexed the Cleveland adminis- 
tration, the law made the gold reserve a separate and distinct 
fund, not to be drawn upon to meet current deficiences in the 
revenue, and it provided further that, when paper notes were 
offered for redemption, they should not be paid out again except 
for gold. Thus the war of the standards closed, leaving to the 
next generation the solution of certain knotty problems arising 
from other imperfections of the circulating medium, notably its 
inelastic character. 


The Farmers Take Their Stand, 1880-1900. Hicks, The Populist Revolt, 
traces with impartial hand the history of the Farmers 7 Alliances and the 
People's party. Laughlin, The History of Bimetallism in the United States, 
deals with the technical aspects of the silver question. Lauck, The Causes of 
the Panic of 1893, and Weberg, The Background of the Panic of 1893, are 
special studies of the financial collapse. In Coxey's Army McMurry presents 
a graphic account of the march of the jobless on. Washington. Leading figures 
in the controversy over free silver are portrayed in Nevins, Graver Cleveland; 
Barnes, John G. Carlisle; Long, Bryan; Croly, Marcus Alonzo Hanna; and 
Olcott, The Life of William McKMey. These biographies treat the cam- 
paign of 1896 from varying points of view. 



THE presidential campaign of 1896 bore striking testimony 
to the firmness of the Union that had come into being since 
the Civil War. Though the farmers 7 grievances were no less real 
than had been those of the slaveholders, there was no talk of 
nullification or secession, no Calhoun or Davis brandishing the 
shibboleth of state sovereignty. On the contrary, the agrarian 
spokesmen demanded an enlargement, not a limitation, of the 
powers of the general government. This new attitude toward 
federal supremacy was one of the most significant developments 
of the postwar era. The overthrow of the Confederacy in 1865 
not only had insured the geographic unity of the country, but 
had also strongly stimulated the sense of national consciousness. 
The adventure of Western exploitation after the war further 
exalted the people's faith in the greatness of American destiny. 
Meanwhile the Economic Revolution, by knitting the nation 
together with bonds of steel and ties of mutual business interest, 
caused men to become forgetful of state boundaries and to think 
in terms of the nation as a whole. As James Bryce remarked in 
1888, "The South and the West need capital for their develop- 
ment, and are daily in closer business relations with the East. 
The produce of the West finds its way to the Atlantic through 
the ports of the East. Every produce market, every share mar- 
ket, vibrates in response to the Produce Exchange and Stock 
Exchange of New York." 

Other influences the increasing urbanization and standard- 
ization of American life, the extension of the public-school sys- 
tem to all parts of the land, the broad appeal of the new litera- 
ture, the country-wide absorption in athletic sport worked to 
the same end. In a different way, the new spirit found vent in 
the formation of an endless number of voluntary continent-wide 
bodies, not only those of capital and labor, but also, it will be 



recalled, similar organizations of scholars, scientists, artists, social 
and political reformers, sport lovers and secret-society " joiners, " 
America had never beheld such a banding together of the like- 
minded regardless of geography. As the nation reached the 
centenary of its birth, the heightened pride of nationality exulted 
in a series of patriotic celebrations, beginning with the anniversary 
of Concord and Lexington in 1875 and the Centennial Exhibition 
at Philadelphia in 1876, and continuing year after year until the 
setting up of the Supreme Court was commemorated in 1890 
with due pomp and circumstance. It is little wonder that Edward 
A. Freeman, the English historian, visiting the United States in 
1882, noted that " where the word 'federal 7 used to be used up 
to the time of the civil war or later, the word 'national' is now 
used all but invariably. It used to be 'federal capital/ 'federal 
army/ 'federal revenue/ and so forth. Now the word 'national' 
is almost always used instead." 

Nothing more clearly revealed the pervasive strength of the 
nationalizing process than the changed attitude of the South. 
Nearly every year yielded fresh evidence that the Southern 
people accepted their defeat in good faith, while an ever larger 
number rejoiced that the "Lost Cause" was indeed lost. Even 
Jefferson Davis, writing in 1881 without apology for the past, 
expressed the earnest hope that "there may be written on the 
arch of the Union, Esto perpetual In that year, veterans' or- 
ganizations of the former blue and gray hosts began occasionally 
to hold joint reunions in order to compare war-time experiences 
in a spirit of amity and mutual esteem. The Virginian, John S. 
Wise, probably voiced the thought of most of his erstwhile com- 
rades-in-arms when he wrote a few years later, "Through our 
tears, and without disloyalty to the dead, in the possession of 
freedom and union and liberty, true Confederates, viewing it all 
in the clearer light of to-day, ought to thank God that slavery 
died at Appomattox." Behind this growth of national good will 
lay a number of causes, among them the recovery of white rule in 
the South; the cessation of Northern intrusion in Southern race 
relations; the mingling of Northerners and Southerners as a result 
of free intermigration; the crowding in of new industrial and 
agricultural problems that increasingly identified Dixie with the 
national economic order; and, not of least importance, the healing 


balm of time and the coming of a new generation. Southern con- 
tributions to local-color fiction (see page 246) did much to restore 
sectional self-esteem, while at the same time they gave Northern- 
ers a mellow and romantic picture of Southern life and ideals to 
offset the abolitionist exaggerations of bygone years. All these 
tendencies reached a climax in the Spanish war of 1898. For the 
first time, the former foemen were called upon to face a common 
national enemy. None could doubt the completeness of the 
response or the attainment of a single, undivided country. 1 

In the sphere of national politics the new centripetal tide 
swept parties and leaders before it. Republicans welcomed it, 
Democrats deplored it; but even the latter, when in power, 
could not successfully resist it. Whether men sought to promote 
or to curb the mighty forces remaking the economic order, they 
turned to Washington, not to their state governments, as the 
effective agency for action. The Republicans, as we have seen, 
speeded national consolidation through the Thirteenth, Four- 
teenth and Fifteenth amendments, federal supervision of state 
elections, extreme tariff protection, lavish grants for railroad, 
river and harbor development, and the Sherman law for abolish- 
ing trusts. A Democratic House initiated and a Democratic 
President signed the interstate-commerce act, which embodied 
a startling new assertion of national authority. A few years 
later when Cleveland defied the state-rights view of the Con- 
stitution at the time of the Pullman strike by sending troops to 
Chicago (see page 209), Governor Altgeld of Illinois felt obliged to 
remind the President that "the principle of local self-government 
is just as fundamental in our institutions as is that of Federal 
supremacy." Yet there was no time when Altgeld and other 
men of progressive or radical opinions would not gladly have used 
the federal government to implement policies which they them- 
selves deemed desirable. Bryce acutely pointed out that, though 
the state had once been a "self-sufficing commonwealth/ 5 it 
"is now merely a part of a far grander whole, which seems to be 
slowly absorbing its functions and stunting its growth, as the 
great tree stunts the shrubs over which its spreading boughs have 

1 It was at this time that Congress expunged from the statute books the remain- 
ing disabilities imposed upon ex-Confederate leaders by the Fourteenth Amend- 


begun to cast their shade." The twentieth century was to bring 
an even greater exaltation of national at the expense of state 
power, notably during the administrations of Woodrow Wilson 
and Franklin D. Roosevelt. 

The Supreme Court yielded more slowly to the nationalizing 
current. The " convenient vagueness" of the first section of the 
Fourteenth Amendment admitted of a variety of interpretations, 
but the court's early decisions looked backward rather than 
forward. "No State," reads the amendment, " shall make or 
enforce any law that shall abridge the privileges or immunities of 
citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any 
person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; 
nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection 
of the laws." In the Slaughterhouse cases (1873) certain butchers 
of New Orleans appealed to the Supreme Court to annul the 
monopoly rights that the corrupt Carpetbag legislature had 
granted to a local slaughterhouse company. They alleged that 
the law in question abridged the privileges and immunities of 
" citizens of the United States" and that, further, it deprived 
them as "persons" of property without due process of law and 
denied them the equal protection of the laws. By a majority of 
five to four, the court held that there was a difference between 
state citizenship and national citizenship and that, since the 
privileges and immunities in dispute belonged to state citizen- 
ship, the complainants must look for relief to Louisiana, not to 
the federal government. The court dismissed the other charges 
by denying that the Louisiana statute involved a taking of prop- 
erty without due process of law, and by asserting that the pro- 
vision for equal protection was intended to apply to Negroes. 1 
Three years later, as we have already seen (page 162), the tribunal 
took a somewhat similar stand in the Granger cases, declaring 
Illinois's untrammeled right under her police power to fix rates 
for businesses "clothed with a public interest," and denying that 
the complainants had been deprived of property without due 
process of law. The court displayed an equally resistant 
attitude in 1882 in the case of San Mateo County v. Southern 

1 As the majority opinion pointed out, the "one pervading purpose" of th&- 
framers of the Fourteenth Amendment had been to protect the rights of the ex- 
slave. See earlier, page 109. 


Pacific Railroad Co. by deciding that a corporation was not a 
" person" whose actions fell within the purview of the Fourteenth 
Amendment. In other words, the whole tendency of the Supreme 
Court was to restrain the federal authority from interfering with 
the activities of state and local governments. 

After the mid-eighties, however, the judiciary began to assert 
a boldly national point of view. Revising its opinion of four 
years before, it declared in the case of Santa Clara County v. 
Southern Pacific Railroad Co. (1886) that a corporation was a 
" person" and hence entitled to the protection of the amendment. 
The same year it held in the Wabash case (see page 196), con- 
trary to its judgment in the Granger cases, that states could not 
regulate rates that affected interstate commerce. In the Min- 
nesota Rate case four years later, it went even further and 
denied the state's uncontrolled right to fix rates of any kind, 
declaring in effect that, under the due-process clause, the court 
was the final authority as to the reasonableness of the rates 
imposed. 1 In these and other later decisions the tribunal arro- 
gated to itself the power of reviewing most state and local legisla- 
tion affecting the rights of private property. That its influence 
generally favored the great business interests is less important in 
the present connection than the fact that the court, responsive 
at last to the centralizing trend, assumed the high function of 
arbiter and censor of the shifting national economic order. 


The heightened sense of nationality led also to a changed 
attitude toward unrestricted immigration. Since colonial times 
migrants from across the sea had flocked to America without let 
or hindrance. The bulk of the newcomers consisted of fanners and 
petty shopkeepers from the British Isles, Germany and, more 
recently, the Scandinavian countries. Of the seven million for- 
eigners living in the United States in 1880, the Germans and Irish 
numbered about two million each, the Canadians 717,000, the 
English 664,000 and the Scandinavians 440,000. Most of them, 
the Irish excepted, took up farming as a livelihood, and in 1880 
a higher proportion of immigrants dwelt in the upper Mississippi 

1 Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway Co. v. Minnesota, a six-to-three 


Valley than in any other section of the country. Such folk were 
easily assimilated, for they represented the racial strains from 
which the Anglo-Saxon stock had originally sprung. So greatly 
were they desired that the newer commonwealths maintained 
official bureaus to encourage their coming. With plenty of land 

Responsible for new ivantgration 
j I Responsible for old immigration 


for settlement their addition to the population caused no shock 
to the economic structure. 

The year 1882 marks a turning point in the history of immi- 
gration. In that year the influx from Western and Northern 
Europe reached its crest, arrivals began to appear in noticeable 
numbers from Eastern and Southern Europe, and Congress 
enacted the first significant restrictive law. The hosts from 


south Russia, Italy, Austria-Hungary and other Mediterranean 
countries increased steadily year by year until in 1896 they 
exceeded in volume those of the older type. Many influences 
account for the "new immigration/' notably overcrowded condi- 
tions in Southern and Eastern Europe, anti-Semitic persecution 
in Russia beginning about 1881, the opening of direct steamship 
connections between Mediterranean ports and the United States, 
and the unexampled opportunities for employment in the new 
mines and factories. Steamship companies stimulated the inflow 
to the extent of their advertising ability, while agents represent- 
ing American corporations stood ready to prepay the passage 
of laborers agreeing in advance to work in their plants. 

The new immigrants contrasted sharply with the old in almost 
every respect. Hiving in the industrial centers, they formed 
self-contained communities that tended to perpetuate the peculiar 
institutions, folk customs and foreign-language newspapers of 
the homeland. Unused to the American standard of living, they 
vastly complicated the problems of sanitation, health and housing 
for municipal authorities. For the same reason, they gladly 
toiled for wages and upon terms that native workingmen scorned; 
and since one out of every three planned to go back home after 
laying aside a little money, many remained indifferent, when 
not actually hostile, to the efforts of organized labor to improve 
conditions. Moreover, most of them lacked familiarity with 
democratic institutions and ideals, and over thirty-five per cent 
were illiterate as against three per cent in the case of the older 
immigrant class. They were widely charged with responsibility 
for municipal misrule; but this could hardly be maintained when 
"American" cities like Philadelphia and Portland, Oregon, dis- 
closed as wretched conditions as New York and Chicago with 
their far higher proportion of foreign-born citizens. Individuals 
among the recent comers were equal to the best that the older 
strain produced; the bulk of these Slavs, Magyars, Poles, Russian 
Jews, Italians and Greeks provided the heavy labor upon which 
rested the remarkable development of mill and mine during these 

The swelling tide of immigration from Mediterranean Europe 
hastened the adoption of a new national policy toward incoming 
aliens. There was as yet no desire on the part of the United 


States to relinquish its historic role as a refuge for the oppressed 
of all lands, but the conviction was growing that, with the dwin- 
dling of the open frontier and the increasing problems raised by 
the herding of immigrants in cities, national self-protection called 
for some measure of selective immigration. Organized labor 
urged the same course as a means of safeguarding native workers 
against unfair competition. The first important restrictive act, 
that of 1882, excluded lunatics, convicted criminals and persons 
likely to become public charges. Three years later the alien- 
labor-contract law forbade employers to import foreign working- 
men under previous contract. Every few years saw the adoption 
of additional restraints until by 1903 the excluded classes em- 
braced physical, mental and moral defectives of all kinds, pro- 
fessional beggars, assisted immigrants, polygamists and anarch- 
ists. As a special discrimination against the more recent comers, 
a strong sentiment developed for a literacy test, but this was 
as vigorously opposed by persons who insisted that ability to 
read was a test of youthful opportunity, not of mental capacity. 
A bill for this purpose was vetoed by President Cleveland before 
he left office in 1897. Among other things, he dismissed the 
charges as to the inferior character of the new immigrants by 
saying, "The time is quite within recent memory when the same 
thing was said of immigrants who, with their descendants, are 
now numbered among our best citizens." 

The sheer magnitude of the immigration after 1865 is a source 
of amazement. In the period to 1900 no less than 13,260,000 for- 
eigners of all kinds entered the United States, nearly enough to 
populate New England twice over today; and the volume was 
to become bigger in the opening years of the present century. 
It is unlikely that this great influx did much to enlarge the total 
population, for, by increasing competition for employment, it 
tended to encourage late or childless marriages on the part of 
natives and thus t o retard the growth of the old American stock. 
The mounting stroam caused the racial complexion of certain 
sections to change in startling ways. As Donakoe's Magazine 
pointed out as early as 1889, "Boston is no longer the Boston of 
the Endicotts and the Winthrops, but the Boston of the Collinses 
and the O'Briens." In that year sixty-eight towns and cities of 
Massachusetts, including many of the largest, were governed 


by the Irish. Greater New York in 1890 was the world's chief 
center of immigrants, a veritable amalgam of nations, with half ' 
as many Italians as Naples, as many Germans as Hamburg, twice 
as many Irishmen as Dublin and two and a half times as many 
Jews as Warsaw. Chicago was hardly less cosmopolitan, having 
more Bohemians, Poles and Canadians than New York, while 
the great agricultural empire to its northwest was rapidly turning 
into a new Scandinavia. Yet everywhere, even in the dense 
population centers and among the new type of immigrants, the 
" melting pot" was performing its work. Sometimes unusual 
business success or the liberalizing effect of membership in a 
labor union hastened the process. More often it was the demo- 
cratic school system that brought the influences of the new land 
into the immigrant home. The American-born children were 
apt to intermarry with other racial stocks, and accept Amer- 
ican ways and ideals so zealously as wholly to forget their alien 
cultural heritage. 

Though the government raised ever higher bars against the 
undesirable individuals from Europe, it did not go so far as to 
exclude whole peoples as undesirable. This more drastic course, 
however, it adopted to cope with the problem of Oriental immi- 
gration on the Pacific Coast, The earliest Chinese coolies in 
California in the fifties and sixties had been in such demand, 
as cheap labor, that Leland Stanford and other captains of 
industry imported whole shiploads of them. By 1870 they num- 
bered between fifty and sixty thousand. While this cordial atti- 
tude still continued, the United States made the Burlingame 
treaty of 1868 with China, which explicitly recognized the "in- 
alienable right of man to change his home and allegiance, and 
also the mutual advantage of the free migration and emigration " 
between the t^^countries. Almost at once local sentiment began 
to change. White immigrant laborers, multiplying in California 
as the transcontinental lines were completed, found themselves 
obliged to compete for jobs with a people whose low standard of 
living enabled them to work for a mere pittance. As Robert 
Louis Stevenson, who resided for a time in California, wrote, 
" Hungry Europe and hungry China, each pouring from their 
gates in search of provender, had here come face to face." Racial 
differences and a strong belief as to the unassimilability of the 


Orientals further sharpened the antagonism. In 1871 a riot in 
Los Angeles ended in the death of twenty-one Asiatics and, for 
ten years, the question was of burning importance in state pol- 
itics. A newly formed political party adopted the slogan, "The 
Chinese must go," mob attacks took place upon the Chinese 
quarter of San Francisco, and the legislature passed discrim- 
inatory laws, though most of these were set aside by the courts. 
In time the violence of the agitation excited national atten- 
tion. In 1879 the Democratic House of Representatives and 
the Republican Senate, vying with each other for the electoral 
vote of California, passed a bill revoking the Burlingame treaty 
and restricting Chinese immigration. President Hayes, disap- 
proving the method but not the purpose of this action, vetoed 
the measure and, instead, negotiated a new arrangement with 
China. The treaty of 1880 permitted the United States to " reg- 
ulate, limit, or suspend/' but "not absolutely prohibit/' future 
coolie immigration. Under its terms Congress two years later 
adopted the first Chinese exclusion law, to remain in effect for 
ten years. Subsequent acts renewed the suspension from time 
to time, and in 1902 Congress made the prohibition indefinite. 
Though China in 1904 declined to give the practice further 
treaty sanction, the United States continued the exclusion upon 
its own authority. 


With the enhanced nationalism at home came a new attitude 
in international relations. Though pledges of " isolation" and 
fear of ''entangling alliances" continued to mark the utterances 
of statesmen, the deep pull of events steadily loosened the na- 
tion from ancient moorings. As the Economic Revolution gained 
full momentum, industrialists found they needed to look else- 
where to market their growing surplus of goods, while capitalists 
began to scan the globe for opportunities to supplement their 
domestic investments. 1 Other motives operated to the same end. 

1 Lyman J. Gage, McKinley's Secretary of the Treasury, pointed out in 1900 
that, while the American population had doubled from 1870 to 1890, exports had 
increased 212 per cent, pig-iron production 607 per cent and the output of steel 
over 1200 per cent. In the same period American foreign investments rose from a 
negligible amount to more than $500,000,000, over half of it in Latin-American 


Overseas missionary activity, particularly in the Pacific islands 
and the Orient, had long been a feature of American life, and the 
possibility of carrying the blessings of Christianity to the "be- 
nighted heathen" under protection of the Stars and Stripes 
touched a responsive chord in many hearts. Equally important 
was the fact that the national spirit of adventure and acquisition, 
thwarted by the occupation of the last continental frontier, 
sought fresh channels for expression. "In our infancy," wrote 
Captain A. T. Mahan, one of the early protagonists of American 
imperialism, "we bordered upon the Atlantic only; our youth 
carried our boundary to the Gulf of Mexico; to-day maturity 
sees us upon the Pacific. Have we no right or no call to progress 
farther in any direction?" 

Sensitive to the broadening international outlook, heads of 
the Navy Department throughout the eighties pressed forward 
plans to enlarge and modernize the fleet. Other powers had gone 
over to steel warships, but the American navy remained upon a 
wooden basis. In 1883, during Arthur's administration, Congress 
made a start with four steel cruisers. Cleveland vigorously lent 
his support, bringing about the construction of additional steel 
vessels, improvements in armament, the establishment of a naval 
ordnance plant and a strengthening of coast defenses. Under 
Harrison the first first-class battleships were built, and the total 
number of modern steel vessels in commission grew to twenty- 
two. The United States by 1893 had advanced from twelfth to 
fifth place as a naval power, and by 1900 to third. 

In a different way, the new spirit was mirrored in the willing- 
ness of the United States to join with groups of other nations 
in a series of treaties dealing with subjects like submarine cables, 
patents, weights and measures, and suppression of the African 
slave trade. Without precedent in earlier American diplomacy, 
the government signed fifteen such agreements between 1865 
and 1900. In 1880 it also joined nine European powers in a 
pact defining and protecting the rights of foreigners in Morocco. 
Of the various treaties, none aroused such wide interest at home 
as the adherence of the Arthur administration in 1882 to the 
Geneva convention for establishing the International Red Cross 
Society. This agreement, made originally by sixteen nations in 
1864, provided that, in every country signing it, there should be 


set up civilian organizations to cooperate in time of war with the 
army medical corps in caring for the sick and wounded. Long 
indifferent to the matter, the American government was finally 
brought to action through the persistent advocacy of Clara 
Barton of Massachusetts, who from her services with the Red 
Cross in the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871) had learned its 
superiority to the Sanitary Commission in the Civil War. To 
her, too, belongs credit for the "American Amendment 7 ' to the 
Geneva convention in 1884, which extended the scope of the 
Red Cross to peace-time humanitarian work in connection with 
floods, earthquakes and other public disasters. 

Meanwhile, the government at Washington made efforts to 
promote American commerce and investments in two widely 
separate parts of the world, the Pacific area and Latin America, 
both of them rich in natural resources and both of them to 
use the language of diplomacy " backward regions.' 7 Such 
steps were taken hesitantly and without a definite program, but 
they quickly carried the country to the edge of the powerful 
current of imperialism that late in the seventies began to envelop 
Europe. Far more than America, these transatlantic powers felt 
driven to capture new markets for trade, secure fresh fields for 
investment, acquire territories in which to colonize their surplus 
populations, and otherwise enhance their national prestige. Be- 
fore 1890 Great Britain, France and Germany had carved up 
most of Africa among them, with shares for Italy and Belgium. 1 
In the Pacific, as we shall see, the advancing outposts of Europe 
and America clashed, necessitating an accommodation of inter- 
ests. In this international rivalry the United States enjoyed the 
advantage of being the only Occidental power with a front on 
the great ocean. In Latin America, on the other hand, the Amer- 
ican government was able to play virtually a lone hand, thanks 
partly to the Monroe Doctrine, which held Europe at arm's 
length. Not only economic interest, but historic reasons and 
geographic proximity, impelled the United States to seek active 
leadership there. 

During the Civil War American trade in the Pacific had 

1 From 1870 to 1900 the British Empire grew by about 5,000,000 square miles 
exclusive of spheres of influence, while France added 3,500,000 and Germany 
1,000,000 square miles to their possessions. 


suffered a setback, only to be followed by a revival in the years 
thereafter. As a halfway stop between Asia and California the 
Hawaiian Islands had long been of special interest to the United 
States (see page 5). They were well situated to serve as a 
commercial coaling station, a naval base and a cable landing. 
Yankee missionaries had reduced the native language ^to writing 
and helped modernize the government; many of their children 
became landholders and sugar planters. In 1875 a reciprocity 
treaty was concluded, which granted sugar and other Hawaiian 
products free access to the United States and pledged the insular 
king not to dispose of any territory to another country. This 
was followed in 1884 by the lease of Pearl Harbor, near Honolulu, 
as a naval station. By 1890 American sugar plantations attained 
a value of $25,000,000. But the McKinley tariff of that year, 
by putting all imported sugar on the free list, took away Hawaii's 
favored position in that respect, and heightened sentiment among 
the local sugar growers for annexation to the United States and 
a share in the American sugar bounty (see page 186). In Jan- 
uary, 1893, the opportunity came. The illiberal queen was 
deposed by a revolt engineered by American residents and re- 
ceiving moral support, at least, from the presence of United 
States marines landed for that purpose. The revolutionary gov- 
ernment, headed by an American, promptly negotiated a treaty 
of annexation, but Harrison's term expired before the Senate 
could act. President Cleveland withdrew the treaty from the 
Senate and, when official inquiry disclosed the complicity of the 
American Minister at Honolulu in the revolt, he denounced the 
whole transaction. Yet his action only delayed the inevitable. 
Japan cast hungry eyes upon the little Hawaiian republic; and 
when the Republicans returned to power and the Philippine 
operations of the Spanish-American War emphasized the naval 
advantages of ownership, Congress on July 7, 1898, acquired the 
islands by joint resolution. 1 "Annexation," declared McKinley, 
"is not a change; it is a consummation." 

Meantime another series of events was preparing a foothold 
for the United States far to the south. About five thousand 
miles from San Francisco, on the direct trade route to Sidney, 

1 While the negotiations were in progress, Japan protested vigorously on the 
ground that American annexation would "disturb the status quo in the Pacific." 

C/T 1C ^ O C E\A N 

120 Longitude East 150 from Greenwich 180 Longitude West 150 from Greenwich 120 



Australia, lay the Samoan Islands, possessing in Pago-Pago, in 
the island of Tutuila, the finest harbor of the south Pacific. 
In 1872 a naval officer secured from a native chief permission 
to establish a coaling station there. Six years later this arrange- 
ment was embodied in a treaty and the United States, in return, 
pledged "its good offices" to adjust difficulties between the 
Samoan king and other nations. British and German com- 
mercial interests also made their appearance, and the islands 
soon became a tiny storm center of international intrigue and 
conflict. In 1886, to block German designs, the American consul 
proclaimed a protectorate, an act promptly disavowed, however, 
by President Cleveland. Germany continuing aggressive, all 
three powers hurried warships to the scene in March, 1889. A 
hurricane, inflicting widespread damage and distress, swept away 
hostile feeling for the moment, and led to an agreement of the 
powers to guarantee Samoan independence and neutrality under 
a tripartite protectorate. This arrangement, indubitably an 
"entangling alliance," did not work well. Finally, in 1899, the 
three countries agreed upon a division of the islands, the United 
States receiving Tutuila, Germany taking the rest, and Great 
Britain being compensated with other Pacific islands belonging 
to Germany. 

Besides these more notable acquisitions, the United States 
in the eighties and nineties asserted jurisdiction over more than 
fifty scattered small islands in the Pacific. Some of these were 
hardly more than rocks or coral reefs, but they were valuable 
for guano, for use as relay cable stations or for other purposes. 
Among the largest of them were Wake, Christmas, Gallego, 
Starbuck, Penrhyn, Phoenix, Midway, Palmyra, Rowland, Baker, 
Johnston, Gardner, Morell and Marcus. 


In Latin America the United States sought leadership rather 
than dominion. In earlier years the government had stressed 
the negative implications of the Monroe Doctrine, the obligation 
to prevent military or political interference by Europe with the 
free nations to the south. Now it assumed positive political 
responsibilities and, in addition, endeavored to forge closer com- 
mercial bonds. To establish its political primacy among the 


New World republics, it repeatedly tendered its good offices as 
mediator in controversies arising among them and between them 
and European powers. Thus in 1876 the United States arbitrated 
a boundary difference between Argentina and Paraguay. In 
1881 it kept France from seizing Venezuelan customhouses to 
compel payment of a debt, protested against the plan of Colombia 
and Costa Rica to submit a boundary dispute to Spain for 
arbitration, helped settle boundary difficulties between Mexico 
and Guatemala, and tried vainly to stop a war waged by Chile 
against Peru and Bolivia for possession of the nitrate district, 
Tacna and Arica. 

In these efforts James G. Elaine, Secretary of State during 
Garfield's brief administration in 1881 and again under Harrison 
from 1889 to 1892, played an energetic part. His chief interest, 
however, was in promoting commercial relations with the south- 
ern republics, a field which Great Britain had actively exploited, 
with France, Spain and, somewhat later, Germany as her chief 
rivals. Never large in amount, the export trade of the United 
States to Latin America had actually decreased between 1860 
and 1880. Elaine's plan took the form of a new kind of Pan- 
Americanism, primarily economic in purpose rather than political, 
as in the case of the ill-fated Panama Congress of 1826 in which 
Henry Clay and John Quincy Adams had been interested. In 
answer to his tireless advocacy, the first Pan-American Congress 
assembled in Washington in 1889 with Elaine as presiding officer. 
Among the subjects discussed were the formation of a customs 
union, a uniform system of trademarks and patents, improved 
railway and steamship communication among the various states, 
the creation of a monetary union and, finally, a thoroughgoing 
scheme for arbitrating inter-American disputes. The sole tan- 
gible results were the naming of a committee to report on an 
intercontinental railway, and the establishment in Washington, 
at the joint expense of the several countries, of the Bureau of 
American Republics (subsequently the Pan-American Union) as 
a clearing house of commercial information. Nevertheless, the 
discussion of common problems did much to dispel mutual 
jealousies and suspicions, and caused the congress to be the 
forerunner of a series of similar conferences in later years. 

This propitious beginning of Pan-American accord suffered a 


temporary setback, however, as a result of Blame's handling of 
certain difficulties arising out of the Chilean civil war of 1890- 
1891. The United States Minister in Chile, Patrick Egan, long 
conspicuous in America as an agitator for Irish home rule, 
assumed an unfriendly attitude toward the victorious rebels, 
apparently because their success gratified English residents in 
Chile. Elaine, perhaps with an eye on the Irish-American vote 
in the next presidential election, upheld him in this. Other 
incidents followed. Finally, on October 16, 1891, sailors from 
the United States ship Baltimore fell to quarreling with Chilean 
sailors in a saloon in Valparaiso. In the ensuing riot two Amer- 
icans were killed and several wounded. Elaine, declining to 
regard the affair as a mere sailors' brawl, adopted a high-handed 
policy. The provisional government of Chile, equally defiant, 
refused to accord any sort of satisfaction. For a time the coun- 
tries teetered on the brink of war, but the election of a new 
government in Chile led to a change of attitude. Ample apologies 
and reparation followed. 

The boldest assertion of American primacy in New World af- 
fairs came not at the hands of Republicans, but at those of 
President Cleveland. His pronouncement was the by-product of a 
long-standing controversy between Venezuela and British Guiana 
as to their common frontier. Like so many other South American 
boundaries, this one had never been accurately determined. 
After long years of sterile argument Venezuela began to insist 
that the matter be left to arbitration, a proposal which the 
United States gladly supported but which Great Britain steadily 
resisted. The conviction gained ground in Washington that 
Britain by bullying tactics aimed to enlarge her borders at the 
expense of a weak and relatively defenseless neighbor. With 
the discovery of gold in the disputed area in 1888, a settlement 
of the question became imperative. Hostile encounters took 
place during the next few years between British settlers and 
the Venezuelan police, and the appeals of Venezuela for protec- 
tion grew increasingly insistent. Such pleas were reenforced by 
American consular representatives who saw in intervention a 
means of promoting trade. 

Cleveland, whose acquaintance with the trouble dated from 
his first administration, decided in 1895 & at ^ e time had ar- 


rived for decisive action. At his behest, Secretary of State Olney 
in a dispatch of July 20 warned Great Britain that her failure 
to submit the dispute to arbitration would lead to grave conse- 
quences. The conduct of the British government, he declared, 
looked like an attempt to encroach upon the territory of a free 
American nation and, accordingly, came within the purview of 
the Monroe Doctrine. If, encouraged by America's silence, 
other powers should follow Britain's example, "it is not incon- 
ceivable that the struggle now going on for the acquisition of 
Africa might be transferred to South America." Britain was 
further told that " today the United States is practically sover- 
eign on this continent" and, thanks to its "infinite resources 
combined with its isolated position," is "practically invulner- 
able against any or all other powers." This dispatch, ^ blunt, 
aggressive and provocative, elicited a reply from Lord Salisbury, 
the British Foreign Minister, on November 26 to the effect that 
the Monroe Doctrine was not applicable to the controversy, and 
that the United States was wholly unwarranted in interfering. 

The President now took the question out of diplomatic chan- 
nels. Announcing to Congress on December 17 that the Monroe 
Doctrine was in jeopardy, he asked for authority to appoint a 
boundary commission whose findings the United States should, 
if need be, enforce against any counterclaims of Great Britain. 
"In making these recommendations," he stated, "I am fully 
alive to the responsibility incurred and keenly realize all the 
consequences that may follow." Congress, promptly acceding 
to the President's wishes, unanimously voted funds for the 
commission's expenses. To the general public in both nations, 
ignorant of the international crisis, Cleveland's peremptory mes- 
sage came like a bolt from the blue. Evidences soon appeared on 
every hand that the two English-speaking peoples were resolved 
to avert the war which the rashness of their rulers had brought 
near. Leading American newspapers criticized the President's 
extreme position. Thirteen hundred British authors sent an 
appeal to their brethren in America to exert every effort to pre- 
vent fratricidal conflict. In both countries prominent public 
figures, including the Prince of Wales and the Bishop of London, 
threw their influence on the side of conciliation. 

Joseph Chamberlain, an influential member of the cabinet, 




Scale of Milea 


voiced British official opinion when he declared in a speech at 
Birmingham in January , 1896, " We do not covet one single inch 
of American territory. War between the two nations would be 
an absurdity as well as a crime. . . . The two nations are allied 
and more closely allied in sentiment and in interest than any 
other nations on the face of the earth." Indeed, with continental 
Europe already dividing into hostile alliances, British statesmen 
realized the folly of unnecessarily making an enemy of the prin- 
cipal non-European power. 1 An impending clash with the Boers 
in South Africa served further to make it prudent to avoid a 
rupture with the United States. Accordingly, though the Amer- 
ican boundary commission had already begun its work, Great 
Britain signified her willingness to submit the dispute to inter- 
national arbitration. When a treaty for this purpose was drafted 
in February, 1897, the American commission ceased its labors. 
In 1899 the new tribunal, much to British satisfaction, awarded 
to British Guiana the larger part of the disputed area. Yet, 
whatever the outcome, Great Britain's yielding did much to 
vindicate Olney's boastful claim of the supremacy of the United 
States in the Western Hemisphere. In the eyes of the world the 
Monroe Doctrine gained new prestige. The incident is equally 
significant in marking the adoption of a systematic policy on the 
part of Great Britain to cultivate closer relations between the 
two English-speaking powers. The fruits of this policy became 
amply evident in the international developments of the ensuing 


The Drift toward Centralization. Aspects of this movement are considered 
in Bryce, The American Commonwealth; Merriam, American Political Ideas, 
1865-1917; Malin, An Interpretation of Recent American History; and 
Schlesinger, The Rise of the City. For the expanding power of the Supreme 
Court Warren, The Supreme Court in United States History, is good. 

The New Attitude toward Immigration. Such works as Fairchild, Immi- 
gration, Stephenson, A History of American Immigration, and Garis, Immi- 
gration Restriction, deal with the new inflow from Europe and Asia and its 
effects upon American governmental policy. Some of the newer immigrant 

x The Triple Alliance, formed in 1882 by Germany, Austria and Italy, was 
renewed from time to time. Russia and France entered into the so-called Dual 
Alliance in 1891. Great Britain, possessing interests apart from either coalition- 
held aloof until 1904 when she formed an Entente Cordiale with France and, three 
years later^ with Russia. 


elements from Europe have received special study, as in Foerster, The 
Italian Emigration of Our Times; Burgess, Greeks in America; Joseph, 
Jewish Immigration to the United States; and Balch, Our Slavic Fellow Citi- 
zens. For the Asiatic phases Coolidge, Chinese Immigration, is detailed and 

The Crumbling of National Isolation. Coolidge, The United States as a 
World Power, Fans, The Rise of Internationalism, and Moon, Imperialism 
and World Politics, all contribute to a larger understanding of America's 
changing position in world affairs. The story of the founder of the American 
Red Cross is told by her cousin W. E. Barton in The Life of Clara Barton. 
Foster, American Diplomacy in the Orient, needs to be supplemented by 
Kuykendall, A History of Hawaii, and Ryden, The Foreign Policy of the 
United States in Relation to Samoa. 

Toward Leadership in the Americas. Accounts of a survey character in- 
clude Latane, The United States and Latin America; Robertson, Hispanic- 
American Relations with the United States; and Thomas, One Hundred Years 
of the Monroe Doctrine. Tyler, The Foreign Policy of James G. Elaine, 
illuminates certain aspects. Henderson, American Diplomatic Questions, 
Nevins, Grover Cleveland, and James, Richard Olney and His Public Service, 
are important for the Venezuelan boundary dispute. 




nnHE closing years of the nineteenth century brought to 
-L fruition the new tendencies in American foreign policy. The 
United States rose to the position of a world power with insular 
possessions in two hemispheres and a potential voice in the affairs 
of Asia and Europe. Brimming nationalism spilled over into 
imperialism. For this turn of events, unanticipated even by 
statesmen, American intervention in the revolt of Cuba against 
Spain was directly responsible. This fertile island, just about the 
size of Virginia, and occupied by a population two-thirds white 
and one-third black or mixed, was, except for its smaller neighbor 
Puerto Rico, the sole remnant of Spain's once magnificent empire 
in the New World. 1 Cuba had interested Americans even before 
Democratic politicians in the mid-century had pressed for its 
acquisition as additional slave territory. Its commanding posi- 
tion at the entrances of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean 
Sea gave it strategic naval importance from the standpoint of 
the United States, and its economic penetration by American 
capital in the period after the Civil War occasioned concern for 
the maintenance of orderly political and business conditions there. 
Spain, learning nothing from the revolt of her other colonies 
early in the century, continued her despotic rule in Cuba, ex- 
ploiting the natives both politically and economically. From 1868 
to 1878 ceaseless civil strife harassed the island, marked by 
atrocities and irregular methods of warfare on both sides. Fil- 
ibustering expeditions, clandestinely fitted out by Cuban agents, 
slipped away from American ports to lend help. When one such 
vessel, the Virginius, was captured outside Cuban waters in 
October, 1873, by a Spanish gunboat and eight Americans on 
board were shot, war was nearly precipitated between the two 

1 The name of Porto Rico was changed to Puerto Rico by act of Congress iu 



countries. The United States admitted the illegal nature of the 
expedition, but maintained that, so long as the Virginius re- 
mained on the high seas, the American government alone might 
restrain the lawbreakers. After a time Spain offered an apology 
with suitable indemnity and reparation. In 1875 President Grant 
sounded European powers on the subject of American inter- 
vention in the struggle, but the proposal was not well received. 
When the Ten Years' War dragged to a close three years later, 
the insurgents won some paper concessions for a small measure of 
self-government. As a matter of fact, however, the government 
continued to be a thinly veiled military autocracy. Meanwhile 
the burden of taxation borne by the natives grew heavier, for 
they were saddled with the whole expense of their unsuccessful 

Their kindling wrath burst forth into a new war for inde- 
pendence in February, 1895. l The event was hastened by a severe 
depression of the sugar industry, caused by the repeal in 1894 
of the McKinley tariff which had allowed Cuban sugar free entry 
into the United States (see page 190). Great barbarism and wide- 
spread destruction of sugar plantations and other property 
marked the progress of the hostilities. The plan of the insurgents 
was to avoid open battle, but to fight incessant skirmishes and 
devastate the country, with the purpose either of exhausting 
Spain or of bringing the United States into the conflict. Unable 
to distinguish friend from foe, the Spaniards adopted the scheme 
of herding the rural inhabitants into the reconcentracion camps, 
which quickly became pestholes filled with starving and diseased 
unfortunates. In the province of Havana alone over 50,000 

The course of the uprising was watched in the United States 
with growing concern. Apart from America's traditional interest 
in Latin-American struggles for independence, United States 
investments in Cuban plantations, mines and railways now 
amounted to no less than $50,000,000, and trade with the island 
annually reached $100,000,000. These pecuniary interests were 

1 In an effort to forestall the insurrection, Spain at the eleventh hour authorized 
a "council of administration" for the island. But since this body was to have 
advisory powers only, and would consist one half of Spanish appointees and the 
remainder of persons chosen under a severely restricted franchise, the only effect 
was to fortify the rebels in their resolution. 


placed in grave jeopardy by the civil strife. Moreover, American 
humanitarianism was outraged by the cruel methods of warfare, 
particularly the suffering inflicted on the reconcentrados. The 
yellow press, led by the New York Journal and the New York 
World, broke out in a rash of inch-high type, page-wide streamer 
headlines, and blood-curdling full-page illustrations concerning 
alleged Spanish atrocities. In 1897 a party organized by the 
Journal actually effected the escape from a Havana prison of 
Evangelina Cisneros, a Cuban girl sentenced for treason. It was 
not wholly journalistic brag that explained this sheet's effrontery 
in daily asking its readers after America's entry, "How do you 
like the Journal's war?" Early in 1898 the American Red Cross 
responded to the call of humanity by engaging in work among the 
sick and starving reconcentrados near Havana. 

Resolved not to be stampeded into war, President Cleveland 
as long as he remained in office put forth every effort to preserve 
the attitude of impartial friend. Official vigilance succeeded in 
stopping most, though not all, of the expeditions that Cuban 
agents fitted out in American ports. In his last annual message 
to Congress (December, 1896), however, he declared that, should 
it presently appear that Spanish authority was " extinct in Cuba 
for all purposes of its rightful existence," America might feel 
compelled to intervene because of her " higher obligations " in the 
affair. The McKinley administration began to pursue the more 
aggressive policy foreshadowed by Cleveland. Partly in response 
to American protests, Spain modified somewhat the policy of 
reconcentracion in October, 1897, and offered the natives a larger 
share of self-government, to become effective upon ratification 
by the Cortes. Granted three years earlier, the concession might 
have assured a peaceful solution. However, after more than 
two years of relentless warfare, the revolutionists, suspicious of 
Spanish good faith, were unwilling to accept anything short of 
complete independence. 

Now occurred two incidents which raised war sentiment in the 
United States to a fever pitch. Thanks to the enterprise of the 
New York Journal, the American public on February 9, 1898, 
learned that Dupuy de Lome, the Spanish Minister at Washing- 
ton, had declared in a private letter that McKinley was a tricky 
politician and, further, had admitted his own duplicity in certain 


commercial negotiations then under way with the United States. 
Spain refused to make a formal disavowal of the utterances and, 
instead of dismissing De Lome, permitted him to resign. Of 
graver import was the destruction of the United States warship 
Maine on February 15 while lying peacefully at anchor in Havana 
Harbor. The vessel was sunk and 260 men killed. An American 
court of naval experts ascribed the disaster to an external ex- 
plosion, but a similar board appointed by Spain found the cause 
in an explosion of one of the ship's forward magazines. Though 
the American findings were later confirmed when the vessel was 
raised in 1911, it remains unknown whether the destruction was 
due to an overzealous Spanish subordinate, to a Cuban patriot 
intent on precipitating intervention, or to a mere accident. 

The outburst of patriotic feeling was unlike anything since 
1861. Abetted by the sensational press, the slogan, "Remember 
the Maine!" was echoed in public gatherings throughout the 
land. Even the churches, hitherto the mainstay of the organized 
peace movement, hailed the prospect of a war "for humanity's 
sake." Congress was seething with bellicose spirit, but the Presi- 
dent, who had declared in his inaugural address that "peace 
is preferable to war in almost every contingency/ 7 seemed re- 
solved at this juncture to avert hostilities, if possible, provoking 
Roosevelt's impatient remark, "McKinley has no more backbone 
than a chocolate eclair." On March 29 he demanded of Spain the 
complete abandonment of reconcentracion, and the establishment 
of an armistice in Cuba preliminary to peace negotiations to be 
conducted through himself. The first demand was promptly 
granted, but national pride and a deep-rooted habit of pro- 
crastination caused Spain to temporize in regard to the second. 
Nevertheless, the American Minister in Madrid cabled McKinley 
his conviction that the Spanish government and people sincerely 
desired peace. With a few months' delay, he promised, "I will 
get peace in Cuba, with justice to Cuba and protection to our 
great American interests." On April 6 the Washington representa- 
tives of Great Britain, Germany, France, Austria-Hungary, 
Russia and Italy joined in an appeal to the President for a con- 
tinuance of peaceful negotiations. Four days later Spain in- 
formed him that, at the Pope's solicitation, the Queen had ac- 
ceded to the demand for an armistice. 


By this time, however, McKinley had experienced a change of 
heart. Perhaps he doubted Spam's good faith in complying and 
felt that, after all, war was the only real solution. But it seems 
more likely that he was frightened by the clamor of the war fac- 
tion in Congress and feared a serious rupture in his own party. 
At any rate, on April n, he sent a message to Congress, in which, 
after scant mention of Spain's latest concession, he recommended 
armed intervention. 1 The grounds, he asserted, were the inter- 
ests of common humanity, the need to protect the "commerce, 
trade, and business of our people" in the island, and the ending 
of a conflict that was "a constant menace to our peace." Eight 
days later Congress responded by authorizing the President to 
employ force for the establishment of Cuban independence. At 
the same time, on motion of Senator Teller, Congress assured 
an incredulous world that the United States would claim no 
" sovereignty, jurisdiction, or control over said Island except 
for the pacification thereof," and, when that was accomplished, 
would "leave the government and control of the Island to its 

European powers observed these developments with mixed 
feelings. In Germany and France public opinion was frankly 
hostile to the United States, and talk was rife of a joint European 
intervention on behalf of Spain. British sentiment was mirrored 
in a widely quoted sentiment of the London Spectator on April 9, 
1898: "If America were really attacked by a great Continental 
coalition, England would be at her side in twenty-four hours." 
President McKinley took occasion early in the war to thank the 
London Times for its hearty advocacy of the American cause. In 
reality, all the powers observed an official neutrality toward the 
two belligerents, although at one juncture, shortly to be de- 
scribed, it seemed possible that the contest might develop into a 
wider international conflict. 

1 "We may rest assured that if Mark Hanna had been President there would 
have been no war with Spain," says James Ford Rhodes in his McKinley and Roose- 
velt Administrations, 64. "To his dying day Mr. Cleveland never believed that the 
war with Spain was necessary," states his personal friend George F. Parker in the 
Saturday Evening Post, November 10, 1923. Pulitzer, who in 1898 demanded a 
"short and sharp" war, admitted in 1907, when deploring President Roosevelt's 
proposal to send battleships into the Pacific to impress Japan, that "Spain had 
granted to Cuba all that we had demanded, but passion in Spain and here forced 
the hands of the government." B. C. Seitz, Joseph Pulitzer, 312. 



Blithely the United States entered upon a war that brought 
quick returns in martial glory, some unexpected scandals, and 
new and heavy responsibilities. Unlike most previous conflicts, 
the naval arm proved of paramount importance, land operations 
being subsidiary thereto. The champions of a new navy now won 
complete vindication. For the immediate state of preparedness, 
however, credit was due largely to the energetic foresight of 
Theodore Roosevelt, McKinley 's Assistant Secretary of the Navy. 
In sad contrast was the condition of the army. The regular forces 
were enlarged from 28,000 to 62,000; and in April and May the 
President called for 200,000 volunteers, most of whom it was 
eventually unnecessary to send out of the country. Politics 
entered into the appointment of officers; and mismanagement, 
lack of plans and general confusion interfered seriously with the 
mobilization, feeding and transport of troops. Moreover, the 
men were sent to fight in a tropical country outfitted in heavy 
winter uniforms, without due attention to the need of a diet 
adjusted to a hot climate, and lacking proper hospital equipment. 
A picturesque feature of the volunteer cavalry was a regiment of 
"Rough Riders," recruited from among cowboys, ranchers, 
Indians and college athletes by Roosevelt, who presently became 
their colonel. 

The actual hostilities proved swift and decisive, lasting four 
months in all. The chief sphere of operations was the West 
Indies. Cuba was promptly placed under blockade in order to 
prevent the arrival of reinforcements and supplies from Spain. 
Nevertheless, on May 19, a fleet under Admiral Pasqual Cervera 
succeeded in reaching Santiago, which had rail connections with 
Havana. Santiago was at once placed under close blockade by 
Rear Admiral W. T. Sampson and, in the ensuing weeks, troops 
under General W. R. Shafter assembled for a land attack on the 
city. On July i they took El Caney and San Juan Hill, its outer 
defenses. Santiago now was doomed. In order to avoid capture, 
Cervera's fleet made a gallant attempt to escape on July 3, but 
as the warships steamed out of the harbor, one by one they were 
engaged by the blockading vessels and either captured or de- 
stroyed. Sampson being absent at the moment on an official 



errand, Commodore W. S. Schley had actual command. The 
fall of Santiago quickly followed. Shortly afterwards, an army 
under General Nelson A. Miles began the occupation of the 
near-by island of Puerto Rico. 

Meantime, the Americans had successfully attacked the 
Spaniards in a different quarter of the globe. Immediately upon 
the outbreak of war Commodore George Dewey, then at Hong 
Kong, had proceeded with his squadron of six vessels to the 


Philippine Islands, under orders to incapacitate the Spanish 
fleet there for operations in American waters. Though his 
nearest base was 7000 miles away, Dewey, trained in the school 
of Farragut, executed his instructions with boldness and dis- 
patch. Before dawn on May i he ran the batteries of Manila 
Bay and, by high noon, he had destroyed the entire Spanish fleet 
without losing an American life. His main purpose accomplished, 
Dewey proceeded to blockade Manila and its environs prepara- 
tory to a combined attack upon the city when land forces should 

As is usual on such occasions, men-of-war of neutral powers 
gathered on the scene to look after their national interests. The 


German force under Otto von Diederichs was actually stronger 
than Dewey's own fleet, and its commander showed every dis- 
position to embarrass the blockading squadron to the advantage 
of the Spaniards. Time and again Dewey's patience was sorely 
tried and an open rupture narrowly averted. On one occasion the 
German, inquiring of Sir Edward Chichester, the British com- 
mander, as to his attitude, was told briefly "that only Admiral 
Dewey and himself knew what would happen if the situation 
came to the worst." When the American troops arrived and 
Dewey prepared to bombard Manila, Chichester moved his 
vessels into position between the German warships and the 
American fleet as a precaution against possible interference. 
The whole conduct of the Germans suggests not merely partiality 
for Spain, but also a design to secure a foothold in the Philippines 
at the conclusion of the war. The British government was re- 
solved to prevent such an outcome. 

During July and early August the reinforcements from the 
United States arrived. The city was invested with the aid of the 
Filipinos who, under the leadership of Emilio Aguinaldo, were 
fighting for independence. On August 13, after a joint sea and 
land attack, Manila capitulated. Meanwhile, in June, the cruiser 
Charleston had quietly secured the surrender of Guam and the 
other Ladrone Islands, tiny Spanish possessions lying 1500 miles 
east of the Philippines. 

The war was tremendously popular with the American people, 
partly perhaps as an emotional escape from the economic dis- 
tresses that had so long burdened their spirits. A special bond 
issue of $200,000,000, offered in amounts as small as twenty 
dollars, was readily subscribed, and the government raised 
additional money from a wide variety of internal-revenue duties. 
The Red Cross amply demonstrated its war-time efficiency, ex- 
tending its activities to all parts of Cuba, to the mobilization 
camps in southern United States and, eventually, to the Phil- 
ippines and Puerto Rico, At home nearly two thousand branches 
were formed from coast to coast to cooperate in collecting money 
and supplies. By contrast, the almost criminal negligence of the 
War Department in safeguarding soldier health and welfare pro- 
voked sharp public criticism. Malaria and typhoid fever made 
their inroads on the unseasoned troops about Santiago in the 


early weeks, Shafter reporting on August 3 that seventy-five per 
cent of his command were sick. After his general officers signed 
a " round-robin" protest insisting that the army be removed to 
the United States before it was exterminated by that dreadful 
tropical scourge, yellow fever, the government acquiesced. 

Despite such conditions it is only fair to note that, thanks to the 
progress of medical science in the intervening years, the per- 
centage of deaths from disease was only about three fifths as 
great as during the first year of the Civil War. Moreover, com- 
paratively few amputations proved necessary. An epochal con- 
sequence of this first contact of American science with the tropics 
was the discovery, made in 1900 by an army medical board headed 
by Major Walter Reed, that yellow fever was transmitted by the 
female Stegomyia mosquito. 1 By means of this knowledge, the 
disease was soon banished from the island through the efforts of 
Major Reed and Major W. C. Gorgas. Potentially at least, 
tropical life the world over was relieved of one of its terrors. 

After hostilities had been under way about three months, 
Spain asked France to ascertain peace terms from the United 
States. An armistice, signed on August 12, foreshadowed the 
settlements of the peace treaty, save in regard to the disposition 
of the Philippines, which was left undetermined. In the final 
negotiations at Paris, William R. Day acted as head of the 
American delegation. Since the United States stood in a posi- 
tion to demand whatever it wanted, the negotiations proved the 
simplest in which the government had ever engaged. The out- 
come was the treaty of December 10, 1898. Spain transferred 
Cuba to the United States for temporary occupation preliminary 
to insular independence. It ceded Puerto Rico and Guam in 
lieu of war indemnity, and the Philippines on payment of 
$20,000,000. The civil and political rights of the native inhabit- 
ants of the ceded islands were to be determined by Congress. 

The acquisition of Puerto Rico was a natural fruit of the war, 
and the annexation of Guam might be justified as a desirable 
coaling and cable station. But the taking of the Philippines 

1 In his report as Secretary of War, Elihu Root declared in 1902, "The name of 
Dr. Jesse W. Lazear, contract surgeon, who voluntarily permitted himself to be 
inoculated with the yellow fever germ in order to furnish a necessary experimental 
test . . . and who died of the disease, should be written in the list of the martyrs 
who have died in the cause of humanity." 


marked a new and not wholly welcome innovation in American 
policy. These islands, aggregating an area as large as Arizona, 
not only formed a part of the coast line of Asia, but were thickly 
inhabited by a people alien in race, language and institutions, 
who were not likely ever to achieve statehood. Moreover, the 
islands could not be expected to furnish room for the expanding 
American population, though it was hoped they might supply 
openings for trade and the export of capital. Before the peace 
conference McKinley had been undecided as to the wisdom of 
the step, but strong pressure was brought to bear upon him by 
chambers of commerce and Protestant missionary bodies. There 
was, besides, a well-founded conviction that, if America did not 
annex the islands, Germany, a dangerous trade rival in the Orient, 
would do so. 1 

When the treaty came before the Senate for consideration, 
certain members violently attacked this feature of the settle- 
ment. G. C. Vest of Missouri denied that constitutional author- 
ity existed "to acquire territory to be held and governed perma- 
nently as colonies." The staunch Republican Senator Hoar of 
Massachusetts made much of the fact that, since the Filipinos 
had declared their independence, annexation would occur with- 
out "the consent of the governed," and thus violate a precious 
American tradition. In the end, the vote of ratification was ac- 
companied by the McEnery resolution which declared, in effect, 
that the treaty provision should not be deemed a final settlement 
of the Philippine question. Since the resolution received a mere 
majority vote, however, it had no validity as an act of the 
treaty-making power. 

In the light of earlier history the war was significant chiefly 
because it marked the final expulsion of Spain from the Western 
Hemisphere. From a prospective point of view, however, it 
signalized a momentous departure in American policy. The 
United States, for the first time, became a colonial power in the 
New World and, through acquiring the Spanish holdings in the 
Pacific, besides Hawaii and Tutuila, it became an Asiatic power 
as well. The nation took under its wing nearly a million subjects 
of Spanish and Negro blood in Puerto Rico. It shouldered 

1 As a matter of fact, Germany did purchase Spain's remaining possessions in 
the Pacific. 


certain as yet undefined responsibilities in regard to Cuba. 
It was master and protector of seven and a half million people 
in the Philippines, ranging from the civilized Tagalogs of Manila 
to the primitive Moros of the Sulu Peninsula and the head- 
hunting Igorots of northern Luzon. Like the Great Powers of 
Europe, the United States had at last chosen the path of empire. 


This fateful decision embroiled the United States almost at 
once in grave international rivalries on the Asiatic mainland. 
Japan's success in wresting Formosa and other territorial con- 
cessions from China in the war of 1894-1895 had served as an 
open invitation to Europe to join in the spoils. In the next 
five years the various powers had busied themselves with ac- 
quiring naval bases, so-called leased territories and spheres of 
influence at China's expense. Through these devices they secured 
not only monopolistic rights of trade, but usually also exclusive 
concessions for the investment of capital by their subjects in 
railway construction and mining development in adjoining re- 
gions. Thus in 1898, a banner year, Germany obtained control of 
the Shantung Peninsula in northern China; Russia secured the 
important harbor of Port Arthur, which dominated the sea 
approaches to Peiping (then Peking); Great Britain established 
its rights to Wei-hai-wei, lying between the acquisitions of 
Germany and Russia; and France took over Kwangchow Bay 
in southeastern China. 1 

From the standpoint of the United States, newly intrenched 
in the Philippines, this game of grab threatened to frustrate 
hopes of a vigorous development of trade with China. In its 
earlier diplomatic relations with Oriental countries the American 
government had always insisted upon equality of commercial 
privileges for all nations. If this principle were now to be pre- 
served, a bold course was necessary. Moreover, the British 
government was willing to lend support, even going so far in 
1898 as to suggest an Anglo-American alliance for the purpose. 
In spite of British aggression in China that country's commer- 
cial interests demanded a policy that would freely admit her 

1 As a result of the Russo-Japanese War in 1904, Port Arthur was transferred to 



manufactures to all ports. As in the case of the Monroe Doctrine 
in 1823, however, the Washington government preferred to act 







Hong Kong 
Kwangchow Bay ' 


independently. In September, 1899, Secretary of State John Hay 
addressed a circular note to the powers, asking them to subscribe 
to the doctrine of the "open door' 7 for all nations in China, 
that is, equality of trading opportunities (including eaual tariffs, 


harbor duties and railway rates) in the areas they controlled. 
The policy proposed was only a halfway measure, for it ignored 
the important subject of investments in mines and rail construc- 
tion. To Hay's note Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy and 
Japan agreed on condition that the other powers do likewise, 
while Russia gave a qualified assent. In order to clinch matters, 
Hay announced that the understanding would be regarded "as 
final and definitive." The future was to disclose, however, that 
many difficulties remained. 

The year 1900 furnished opportunity for a further development 
of American policy. The Chinese, increasingly hedged in by 
encroachments from without, took matters into their own hands 
and, with secret connivance from the authorities, struck out 
blindly against the " foreign devils." In June the insurgents, 
known as Boxers, seized Peiping and besieged the legations 
there. To deal with the situation, an international relief expedi- 
tion was organized, including 6000 American troops. Hay, fear- 
ing that the presence of foreign armies would result in a naked 
dismemberment of China, promptly announced to the powers 
that the United States would oppose any disturbance of Chinese 
territorial or administrative rights or of the open door. Once the 
rebellion was quelled, however, it required all his skill to carry 
through the American program, and to protect China from crush- 
ing indemnities. His considerable measure of success was due 
largely to the distrustful attitude of the several countries to- 
ward one another. In October Great Britain and Germany signi- 
fied their adherence to the open-door policy and the preservation 
of Chinese independence, and the others presently followed. 

Finally, on December 22, the powers announced the basic 
terms of their withdrawal: punishment of the rebel leaders, 
indemnities to foreign individuals and states, and the adoption 
of measures to prevent future outbreaks. The details were em- 
bodied in a treaty of September 7, 1901. Despite Hay's efforts, 
the total indemnity amounted to nearly twice as much as the 
American government deemed proper. Even the $24,000,000 
awarded to the United States exceeded the actual American losses 
by nearly $11,000,000, and in 1907 the balance was given back. 
This investment in international good will bore noble returns, 
for China set aside the money as a fund for sending students to 


American colleges. Russia's retention of troops in Manchuria, 
contrary to the peace treaty, made it clear that China still had 
perils to face, and caused Great Britain and Japan to form a 
defensive alliance in 1902 for the protection of their respective 
interests in China and the Pacific. 


Meanwhile, the presidential election of 1900 gave the electorate 
a chance to pass judgment on the McKinley administration's 
policy of foreign adventure and colonial aggrandisement. Meet- 
ing at Philadelphia on June 19, the Republicans expressed jubila- 
tion over the war with Spain, the insular annexations, the 
restoration of prosperity, and the effort to "obtain new markets" 
through " the policy of the open door." McKinley's renomination 
was a foregone conclusion, the second place going to Governor 
Theodore Roosevelt of New York, hero of the Rough Riders. 
Roosevelt had not wanted the honor; but "Boss" Platt was 
determined to rid his state of an energetic and self-willed execu- 
tive, and the genuine enthusiasm of the Western delegates made 
declination almost impossible. 

The foes of overseas expansion rallied to the Democratic 
standard. The fact that since the previous February the Filipinos 
had been waging a war for independence against American rule 
affected public opinion at home, and placed the United States 
in the position of imposing its dominion upon an unwilling people. 
At the same time, American tobacco and beet-sugar growers 
viewed with dislike the possibility of Philippine competition in 
the domestic market. When the Democratic convention assem- 
bled at Kansas City on July 4, the platform declared that "the 
paramount issue" was "imperialism," that is, "the seizing or pur- 
chasing of distant islands to be governed outside the Constitution 
and whose people can never become citizens," After affirming 
that "no nation can long endure half republic and half empire," 
the party further condemned the entry of the United States into 
"so-called world politics, including the diplomacy of Europe and 
the intrigue and land grabbing in Asia." Bryan was unanimously 
renominated and, at his behest, the platform also contained a per- 
functory plank for free silver. A. E. Stevenson, Cleveland's former 
Vice-President, was chosen as his running mate, 


As in 1896, Bryan's candidacy was indorsed by the Populists 
and the Silver Republicans, and reverberations of the silver 
question served somewhat to confuse the main issue. Hanna, 
once more in charge of McKinley's campaign, ascribed the re- 
turn of prosperity to Republican supremacy, and everywhere 
might be found campaign emblems and posters of the "Full 
Dinner-Pail." In spite of Bryan's eloquent condemnations of 
imperialism, the policy of overseas dominion struck most voters 
as a happy fulfillment of American destiny. Though fewer 
popular ballots were cast than in the preceding election, McKinley 
received a larger proportion of them, 51.6 per cent to 45.5 for 
Bryan. The electoral vote stood 292 to 155. 


McKinley did not live long to enjoy his victory. On Septem- 
ber 6, 1901, while attending an exposition at Buffalo held to 
symbolize Pan-American unity, he was shot by an anarchist. 
Eight days later his gentle spirit passed away. His death brought 
to the presidential chair the most picturesque and dynamic 
figure since Andrew Jackson. " Teddy's" very appearance sug- 
gested divergence from the familiar type of White House in- 
cumbent, his body stocky and athletic, his face mobile with 
expressive teeth, his voice easily slipping into the falsetto. At 
the age of forty-two, Roosevelt was the youngest man ever to 
take up the reins of office. Though he devoted his chief energies 
to domestic problems, it fell to him to cap the new national im- 
perial structure with an interoceanic waterway through Central 
America. 1 

To accomplish this purpose a series of diplomatic obstacles 
had to be surmounted. The American government had long con- 
templated such a canal, either across the Isthmus of Panama, a 
Colombian possession, or through the Republic of Nicaragua. 

1 Roosevelt retained McKinley's cabinet, composed at this time of John Hay, 
Secretary of State; L. J. Gage of Illinois, Secretary of the Treasury; Elihu Root of 
New York, Secretary of War; Philander C. Knox of Pennsylvania, Attorney- 
General; C. E. Smith of Pennsylvania, Postmaster-General; J. D. Long of Massa- 
chusetts, Secretary of the Navy; E. A. Hitchcock of Missouri, Secretary of the 
Interior; and James Wilson of Iowa, Secretary of Agriculture. In 1904 William H. 
Taft of Ohio was appointed Secretary of War and, upon Hay's death in 1905, Root 
succeeded to Ms place. Numerous other changes were made. 


As early as 1846 a treaty with Colombia had granted American 
citizens "open and free" right of passage across the isthmus on 
condition that the United States " guarantee positively and 
efficaciously ... the perfect neutrality 77 of the isthmus and 
Colombia's " rights of sovereignty and property 77 there. Four 
years later the Clayton-Bulwer treaty (see page 5) evidenced 
a further development of American policy. The United State? 
and Great Britain agreed that any canal which might be duij 
should be neutral, unfortified and under international guarantee. 
In a treaty of 1867 with Nicaragua concerning a route through 
its territory, the United States again assented to the principle of 
an international guarantee. 

But the upsurge of American nationalism in the years there- 
after put a different face on affairs. In a message of March 8, 
1880, President Hayes declared, "The policy of this country is a 
canal under American control. The United States cannot con- 
sent to the surrender of this control to any European power or 
to any combination of European powers. 77 Neither his admin- 
istration nor the next, however, despite persistent efforts, could 
induce Britain to recast the Clayton-Bulwer treaty. Meanwhile, 
American interest in a possible canal increased as a result of the 
economic development of the Pacific Coast states and complaints 
of the high freight charges of the transcontinental railroads. 
The desire for an exclusively American waterway further deep- 
ened when it appeared that a French company, headed by 
Ferdinand de Lesseps, builder of the Suez Canal, might steal a 
march upon American enterprise. Chartered in 1879, this com- 
pany obtained the exclusive privilege of constructing a canal 
across Panama, the rights of the United States under the treaty 
of 1846 remaining unimpaired. Though the French government 
was not officially concerned, the project occasioned misgivings 
in the United States. De Lesseps from 1881 to 1889 spent 
$260,000,000 on the undertaking; but gross financial irregularities 
and unexpected engineering difficulties impeded operations, and 
forced the company into bankruptcy. Several interested French- 
men then reorganized the company in order to keep alive its 
franchises and to salvage the canal equipment. 

Meantime, stimulated by this competition, an American syndi- 
cate set about to dig a rival waterway in Nicaragua. The Man- 


time Canal Company, chartered by Congress, began excavation 
at Grey town on the Atlantic side in 1890, only to have its work 
abruptly ended three years later by the Panic. Appeals to Con- 
gress for financial aid proved unavailing, for, though official 
commissions reported favorably on the Nicaragua route in 1895 
and 1897, the government was unwilling to proceed further 
under the chafing Clayton-Bulwer restrictions. Nevertheless, the 
acquisition of dependencies in the two hemispheres during 1898- 
1899 made an interoceanic canal not only important for shorten- 
ing trade routes, but also vital from the standpoint of naval 
defense. Both political parties demanded prprnpt steps to that 
end in the campaign of 1900, and fortunately the British govern- 
ment, true to her policy of cultivating American good will, was 
now well disposed. The outcome was the Hay-Pauncefote treaty 
of November 18, 1901, which expressly revoked the Clayton- 
Bulwer treaty, and granted the United States " exclusive' 7 con- 
trol over any canal that might be built. Though the "general 
principle of neutralization v received nominal recognition, the 
United States was authorized to maintain "military police" 
along the canal adequate for its protection. 

Further action now awaited the selection of a route. President 
Roosevelt strongly championed a Panama canal as both cheaper 
to build and shorter than the Nicaraguan alternative. Advo- 
cates of the latter urged the superior advantages to be derived 
from using Lake Nicaragua and the San Juan River as con- 
necting links. After considerable debate Congress in June, 1902, 
passed the Spooner act which instructed the President to pro- 
ceed with the Panama route if " within a reasonable time and 
upon reasonable terms" he could reach an agreement with the 
French company and also with Colombia; otherwise he should 
undertake a canal through Nicaragua. The moribund French 
company, whose sole remaining interest was to sell out its 
canal rights before they expired in 1904, promptly reduced its 
former exorbitant figure of $109,000,000 to the acceptable one of 

Arrangements with Colombia, however, proved more difficult. 
By the Hay-Herran treaty of January 22, 1903, the United States 
was granted, on indefinite lease, a six-mile-wide belt of land 
across the isthmus in return for $10,000,000 and an annual rental 


of $250,000. But in August the Colombian senate, acting within 
its undoubted constitutional rights, unanimously rejected the 
treaty. The members felt that Colombia would surrender too 
much authority in the canal strip, and that, in any case, the 
compensation was too little as compared with the sum offered 
the French company. This action enraged Roosevelt. As he 
said later, "I did not intend that any set of bandits should hold 
up Uncle Sam/' Others shared his indignation. The people in 
Panama saw their chance of standing at one of the great cross- 
roads of the world's commerce blasted, and to the leaders of 
the French company Colombia's decision involved an almost 
certain loss of $40,000,000. 

Here were the combustibles for a conflagration, and the rapid 
march of events in November, 1903, bears eloquent testimony 
to the unity of purpose which actuated the several interested 
parties. On November 2 the United States cruiser Nashville 
arrived in the harbor of Colon. On the next evening occurred a 
bloodless revolution in the City of Panama, at the opposite side 
of the isthmus. On the fourth, marines from the Nashville pre- 
vented the rail transportation of five hundred Colombian troops 
from Colon to the seat of the trouble. Two days later Washington 
recognized the new Republic of Panama, and on November 18 
a canal treaty was arranged. 1 The United States was granted 
perpetual use and control of a zone ten miles wide across the 
isthmus, in return for the payments which Colombia had spurned 
and for an American guarantee of independence. Philippe Bunau- 
Varilla, former chief engineer of the French company, represented 
the isthmian government in these negotiations. 

In a message to Congress Roosevelt later brilliantly defended 
the part played by the United States. Denying that the Amer- 
ican government had fomented the revolution, he claimed justifi- 
cation for the actions in November on three grounds: " First, 
our treaty rights; second, our national interests and safety; and, 
third, the interests of collective civilization." By barring the 
use of the railway to Colombian troops, he asserted that the 
United States was merely executing its pledge of 1846 to protect 
the "perfect neutrality" of the right of passage. He disposed of 

1 "If they had not revolted," Roosevelt wrote in a private letter, "I should have 
recommended to Congress to take possession of the Isthmus by force of arms." 


the correlative treaty obligation to protect Colombia's owner- 
ship of the isthmus by insisting that this guarantee held only 
against external aggression. His further contentions that 
transcendent interests of national and world import were in- 
volved in an interoceanic canal no one could deny, but his 
critics did not fail to point out that a waterway through Nic- 
aragua, the alternative authorized by the Spooner act, would 
have served these grand purposes equally well. 

Three years later, in 1906, the work of excavation began. 
Discarding the earlier idea of having a construction company 
carry it through, the government intrusted the task to the 
War Department. As an engineering feat, it was comparable in 
this new age to the transcontinental railway of four decades 
earlier. Eight years were required for completion, the cost 
reaching $194,000,000 in 1914 and $354,000,000 in 1920. "It is," 
said James Bryce, "the greatest liberty man has ever taken with 
nature!" Yet the dearth of labor, questions of sanitation and 
the task of stamping out yellow fever and malaria offered diffi- 
culties nearly as great as the strictly engineering problems. 

Meanwhile, Colombia's resentment over her high-handed treat- 
ment continued unabated. To allay this feeling, the Democrats 
when they came into power under Woodrow Wilson negotiated 
a treaty in 1914, which expressed for the "United States "sincere 
regret that anything should have occurred" to cause ill will, 
and provided a payment to Colombia of $25,000,000. In return 
that government agreed to recognize the independence of Pan- 
ama. A militant Republican minority in the Senate blocked 
ratification, however. Finally, under President Harding, the 
expression of apology, though not the payment, was eliminated 
from the treaty, and in this modified form it went through in 
1921. But no stroke of the pen or giving of money could easily 
allay the fears of the "Colossus of the North," which Roosevelt's 
course had implanted throughout Latin America. 


Democracy and Empire. No professional historian has yet done for the 
first two decades of the twentieth century what Charming, McMaster and 
Schouler did for earlier periods. Rhodes, The McKinley and Roosevelt Ad- 
ministrations, while useful, falls far short of that historian's earlier work. 
Volumes of the American Nation, The Chronicles of America Series and A 


History of American Life cover all or most of the years from 1900 to 1919. 
The only large-scale treatment is Sullivan, Our Times: The United States, 
1900-1925, intended for popular consumption, but containing much of value 
to the student. 

The Cuban Question and the War with Spain* These and the other sub- 
jects treated in this chapter are dealt with in Latane, America as a World 
Power. Among the more important works devoted specifically to Cuban 
conditions and the American intervention are Millis, The Martial Spirit; 
Chadwick, The Relations of the United States and Spain; Flack, Spanish- 
American Diplomatic Relations Preceding the War of 1898; and Benton, 
International Law and Diplomacy of the Spanish- American War. The 
European background is made clear in Reuter, Anglo-American Relations 
during the Spanish- American War, and Keim, Forty Years of German- 
American Political Relations, chap. vi. Wilkerson, Public Opinion and the 
Spanish-American War, studies the part played by American newspapers 
in generating hostile feeling. 

Combating the Powers in China. Dennett, Americans in Eastern Asia, 
is a thorough and authoritative work covering the period to 1901. Addi- 
tional material appears in Bau, The Open Door Doctrine in Relation to China. 
Thayer, The Life and Letters of John Hay, is concerned more with praise than 

Linking the Atlantic and the Pacific. The question of a Central American 
canal is discussed from various angles in Arias, The Panama Canal; Williams, 
Anglo-American Isthmian Diplomacy; Bennett, History of the Panama Canal; 
and Thomson, Colombia and the United States. Roosevelt's role is assessed 
in Pringle, Theodore Roosevelt. Rippy, The Capitalists and Colombia , sheds 
light on the later relations with that country. 





IN domestic as well as in international affairs Roosevelt's 
accession coincided with the dawn of a new age in American 
political life. The incumbent of the White House, however, was 
less the maker of an era than the beneficiary of an awakening 
sentiment that welled up from nearly every village and com- 
munity of the land. Since the early days of the Economic Revolu- 
tion the farmers had been fighting a losing battle against the 
cities and the rising industrial magnates. Now the spirit of unrest 
and revolt reached' the cities, and aroused not only the wage- 
earners, who had long known how to wage war against their em- 
ployers, but also members of the middle class, notably the white- 
collar workers and small business men. As a distinguished 
conservative (William Howard Taft) later admitted, "For thirty 
years we had [had] an enormous material expansion in this coun- 
try, in which we all forgot ourselves in the enthusiasm of ex- 
panding our material resources and in making ourselves the rich- 
est nation on earth. We did this through the use of the principle 
of organization and combination, and through the development of 
our national resources. In the encouragement of the investment 
of capital we nearly transferred complete political power to those 
who controlled corporate wealth and we were in danger of a 

To many thoughtful people the danger of which he spoke 
appeared an accomplished fact. It seemed as though America, in 
ironical perversion of Lincoln's words at Gettysburg, had come 
to be a government of the corporations, by the corporations and 
for the corporations. Organized wealth was active in municipal, 
state and national government, the laws to restrain railways and 
trusts were openly flouted, and a spirit of unbridled materialism 



infected every branch of business and society. 1 The tocsin of 
revolt, sounded in 1896 against Wall Street and Big Business, 
had been hushed by the thronging of new and bewildering na- 
tional problems as a result of the Spanish- American War, and in 
1900 the " vested interests" were more firmly intrenched than 

Indeed, the turn of the century saw Big Business take on 
Brobdingnagian size. In the single year 1899 ninety-two combi- 
nations were formed, including the Standard ' Oil Company of 
New Jersey, a holding corporation controlling the far-flung prop- 
erties of the Standard group, and the Amalgamated Copper 
Company capitalized at $175,000,000. Two years later followed 
the billion-dollar United States Steel Corporation; the next year 
brought the International Harvester Company, which absorbed 
the five leading manufacturing concerns in its field; and similar 
huge monopolistic structures grew up in other branches of busi- 
ness. Invariably the guiding hand in such amalgamations was 
some dominant banking group, which thus imposed outside 
financial direction in place of management by the operators of the 
industries and railroads. To such an extent did the Morgan, 
Rockefeller and similar groups prompt, control and exploit the 
processes of business consolidation that the Pujo committee of 
the House of Representatives in 1913, after a painstaking study, 
attested the existence of a "money trust/' that is, a " well- 
defined identity and community of interest between a few leaders 
of finance . . . held together through stock holdings, interlock- 
ing directorates, and other forms of domination over banks, trust 
companies, railroads, public-service, and industrial corporations, 
and which has resulted in a vast and growing concentration of 
control of money and credit in the hands of a comparatively few 
men." 2 

Toward this condition of affairs most people in the opening 

1 As late as 1906, Roosevelt credited E. H. Harriman with saying that "he could 
buy a sufficient number of Senators and Congressmen or State Legislators to pro- 
tect his interests, and when necessary he could buy the Judiciary." 

2 As the most powerful banking units, the committee named three concerns, 
J. P. Morgan and Company, the Morgan-controlled First National Bank and the 
Rockefeller-controlled National City Bank, estimating their combined assets in 
New York City at over two billion dollars. Four allied financial institutions, it 
asserted, held 341 directorships in banks, transportation, insurance and public- 
utility companies, whose aggregate resources were over twenty-two billion. 


years of the century had a fatalistic attitude; they were oppressed 
with the hopelessness of battling against the evil. Only through 
bold and spectacular methods could the nation be aroused from 
its lethargy and the old, confident spirit of American democracy 
be revived. As someone has said, when people are deaf, you have 
to shout at them. To this mission a group of young journalists 
dedicated themselves. Newspapers and popular magazines led 
the van; fledgling novelists took up the hue and cry; and pres- 
ently the crusade was given a practical turn by aspiring political 
reformers, including the new master of the White House. The 
agitation eventually bred individuals who purveyed sensation 
for sensation's sake, and it was this fact that led Roosevelt to 
liken such persons to the Man with the Muckrake in Pilgrim's 
Progress, whose absorption in the filth on the floor caused him to 
refuse a celestial crown. Though the term was unfair to most of 
the crusaders, they seized upon it as a badge of distinction. 

The period of greatest activity of the Muckrakers extended 
from 1902 to 1908. Of the countless articles, one of the outstand- 
ing was Ida M. TarbelTs " History of the Standard Oil Company." 
Beginning in McClure's late in 1902, and based upon three years' 
study of congressional reports, court testimony and similar 
evidence, the series month after month relentlessly unfolded the 
record of the Standard's methods toward independent produc- 
ers, the public and the government. During 1904-1905 appeared 
Thomas W. Lawson's trenchant articles on " Frenzied Finance" 
in Everybody's, concerned particularly with the Amalgamated 
Copper Company. The author, a notorious Boston stock-market 
operator, purported to reveal, in realistic detail, the inner work- 
ings of the gigantic financial " System" which held the nation's 
economic and political life by the throat. In 1905 Upton Sin- 
clair, using fiction as his medium, published a novel entitled The 
Jungle, which exposed unsanitary conditions in the great Chicago 
packing houses, and told of the grip of the beef trust on the na- 
tion's meat supply. The railways came in for their share of the 
onslaught because of unfair manipulation of traffic rates, one of 
the notable series being Ray Stannard Baker's "The Railroads 
on Trial" in McClure's during 1905 and 1906. The fulminations 
against trust-controlled government reached their climax in 
David Graham Phillips's articles on "The Treason of the Senate" 


in the Cosmopolitan during 1906-1907. The members of that body 
were considered one by one, and the sensational conclusion 
reached that seventy-five of the ninety served the railways, the 
beef and sugar trusts, the Standard Oil and steel interests. 

The activities of the Muckrakers extended to other phases of 
American life as well. Two series by Lincoln Steffens appeared in 
McClure's under the titles, "The Shame of the Cities" and 
" Enemies of the Republic," which laid bare fetid conditions in 
municipal and state government. Samuel Hopkins Adams in 
Collier's gave aggressive attention to the fraudulent claims and 
injurious ingredients of patent medicines. In like fashion, articles 
were published to expose the unscrupulous practices of banking 
and insurance companies, the immoral traffic in women, food 
adulteration, the evil effects of child labor, the appalling number 
of unnecessary industrial accidents. The Muckrakers did not 
fail to make their accusations specific and to name names. Hence 
light is thrown upon the substantial correctness of their charges 
by the fact that few of them were ever found guilty of libel. On 
the other hand, their exposures of corruption and knavery led to 
court proceedings and legislative action to rectify some of the 
worst abuses. The most beneficial effect of this " literature of 
exposure," however, was the moral awakening of the masses. 
In growing numbers they gave their support to a new group of 
political leaders who fought to restore government to the people. 


The first battles for reform were waged in municipal and state 
politics. Thus the field of local government again proved its 
utility as a laboratory of political and social experimentation. 
Conditions in the cities could hardly have been worse (see page 
151). Whether one scanned the teeming immigrant centers of the 
Atlantic Seaboard or the newer municipalities in the West, 
everywhere corruption, inefficiency and boss rule held sway. Yet, 
as the sequel showed, the civic conscience was dormant, not 
dead. Under the spur of mayors like " Golden Rule" (Samuel M.) 
Jones and Brand Whitlock in Toledo and Tom L. Johnson in 
Cleveland, the citizens turned on their oppressors, fought for 
municipal ownership of public utilities, and checked the power 
of the boss and the ring. Johnson, in Steffens's phrase, became the 


"best mayor of the best governed city in the United States." In 
a similar manner Joseph W. Folk between 1900 and 1904, as 
district attorney and then governor, attacked corruption in 
St. Louis, and Judge Ben B. Lindsey of the Denver children's 
court waged war against machine domination of the Colorado 
capital. In Minneapolis H. C. Clarke, foreman of a grand jury, 
uncovered the misdeeds of the Ames Ring in 1902 and freed the 
city from its toils. The election of Emil Seidel as Socialist mayor 
in 1910 began a new era for Milwaukee. Even New York secured 
a brief respite of honest government by making Seth Low, presi- 
dent of Columbia, its mayor in 1901. 

Other influences worked to a like end. As the result of a tidal 
wave in 1900 that destroyed about a third of the city, Galveston 
in its extremity reorganized its municipal government and, de- 
parting radically from the conventional pattern, devised the 
commission plan in place of the more complicated mayor-and- 
council type. The advantages of this simpler arrangement excited 
emulation, and presently led other cities to add the feature of a 
city manager, employed by the commission to conduct the 
government. This departure implied a tardy recognition that the 
complex organism of a modern city may be more efficiently 
run after the fashion of a business corporation than in the usual 
analogy to the state government, and also that training and ex- 
pertness are prime requisites for the chief executive official. By 
1912 the commission plan in some form had spread to over two 
hundred communities and was still growing in favor. Its rapid 
adoption was facilitated by yet another reform, the introduction 
by various states of the scheme of municipal home rule. By 
being granted the right to frame their own charters, cities were 
freed from legislative meddling, often corrupt in character, and 
at the same time enabled to deal more adequately with their own 
special local problems. The number of state constitutions with 
home-rule provisions rose from four in 1900 to eleven in 1915, 
most of them in the Middle and Far West. The net effect of the 
civic renaissance was a notable improvement in the standards of 
municipal government. Much remained to be done, of course, and 
the voters soon learned that even a superior system required 
eternal vigilance to beat back the encroachments of self-seeking 


Meanwhile the wave of reform brimmed over into state politics. 
Riding into power on the stream of protest, young men like Folk 
of Missouri, Robert M. La Follette of Wisconsin, A. B. Cummins 
of Iowa, Charles E. Hughes of New York and Hiram Johnson of 
California boldly took up cudgels against intrenched privilege, 
the party bosses and all those whom Mark Hanna meant to com- 
pliment with the term " standpatters." As in the case of munic- 
ipal reform, the new spirit coursed most rapidly through the more 
recently settled parts of the country. It infected both parties, 
and bred internal differences which in time divided each of them 
into progressive and conservative, or "standpat," wings. In 
many a legislative contest the progressives of the two parties 
fought shoulder to shoulder against the conservatives of the same 
parties a fact which lent increasing unreality to the signifi- 
cance of party labels. 

One salient point of attack was the state nominating conven- 
tion, another the legislature, for in these bodies the bosses and the 
special interests they represented had their strongholds. In 
place of the convention method of naming candidates, the pro- 
gressives advocated " direct nominations" through popular vote 
of the party membership in advance of the regular election, 
Wisconsin adopted the first state- wide primary law in 1903; 
seven other commonwealths followed in 1907. From these begin- 
nings the system spread through most of the Union. As a demo- 
cratic check on the legislature, the reformers championed the 
initiative and referendum, a dual arrangement long in use in 
democratic Switzerland. 1 After Oregon set the pace in 1902, 
the next ten years saw fifteen other states adopt the system of 
"direct legislation" in some form or other, and presently half 
the Union was committed to the plan. As a further measure to 
implement popular control, the progressives demanded that the 
voters enjoy the right to recall officials who no longer possessed 
the public's confidence. Oregon gave the plan state-wide appli- 
cation in 1908, ten other commonwealths following before the 
end of 1914, all but one of them west of the Mississippi. The 

1 The referendum is a device to enable the electorate to approve or reject, by 
popular vote, laws adopted by the legislature. The initiative allows the voters 
themselves to propose laws, either for action of the legislature or for submission to 
popular vote. 


recall was even more generally adopted in the field of municipal 
government, where, too, the initiative and referendum flourished. 
The legislatures also took action to curb the lavish and corrupt 
expenditure of money in elections. By 1911 thirty-five common- 
wealths had enacted laws for this purpose. 

At the same time, the deep-seated distrust of the federal 
Senate as a "rich man's club" revived the old Populist demand 
that its members be chosen directly by the people, not by the 
legislatures, as the Constitution provided. On several occasions 
the Senate blocked efforts of the House to secure an amendment 
to effect the change. But the rising democratic tide could not 
so easily be stayed. Beginning with Nevada in 1899, various 
states passed laws which pledged the members of the legislature 
to elect, as Senator, the candidate who won indorsement in a 
state-wide primary election. By 1912 three fourths of the states 
were operating under this system, in one form or another, and 
it was only a question of time until the Senate should consent 
to its formal incorporation in the Constitution. 

At the inception of the progressive movement, the leaders 
fought primarily to democratize the machinery of government. 
But, under the hammering impact of the Muckrakers, they came 
to concern themselves increasingly with laws to ameliorate the 
conditions under which the masses lived and worked. As a 
result, more social legislation was passed in the first fifteen 
years of the century than in all previous American history. 
Laws in regard to child labor were strengthened, and new ones 
adopted, raising the age limits, shortening the hours, restrict- 
ing night work, closing dangerous trades to minors, and requir- 
ing better opportunities for school attendance. By 1912 child- 
labor laws were to be found in thirty-eight states, the South 
lagging behind the rest of the Union. In the same period twenty- 
eight commonwealths enacted legislation limiting the number of 
hours a woman wage-earner might work; and certain states pro- 
vided pensions for destitute mothers. 

Progress was also made in shortening the workday for men. 
Most of the larger cities and more than half the states had 
provided an eight-hour day for labor on public works by 1912. 
In certain especially hazardous employments, such as mining 
and rail transportation, the workday was likewise subjected to 


legislative regulation. Thus, in the single year 1907, no less 
than twenty-three states passed acts of this character. Hardly 
less important was the crop of employers' liability (or working- 
men's compensation) laws, which, contrary to the old common- 
law doctrine, made employers legally responsible for injuries sus- 
tained by employees in the course of their work. Maryland led 
the way in 1902, and by 1917 all but ten states had set up 
insurance systems, optional or compulsory, for administering the 

Renewed efforts were made by the states to tighten their 
control over corporations and railways operating within their 
boundaries. Beginning in Ohio in 1906, a wave of passenger- 
rate regulation overran the South and the Midwest, reaching its 
height in 1907, Some of these acts were admirable, but most 
of them overshot the mark. Oftentimes passenger rates were 
fixed so low as to hamper the roads in making needed repairs 
and extensions. New revenue laws were also enacted, which, by 
taxing inheritances, incomes and the property or earnings of 
corporations, sought to place the burden of government on those 
best able to pay. 

The new body of social and economic legislation ran counter 
to the old laissez faire doctrine which had usually guided legis- 
latures and courts in the past. Accordingly, the judiciary at 
first invalidated many of the laws as contrary to the Fourteenth 
Amendment, alleging either that the employers were being de- 
prived of " property without due process of law" or that the 
wage-earners were being denied the "liberty" to work under 
any conditions they chose. Much popular dissatisfaction re- 
sulted and criticism of the judicial system became rife. In time, 
however, a more liberal view prevailed among the judges. The 
bench began to sustain the new acts on the ground that a state, 
under that vague authority known as the police power, possesses 
ample power to promote the health, morality and welfare of the 
people as opposed to special privilege. Thus, in Lochner v. 
New York, the Supreme Court in 1905 had annulled a New 
York ten-hour statute for bakers, finding "no reasonable founda- 
tion for holding this to be necessary or appropriate as a health 
law," whereas twelve years later, in Bunting v. Oregon, it upheld 
an Oregon ten-hour act for all factory workers as falling within a 


justifiable exercise of the police power. This yielding of the 
laissez faire attitude to the doctrine of social responsibility was 
perhaps the most valuable advance made by the new generation. 
Notwithstanding the great avalanche of social legislation, cer- 
tain types of laws common in Western Europe made little head- 
way in the United States. Such, for example, were the minimum- 
wage acts, provisions for health and unemployment insurance 
and old-age pensions. Moreover, during the first decade of the 
century, the reformers, in spite of constant agitation by the 
women, were, on the whole, indifferent to the demand for equal 
suffrage. As it became increasingly clear, however, that the 
women might prove valuable allies in the political struggle, the 
cause sprang to life again. In 1910 and 1911 Washington and 
California gave them the franchise, and by the end of 1914 they 
enjoyed full voting rights in eleven states, all west of the Missis- 
sippi. Not much longer could the major parties afford to ignore 
their demand for national political enfranchisement. 


Against this background of social aspiration and constructive 
achievement must be placed the stiff, uphill fight to render the 
general government responsive to the new democratic ideals. 
Without federal cooperation and support many of the reforms 
were partial and ineffective. Thus, the curbing of corporations 
and railroads, in so far as they functioned across state lines, fell 
to Congress. The same held true of the transportation of adul- 
terated foods and the restriction of expenditures in national 
elections. Yet Big Business and the great financial interests had a 
grip upon the federal government and the national Republican 
organization that seemed unshakable. 

To Roosevelt fell the task of breaking this hold and heralding 
a new and better day. Equipped by long experience in political 
life, and endowed with a temperament sensitive to shifts in 
popular opinion, he possessed buoyant self-confidence, a flair 
for pungent utterances and an unusual gift of dramatizing his 
actions. His past career had shown him, in turn, an opponent 
of Elaine's nomination in 1884 but not a Mugwump, an ardent 
civil-service reformer, an energetic police commissioner in New 
York City, a bitter foe of Populism, a big-navy man and hot 


nationalist, a Rough Rider, governor and Vice-President. More 
than any of his predecessors since the early days of the republic, 
he was the scholar in politics, having won distinction in such va- 
ried fields as natural history, literature and historical writing. 
Whatever this apostle of the " strenuous life" did, he did with 
high emotional voltage. With the nation in a mood to swing to 
the left, Roosevelt readily responded to the new democratic 
aspirations. Yet he proved an enigma to many. Schooled in the 
old order of politics, a strict party man, he never flinched from 
working with the bosses, and he seldom fought through a pro- 
posed reform to its full attainment, accepting something less 
than the whole. Uncompromising fighters like La Follette found 
in his devotion to the progressive cause a strong element of 
opportunism and charlatanry. On the other hand, none of his 
successors during the period faced such stubborn resistance in 
Congress, and his leadership grew in decision and independence 
when, in his second term, he was President "in his own right. " 

In his first message to Congress (December, 1901), Roosevelt 
stressed the "serious social problems" growing out of the "tre- 
mendous and highly complex industrial development which went 
on with ever accelerated rapidity during the latter half of the 
nineteenth century." Acclaiming business concentration as a 
natural and desirable evolution, he opposed the policy of trust 
prohibition, and demanded legislation to eliminate the evils, 
while retaining the advantages, of large-scale enterprises. He 
also recommended broader powers for the interstate-commerce 
commission in regulating railways, and directed attention to the 
need of conserving the nation's natural resources. Law-abiding 
labor unions received his approval, and he declared for protec- 
tive legislation for women and children in federal employment. 
The program elicited widespread popular approval, but it roused 
no answering chord in Congress, where stolid conservatism 
reigned under Speaker Cannon's leadership in the House and 
that of Aldrich and Hanna in the Senate. During the summer of 
1902 the President carried his message directly to the people, 
making speeches in New England and the Midwest. Everywhere 
he urged his policy of federal regulation, and demanded a "square 
deal" for all for labor, for capital and for the public. 

The outbreak of a great strike in the Pennsylvania anthracite 


fields in May, 1902, called attention to corporate selfishness in 
an impressive manner, and lent strength to the President's cause. 
The miners asked a reduction of the workday from ten to nine 
hours, a twenty-per-cent wage increase and recognition of the 
union. Although the United Mine Workers were one of the best 
managed unions in the country, the mine owners refused to 
negotiate. The resulting strike involved nearly 150,000 men and 
a total loss to miners and operators of almost $100,000,000. As 
winter approached, the East faced a terrible coal famine, and 
Roosevelt decided to intervene in the affair on behalf of the 
public whose interests transcended those of either of the con- 
tending parties. Though admitting privately that there was 
" literally nothing" which the federal government had "any 
power to do," early in October he urged the owners and the 
miners to submit their dispute to arbitration. When the former, 
denying his right to interfere, flatly refused, he let it be known 
that, if necessary, he would operate the mines with troops, 
and meantime appoint an arbitration board whose findings 
he expected Congress to support with appropriate legislation. 
J. P. Morgan and other New York financiers at once exerted 
strong pressure on the operators, and on October 23 the strike 
ended with an agreement that the controversy should be arbi- 
trated by a board appointed by the President. The subsequent 
arbitral award was a substantial victory for the strikers, who re- 
ceived a ten-per-cent increase in pay and the shorter workday. In 
the settlement, provision was also made for adjusting future diffi- 
culties by a board of conciliation, representing equally the oper- 
ators and the organized workers, with final appeal to the federal 
judge of the circuit. 

Under spur of an aroused public sentiment, Congress now made 
grudging concessions to Roosevelt's demands for extending gov- 
ernment regulation. In mid-February, 1903, it passed the Elkins 
act in an attempt to cure the evil of railway rebates, which the 
interstate-commerce law of 1887 ^ a< i vainly sought to stop. The 
new statute forbade variations from published rates and, in cases 
of violation, inflicted fines not only on the railway and its officers 
but also on shippers who accepted special favors. The general 
power of rate-fixing, however, was left exclusively in the hands 
of the railways, as hitherto, notwithstanding the strong popular 


feeling that charges were unreasonably high. A few days later 
Congress created the new Department of Commerce and Labor, 
with membership in the cabinet, and having as one of its divi- 
sions a bureau of corporations empowered to investigate the 
affairs of large business aggregations. Its function was not to 
prosecute offenders, but to provide data for the use of the 
Attorney-General and of Congress. 

Aided by this legislation, the administration pressed for a 
stricter enforcement of the antitrust and interstate-commerce 
acts. Earlier judicial decisions, it will be recalled, had narrowed 
the scope of these laws and rendered difficult the conviction of 
offenders. In the case of the Northern Securities Company in 
1904, which involved an attempt of the Morgan and Hill inter- 
ests to unite the management of two transcontinental railways 
by means of a holding company, the Supreme Court reversed a 
previous decision in regard to holding companies and, by a vote 
of five to four, dissolved the merger as a combination in restraint 
of trade. Encouraged by this friendlier attitude, the Attorney- 
General pushed other prosecutions. In January, 1905, the court 
rendered a decision against the beef trust. All together, the 
Roosevelt administration in its seven and a half years secured 
twenty-five indictments. 

Already in 1904 Teddy, as he was fondly called, had become 
the idol of the Republican rank and file. Even children in the 
nursery took to playing with "Teddy bears." His striking per- 
sonality, his " trust-busting'' activities, his use of the "big 
stick' 7 in taking the Canal Zone, captured the imagination of the 
man on the street. Nor did the machine politicians, left leader- 
less by Hanna's death in February, 1904, dare stand out against 
giving him a second term. The national convention in Chicago 
on June 21 named him by acclamation, with C. W. Fairbanks of 
Indiana for Vice-President. The influence of the standpatters, 
however, appeared in the platform, which was largely a eulogy of 
the past achievements of the party. On the trust question it 
declared simply that combinations of capital and labor "are 
alike entitled to the protection of the laws, . . . and neither can 
be permitted to break them." For the first time since 1892, 
Democrats of the Cleveland stamp dominated the national 
convention of that party at its St. Louis meeting on July 6. 


Against Bryan's fierce opposition, the nomination went to Judge 
Alton B. Parker of New York, an utterly respectable gentleman 
of conservative convictions, hitherto, unknown to the nation. 
H. G. Davis of West Virginia was named for second place. The 
platform called for prohibition of capitalistic monopolies and for 
augmenting the powers of the interstate-commerce commission. 
Roosevelt was berated for his "executive usurpation of legisla- 
tive and judicial functions/ 7 and his whole course as President 
written down as " erratic, sensational, spectacular, and arbitrary." 
"Rooseveltism," rather than any specific public question, 
proved the decisive factor in the campaign. Like Andrew Jackson, 
Teddy possessed an unusual capacity for exciting passionate 
devotion or fanatical antagonism, and people voted accordingly. 
Parker represented, on the whole, the conservative elements, but 
the certainty of Roosevelt's success caused the great corporations 
to contribute to the Republican campaign chest as before. Pro- 
gressive Democrats were drawn more to Roosevelt than to their 
own party candidate, though Bryan himself gave Parker luke- 
warm support. The abounding prosperity of the country was 
another influence making for Republican victory. The outcome 
was an extraordinary testimonial of public confidence in the 
President. He received 56.4 per cent of the popular ballots to 
37.6 for Parker, and 336 electoral votes as compared with 140 for 
his opponent. Incidentally the result was a vindication of the 
new-school Democrats, for in both 1896 and 1900 Bryan polled 
over a million more votes than did the conservative Parker ii) 
1904. When Roosevelt was notified of his victory, he declared 
in a statement to the press, "The wise custom which limits the 
President to two terms regards the substance and not the form, 
and under no circumstances will I be a candidate for or accept 
another nomination." 


Emboldened by his sweeping triumph, Roosevelt returned to 
office with fresh determination to advance the cause of reform. 
In his first annual message he called in particular for more 
drastic regulation of the railroads. Though his proposal was 
fought at every turn by the rail interests, who asserted that 
their charges were the cheapest in the world, the small shippers 


and the traveling public rallied to the President's standard. 
The House promptly passed a bill granting the interstate- 
commerce commission unrestricted power to fix interstate rates, 
but the standpatters in the Senate would not yield the point. 
In the end, a compromise was reached in the Hepburn act, 
adopted in June, 1906. This measure gave the commission provi- 
sional authority to substitute fair rates for unreasonable ones in 
interstate commerce, the commission's orders to be binding un- 
less set aside by a federal court. Despite the disappointment of 
the progressives, the new law marked an advance over the act of 
1887, for the burden of initiating litigation to test the validity 
of the commission's orders now rested upon the railways, not 
upon the commission as hitherto. The Hepburn act also ex- 
tended the commission's authority to express and sleeping-car 
companies and pipe lines. Free passes, long an insidious source 
of political corruption, were forbidden except under strict lim- 
itations. In addition, the commission was empowered to pre- 
scribe the methods of bookkeeping and accounting which the 
roads must follow, a regulation prompted in part by the practice 
of certain companies of concealing corrupt expenditures through 
manipulating book entries. 

Other measures of Congress carried the principle of federal 
control beyond these limits. In response to the Muckrakers' 
crusade against patent medicines and adulterated foods, the 
pure-food law of 1906 prohibited the use of any " deleterious 
drug, chemical or preservative" in prepared medicines or pre- 
served foods sold in interstate commerce. This measure was 
presently reenforced by an act requiring federal inspection of all 
concerns selling meats in interstate commerce. An employers' li- 
ability act for interstate transportation companies was also 
passed in 1906. When the Supreme Court declared it unconsti- 
tutional, a law which met the court's objections was adopted 
in April, 1908. In 1907 the question of the relationship of Big 
Business to politics was taken up, and a statute enacted forbid- 
ding corporations to make campaign contributions in federal 
elections. A sister bill providing for publicity of campaign funds 
and expenditures encountered defeat, however. 

Meantime, the administration took active steps to assure 
enforcement of the regulatory laws. In 1907 it was discovered 


that the American Sugar Refining Company had defrauded the 
government out of a large amount of import duties. The result- 
ing legal actions led to the recovery of over $4,000,000 and the 
conviction of several of the company's officials. In the same year 
the Standard Oil Company of Indiana, a subsidiary of the Stand- 
ard of New Jersey, was indicted for receiving secret rebates on 
shipments over the Chicago and Alton Railroad. The changed 
spirit of the times was reflected in the fine imposed by Judge K. M. 
Landis of the federal district court, amounting to $29,240,000 
on 1462 separate counts. To thoughtful people it seemed that 
the decision was actuated by a desire for retaliation rather than 
a spirit of justice, and the case was subsequently dismissed by a 
higher court. 

Next to corporation control, Roosevelt gave chief attention 
to the conservation of the nation's natural wealth. Though little 
desirable agricultural land remained for individual settlers after 
the late eighties, certain powerful private interests had been 
acquiring, often through fraud, great tracts valuable for minerals 
or timber or as irrigation sites. The result was the selfish ex- 
ploitation and waste of raw materials and natural advantages 
that should have been utilized over a long period of years for 
the greatest good of the greatest number. At the turn of the 
century it was estimated that, at the current rate of consump- 
tion, the forests would last about thirty years longer, anthracite 
coal maybe fifty years, bituminous perhaps a century. Further- 
more, wide stretches of land regarded as worthless needed only 
proper attention from the government to become fit for oc- 
cupation. In the nineties Congress had adopted some preliminary 
measures looking toward the husbanding of natural resources. 
A statute of 1891 gave the President discretion to reserve from 
sale and settlement public lands bearing forests. Three years 
later the Carey act offered gifts of arid tracts to states agreeing 
to irrigate them and open them to settlers at reasonable prices. 

Upon these beginnings President Roosevelt greatly enlarged. 
Starting with his first annual message in 1901, he lost no occa- 
sion to preach the gospel of conservation until the masses came 
to understand the relationship between public-land policy and 
national welfare. His actions suited his words. Where his pred- 
ecessors had set aside 47,000,000 acres of timberland, Roosevelt 


increased the area by 148,000,000 acres and, through Gifford 
Pinchot, chief of the division of forestry, began systematic efforts 
to prevent forest fires and to retimber denuded tracts. The close 
of his presidency saw most of the great forests remaining on the 
public lands in the Pacific and Rocky Mountain states set apart 
to be used perpetually in the interest of the whole nation. 

Important progress was made in reclaiming unproductive agri- 
cultural lands and in the protection of mineral resources. Be- 
cause the Carey act had accomplished little, the Newlands recla- 
mation act in 1902 provided that the proceeds of public-land 
sales in sixteen semiarid Western states and territories should 
constitute a revolving fund to assist the construction of irrigation 
works. Soon one important project after another was undertaken, 
large dams and reservoirs were built, and great thirsty tracts sup- 
plied with water by irrigation. Steps were also taken to reclaim 
swainp or overflowed lands which were subject to interstate 
control. In order to safeguard mineral wealth, Roosevelt with- 
held from sale a total of 64,000,000 acres containing oil, coal and 
other subsurface riches. 

Still another phase of his conservation program concerned 
the waterways. It was becoming increasingly apparent that, in 
order to relieve the congestion of the railways, the public must 
make greater use of water transportation. Furthermore, the 
destructive effects of the recurrent floods on the Mississippi and 
elsewhere called for preventive measures by the government. 
In 1907 Roosevelt appointed an inland-waterways commission 
to study the problem from all angles; and on the basis of their 
report appropriations began to be made for a systematic develop- 
ment of the nation's rivers, lakes and canals. Realizing that the 
success of conservation required whole-hearted cooperation by 
the states, the President set a precedent by summoning the gov- 
ernors of the states to a conference on the subject in 1908. 
Within eighteen months after its adjournment forty-one state 
conservation commissions were appointed and in active opera- 
tion. Roosevelt's efforts had the effect of making conservation a 
major national policy. Only at their peril did his successors in 
office fail to give unstinted devotion to the cause. 

As the campaign of 1908 drew near, he was at the peak of his 
popularity. His great service to the country had consisted, not 



in specific additions to the statute book, but in helping give the 
nation new faith in itself. Furthermore, at a time when labor 
and capital were ready to leap at each other's throats, his voice 
declared with ringing emphasis, "The corporation has come to 
stay just as the trade union has come to stay/' and, he unfailingly 
added, both must bow to the will of the public. Conservatives 
who thought him too radical and radicals who thought him too 
conservative failed to perceive that he sought to hold an even 
balance between the contending elements in modern society. 
Always deeply indebted to the pioneer efforts of the Muckrakers 
and to the labors of the reform leaders in city and state, he gave 
the prestige of his high office to the view that between the two 
extremes of unbridled individualism and paternalistic socialism 
lay the middle path of intelligent social control. 


The Advent of the Muckrakers. Brandeis, Other People's Money, sum- 
marizes and interprets the findings of the Pujo committee, and Regier, 
The Era, of the Muckrakers, of ers the fullest account of the " literature of 
exposure." In Farewell to Reform Chamberlain characterizes and adversely 
criticizes the ideology of the Muckrakers and of the progressive movement 
in the light of later developments. 

The Ground Swell of Reform. The struggle to improve conditions in 
municipal and state politics may be followed in Faulkner, The Quest for 
Social Justice, DeWitt, The Progressive Movement, Haynes, Third Party 
Movements since the Civil War, and his Social Politics in the United States, 
volumes which also treat other topics dealt with later in the present chapter. 
Particular phases are presented hi Munro, The Initiative, Referendum and 
Recall; Carlton, The History and Problems of Organized Labor; Commons 
and Andrews, Principles of Labor Legislation; Groat, Attitude of American 
Courts in Labor Cases; and Mangold, Problems of Child Welfare. 

Roosevelt and Reform; The Contest Renewed. Ogg, National Progress, 
Rhodes, The McKinley and Roosevelt Administrations, and Sullivan, Our 
Times, I-III, discuss the main events of Roosevelt's presidency. Additional 
material may be found in Pringle, Theodore Roosevelt, and Bishop, Theodore 
Roosevelt and His Time. The Roosevelt envisaged by the public is shown in 
Shaw, ed., A Cartoon History of Roosevelt's Career. The standpat attitude is 
studied in Croly, Marcus Alonzo Hanna, and Stephenson, Nelson W. Aldrich. 
The best general exposition of conservation problems is Van Hise and Have- 
meyer, The Conservation of Our Natural Resources, which should be supple- 
mented by Teele, Irrigation in the United States, and Hibbard, History of 
Public Land Policies. 



AS the presidential election of 1908 approached, Roosevelt 
/X sternly repelled all suggestions of a " second elective term/' 
throwing his support to William Howard Taft of Ohio, who had 
been Secretary of War since 1904. Taft had consistently sup- 
ported the President's policies in public and private, and he knew 
the insular dependencies as no other American. Nevertheless 
Roosevelt's preference occasioned considerable surprise and, 
among progressive Republicans, distrust, for Taft in his earlier 
career as federal judge had displayed marked conservative tend- 
encies. They bowed to the judgment of their chief, however; and 
the latter, by adept management of the federal patronage and 
manipulation of the Southern delegates, won his point on the first 
roll call of the party convention at Chicago in the middle of June. 
J. S. Sherman of New York was nominated for Vice-President. 
The platform praised Roosevelt's record in combating " the abuse 
of wealth and the tyranny of power/' and called for ampler reg- 
ulation of trusts. Recognition was accorded the growing demand 
for tariff reform by a pledge for "a revision of the tariff/' to be 
based on the difference between "the cost of production at home 
and abroad, with a reasonable profit to American industries." 

The disastrous defeat suffered by the candidate of the con- 
servative Democrats in 1904 brought the progressive wing 
strongly to the fore. At its convention in Denver on July 7 the 
party on the first ballot gleefully named Bryan for his third trial 
at the presidency, giving the second place to J. W. Kern of 
Indiana. "The overwhelming issue/' declared the platform, is 
"Shall the people rule?" an issue forced on the nation by 
Roosevelt's dictation of his successor, Speaker Cannon's "abso- 
lute domination" of the House and the grip of the predatory 
interests on the party in power. Stigmatizing the Republican 
tariff plank as belated and insincere, the Democrats pledged 



themselves definitely to tariff " reduction." They also demanded 
the destruction of capitalistic monopolies. 

In the ensuing campaign both Taft and Bryan made long 
stumping tours. Chief stress was laid on the tariff question, and 
Taft was forced by Bryan to interpret the Republican plank as 
meaning revision downward. For the first time, organized labor 
took official part, the American Federation of Labor indorsing 
the Democrats because of their plank for restricting the use of 
injunctions in labor disputes. In harmony with the new political 
ethics, the Democrats during the campaign made public all in- 
dividual contributions received above $100, and both parties 
issued postelection statements. Taft proved the victor, receiving 
321 electoral votes to 162 for Bryan, and 51.6 per cent of the 
popular ballots to 43 per cent for his opponent. Afterwards, in 
explaining his defeat, Bryan ruefully declared that the Repub- 
lican party had enjoyed the unfair advantage of running two can- 
didates : Taft the progressive who swept the West, and Taft the 
conservative who won the East. The Republicans also carried 
both branches of Congress. 

Events quickly revealed that Roosevelt was mistaken in his 
judgment of Taft. Left to his own devices by Roosevelt's de- 
parture on an African hunting trip, the new President speedily 
reverted to his naturally conservative outlook on public ques- 
tions. It is likely that, without conscious disloyalty to his former 
chief's policies, he believed the country needed time for recupera- 
tion and reflection after seven years of incessant agitation. If 
Teddy was essentially a man of action, "Big Bill" was essentially 
a man of deliberation. At any rate, the kindly nature and im- 
perturbable good humor embodied in his 350 pounds inclined 
him to conciliate the powerful party leaders whom his predecessor 
had antagonized ; but progressive Republicans were soon convinced 
that he was a deliberate traitor to the cause they cherished. 1 

1 Taft's cabinet consisted of P. C. Knox of Pennsylvania, Secretary of State; 
Franklin MacVeagh of Illinois, Secretary of the Treasury; J. M. Dickinson of 
Tennessee, Secretary of War; G. W. Wickersham of New York, Attorney-General; 
F. H. Hitchcock of Massachusetts, Postmaster-General; G. von L. Meyer of 
Massachusetts, Secretary of the Navy; R. A. Ballinger of Washington, Secretary 
of the Interior; James Wilson of Iowa, Secretary of Agriculture; and Charles Nagel 
of Missouri, Secretary of Commerce and Labor. Only two, Meyer and Wilson, were 
holdovers from Roosevelt's cabinet. 


The most urgent problem the new administration faced was 
tariff revision, a question which Roosevelt had refrained from 
taking up. A growing number of people had come to believe that 
the Dingley act of 1897 was the nursing mother of trusts, and 
responsible for the high cost of living, which had been steadily 
rising since the century opened. The center of this sentiment was 
the great grain-growing Midwest, which had cradled the pro- 
gressive movement. Summoned in special session to deal with 
the problem, the House at the President's behest passed the 
Payne bill lowering the tariff. But under Aldrich's direction the 
Senate mangled the measure, adding 847 amendments, most of 
them increasing duties. The outcome of the differences was the 
Payne- Aldrich act, signed by Taft in August, 1909, which raised 
the average rate on dutiable goods about one per cent. In addi- 
tion, the President was empowered to impose much higher rates 
on imports from countries that discriminated against American 
trade. The law also levied a one-per-cent tax on the net earnings 
of corporations above $5000, and provided for a bipartisan tariff 
board. At every step the increases had been fought by La Fol- 
lette, Cummins, A. J. Beveridge of Indiana and other progressive 
Senators of the party, but to no avail. Schedule K was a partic- 
ular abomination in their eyes, for it left virtually unchanged the 
high duties on wool and woolens at a time when woolen manu- 
facturers were declaring dividends up to fifty per cent. Even 
President Taft did not defend these duties, though in an address 
at Winona, Minnesota, he pronounced the tariff as a whole "the 
best the country ever had." 

The Payne-Aldrich act was the first step in Taft's downfall. 
Hard on its heels came two other events that alienated Roose- 
velt's old followers. One appeared to involve the President's 
good faith toward the conservation of natural resources. In 
the summer of 1909 Gifford Pinchot, the chief forester, charged 
Secretary of the Interior Ballinger with lack of zeal in the pro- 
tection of water-power sites and coal lands. Taft, siding with 
Ballinger, dismissed Pinchot for insubordination. In conse- 
quence, the administration's situation became so intolerable that 
presently Ballinger was "permitted" to resign. Reform senti- 
ment was further outraged by the President's failure to aid the 
Western Republicans in their fight to unhorse Speaker Joseph G. 


Cannon. In the course of many years the presiding officer of 
the House had come not only to appoint all committees, but 
also, through his domination of the rules committee, to limit de- 
bate and control the whole course of lawmaking. A confirmed 
standpatter, Cannon used his autocratic authority to thwart 
the desires of the progressives. Consequently, on March 19, 

1910, a group of Republican insurgents joined with the Dem- 
ocratic minority in a successful effort to curb the Speaker's 
powers. Though permitted to retain his office, Cannon was 
shorn of the right to appoint the rules committee^ and to act 
as one of its members. When the Democrats came into control 
the next year, they went further and made all committees elec- 

The revolution in the House foreshadowed a greater one in the 
fall elections. On the issues of tariff reform and "Cannonism" 
the Democrats won decisive victories in all sections of the coun- 
try, and gained a majority of 53 in the new House. Roosevelt, 
once more in the United States, made a long speaking tour and, 
though not yet openly hostile to the administration, directed his 
efforts mainly toward the election of progressive Republican 
candidates. Even New Jersey, a boss-ridden Republican state 
hitherto the despair of reformers, placed in the governor's chair 
a progressive Democrat, Woodrow Wilson, recently president of 
Princeton University. 

The lesson of the election was not lost upon Taft. In January, 

1911, the President in an effort to meet part way the low-tariff 
sentiment proposed to Congress a reciprocity pact with Canada, 
providing for free entry or reduced rates in the case of certain 
Canadian food products and raw materials in return for similar 
concessions on American farm implements and other specified 
commodities. The measure pleased Eastern Republicans, since it 
left duties on their manufactures untouched; but it roused a whirl- 
wind of protest from the farming and lumbering interests of the 
Middle and Far West, which feared the consequences of Canadian 
competition. Under the astute leadership of Oscar W. Under- 
wood of Alabama, head of the House ways-and-means'committee, 
the Democrats took prompt advantage of this new breach in their 
opponents' ranks. Viewing Canadian reciprocity as an entering 
wedge for general tariff reduction, they helped the President carry 


his scheme through Congress in July, ipn. 1 Then, to offset the 
displeasure of the progressive Republicans, the Democrats com- 
bined with them to pass a number of bills for lowering the tariff 
on Eastern manufactured articles. A "farmers' free-list bill" was 
enacted, the notorious Schedule K revised, and bills were carried 
to scale down the duties on cotton goods, chemicals, iron and 
steel. All these ran afoul the President's veto, an act that served 
further to increase his unpopularity both within and without the 

Yet, despite Taft's inept leadership and the growing revolt 
against him, the administration had done much in a quiet, un- 
theatrical way to further the cause of reform. In 1910 Congress 
put new teeth into the interstate-commerce law by passing the 
Mann-Elkins act, which extended the commission's authority to 
telegraph and telephone companies, and amended the Hepburn 
act so as to make the commission's orders for lower rail rates 
immediately effective, even when a court investigation was being 
conducted into their reasonableness. In a similar fashion, Con- 
gress tackled the question of campaign contributions, adopting 
legislation in 1910 and 1911 limiting the amount of money a 
candidate might spend in running for the House or Senate and 
requiring that all receipts and expenditures be published before 
and after both primaries and elections. 2 The dust raised by the 
Ballinger-Pinchot affair obscured the fact that Congress in 1911 
enlarged the scope of conservation by providing for the purchase 
of forest lands near the headwaters of navigable streams in the 
White Mountains and the southern Appalachians. In addition, 
in 1910, the public-land laws were improved, stricter provision 
was made for safety appliances on railways, and a bureau of 
mines established. Two years later a children's bureau was set 
up to study problems of child welfare and a parcels-post law was 
enacted. The following year saw the creation of a Department of 
Labor with membership in the cabinet. 

1 Taft's victory, as it turned out, was short-lived because Canada later rejected 
the terms. 

2 In Newberry v. the United States (1921), the Supreme Court held unconstitu- 
tional that part of the law of 1910 which sought to regulate the expenditures of 
senatorial candidates in primary elections. Since the statute was enacted prior 
to the adoption of the Seventeenth Amendment this decision does not necessarily 
determine the power of Congress under that amendment. 


Nearly twice as many prosecutions were conducted against 
business combinations as under Roosevelt. In May, 1911, the 
Supreme Court ordered the dissolution of the Standard Oil 
Company of New Jersey and also of the American Tobacco Com- 
pany. The immediate rise in the value of Standard stock indicated 
that the decision was of slight practical consequence. The court 
in these two decisions betrayed a conviction as to the undesirabil- 
ity of reckless attempts to break up large-scale enterprises. This 
appeared in a new construction it placed upon the Sherman act. 
Where that statute had outlawed "every" contract or combina- 
tion "in restraint of trade" (see page 200), the Supreme Court 
now interpreted the prohibition to apply only to undue or un- 
reasonable restraints of trade. 

Perhaps most important of all was the initiation of two new 
amendments to the Constitution. The controversy dating from 
the Supreme Court decision of 1895 against the federal income tax 
(see page 190) was solved, once and for all, by the Sixteenth 
Amendment, submitted to the states in 1909. By its provisions 
Congress was empowered to levy an income tax without the 
necessity of apportioning it among the states according to popula- 
tion. The Seventeenth Amendment, proposed by Congress in 
1912, represented the climax of the popular demand for a recon- 
stitution of the Senate. By its terms Senators were made elective 
by popular vote of the state instead of by the legislature. The 
income-tax amendment was ratified by the state legislatures in 
1913 shortly before Taft left office, and the other amendment 
soon thereafter. It was significant of the changed outlook of 
America that the Taft administration should clothe with con- 
stitutional sanction two reforms which the Populists had first 
brought to national notice. 


Had Taft possessed his predecessor's qualities of showman- 
ship, he might have capitalized these constructive achievements 
to political advantage. As it was, the progressive Republican 
leaders began to lay plans as early as January, 1911, to prevent 
his renomination. With some misgivings they fixed upon Senator 
La Follette as their choice. "Fighting Bob's" lifelong battle 
for popular rights had placed him at the van of the progressive 


cause, but he had never made the same appeal to the popular 
imagination as the colorful Roosevelt, and the feeling grew that 
he lacked the vote-getting qualities necessary to unseat Taft in 
the convention. Such lukewarm supporters cast longing eyes 
toward the ex-President, who had not yet identified himself un- 
reservedly with the antiadministration movement. Yielding to 
their importunities as well as to his own combative instincts, 
Roosevelt in a speech in February, 1912, declared his adherence 
to those items of the progressive creed he had earlier ignored 
or opposed, and a few days later, following an opportune but 
temporary breakdown in La Toilette's health, he announced his 
candidacy for the nomination. Though La Follette stayed in 
the race, he was almost forgotten as the country beheld the dis- 
tressing spectacle of the President and ex-President, recently 
devoted friends, engaging in a campaign of caustic personal 
recrimination. Taft denounced Roosevelt's " explosive incon- 
sistencies" and warned the people against "political emotional- 
ists" about to plunge the country "into a condition that would 
find no parallel except in the French Revolution," while Roosevelt 
charged Taft with reaction and added bitterly, " It is a bad trait 
to bite the hand that feeds you." 

The advantage by no means lay wholly on Roosevelt's side. 
If he commanded a wider popular following, the President's 
supporters dominated the party machinery for selecting delegates 
in most of the states, and absolutely controlled the South where 
the delegates were usually federal officeholders. But in the twelve 
states where preferential primaries prevailed, Roosevelt won 278 
delegates, Taft 46 and La Follette 36. Elsewhere Taft was gen- 
erally the favorite, though there was an unusually large number 
of contested seats. When the convention assembled in Chicago 
on June 18, the administration-controlled national committee, 
employing what the progressives called "steamroller tactics," 
awarded most of the disputed seats to Taft delegates, and con- 
structed a majority which renominated Taft and Sherman on 
the first ballot. Three hundred and forty-four Roosevelt support- 
ers, representing a third of the delegates, refused to vote, though 
critics unkindly pointed out that Roosevelt himself had jammed 
through Taft's nomination by similar methods four years before. 
The platform, while declaring for a "self-controlled representa- 


tive democracy/' carefully skirted questions provocative of fac- 
tional bitterness. The chief planks called for a federal commission 
to regulate trusts, a " readjustment 77 of the tariff with the aid of a 
board of experts, and a reformation of the monetary system. The 
Roosevelt followers, unappeased, prepared to carry their case 
directly to the people. 

The Republican schism lent unusual interest to the proceed- 
ings of the Democrats in Baltimore on June 25. For the first 
time in many years the Democrats felt confident of victory, and, 
emboldened by this circumstance, the conservative forces and 
professional politicians made a desperate effort to regain mastery 
of the party. Either Governor Judson Harmon of Ohio or Con- 
gressman Underwood would have been acceptable to them as a 
candidate, and they resolved at all costs to prevent the nomina- 
tion of Woodrow Wilson, who as governor of New Jersey had 
shown himself a militant progressive. A fourth candidate, Speaker 
Champ Clark of Missouri, flirted with both factions, and on the 
tenth ballot actually polled a majority of the votes. That he failed 
of the requisite two thirds was due to the energy and skill of 
William Jennings Bryan of the Nebraska delegation, who dis- 
trusted Clark's equivocal attitude. At every turn he fought the 
"predatory interests/ 7 meanwhile keeping the outside public 
constantly informed of his plans, with the result that thousands 
of approving telegrams poured in upon the delegates. The long 
balloting concluded with Wilson's nomination on the forty-sixth 
trial, Governor T. R. Marshall of Indiana being named to run 
with him. The platform blamed the high cost of living on the 
Republican tariff, pledged "immediate downward revision, 7 ' re- 
peated the injunction plank of 1908, promised to restore the 
Sherman act to its original vigor, and demanded revision of the 
banking and currency laws. 

Meantime, the disappointed Roosevelt supporters had been 
organizing their forces and, at a convention in Chicago on August 
5, they launched a new party, the Progressive party. Amid scenes 
of high excitement, Roosevelt and Governor Hiram Johnson of 
California were named as the standard bearers. The platform was 
the most unusual ever framed by a party having reasonable hopes 
of victory. Its keynote was the pledge to c< build a new and nobler 
-Commonwealth. " To that end the platform championed not only 


such political devices as direct primaries, equal suffrage, the 
initiative, referendum and the recall, but also a referendum on 
court decisions that annulled state laws. As economic reforms, it 
advocated a federal commission to regulate combinations, tariff 
revision along protective lines through an expert commission, 
and an overhauling of the banking and currency laws. In addi- 
tion, it indorsed a wide range of measures for "social and indus- 
trial justice/ 7 including an eight-hour day, the assurance of a 
"living wage/' prohibition of child labor and safeguards against 
industrial accidents and occupational diseases. 

In view of its dramatic prelude the campaign proved surpris- 
ingly quiet. Roosevelt was inevitably the central figure. His 
followers assumed the nickname of Bull Moosers from a chance 
expression dropped by their leader. His opponents flayed him for 
his unbounded ambition and egotism in seeking a third term. The 
most startling incident was the attempt made on his life by an 
insane man in Milwaukee. Though the Progressive program was 
widely condemned as radical and socialistic, the ticket com- 
manded warm support from certain well-known capitalists, who 
saw in the elaborate provisions for government control of indus- 
trial conditions the best hope for an efficient and contented labor 
force. It is significant that Gompers, as in 1908, called on or- 
ganized labor to back the Democrats; indeed, the Progressive 
platform nowhere definitely affirmed the wage-earner's right to 
organize and strike. Wilson's dignified and well-phrased utter- 
ances won growing favor with thoughtful people who came to 
regard him as standing midway between candidates of extremist 
tendencies "a progressive with the brakes on.' 5 In any case, 
the divided opposition insured Democratic success. Many 
Republicans refrained from voting, but the bulk of them rallied 
to their old idol, Teddy. Wilson mustered 435 electoral votes, 
Roosevelt 88, Taft 8. But the distribution of popular ballots 
mirrored the situation more accurately, Wilson winning 41.8 
per cent, Roosevelt 27.4 and Taft 23.2. In fact, the victor re- 
ceived one and a third million less than the total polled by his 
two rivals, and fewer than Bryan had commanded in any of his 
three candidacies. Benefiting from the unrest, the Socialists 
headed by Eugene V. Debs and Emil Seidel doubled their 
popular vote of 1908, reaching nearly a million. The remarkable 


showing made by the new party promised to give it a permanent 
place in American politics if, indeed, its strength represented 
anything more than attachment to a brilliant chief. 


The new President embodied the finest traditions of the party 
that elected him. A Virginian by birth, he had spent his mature 
years in the North, serving from 1890 on as professor and then 
president of Princeton. Like Jefferson, he was a student and 
philosopher of political institutions; his works on political science 
laid the foundations of the modern study of that subject in 
America. In common with Jackson, he was a militant believer in 
democracy, and possessed an intuitive understanding of the un- 
spoken hopes of the plain people. His unvarying self-command 
and obstinate courage, derived perhaps from his Scotch Presby- 
terian ancestry, recalled Cleveland, whose neighbor he had been 
at Princeton. Unlike all these, however, he surveyed the world 
with singular mental detachment, with the eyes of a student 
accustomed to probe beneath the immediate flux of events and 
to seek for guiding principles. His espousal of popular rights, it 
is not too much to say, sprang from his head rather than from 
his heart. His high forehead, narrow, ascetic face and aggres- 
sive jaw denoted the special qualities that gave character and 
force to his leadership. His hold on the people rested more on 
their growing confidence in his disinterested and penetrating 
intelligence than on a devotion to his personality, though 
he was deeply loved by his intimates. Not the least of his 
gifts was a literary style that made his public utterances a 
fine tapestry woven of noble and luminous phrases. His intellec- 
tual aloofness and stubborn independence proved a constant 
irritation to his political opponents and often to his own party 
leaders and, in the end, contributed to his defeat in the last 
great battle of his career, that for ratification of the League of 

The election of 1912 was a victory for progress! vism if not 
for the Progressives. Wilson showed no disposition to evade or 
straddle any of the urgent questions of the time. He felt a solemn 
mission to commit the Democrats unalterably to reform and, 
by appointing Bryan Secretary of State, he served notice at the 


outset of his open alliance with the liberals of his party. 1 In any 
case, this course was the part of political wisdom, for through it 
the President might hope to undermine the strength of the Pro- 
gressive party and win for his administration the majority support 
in the country that had been lacking in the election. Though 
the Democrats controlled both Houses of Congress, the party, 
long out of power, was wanting in cohesion and responsible 
leaders. To Wilson this was no deterrent. For many years as a 
student of government he had maintained that the chief execu- 
tive should be not a mere presiding officer of the nation, but an 
active and aggressive director of public policy, bearing a rela- 
tionship to his party and the people akin to that of the Prime 
Minister in Great Britain. Accordingly, he frankly assumed the 
reins of leadership, revived the custom, abandoned by Jefferson, 
of reading his messages to Congress, and in other ways enhanced 
the prestige of his office, even to a greater degree than had Roose- 
velt. In accounting for his legislative achievements, however, it 
must always be remembered that his administration was the 
beneficiary of all the agitation for democratic reform that had 
occurred since the opening of the century. 

Summoned in special session, the new Congress proceeded to 
carry through a legislative program which, in scope and impor- 
tance, was one of the most notable in American history. Its first 
task was tariff revision. To safeguard their vested interests, 
agents of the protected manufacturers followed their usual course 
of gathering from far and near to press their special claims; but 
the President promptly put them to rout by exposing to the pub- 
lic the activities of the " insidious and numerous lobby." The 
Underwood tariff, as signed on October 3, 1913, provided substan- 
tial reductions in the rates on important raw materials and food- 
stuffs, cotton and woolen goods, iron and steel and other com- 

1 The other members of the cabinet were W. G. McAdoo of New York, Secretary 
of the Treasury; L. M. Garrison of New Jersey, Secretary of War; J. C. Mc- 
Reynolds of Tennessee, Attorney-General; A. S. Burleson of Texas, Postmaster- 
General; Josephus Daniels of North Carolina, Secretary of the Navy; F. K. Lane 
of California, Secretary of the Interior; D. F. Houston of Missouri, Secretary of 
Agriculture; W. C. Redfield of New York, Secretary of Commerce; and W. B. 
Wilson of Pennsylvania, Secretary of Labor. The indebtedness of the Democratic 
party to the Solid South was evidenced by the appointment of five members, in- 
cluding McAdoo, who were natives of ex-slave states. Robert Lansing of New 
York succeeded Bryan in June, 1915. 


modities, and removed the duties from more than a hundred 
items. Although the act retained many protective features, a 
real attempt had been made to lower the cost of living. In order 
to make up for the certain loss of revenue, advantage was taken 
of the recent Sixteenth Amendment to levy a graduated tax on 
net incomes in excess of $3000, with an additional exemption of 
$1000 for married persons. The actual fiscal effects of the Under- 
wood act were never fairly tested, for the outbreak of the World 
War in 1914 caused a decline of dutiable imports and customs 
revenue. The law did not continue the tariff board established 
in 1909, but agitation in favor of such a body presently became 
so strong that in 1916 Congress created a bipartisan commission 
of six to assist in tariff legislation. 

The second item on the Democratic program was a reorgani- 
zation of the banking and currency system. The act of 1900, 
while establishing the gold standard, had left unaltered another 
serious defect of the monetary system: its lack of elasticity. 
With the currency the product of a variety of fortuitous historical 
conditions, it was ill adapted to meet the normal ebb and flow 
of business needs. 1 There was no way to expand or contract 
its volume as dull times required more or busy times less. This 
and other faults were dramatically projected on the public con- 
sciousness by a sharp financial panic in November, 1907. Specu- 
lation had been rife for several years, particularly in trust de- 
velopment, and many industrial securities were selling far above 
their real value. Yet the blow fell with little warning. Most 
banks were in excellent condition, industries were flourishing, and 
labor was fully employed. Suddenly, however, confidence be- 
came impaired, runs started on banks, mills shut down, and 
business generally became paralyzed. Thirteen banks failed 
in New York City alone. To afford relief, pay-roll checks and 
other substitutes for money were put into circulation, gold was 
imported from Europe, and the national treasury poured its 
surplus into banks of deposit. By the middle of January, 1908, 
confidence was again restored. Other than overspeculation, the 

1 The amount of greenbacks, treasury notes, and silver certificates was stationary, 
and the quantity of national bank notes, being based upon ownership of govern- 
ment bonds by the banks, showed little fluctuation. Though the volume of gold 
varied from time to time, its movements were governed by the demands of inter- 
national trade and had no relation to domestic needs. 


basic cause of the trouble seemed to be the inability of national 
banks to enlarge the volume of their currency in a time of money 
stringency. Many business concerns with adequate resources 
failed through inability to convert their assets into ready money. 
An important contributory cause was the fact that each bank 
had to meet the crisis substantially alone. Although few of the 
stronger institutions were without ample funds in their vaults, 
they hesitated to part with their cash for fear of being themselves 
left in the lurch. The difficulties were increased by the unscru- 
pulous activities of certain big financiers in New York, the na- 
tion's money center. The crisis left a trail of indictments and 
suicides in high financial circles. 

Shocked into action by the crash, Congress in 1908 passed 
the Aldrich-Vreeland act which, as a temporary expedient, pro- 
vided means by which national banks in times of emergency might 
issue additional bank notes. These should be guaranteed by the 
government and be taxed on a graduated scale to insure their 
retirement as soon as the stringency ceased. The act further au- 
thorized the creation of a monetary commission to investigate 
the whole problem of currency and credit and to propose a per- 
manent reformation of the system. In 1912 the commission 
submitted its report which, among other things, recommended 
a great central reserve bank, to be owned and controlled by 
private banking interests. To the Wilson administration, how- 
ever, this proposal was wholly unacceptable. Nevertheless the 
Democrats found the commission's investigations of great serv- 
ice in framing their own solution. 

This solution appeared in the federal reserve act, adopted 
on December 23, 1913. The law was designed to cure glaring 
flaws that experience had revealed in the system of money and 
credit; notably, lack of cooperation among banks in crises, in- 
elasticity of the currency supply and concentration of power in 
the hands of a few financial magnates. Upon the existing banks 
the act superimposed a new system of organization. The coun- 
try was divided into twelve districts or regions with a federal 
reserve bank in each. These regional institutions should serve 
as depositories for the cash reserves of the national banks and 
of such state banks and trust companies as might join the sys- 
tem. Their primary function, in other words, was to act as a 


bank for banks. Under strict regulations it was made possible 
for the funds thus accumulated to be used to assist individual 
local banks in moments of temporary embarrassment. To ac- 
complish the second object greater flexibility of the money 
supply provision was made for the issuance of federal reserve 
notes to meet business demands. Local banks might deposit 
with the federal reserve banks approved commercial paper (for ex- 
ample, promissory notes of reliable business concerns), receiving 
in exchange federal reserve notes for use during the period of 
need. Finally, to curb the unlimited control hitherto exerted 
by large private bankers, the delicate and complicated machin- 
ery of the new banking plan was intrusted to the immediate 
oversight of the governing boards of the regional reserve banks 
and to the general supervision of a federal reserve board, made 
up of the Secretary of the Treasury, the comptroller of the cur- 
rency and five (later six) presidential appointees. 1 

The new scheme was a landmark in American banking history 
comparable to Hamilton's financial plan and the national bank- 
ing system established during the Civil War. Though its passage 
had been bitterly resisted by the private banking interests, and 
though it went into effect under the abnormal conditions caused 
by the outbreak of the World War, it quickly demonstrated its 
utility. By mid-November, 1914, the extensive financial ma- 
chinery had been set up, and the system put into operation. 
The regional banks worked harmoniously with each other; 
currency demands were promptly met; crop-moving difficulties, 
notably in the South, were overcome; and progress was made 
toward unifying the basic banking resources of the nation. After 
America entered the war, the plan gave indispensable aid to 
the government itself. "Without it," says Professor H. Patter 
Willis, "the war could not have been financed with anything 
like the success actually attained. 3 ' Yet, despite the notable 
forward step, many evils remained in the American banking sys- 
tem, as the Great Depression of 1929 and later was to reveal. 

act discontinued the subtreasury system, a Democratic reform of the 
forties, by providing that the government should deposit its funds in the federal 
reserve banks. Provision was also made for the eventual replacement of national 
bank notes with federal reserve bank notes. The federal reserve banks were lo- 
cated in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Richmond, Atlanta, Cleveland, Chicago, 
Minneapolis, St. Louis, Kansas City, Dallas and San Francisco. 


The next important task of the Democrats was trust regula- 
tion. Experience commended a system of control similar to that 
of the interstate-commerce commission over the railways, but it 
required Wilson's most vigorous efforts to secure appropriate 
legislation. The results were embodied in two laws. One, passed 
on September 26, 1914, abolished the bureau of corporations, 
dating from 1903, and transferred its powers of investigating 
corporate abuses to a new body, the federal trade commission, 
of five appointive members. In addition, the commission was 
given authority to issue orders prohibiting " unfair methods of 
competition " by business concerns in interstate trade. In cases 
of disobedience it was empowered to seek aid from the courts 
to enforce its orders. A second law, the Clayton antitrust act 
of October 15, forbade many corporate practices that had thus 
far escaped specific condemnation by federal statute, such as 
interlocking directorates, price discriminations among purchas- 
ers and the ownership by one corporation of stock in similar 

Other provisions of the Clayton act dealt with labor grievances 
going back at least as far as the Pullman strike of 1894. Thus it 
exempted from antitrust prosecution all labor and agricultural 
organizations "lawfully carrying out the legitimate objects 
thereto. " It proclaimed that strikes, peaceful picketing, and 
boycotting were not violations of any federal law. It also pro- 
hibited injunctions in labor disputes growing out of the terms 
and conditions of employment " unless necessary to prevent 
irreparable injury to property," and required jury trial for con- 
tempt of court, except when the offense was committed in the 
judge's presence. The public at large greeted the new trust 
legislation with high satisfaction. In labor circles the elation was 
unexampled. Decisions of the Supreme Court, however, tended 
to chip away many of the benefits of the labor clauses, and to 
rob the unions of immunities which they had believed theirs. 
In one notable case, that of the Duplex Printing Press Company 
v. Deering (1921), the court upheld an injunction issued by a 
lower court to prevent the membership of a national union from 
boycotting an employer. The decision was based upon the view 
that the exemptions of the Clayton act applied only to the em- 
ployees immediately and directly involved in a controversy, not 


to members of their union throughout the country who, by order 
of the national officers, joined in the boycott. Again, in the case 
of the United Mine Workers v. the Coronado Coal Company 
(1922), the court held that unions, although unincorporated, 
were in every other respect like corporations, and hence liable 
for damages, including triple damages under the Sherman anti- 
trust act. 


The congressional elections of 1914 gave the voters a chance 
to pass judgment on the President's masterful course. At the 
same time, they had an opportunity to declare whether, upon 
sober second thought, they wished to abandon the historic Repub- 
lican party for the new Progressive party. On both points the 
outcome was clear. The Progressives revealed startling weak- 
nesses all along the line, polling less than half their strength of 
1912. Thanks to Republican gains, the Democratic majority in 
the House fell from 147 to 29; but the administration had cause 
for rejoicing, for it had maintained its control of Congress in 
what was essentially a two-party contest. It was evident that 
large numbers of Progressives had gone over into the President's 

If foreign affairs, notably the great conflict in Europe, occupied 
increasing attention during the second half of Wilson's adminis- 
tration, the Democrats nevertheless proceeded energetically to 
the task of rounding out their program of economic and social 
legislation. In 1915 a seamen's act, sponsored by La Follette, 
provided for improvement of the living and working conditions 
of employees on ocean-going vessels and on lake and river craft. 
The federal workingmen's compensation act in 1916 authorized 
a government allowance to civil-service employees during periods 
of disability. In the same year a rural-credits law was enacted. 
Its purpose was to give farmers credit facilities equal to those 
extended by the federal reserve system to manufacturers and 
merchants. Under general administration of a federal farm- 
loan board, named by the President, agriculturists were enabled 
to borrow from federal land banks on farm-mortgage security 
over long periods of time at a lower rate of interest than an 
ordinary commercial bank would charge. 


Congress also attacked the thorny problem of child labor. 
Though most of the states had laws to restrict such employment, 
others were notoriously laggard. Notwithstanding the silence 
of the Constitution on the subject, the need to improve the 
situation through federal action was urgent. Hence Congress 
in 1916, stretching to the utmost its power to regulate interstate 
commerce, excluded from interstate transportation the products 
of factories employing workers under fourteen years. Only 
about 150,000 children fell directly within the scope of the law, 
but it was hoped that the example would indirectly benefit the 
nearly two million beyond reach of the national authority. 
The Supreme Court, however, by a vote of five to four declared 
the law unconstitutional. Thereupon Congress, not to be balked, 
tried another scheme, and in 1919 imposed a ten-per-cent tax 
on the net profits of factories employing children under the age 
of fourteen. Again the judicial lightning struck. 1 At once a 
demand developed for a child-labor amendment to the Constitu- 
tion. Congress in 1924 finally took the desired action, submitting 
to the states a proposal to give it the ''power to limit, regulate, 
and prohibit the labor of persons under eighteen years of age." 
Had the amendment been submitted when the progressive move- 
ment was at its peak, it doubtless would have been speedily put 
into effect. But coming in the period of postwar reaction, it 
excited little public favor outside of labor and humanitarian 
circles, whereas Southern employers of child workers, Northern 
investors in Southern mills and conservatives generally united to 
arouse opinion against it. Though a few states ratified the pro- 
posal, not until the hard times beginning in 1929 brought wide- 
spread unemployment did interest in the amendment begin to 
evidence real vitality. 2 Prohibition of child labor then seemed a 
means of creating jobs for adults. 

1 The two cases were Hammer v. Dagenhart (1918) and Bailey v. Drexel Furni- 
ture Company (1922). 

2 Before the crash of October, 1929, but five states Arizona, Arkansas, Cali- 
fornia, Montana and Wisconsin had ratified the amendment, and twenty-four 
had rejected it. By the middle of October, 1933, a total of fifteen had taken 
favorable action. In addition to the five already named they were Colorado, Illi- 
nois, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, 
Oregon and Washington. 



Progressivism at Flood Tide, 1908-1917. Besides the works of Faulkner, 
Ogg and Sullivan cited at the close of Chapter XVI, the student will find 
useful material in Duffy, William Howard Toft; Stephenson, Nelson W. Al- 
drich; Pringle, Theodore Roosevelt; Bowers, Beveridge and the Progressive 
Era; Dodd, Woodrow Wilson and His Work; and Baker, Woodrow Wilson. 
The following studies shed light on special phases of governmental policy: 
Knauth, The Policy of the United States toward Industrial Monopoly; Jones, 
Principles of Railway Transportation; Willis, The Federal Reserve System; 
Warburg, The Federal Reserve System; Henderson, The Federal Trade Com- 
mission; and Frankfurter and Greene, The Labor Injunction. 



NOT only in legislative gains but also in other respects the 
waxing power of organized labor was reflected in American 
life. The membership of the American Federation of Labor rose 
from 550,000 in 1900 to 2,000,000 in 1914, exclusive of unaffili- 
ated bodies, like the Railway Brotherhoods, which at the latter 
date totaled 700,000. The return of good times after 1897 ener- 
gized the unions to press their claims upon a scale hitherto 
unknown. In the five-year period 1901-1905 more strikes took 
place than in the whole preceding decade, with victory usually 
perching on the side of the workers, as in the anthracite-coal 
strike of 1902 (see page 324). Despite the opposition of the 
National Association of Manufacturers and other employers' 
organizations, wages advanced, and the workday shortened until 
eight hours prevailed in most skilled occupations. Ten hours 
continued to be the rule in rail transportation, however, and the 
steel industry remained absolutely closed to unions. Progress 
also occurred in the spread of trade agreements. The acceptance 
of a joint partnership of labor and capital in fixing conditions 
of employment afforded heartening evidence of saner relations 
between the two contending forces in modern industry. 

In 1906 the American Federation made its first tentative 
plunge into active politics by backing prolabor candidates for 
Congress, and, as we have seen, two years later it began the 
practice of indorsing one of the major-party tickets in the 
presidential race. As earlier, it flinched from launching a sep- 
arate party of its own, nor did it view with friendly eyes the 
growing strength of the Socialists. How effective was the policy 
of " Reward your friends and punish your enemies 7 ' is problem- 
atical. The Wilson administration, however, bestirred itself to 
justify the Federation's support. Not only did the President 
appoint W. B. Wilson, a former official of the United Mine 


Workers, to the new post of Secretary of Labor, not only did 
Congress pass the Clayton act which Gompers acclaimed "labor's 
Magna Carta," but Congress in the Newlands law of 1913 set 
up a permanent board of mediation and conciliation to assist in 
settling railway labor troubles. Though the board lacked com- 
pulsory powers, the provision marked a decided advance over 
that of the Erdman act of 1898 (see page 211), and already by 
October, 1916, the new body had helped in the adjustment of 
sixty-one disputes. 

Yet in March, 1916, when the four great Railway Brotherhoods 
made a joint demand for a basic eight-hour day, they declined 
to submit the matter to the board's adjudication. Instead, they 
threatened to precipitate a country-wide strike unless the rail 
companies gave them the shorter day at the same pay as for 
ten hours, with a time-and-a-half rate for working overtime. 
Labor in the saddle was no more disposed to resort to arbitration 
than were employers when they held the whip hand. To obviate 
the calamity of a general tie-up of transportation, President 
Wilson, after exhausting other expedients, went before Congress 
on August 29 and asked the immediate enactment of a law 
granting ten hours' pay for the first eight hours of work, with a 
proportionate additional wage for overtime. In defending his un- 
usual action, he declared that u the eight-hour day now undoubt- 
edly has the sanction of the judgment of society in its favor." 
Within exactly one hundred hours the Adamson law was passed, 
embodying his proposals. He had also urged that the Newlands 
act be so amended as to make it illegal to call a strike or lockout 
while a government investigation was pending; but this recom- 
mendation was ignored. Critics of the administration believed 
the " surrender" of the government to be a precedent fraught 
with grave consequences for the future. 

Though organized labor greatly extended its membership and 
strength, the American Federation ignored the bulk of ill-paid, 
unskilled, often foreign-speaking toilers in the mills and the migra- 
tory workers in the Great West who followed the harvest and 
cut the lumber. To take care of their interests, a new organiza- 
tion, the Industrial Workers of the World, sprang up in 1905 
under the leadership of "Big Bill" (W. D.) Haywood, a fighter 
trained in the savage industrial warfare of the Cripple Creek 


mining district in Colorado. Like the old Knights of Labor, th 
I. W. W. proposed to unite all workingmen, skilled and unskillec 
regardless of trade, in "one big union/ 7 but to this program i 
added two significant features. It announced, in the first place 
that the " struggle must go on until the workers of the world . . 
take possession of the earth and the machinery of productioi 
and abolish the wage system. 77 In addition, it advocated a direc 
action" (the general strike, the boycott and sabotage) as th 
way to victory. 1 Probably at no time did the "wobblies" excee< 
60,000; but for nearly ten years they kept the Pacific Northwes 
in a state of unrest, and in 1912 and 1913 they reached east wan 
to conduct desperate strikes among the sweated textile worker 
in Lawrence, Massachusetts, Paterson, New Jersey, and Littl 
Falls, New York. Only the Lawrence effort proved victorious 
Their violence frightened a public used to the more orderl] 
methods of the old-line unions, and sometimes provoked com 
munities to lawless or extralegal reprisals to rid themselves o 
the disturbing element. In 1917 the opposition of the I. W. "W 
to America's entry into the European war arrayed the govern 
ment against it and hastened its collapse. Yet its brief an< 
stormy career called attention to a grave failure of the olde 
labor movement, and caused the American Federation to exten< 
its activities increasingly among unskilled and unorganized wage 


The radical fringe of the labor movement consisted largely o 
workingmen of foreign birth. The American Federation's deman< 
for ever greater restriction of immigration rested less on thi 
fact, however, than on the effect of the incoming horde in pro 
viding employers with cheap labor and holding down the standar< 
of living. From 1900 to 1914 a- total of thirteen and a thir< 
million migrated to the United States, somewhat more than i] 
the preceding three and a half decades. In the latter year, jus 
before the war brought a sharp decline, the number stood a 
1,218,500, the highest on record. The arrivals from Italy 
Austria-Hungary and Russia in 1914 were three times as man; 
as when the century began, and exceeded four fifths of th 

1 Sabotage may be peaceable, such as loafing on the job, or it may involve violei 
tactics like destroying property. 


total. As the inflowing streatn swelled in volume, all the earlier 
fears as to assimilability of the newer type of immigrant deep- 
ened, while organized labor became clamorous on the subject. 
Under these circumstances the device of a literacy test, which 
Cleveland had blocked in 1897 (see page 281), revived in favor. 
It was argued that the requirement of a reading knowledge of 
English or some other language would sort the old from the new 
immigrants since the bulk of the latter were illiterate. But when 
Congress passed such a bill in 1913, Taft rejected it, and two 
years later Wilson did likewise. Illiteracy, they asserted, im- 
plied not absence of natural capacity, but lack of youthful oppor- 
tunity. In 1917, however, shortly before America entered the 
war, Congress passed the measure over Wilson's objections. 

Meanwhile, the question of Oriental immigration had arisen 
in a fresh form. Though an effective curb had already been put 
upon Chinese arrivals, growing numbers of Japanese appeared 
on the Pacific Coast in the early years of the century. Thrifty, 
hard-working, inured to a bare subsistence, they began to dis- 
place white workers, notably in agriculture. Talk soon became 
rife of a new " yellow peril/ 7 organized labor demanded Japanese 
exclusion, and the people of California gave hearty support. 
Yet California's fears looked to the future rather than to the 
present, for the newcomers numbered only two per cent of the 
population in 1910. It was also true that a federal statute had 
long barred Japanese and other Asiatics from naturalization, 
though, of course, their American-born offspring acquired citizen- 
ship under the Fourteenth Amendment. In 1906 the antagonism 
flared up in an order of the San Francisco board of education to 
restrict Japanese children to a separate building, this despite 
the fact that there were but 93 in the schools out of a total of 
25,000 pupils. The home government promptly protested the 
action as a violation of its treaty with the United States. Though 
the question of state rights was involved, President Roosevelt 
induced the board to withdraw its decree and took steps to 
bring about an understanding between the two countries in 
regard to the larger issue. The upshot was the "Gentlemen's 
Agreement " in 1907 by which Japan contracted on its own 
motion to prevent the future emigration of laborers to the 
United States. 


Anti- Japanese feeling in California persisted, however, and in 
1913 led the legislature, over President Wilson's protest, to pass 
the Webb act, which forbade aliens ineligible to citizenship to 
own agricultural land in the state. In operation, its purpose was 
to some extent defeated by the practice of Japanese in taking 
out the title in the name of their American-born offspring, and 
also by their holding stock in land corporations. To plug these 
holes, the Asiatic land law in 1920 expressly forbade such prac- 
tices. Japan continued to remonstrate, but the American gov- 
ernment, insisting that no actual treaty rights were denied, 
proposed to leave the question to the Supreme Court. In 1923 
the court affirmed the constitutionality of the Webb act and of 
a similar statute of the state of Washington. In the following 
year, as we shall see, Congress gave statutory backing to the 
Gentlemen's Agreement by excluding all immigration from Japan. 
This needless offense to Japan's dignity became a disturbing 
factor in the future relations of the two powers. 


Meanwhile, in the urban centers, the pioneer work of the 
humanitarians in the i88o's and i89o ? s bore fruit in wide-flung 
efforts to relieve poverty and distress. The conservation of 
human resources, no less than of natural resources, became a 
watchword of the age, one ably maintained by the fast-growing 
profession of welfare workers. Charity-organization societies 
and social settlements multiplied, spreading to the smaller cities 
and extending westward and southward until the whole nation 
was covered. At the same time, the slum evil was attacked with 
fresh zeal. Prompted by the fact that no city in the world housed 
its poor as wretchedly as New York, the legislature in 1901 
enacted a tenement-house code that was a model of its kind. 
It not only worked substantial improvement in all the larger 
centers of the state, but led Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecti- 
cut and other commonwealths, as well as many cities, to estab- 
lish similar regulations. The increase of playgrounds further 
evidenced the renewed interest in children's rights. By 1910 
more than 150 cities had made such provision; only five years 
later the total had risen to 432 and the number of playgrounds 
to nearly 3300. By providing wholesome outlets for children's 


energies it was hoped, on the one hand, to promote their health 
and pleasure and, on the other, to lessen juvenile delinquency. 
The introduction of the Boy Scouts from England in 1910 and 
the establishment two years later of the Girl Scouts and the 
Campfire Girls represented yet other efforts to turn the gang 
spirit natural to youth into constructive channels. 

New gains also came to the temperance movement. The widen- 
ing reach of the social settlements and the increase of urban 
recreational facilities steadily undermined the saloon as the 
"poor man's club 3 '; and the pecuniary importance of sober em- 
ployees was driven home to business men by the spread of work- 
ingmen's compensation laws (see page 322). Though nearly every 
religious denomination had its temperance committee or teetotal 
society, the brunt of the attack was borne by the W. C. T. IL, 
the Temperance Society of the Methodist Church and a rela- 
tively new and markedly militant body, the Anti-Saloon League. 
These groups left little undone to mold public opinion to their 
will, and to press forward every advantage against the liquor 
interests. As the century opened, only Kansas, North Dakota, 
Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont possessed state-wide pro- 
hibition, and the last two reverted to local option in 1903. In 
other directions, however, the increase of dry territory was 
startling. For the first time, the South took state-wide action, 
spurred by the desire to keep strong drink from the Negroes; 
between 1907 and 1915 eight Southern commonwealths adopted 
prohibitory measures. The movement swung into the Great 
West in 1915 and 1916, scoring victories in Arizona, Oregon, 
Washington, Colorado and Idaho. Meanwhile Iowa joined the 
state-wide group, and local option had largely dried up other 
rural parts of America. Nearly everywhere, however, there 
were serious difficulties of enforcement; and in 1913 the temper- 
ance forces induced Congress to pass the Webb-Kenyon law to 
protect dry areas from liquor shipments from outside the state. 
The larger cities stubbornly resisted the efforts of the prohibi- 
tionists. Nor, until America's entrance into the war, were the 
drys able to accomplish their purpose of imposing their reform 
upon unwilling communities through a national constitutional 

At all points the quest for community betterment received 


support from persons affiliated with churches and, to an in- 
creasing extent, from the churches themselves. During the first 
decade and a half of the century most of the leading Protestant 
denominations set up social-service commissions and issued decla- 
rations of social purpose. Institutional churches broadened their 
scope and grew in number; ministers' conferences sent fraternal 
delegates to city trade assemblies; congregations established 
helpful relations with various types of welfare agencies. Not all 
religious groups advanced with equal pace, but few failed to 
devote greater attention to the social teachings of Jesus. In 1908 
the Federal Council of Churches, which had been formed by 
thirty-three evangelical sects to bring about closer cooperation 
especially for applied Christianity, adopted a social creed which, 
in a sense, anticipated and outdistanced the Progressive plat- 
form of 1912. It declared for labor's right to organize, for old- 
age insurance, for the abolition of child labor and suppression 
of the sweating system, for a living wage, shorter hours and a 
six-day week, and for "the application of Christian principles 
to the acquisition and use of property" and "the most equitable 
division of the product of industry that can ultimately be de- 
vised." The Federal Council's function, however, was not so 
much to accomplish results itself as to stimulate other religious 
bodies to greater activity and to correlate their efforts. To 
that end it diligently fostered the formation of state and local 
interchurch federations. 

Meanwhile the Catholic Church, strong in its organization, 
alert to its opportunities, employed its energies to conserve the 
gains that came to it from the mounting immigration from 
Catholic countries of Europe. The problem of rural communities 
also commanded increasing attention from religious leaders. 
Drained of much of their best blood by the exodus to the cities, 
such places were apt to be overstocked with Protestant churches 
whose listless spiritual life was galvanized occasionally by tempo- 
rary revivals. Improvement began to appear, however, as dwell- 
ers on the countryside forgot ancient doctrinal differences and 
joined in federated or union churches. Theological seminaries 
aided by providing special courses for the training of country 
ministers. As a result, better men were attracted into the 
service and rural religion took on new vitality* 



In deepening the spirit of social unrest the newspaper press 
played an important part. The ever increasing emphasis on 
yellow journalism made editors the natural allies of the Muck- 
rakers, particularly in local campaigns for civic betterment. 
At the same time, the business of cooperative news gathering 
grew in comprehensiveness and efficiency as rivals of the Associ- 
ated Press appeared in the International News Service (1906) and 
the United Press (1907), the former sired by William Randolph 
Hearst. The tendency toward standardization of news presenta- 
tion was further strengthened as a result of the formation of 
newspaper chains under one control, an application to the journal- 
istic field of a well-tried principle in the business world. The 
Scripps-McRae (later Scripps-Howard) League, founded in 1895 
with four dailies in the Midwest, had gathered in eleven by 1906 
and in 1925 embraced twenty- three in many parts of the land. 
Hearst meantime reached out until in 1925 he owned twenty-five 
journals in seventeen cities. 

As prodders of the public conscience, however, the low- 
priced magazines, as we have seen, were more active than the 
newspapers. Never before had they been so widely or so atten- 
tively read. While Lawson's "Frenzied Finance" was running in 
Everybody 's } the circulation leaped in a year from 150,000 to 
more than 750,000. Yet the dinosaur among periodicals was of a 
different ilk, being less concerned with voicing social and economic 
criticism than with expressing the traditional ideals of the com- 
fortable middle class. This was the Saturday Evening Post, for 
which Cyrus H. K. Curtis had paid a thousand dollars in 1897, 
and which within a decade mustered nearly a million weekly 
buyers. Through its stories and articles, and even its advertising 
columns, the Post appealed to such familiar American traits as 
optimism, nationalistic feeling, the gospel of hustle, and glori- 
fication of material success. Some of the best fiction of the time 
appeared in its pages. 

The restless mood of the generation pervaded much of the 
literature that these years begot. Under spell of the Spanish- 
American War there was a temporary flurry of interest in his- 
torical novels, and books like Paul Leicester Ford's Janice 


Meredith (1899), Mary Johnston's To Have and To Hold (1900), 
Winston Churchill's The Crisis (1901) and Owen Wister's The 
Virginian (1902) enjoyed an enormous vogue. As the rumblings 
of insurgency became louder, however, makers of fiction deserted 
the glamorous past for the grim present. Frank Norris in The 
Octopus (1901) pictured the struggle between the farmers and the 
rail magnates. The socialist Jack London, after writing adven- 
ture stories about the Arctic North, heralded an impending social 
revolution in The War of the Classes (1905) and The Iron Heel 
(1910). David Graham Phillips added The Plum Tree (1905) and 
other novels exposing the flaws and injustices of a money-mad 
society. Churchill contributed Coniston (1906), a tale of the 
railroads in politics, while Upton Sinclair and many other writers 
brewed a similar mixture of love interest and social propaganda. 
It was only as a relief from such fare that readers turned to the 
scintillating short stories of "0. Henry " (W. S. Porter), who 
deftly and humorously portrayed the changing prism of metro- 
politan life. 

The drama went through a somewhat similar cycle. Content 
at first with dramatizations of successful historical novels and 
with the society pieces of Clyde Fitch, Augustus Thomas and 
others, the public soon gave an enthusiastic patronage to plays 
that dealt trenchantly with contemporary problems. Among the 
more popular offerings were Charles Klein's "The Lion and the 
Mouse 33 (1906), written after the dramatist had read Miss 
TarbelTs History of the Standard Oil Company; C. R. Kennedy's 
"The Servant in the House" (1908), which revealed how far the 
practice of Christianity might fall short of its theory; Eugene 
Walter's "The Easiest Way" (1909); Charles Kenyon's "Kin- 
dling" (1911), a play dealing with slum life; and Edward Sheldon's 
"The Boss" (1911), which concerned the struggle between capital 
and labor. Players like Mrs, Minnie Maddern Fiske, John Drew, 
Richard Mansfield, Otis Skinner, Julia Marlowe and E. H. 
Sothern did much to sustain the high standards of acting inherited 
from the previous generation. 

Meanwhile, the schools quietly carried on their work of erad- 
icating illiteracy and handing on the torch of knowledge. The 
task became ever greater as untold numbers of immigrant children 
stormed the doors; but public and private funds streamed into 


the educational system in unprecedented volume, and physical 
equipment and teaching excellence reached a new high-water 
mark. The total enrollment grew from 15,500,000 in 1900 to 
more than 19,000,000 in 1914, embracing an ever larger propor- 
tion of American childhood; the total expenditures rose two and 
a half times. While the cities continued to set the pace, notable 
progress was made toward equalizing educational opportunity in 
the country districts. Aided by the good-roads movement and the 
introduction of the motor bus, rural inhabitants began to abandon 
the scattered " little red schoolhouses" with their ungraded 
methods, and to pool their resources in a centrally located "con- 
solidated" school where better instruction, modern equipment 
and separate grades were provided. Especially striking was the 
advance made in the South. Throughout the section compulsory- 
attendance laws were at last enacted, public appropriations were 
greatly enlarged, and high schools were added to round out the 
system. Yet, despite the impressive gains everywhere manifest 
in the nation, the total schooling which the average person re- 
ceived in his entire lifetime increased only from a little more than 
five years in 1900 to a bit more than six in 1914. Much remained 
for the future to do. 

In tune with the times, outstanding educational leaders em- 
phasized the function of the school in preparing young America 
for an intelligent part in a civilization growing ever more complex 
and dynamic. Professor John Dewey, the most outspoken critic 
of the older pedagogy, maintained that social utility and not 
mere knowledge should be the goal of education. In such works 
as The School and Society (1899) and Democracy and Education 
(1916) he taught that "the primary business of the school is to 
train children in cooperative and mutually helpful living/ 7 and 
that the school should "reproduce on the child's level the typical 
doings and occupations of the larger, maturer society into which 
he is finally to go forth." These and other principles that he set 
forth served gradually to modify educational aims and procedures 
not only in the United States, but in many other countries as 

Though the public schools increasingly stressed preparation 
for life above preparation for college, university enrollments ad- 
vanced by leaps and bounds, growing from 114,000 at the start 


of the century to nearly a quarter of a million in 1914. In the 
organization of higher education, the chief divergence from earlier 
practice came in the development of the so-called junior college, 
usually through either the addition of two years to the public- 
school system or the elimination by weaker colleges of the upper 
two years. Such provision not only afforded opportunity for 
advanced study nearer home, but also supplied a shorter unit 
of training for those who could not complete the regular college 
course. The din of the economic conflict echoed in academic halls, 
heightening the interest of undergraduates in the social sciences, 
and causing professors to take an increasing part as advisers in 
the development of social and economic reforms by city, state 
and nation. The nation did not hesitate to make a former college 
professor its chief magistrate, nor had it been surprised when his 
predecessor retired from the White House to a chair of law at 
Yale. Even scholarly work showed the impress of the times, 
notably in the penetrating analyses of the physiology and psychol- 
ogy of capitalist society made by Thorstein Veblen, the econ- 
omist, the brilliant forays into the economic interpretation of 
history by Charles A. Beard, historian and political scientist, and 
the all-embracing view of human development the "new 
history" championed by the historian James Harvey Robin- 
son. Such contributions helped to give point and direction to a 
mass of scholarly production exceeding anything the nation had 
before known. 

In a quite different way, science played an ever larger part in 
the daily life of society. Chemists manifested their wizardry by 
creating many new articles and by showing how familiar natural 
products might be concocted through artificial means. Coal tar, 
for example, was turned into commodities ranging all the way 
from coloring matter for cake frosting to high explosives. They 
also discovered a world of new knowledge in regard to food 
constituents, thereby causing the public to give greater attention 
to vitamins as an element of diet, and arming medical scientists 
for a fresh attack on scurvy, rickets and other ills supposed to be 
due to improper food. Equally important advances were made 
in other phases of the healing art. Aside from American enter- 
prise in finding the transmitting source of yellow fever (see page 
303) , Dr. H. T. Ricketts of the University of Chicago found that 


Rocky Mountain fever was a tick disease and, with R. M. 
Wilder's collaboration, proved that typhus was carried by body 
lice. American ownership of Puerto Rico prompted a scien- 
tific inquiry under Major B. K. Ashford into the cause of 
anaemia, which held ninety per cent of the islanders in its grip. 
The discovery that a tiny intestinal parasite called the hook- 
worm was responsible led to Dr. C. W. Stiles's identification of 
the species as one also prevalent in the rural South, where its 
ravages helped to explain the backwardness of the poor-white 

In these and similar instances, new knowledge of the causation 
of disease equipped medical scientists with ampler means of 
prevention, control and cure, and greatly strengthened the effec- 
tiveness of the public-health agencies that had been growing up 
since the Civil War. Between 1900 and 1920 the average length 
of life in the United States increased from thirty-six and a half 
years to forty-three and a half. Decline in the death rate was 
particularly notable in such maladies as typhoid, diphtheria, 
croup, tuberculosis and scarlet fever. The enlarging American 
contribution to world progress in science thrice won signal rec- 
ognition during these years when the Nobel Prize was awarded 
in 1907 to the physicist, Professor A. A. Michelson of the Uni- 
versity of Chicago, in 1912 to the surgeon, Dr. Alexis Carrel of 
the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, and in 1914 to 
the chemist, Professor T. W. Richards of Harvard. 1 

Progress in the fine arts stemmed from the beginnings made 
in the eighties and nineties. Many of the master figures of the 
earlier era now reached the full bloom of their powers, while 
younger men introduced fresh vigor and originality. In painting 
the bent toward a bolder realism, prefigured by the marine scenes 
of Winslow Homer, found development in the work of Robert 
Henri, W. J. Glackens, George W. Bellows and Eugene Speicher. 
In a special sense, Joseph PennelTs etchings of skyscrapers, the 
great locks of the Panama Canal and other feats of the new tech- 
nology tingled with the life of the age. The masses, however, 
derived their knowledge of art mainly from the popular maga- 
zines, in which illustrators like Charles Dana Gibson and How- 

1 Dr. Carrel, a Frenchman by birth and training, had been, in the United States 
since 1905. 


ard Chandler Christy portrayed idealized types of American 
girls and men that excited untold thousands in real life to eager 
imitation. Meanwhile, the parks and public squares of the cities 
became studded with statuary fashioned by sculptors whose 
work ranked with the best offered by contemporary Europe. 
These compositions usually commemorated warriors and states- 
men, but, more and more, themes typifying a broader national 
achievement crept in, as betokened by Solon Borglum's spirited 
delineations of frontier scenes, G. G. Barnard's "Hewer" (1902) 
at Cairo, Illinois, C. H. Niehaus's "The Driller" (1902), erected 
by the Standard Oil Company at Titusville, Pennsylvania, and 
Lorado Taft's grand plan of sculptured decoration for Chicago, 
beginning with "The Spirit of the Lakes 37 (1913). 

Architecture expressed itself most strikingly in the urban 
apartment houses, which increased in number as they grew higher 
and handsomer in appearance; in the monumental passenger 
terminals like the Union Station (1907) in Washington, the 
Pennsylvania Station (1910) in New York and the Kansas City 
Union Station (1914); and in the steel-framed office buildings 
which, dwarfing the skyscrapers of the 1 890*5, pushed steadily 
upward into the clouds. The Singer and Woolworth buildings in 
New York, completed in 1908 and 1913, and soaring respectively 
forty-one and fifty-one stories, revealed possibilities of the ma- 
jestic beauty which the future would further unfold. A new 
note was also struck in domestic architecture, particularly by 
Louis Sullivan's pupil Frank Lloyd Wright who, scorning mere 
decorative convention, endeavored to develop the natural quali- 
ties of the materials and to set his structure in "the embrace 
of rock and tree and shrub." For better or for worse, the old 
regional traditions of building faded rapidly away before the ar- 
chitectural types popularized by the cities. A hotel or school- 
house or bank in Atlanta might just as well have been in Phila- 
delphia or Minneapolis so far as externals went. Even in domestic 
architecture the contagious spread of the New England Georgian 
style and the Midwestern "bungalow" to all parts of America 
served to make residential and suburban districts everywhere 
look more and more alike. Yet, whatever its drawbacks, it is 
well to remember that standardization of architecture usually 
denoted better architectural standards. 



Despite the uneven race between wages and the advancing 
cost of living, the mass of the people, particularly in the cities, 
enjoyed advantages and opportunities such as their predecessors 
had never known. This was due in part to the general under- 
takings that taxpayers supported on an ever increasing scale, 
like schools, parks, sewerage, public-health protection and good 
roads. Such measures helped to diffuse the benefits of the rapid 
production of wealth. Even more striking was the voluntary 
diversion of a part of the huge private fortunes to broad social 
purposes, usually through the setting up of " foundations/' man- 
aged by self-perpetuating boards of trustees, and staffed by ex- 
perts charged with the responsibility of advising how the funds 
should be spent. Between 1902 and 1911 Carnegie created five 
such bodies: the Carnegie Institution, designed to encourage 
"research and discovery, and the application of knowledge to 
the improvement of mankind' 7 ; the Carnegie Hero Fund Com- 
mission; the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teach- 
ing; the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; and the 
Carnegie Corporation, whose endowment of $125,000,000 should 
be devoted to causes which succeeding generations of trustees 
might find most significant. Rockefeller benefactions, amount- 
ing to $400,000,000 by 1921, went into four great foundations: 
the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research (1901); the Gen- 
eral Education Board (1903); the Rockefeller Foundation (1913), 
established "to promote the well-being of mankind throughout 
the world' 7 ; and the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial Foun- 
dation (1918), created also for the large purpose of advancing 
human welfare. In addition, scores of lesser foundations made 
their appearance to give lift and drive to humanitarian enter- 
prises, education and scientific research. Critics did not fail 
to flay an economic system that allowed a few individuals to 
amass stupendous wealth and then dole it back in the form of 
charity, but the fact remained that such private accumulations 
increasingly found their way into the channels of general wel- 

More directly, the comfort of daily life was influenced by count- 
less labor-saving devices that relieved housework of much of 


its drudgery and added to the pleasure of living. Many of these 
resulted from the application of electricity to the traditional 
tasks of the housewife. Mechanical invention also invaded the 
field of amusement, scoring its greatest triumph during these 
years in the motion picture, but already preparing the way for 
the coming of the radio and the " talkie." Crude animated films 
had been projected on screens in the United States as early as 
the mid-nineties, but not till 1905, when Edison set up the first 
studio for indoor production, did they begin to attain a perfection 
that presently caused the " mo vie" to become a major form of 
popular entertainment, reaching multitudes who seldom, if ever, 
attended the regular theater. The stage, however, showed as 
yet no signs of suffering from the competition. Particularly 
successful commercially were musical comedies, not delightfully 
satirical operas of the Gilbert and Sullivan type, but too often 
hodgepodges compounded of expensive stage settings, an aimless 
plot, vaudeville stunts, a few high-paid principals and a large 
prancing chorus. Through such means a kind of syncopated 
music called ragtime laid its spell upon the masses, symbolizing 
as it did the increasing tempo and nervousness of American life. 
It is only fair to add, however, that at the same time the more 
serious forms of music commanded an ever growing patronage. 
This interest came in part from the activities of the National 
Federation of Musical Clubs, formed in 1898, and led to the 
organization of symphony orchestras, hitherto restricted to a 
few leading centers, in cities as far removed as Minneapolis, 
New Orleans and Seattle. 

Meanwhile, outdoor recreation attained Gargantuan propor- 
tions. The trend toward professionalization of sports grew 
continually stronger, attracting tremendous crowds who were 
content to take their exercise visually instead of muscularly. In 
a similar fashion college athletics, notably football, became so 
hedged about with highly paid coaches and so dominated by 
gate receipts as to render it more of a business than a pleasure 
even for the participants. Signs of a reaction appeared in the 
increasing popularity of amateur golf. For many years a fad of 
the wealthy few, golf promised to become a sport of the many 
as inexpensive courses began to be laid out and even munici- 
palities provided facilities for their citizens. 


The chief transforming influence in the open-air life of the 
people, however, was a new mechanical marvel, the self-propelling 
motor vehicle. As far back as 1893 ingenious young mechanics 
C. E. Duryea in Chicopee, Massachusetts, Henry Ford in De- 
troit, R. E. Olds in Lansing had devised crude gasoline- 
driven cars, but European inventors had anticipated them and, 
for over a decade, the French and English produced more and 
better cars than did Americans. As American manufacturers 
made progress in standardizing the processes, however, and 
resorted increasingly to mass production, the price was steadily 
brought within reach of the average purse, and the automobile 
swung into a tremendous popularity. The number in use rose 
from 300 in 1895 to 78,000 in 1905 and to 2,446,000 in 1915. The 
motor car ceased being a luxury of the rich of the " auto- 
mobility," as a wag put it and rapidly became a part of the 
normal equipment of American life. The social effects were in- 
calculable. Not only did it restore the forgotten delights of the 
open country to growing numbers of urban dwellers, not only 
did it help break down provincial barriers and mitigate rural 
isolation, but it built up a whole new cluster of industries, pro- 
vided employment for millions, gave a new push to the good- 
roads movement, accelerated suburban development and, in 
countless ways, increased the momentum of American civiliza- 
tion. The widespread introduction of the self-starting device 
in 1913 and 1914 insured that the future would see women vie 
with men as drivers of cars. 

Even more spectacular was the progress made in navigating 
the heavens. Long a dream of mankind and vainly attempted 
by numberless inventors, flying in heavier-than-air machines was 
made practicable through the ingenuity of Orville and Wilbur 
Wright, two bicycle mechanics in Dayton, Ohio. 1 Familiar with 
what other experimenters had done, and undaunted by a series 
of failures, they succeeded in contriving a gasoline-driven air- 
plane that on December 17, 1903, remained aloft for a distance 
of 852 feet in a trial flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. The 

1 S. P. Langley, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, had 
devised a small steam-propelled model that flew 3000 feet in 1896, but his later 
experiments with a man-carrying, gasoline-driven craft in 1903 proved unsuccess- 
ful because of difficulties in launching it. 


secret of the eagle was now within grasp. In the years that fol- 
lowed, they and other inventors, notably in France, introduced 
changes and greatly improved the mechanism of flying; but avi- 
ation required the furnace heat of war to bring about its most 
notable development. Few people failed to appreciate the rev- 
olutionary import of the dramatic shortening of distances when 
Ezra Meeker, who had taken six months to cover the Oregon 
Trail to Washington by ox team in 1852, winged the distance in 
1924, at the age of ninety-three, in twenty-four hours. 

The multiplied uses of electricity, its increasing application to 
the work of home and factory, to lighting, heating, traction and 
communication, led to a tremendous development of the sources 
of electrical energy. The generating capacity of power plants 
grew nearly sixfold from 1902 to 1914; the number of customers 
from less than 600,000 to more than 5,000,000. Particularly 
noteworthy was the rapid spread of hydroelectric projects until 
every state possessed one or more. Water-power sites assumed 
an enormous importance, and were acquired by corporations, 
usually without adequate safeguards to assure good service and 
cheap rates for the public. As in other branches of industry, 
the desire for economical operation and the hope of bigger profits 
led to a consolidation of ownership and to the weaving of a 
network of transmitting cables over great areas. An ampler 
public regulation of power companies was one of the problems 
which this generation, hardly realizing its importance, bequeathed 
to its successors. 

Into every department of life, power and the machine extended 
their sway. Historically, Americans had always displayed me- 
chanical ingenuity and a flair for tinkering; the twentieth cen- 
tury with its flowering of technology seemed the culmination of a 
long-cherished dream. No one could doubt the beneficent effects. 
Machinery freed mankind from an incalculable amount of back- 
breaking toil; it pointed the way to shorter working hours 
without loss of productive capacity; it turned out more and 
cheaper goods; it conferred a measure of material comfort such 
as people had never before enjoyed; it widened horizons, created 
new pleasures for the many, enlarged the range of activity, and 
added color and variety to everyday life. Moreover, through 
curtailing distances, it linked all parts of the land in closer 


comradeship and forged stronger bonds of nationality. As the 
century advanced, however, thoughtful persons began to ask 
whether these gains did not come at too high a price, whether 
man's servant was not usurping the role of master. The monot- 
ony of machine tending in the mill, the tremendous speeding up 
of industry, the displacement of faithful workers by the intro- 
duction of new machines, the wastage of natural resources through 
mass processes, the loss of individual craftsmanship in standard- 
ized commodities, the growing dependence of people upon me- 
chanical aids instead of upon their inner resources in the use of 
leisure all these bulked large on the debit side of the ledger. 
Yet no bold voice cried out for a return to a machineless age. 
The fault indeed lay not in machinery, but in man's attitude to- 
ward it. Sooner or later, if he would achieve a more wholesome 
life, he must learn how to conserve the benefits of his extraor- 
dinary mastery over nature and to combat its evils. 


The March of Labor. On this and the other topics in the present chapter, 
the best general discussion is Faulkner, The Quest for Social Justice. Perlman, 
A History of Trade Unionism in the United States, is good but brief. Two 
contrasting labor bodies of the period are described and interpreted in Lor- 
win, The American Federation of Labor, and Brissenden, The I. W. W. : A 
Study of American Syndicalism. 

Immigration Policy. Jenks and Lauck, The Immigration Problem, is 
particularly valuable as a summary of the Report of the federal immigration 
commission. The new Oriental immigration is treated at length in Ichihashi, 
Japanese in the United States, and in Buell, Japanese Immigration. 

The Advance of Social Reform. Watson, The Charity Organization Move- 
ment in the United States, Woods and Kennedy, The Settlement Horizon, and 
Rainwater, The Play Movement in the United States, sketch leading phases 
of welfare work. Cherrington's general treatment of the temperance move* 
ment in The Evolution of Prohibition in the United States should be supple- 
mented by Odegard, Pressure Politics, and Steuart, Wayne Wheeler, Dry 
Boss. Main trends in religion are set forth in Rowe, The History of Religion 
in the United States; Garrison, The March of Faith; Smith, ed., Religious 
Thought in the Last Quarter Century; and Macfarland, The Progress of 
Church Federation. 

Intellectual Life. For the various topics treated under this head, references 
cited at the close of Chapter XII will be found useful. In addition, attention 
is directed to Pattee, The New American Literature; Van Dorens, American 
and British Literature since 1890; Kandel, ed., Twenty-Five Years of American 
Education; Barnes, The New History and the Social Studies; Stieglitz, Chewr 


istry and Recent Progress in Medicine; and Starrett, Skyscrapers and the Men 
Who Build Them. 

The Changing Standard of Living. Kaempffert, ed., A Popular History of 
American Invention, discusses many of the new inventions. Particular ones 
are treated in Lubschez, The Story of the Motion Picture; Epstein, The 
Automobile Industry; Barber, The Story of the Automobile; and Lougheed, 
Vehicles of the Air. For music, the theater and athletic recreation, consult 
the references listed at the end of Chapter XII. 



HT^HE political and social ferment that penetrated every phase 
JL of life was responsible for a remodeling of the organic laws 
of many states. Between 1900 and 1914 five of the older common- 
wealths framed new constitutions, while other states attained 
much the same result through the process of amendment. 1 When 
Oklahoma (including within her borders Indian Territory) 
entered the Union in 1907, she also ranged herself on the side of 
the newer tendencies; her constitution embraced virtually all 
the radical democratic reforms of the day. Five years later the 
last of the continental domain was organized for statehood. The 
original territory of New Mexico, created in the stormy days of 
the Compromise of 1850, had been subdivided into Arizona and 
New Mexico in 1863 at the time of the discovery of precious 
minerals. The population of the twin territories remained small, 
though a new era opened toward the close of the century with 
the progress of irrigation and of large-scale mining. As in the 
case of Oklahoma, the constitutions proposed for the two new 
states reflected the democratic idealism of the times, and the 
Arizona instrument even included a provision for the popular 
recall of judges. Congress, upon President Taft's recommenda- 
tion, declined to complete the act of admission in the latter in- 
stance until this innovation should be removed. Arizona acceded,- 
but only to restore it as soon as full statehood was achieved. 

The admission of the forty-seventh and forty-eighth members 
of the Union completed, for the time at least, the process of state 
building and federal integration that had been going on since the 
nation was formed. For a number of years, however, the United 
States "in a fit of absent-mindedness," as Seeley once said of 
Great Britain had been acquiring colonial holdings in distant 

1 In the first two decades of the century 1500 amendments were proposed and 
about 900 adopted. 



parts of the globe. These lands contained peoples of diverse 
races and religions in every state of cultural and political prog- 
ress; their historical traditions and governmental ideals were 
totally unlike those of the American stock. The nation therefore 
must face the problem whether the usual large powers of self-rule 
should be granted these dependencies as a preparation for even- 
tual statehood, or whether they should be governed permanently 
as provinces. To this question publicists and statesmen gave 
anxious attention. Its solution was inextricably entangled with 
motives of political expediency as well as with considerations 
involving historic American ideals, and, in final analysis, it 
devolved upon the judiciary to say whether any departure from 
ancient practice was warranted by the Constitution. 

In the so-called Insular cases, most of which arose in 1900 and 
1901, the Supreme Court made its position clear. 1 In reply to 
the basic question, "Does the Constitution follow the flag?' 7 it 
decided "yes," but with important and sweeping qualifications. 
The Constitution was held to consist of two kinds of provisions, 
"fundamental" and "formal," only the former of which applied 
to the dependencies. The court intimated that, from time to time 
as specific cases arose, it would declare which provisions pos- 
sessed this "fundamental" character. The cases then under con- 
sideration enabled the court, however, to settle at once some of 
the most important points involved. In the light of this series of 
decisions, the inhabitants of these scattered possessions were not 
to be citizens of the United States unless and until Congress 
should expressly confer citizenship on them. The constitutional 
guarantees enjoyed by citizens, such as indictment by grand jury 
and trial by jury, did not belong to them unless and until Con- 
gress should so provide. As respects tariff laws, duties might be 
freely imposed on their commerce with the United States. In 
other words, Congress might, for all practical purposes, adminis- 
ter the acquisitions as it saw fit. Accordingly, the government 
was able, without hampering restrictions, to work out a colonial 
policy in which diversity, rather than uniformity, was the guid- 
ing principle. In each case, an effort was made to legislate 

1 Downes v. Bidwell (1900), De Lima v. Bidwell (1900), Dooley v. the United 
States (1901), Pepke v. the United States (iqoi), Hawaii w. MankicM (1901), Dorr 
v. the United States 


in accordance with the special needs of the dependency, and 
to suit the regulations to its state of political and economic 


As the system gradually rounded into shape, it came more and 
more to resemble the structure of the British Empire. Attached 
to the continental cluster of self-governing states were the out- 
lying organized territories, inhabited by alien peoples enjoying a 
large share of home rule. Whether or not these territories might 
expect eventual membership in the Union remained an unsettled 
question. On a plane below these were the numerous insular 
possessions, comparable to Britain's Crown Colonies, which were 
under direct tutelage of the Washington government with little 
or no rights of self -management. A few of the subject races, one 
notably, were held against their desires, and longed for inde- 
pendence; but nearly everywhere the extension of American 
sovereignty produced striking improvements in the living con- 
ditions of the masses. Nor did the resemblance end here. The 
imperial structure was given the final touch by the establishment 
of a fringe of political and economic protectorates in the Carib- 

Where circumstances seemed to warrant, territorial status was 
accorded after a suitable period of probation. Between 1900 and 
1917 this boon was conferred upon three widely separated pos- 
sessions: Hawaii, Alaska and Puerto Rico. The Filipinos also 
received large powers of representative government, but, as we 
shall see, their situation differed in essential respects from that of 
the others. In the case of Hawaii the organic act of 1900 granted 
American citizenship to the inhabitants, bestowed the vote on all 
men who could read, write and speak either the Hawaiian or 
English language, and authorized an elective legislature with a 
governor appointed from Washington. Under American rule the 
new territory, half the size of Maryland, made steady progress as 
American capital stimulated the development of sugar produc- 
tion and the growing and canning of pineapples. Its yield of 
sugar cane per acre exceeded that of any other country. The 
population, amounting in 1930 to 370,000, sprang from divers 
origins, over a third being Japanese, with strong contingents of 


Filipinos, Portuguese, Chinese and Americans. The pure native 
stock formed a dwindling minority, partly because of intermar- 
riage with other strains. To offset this racial diversity, an excel- 
lent school system was established, capped by the tax-supported 
University of Hawaii. The literacy qualification on the suffrage 
served to keep the political power largely in the hands of the 
English-speaking islanders. 

Alaska, an American possession since 1867, and embracing 
an area over twice that of Texas, had for many years lived up to 
its reputation as "Seward's Ice-Box. 7 ' Its chief springs of wealth 
were the fur-seal industry and the fisheries, but it had been left 
to the initiative of outsiders, rather than to that of the native 
Eskimos and Indians, to exploit them. By the treaty of purchase 
all the rights of American citizenship belonged to the inhabitants, 
the uncivilized tribes excepted, but it was not till 1884 that Alaska 
was given a resident civil government, and then without any 
local popular control. In the ensuing years white penetration of 
the interior gradually laid bare its wealth of natural resources. 
The finding of gold on Klondike Creek in 1896, on the Canadian 
side of the border, precipitated a rush from all parts of the world, 
which soon led to the discovery of valuable deposits in American 
territory along the Yukon, around the head of Cook Inlet, 
and about Nome, near Bering Strait. Before 1921 this treasure- 
trove yielded $320,000,000 in gold from American sources alone. 
Few of the adventurers, however, became permanent settlers. 

Nevertheless, increasing knowledge of Alaska's resources 
caused the question of safeguarding this reservoir of potential 
riches to loom large in Roosevelt's conservation program. The 
best timberlands were set aside as national preserves, and 
efforts were made to protect coal and other mineral lands from 
unlawful encroachment. With the gradual growth of a settled 
white population, Congress in 1912 granted Alaska territorial 
status with the usual provision for an elective legislature and an 
appointive governor. The first legislature extended the suffrage 
to women. Poor transportation facilities continued to hamper the 
territory's development; and, in default of other means, Congress 
in 1914 provided for the governmental construction and opera- 
tion of a railroad, which eventually stretched some 500 miles from 
Seward to Fairbanks. Never before had the United States essayed 


the role of railway owner and operator in time of peace. The 
population continued small, numbering but 59,000 in 1930, of 
whom the whites formed less than a majority. With many diffi- 
culties yet to overcome, there could be no doubt that under 
favorable conditions Alaska would turn out to be one of Amer- 
ica's most profitable acquisitions. 

Five years after Alaska, Puerto Rico became a territory. 
This sunny island, half again as big as Delaware, had been 
relieved of military rule in April, 1900, by the Foraker act 
which, though failing to declare the inhabitants American citi- 
zens, allowed them to elect the lower house of the legislature, 
the upper house and the governor to be appointed by the Presi- 
dent. American dominion brought vast improvements in social 
and economic life. In the score of years after 1899, the high- 
ways lengthened from 430 miles to more than 1900, while the 
number of public school buildings increased from none at all to 
well over 500. Meanwhile illiteracy declined from eighty per 
cent to fifty-five. Public-health agencies, including sewerage, 
quarantine regulations and hospitals, were introduced, and such 
scourges as yellow fever, smallpox and anaemia were almost 
completely banished. Economic progress was quite as marked, 
sugar-cane culture outstripping coffee growing as the chief oc- 
cupation, with tobacco ranking third. The population was 
largely white, and in 1930 numbered a million and a half, over 
half again as many as when the United States took possession. 

While the Puerto Ricans assisted whole-heartedly in the ad- 
vances made, they were discontented because they had not 
gained American citizenship or a larger measure of local control. 
In 1914 President Wilson reconstructed the upper house so as 
to give the natives a majority of the appointments, and three 
years later their demands were more fully met by the boon of 
territorial standing and the bestowal of American citizenship. 
Nevertheless, restiveness continued among the islanders, partly 
because of the growing centralization of land ownership in a 
relatively few hands and the corresponding increase of tenancy. 
A rising sentiment favored statehood, or some equivalent status 
that would give the people unrestricted right to deal with their 
local problems in their own way. 

Other parts of the overseas empire had to remain content 


with simpler and less democratic forms of government. In 
Guam and in American Samoa all political authority was vested 
in a resident official of the Navy Department, and the Panama 
Canal Zone was similarly put under a governor appointed by 
the War Department. In 1917 the insular area was enlarged by 
the purchase of the Danish West Indies or Virgin Islands. This 
group, situated sixty miles east of Puerto Rico, consists of 
St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John, and of about fifty smaller 
islands, mostly uninhabited. Attracted by the splendid harbor 
of St. Thomas, Secretary of State Seward had attempted to buy 
the islands in 1867, only to have the treaty fail in the Senate. 
The strategic value of American ownership became increasingly 
apparent with the progress of the isthmian-canal plans. A 
treaty of annexation was approved by the Senate in 1902, but was 
rejected by the Danish upper chamber. A third attempt in 1916, 
however, resulted in the transfer of the islands to the United 
States the next year for $25,000,000. The acquisition was placed 
under a governor appointed directly by the President. The 
people, mostly Negroes, were allowed limited rights of local 
self-government, and in 1927 were declared citizens of the United 
States. Unlike other possessions, the dependency made only 
halting progress. The population actually fell fifteen per cent 
from 1917 to 1930, thanks largely to attractions of employment 
in the United States. After a visit in 1931, President Hoover 
called the colony "an effective poorhouse," adding, " Viewed 
from every point except remote naval contingencies, it was 
unfortunate that we ever acquired these islands." As for the 
host of petty Pacific islands Midway, Wake, Rowland, Baker 
and the others they contained few or no inhabitants and were 
given no resident form of government. 


The special position of the Philippines in the imperial sys- 
tem was due to the expectation, voiced in the McEnery resolu- 
tion at the time of annexation in 1899 (see page 304), that the 
islands would eventually be set free. When America took them 
over, the Filipinos resumed against the United States the war 
for independence they had been waging against Spain. The odds, 
however, were badly against the insurgents, who lacked not only 


military skill but also sufficient weapons and ammunition. Re- 
peatedly overcome in pitched engagements, they resorted to 
guerrilla tactics, laying waste fields, and surprising and massa- 
cring small troop detachments. The Americans, angered by the 
barbarous treatment of captive comrades, often inflicted re- 
prisals in kind. Finally, in March, 1901, a small party under 
Brigadier General Frederick Funston captured Emilio Aguinaldo, 
the rebel chieftain, through a daring exploit, and the latter 
presently issued a proclamation to his followers to give up the 
fight. But it was not until July 4 of the next year that Presi- 
dent Roosevelt officially declared the islands pacified. Even 
afterward, sporadic outbreaks occurred, notably among the Moros 
and other wild tribes. The cost of subduing the Philippines 
amounted to $170,000,000, more than eight times the purchase 

Under American tutelage the islands advanced steadily to- 
ward the goal of political autonomy. In July, 1901, the military 
government gave way to an American civil commission of five, 
headed as governor-general by William Howard Taft, the future 
President, and enlarged a few months later to include three 
appointed native members. The commission promptly set about 
to reorganize the local governments; and, for this purpose, the 
suffrage was bestowed upon all men of twenty-three and over 
who were taxpayers or property owners or former municipal 
officeholders, or who could speak, read and write English or 
Spanish. After one year of this system Congress made more 
permanent provision for the islands in the organic act of July i, 
1902, It declared the inhabitants " citizens of the Philippine 
Islands, and as such entitled to the protection of the United 
States." Most of the constitutional guarantees for the protec- 
tion of life, liberty and property were extended to them, except 
trial by jury which could not easily be grafted onto the old 
Spanish legal system. Though the civil governor and commission 
frere continued in sole control for the time, the act provided for 
the eventual creation of a legislature. In 1907 this pledge was 
fulfilled, the commission becoming the upper house and tJbte 
lower being chosen by the voters. 

Meanwhile, the islands awakened from their long tropical 
sleep to a new interest ia the bustling life of the modern world. 


One long-standing native grievance had been the economic and 
political power wielded by three Roman Catholic orders, which 
owned great tracts of fertile land. The Filipinos hated the 
friars so bitterly that, during the revolt, they had expelled 
them from the islands with great cruelty. When the establish- 
ment of American authority led the friars to reassert their legal 
rights, the natives generally continued to ignore them. As a 
way out, Governor Taft took up the matter with the papal 
authorities in Rome in person, and in 1903 the United States 
purchased the 410,000 acres for $7,239,000. In addition, a 
currency system was established, and a comprehensive program 
of public works carried on, including highways, bridges, port 
improvements, lighthouses and irrigation works. With the aid 
of American capital agriculture made rapid strides, notably in 
the cultivation of sugar, cocoanuts and hemp. The mineral 
resources of the islands, however, were hardly scratched. 

Public order was assured through an able native constabulary, 
and prison administration was reorganized. There remained, 
however, insufficient provision for public health, sanitation and 
hospitals. Public education, on the other hand, made notable 
progress, culminating in the tax-supported University of the 
Philippines. To get the system under way, hundreds of young 
American men and women went to the islands and taught 
Filipino children, and the normal school at Manila was greatly 
enlarged to speed the training of native teachers. With 200,000 
pupils in the schools in 1902, the number more than doubled 
by 1907, and reached the surprising total of a million and a 
quarter in 1930. Illiteracy fell from fifty-six per cent in 1903 to 
thirty-seven in 1921. English gradually supplanted the numer- 
ous native dialects and languages, much to the relief of the 
Filipinos themselves who, divided by speech barriers, saw in a 
common tongue a necessary basis for the achievement of national 
solidarity. The population, which numbered less than seven 
million under Spain, exceeded twelve and a half in 1930. 

In all the reforms that were undertaken the islanders warmly 
cooperated. Keenly aware of their own political inexperience, 
they sought to learn what they could from this intimate contact 
with a progressive Western people. In return, the American 
officials placed natives in positions of trust and responsibility 


as rapidly as circumstances seemed to justify. 1 They never 
forgot their aspirations for national freedom, however. After 
the first few years every Philippine political party unfurled the 
banner of immediate independence. In America their cause was 
championed by the Democrats. President Wilson upon enter- 
ing office insured full native control of the insular legislature by 
appointing Filipinos to a majority of the seats in the upper 
house. Three years later, in 1916, Congress adopted the Jones 
act, which granted the islands what was, in many respects, a terri- 
torial status. Both houses were made elective and the governor- 
general was continued in executive charge. The extension of the 
suffrage to all men of twenty-one and over, who could read and 
write a native dialect, trebled the number of voters in the first 
election. American citizenship was not conferred, however, since 
the Philippines were not considered a permanent possession. 

The preamble of the Jones act further stated the purpose of 
the United States to recognize the independence of the islands 
"as soon as a stable government can be established therein." 
Almost at once the Filipinos were confronted with a severe test 
of their capacity for self-rule, thanks to the financial and eco- 
nomic disturbances attendant upon the World War. Hostile 
critics saw evidences of governmental incompetence on every 
hand. Nevertheless, President Wilson in his message of Decem- 
ber 2, 1920, declared that the people, having " succeeded in 
maintaining a stable government," were ready for independence. 
The accession of the Republicans a few months later held up 
action for a number of years. A special commission appointed 
by President Harding, after surveying conditions on the spot, 
recommended "that the present general status . . . continue 
until the people have had time to absorb and thoroughly master 
the powers already in their hands." Each year the insular legis- 
lature adopted a unanimous resolution for immediate freedom, 
and in 1927 President Coolidge vetoed an act of that body, which 
called for a popular referendum on the question. In a com- 
munication to a Philippine leader he declared that the best case 
for independence "is not the argument that it would benefit the 
Filipinos" which he denied "but that it would be of ad- 

1 By 1930 Filipinos held 20,332 offices out of a total of 20,811 in the insular civil 


vantage to the United States." The beneficent policy of the 
government had indeed failed to pay in dollars and cents, but, 
added to the altruistic motive implied in the expression, "the 
white man's burden/ 7 was the fear that, if the United States 
let go, Japan would seize the islands. 

Nevertheless, sentiment in Congress steadily veered back to- 
ward the pledge given in the Jones act. Economic considerations 
lent it force, for the domestic sugar and tobacco growers had 
long objected to Philippine competition, and until 1913 had 
succeeded in maintaining restrictions on the importation of these 
products. American dairying interests, too, found that cocoanut 
oil came into competition with their commodities. There was, 
besides, a growing opposition on the Pacific Coast to the free 
admission of Philippine immigrants, of whom 45,000 dwelt in 
the United States in 1930. Finally, in January, 1933, a Republi- 
can Senate and Democratic House passed over President Hoover's 
veto the Hawes-Cutting bill, which set forth specific conditions 
of separation. Within two years, if the local legislature approved, 
the islanders should frame a constitution which must be ac- 
ceptable both to the President and to a popular vote of the 
Filipinos. A ten-year transitional period should then follow 
before independence, during which time restrictions would be 
placed upon the amounts of sugar, cocoanut oil and hemp prod- 
ucts imported free of duty into the United States, the Philippine 
government must levy an increasing tariff on goods shipped to 
America, and emigration to the United States would be limited 
to an annual quota of fifty. American commodities, however, 
should have free entry into the islands. Upon the attainment of 
independence the new republic should be outside American tariff 
walls, and the United States be permitted to retain certain 
military and naval stations. One of President Hoover's several 
objections to the act concerned its failure to define the future 
responsibilities of the United States as regards insular inde- 
pendence in case of foreign attack. Thanks chiefly to the onerous 
economic restrictions, the law was regarded by the Filipinos 
themselves with mixed feelings. Yet the special Philippine dele- 
gation, which had lobbied for its passage, did not hesitate to 
declare in a public statement that the action of Congress was 
" unprecedented in the history of dependent peoples/' and that 


"No nation heretofore has been able to win its independence in 
the manner it will come to the Philippines under this law, through 
the orderly processes of self-government and peace. 77 


Meanwhile, events had caused the United States to extend 
its power to certain Caribbean lands whose ownership it did not 
seek to acquire. The first impulse toward the establishment of 
protectorates came as a result of the responsibilities which the 
government assumed toward Cuba under the Spanish- American 
peace treaty. When the American military administration took 
charge on January i, 1899, the island was disorganized politically 
and economically. Furthermore, two thirds of the inhabitants 
could neither read nor write. To Major General J. R. Brooke and 
his successor, Major General Leonard Wood, fell the task of 
introducing order into the chaos. Emergency relief was afforded 
the destitute, far-reaching sanitary reforms were introduced, 
order was established, the legal system reorganized, and an 
extensive program of highway construction begun. Likewise, 
church and state were separated, and the educational system 
was renovated and extended. On Wood's initiative, a constitu- 
tional convention assembled at Havana on November 5, 1900, 
and framed a basic law for the new republic modeled on that of 
the United States. Despite his urgent representations, the pro- 
posed instrument was silent as to the future relations of Cuba 
with the United States. Congress met the situation through 
the Platt Amendment to the army-appropriation act of March 2, 
1901, which instructed the President to prolong the military 
occupation until certain specified provisions should be inserted 
in the insular constitution. These included Cuba's pledge never 
to allow a foreign power to impair her independence or terri- 
torial integrity, her agreement never to contract indebtedness 
beyond the capacity of her ordinary revenues to pay, and her 
express recognition of America's right to intervene to preserve 
the island's independence or orderly government. In addition, 
Cuba must permit the United States to acquire naval bases 
within her borders. 1 Reluctantly the convention made the re- 

1 Such stations were presently leased at Bahia Honda and Guantanamo, but the 
former was abandoned in 



qujred concessions and, two years later, the stipulations were 
embodied in a "permanent" treaty. 

On May 20, 1902, the government of independent Cuba was 
formally installed. Handicapped by a bad heritage, the people 
were slow to value the ballot over the bullet as a means of 
settling public issues. Civil disorders fruiting from the presi- 
dential election of 1906 led to a military occupation of the island 
under the Platt Amendment, which lasted from September of 
that year to January, 1909. In his message to Congress on Decem- 
ber 3, 1906, Roosevelt made it clear that, though the United 
States had no desire to annex Cuba, it was "absolutely out of 
the question 1 ' for the island to continue independent should the 
"insurrectionary habit" become "confirmed." The warning, 
however, was soon forgotten. In 1912 marines were landed for 
several weeks near Santiago to protect American-owned mines 
and sugar plantations during a Negro uprising. Five years later 
a revolt, provoked by a disputed election of 1916, caused forces 
to be landed at Santiago, Camaguey and elsewhere for the pres- 
ervation of order, the detachment at Camaguey remaining until 
1922. To prevent a recurrence of such disturbances, a new elec- 
toral code, drafted with the help of the American general, 
E. H. Crowder, was adopted by the insular legislature in 1919. 
The conduct of the election of 1920 showed little improvement, 
however, and Crowder had to return in order to effect a peace- 
able seating of the successful candidate. At his instance, also, 
the Cuban congress two years later undertook an extensive 
program of governmental reform, designed to do away with 
financial corruption and extravagance, and to improve the ad- 
ministration of justice. Yet, under President Gerardo Machado, 
who took office in 1925, conditions reverted to a worse state of 
turbulence than at any time since Spanish days. After inducing 
the congress to emasculate the Crowder code, he seized dictatorial 
powers and perpetuated his sway through terrorism, assassina- 
tion and martial law. Violent opposition to his rule developed 
in 1931, and again in 1933. In August of the latter year the 
American Ambassador presented the demand of the several 
antiadministration groups that Machado abdicate and, when 
the armed forces two days later joined the movement, he de- 
camped in haste. Carlos Manuel de Cespedes succeeded to the 


presidency, but a revolutionary group of students and soldiers 
soon replaced him with Grau San Martin. The shift of power 
was an earnest of the troubles which would attend the task of 
restoring orderly government. 

From an economic point of view, Cuba as the century advanced 
became more and more an appanage of American capitalists. 
American investments grew from $80,000,000 in 1901 to $220,- 
000,000 at the outbreak of the World War and to $1,500,000,000 
in 1928, the largest amount of United States money invested in 
any Latin- American country. Aided by preferential tariffs in the 
United States as well as by American capital, Cuba became the 
" sugar bowl of the world/ 3 sending the great bulk of its supply 
to the United States. Real estate, railways, government bonds, 
public utilities, manufacturing and tobacco represented other 
significant ramifications of the economic penetration. Similarly, 
American financial houses extended their dominion, the National 
City Bank of New York establishing over twenty branches in the 
island. To some Cubans it seemed that they had won inde- 
pendence from Spain only to turn over the country to American 
business interests; but there could be no doubt that this economic 
relationship, plus the political balance wheel of the Platt Amend- 
ment, gave the island a measure of prosperity, and also of govern- 
mental stability, that it could not otherwise have attained. 

Shortly after Cuba accepted the Platt Amendment, a second 
protectorate came into being under circumstances quite as 
natural. The Panama revolution in 1903 (see page 312) put the 
infant republic in need of a defender against Colombia; and the 
United States sought a controlling hand in the territory bordering 
on the Canal Zone. As a result, the American government agreed 
in the treaty of November 18 to guarantee Panama's independ- 
ence in return for the constitutional privilege of intervening with 
armed force whenever necessary "for the reestablishment of con- 
stitutional peace and order. 7 ' Under this arrangement the United 
States landed forces in Panama five times between 1908 and 1921. 
American investments rose to $5,000,000 in 1913 and to $46,500,- 
ooo in 1930. 

Even before this new protectorate was set up, a dramatic 
incident foreshadowed further and unexpected applications of 
the Platt Amendment principle. In December, 1902, Great 


Britain, Germany and Italy undertook a blockade of Venezuela, 
on the south shore of the Caribbean, in order to compel payment 
of long-standing debts to their subjects. Although the United 
States had been notified in advance, the presence of a hostile 
European fleet boded ill for a weak Latin- American country, 
and the American government bestirred itself successfully to 
have the claims referred to arbitration and to lift the blockade. 
The moral of the episode was clear. As President Roosevelt in- 
formed Congress in December, 1904, " Chronic wrongdoing . . . 
may in America, as elsewhere, ultimately require intervention by 
some civilized nation, and in the Western Hemisphere, the ad- 
herence of the United States to the Monroe Doctrine may force 
the United States, however reluctantly, ... to the exercise of 
an international police power.' 7 In other words, according to 
the so-called Roosevelt corollary of the Monroe Doctrine, the 
American government in the future must ward off European 
intervention by itself assuming responsibility for the financial 
good faith of defaulting republics. A doctrine of noninterfer- 
ence by Europe in the affairs of the New World thus came to 
involve a doctrine of unmistakable interference by the United 

In line with this new policy and with the desire to establish 
additional outposts for the protection of the isthmian canal, the 
circle of protectorates widened in the ensuing years and the Car- 
ibbean Sea acquired its character of the " American Mediterra- 
nean." The inflow of United States capital into the region speeded 
the process. Not only in Cuba and Panama, but also in other 
Caribbean lands, American investments and trade rapidly 
mounted. American capital was particularly active in the ex- 
ploitation of sugar, fruit, coffee, public utilities, asphalt and oil. 1 
Commerce with the United States grew from $195,000,000 in 
1900 to $545,000,000 in 1927, Mexico excluded. 

The Dominican Republic in the eastern part of the island 
of Santo Domingo was the first country to which the Roosevelt 
corollary was applied. In order to avert possible foreign inter- 

1 According to Max Winkler, the leading authority, American capital invest- 
ments in the Dominican Republic rose from $4,000,000 in 1912 to $24,000,000 in 
1929; In Haiti from $4,000,000 in 1914 to $31,000,000 in 1929; and in Nicaragua 
they reached $24,000,000 in 1929. 


vention for the collection of debts long overdue, President 
Roosevelt in 1905, with the consent of the insular government, 
placed an American financial expert in charge of its revenues, 
with power to arrange for the progressive payment of the foreign 
bondholders. Two years later, the stipulations were embodied in 
a treaty, the United States receiving authority to accord "such 
protection 17 to the general receiver and his staff as might "be 
requisite for the performance of their duties." Under this vague 
grant American representatives supervised the Dominican elec- 
tions of 1913, and three years later marines landed for the purpose 
of quelling a revolt. The intervention quickly grew into a com- 
plete military occupation. The American administration restored 
peace to the country, enforced sanitary measures, reorganized 
and extended the school system, and undertook an elaborate 
program of good roads and public works. Wrathy at outside inter- 
ference in their domestic affairs, the natives insisted again and 
again upon a termination of the occupation. In June, 1921, 
President Harding announced that withdrawal would occur only 
when the insular government agreed to a treaty ratifying all the 
acts of the military regime and enlarging the powers of the 
general receiver of the customs. These terms, though deeply re- 
sented, were eventually accepted. American evacuation occurred 
in the summer of 1924, though the customs receivership con- 

Meanwhile, the neighboring Negro republic of Haiti was sub- 
jected to a similar supervision. Following a revolutionary out- 
break early in 1915, marines took possession of the chief towns. 
The outcome was a treaty in September, which established Amer- 
ican management of Haitian finances, provided for a constabulary 
officered by Americans, and empowered the United States to 
intervene when necessary for the preservation of Haitian inde- 
pendence or an orderly government. The American adminis- 
tration, with characteristic efficiency, carried through extensive 
sanitary, fiscal and governmental reforms, and stabilized political 
and economic conditions. Bitter native antagonism, however, 
resulted from the revival in 1917-1918 of the corvee system of 
forced labor on the roads, and from alleged abuses of authority by 
the marine corps. A Senate committee, after investigating con- 
ditions at first-hand, recommended unanimously in 1922 that the 


military occupation continue for an indefinite period. In 1930, 
however, President Hoover after another investigation began a 
policy of gradually withdrawing the American regime, with the 
purpose of ending it completely in 1936 when the treaty arrange- 
ments lapsed. His successor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, 
went further, agreeing to recall the last marines by November i, 

In 1911 the Taft administration, following in Roosevelt's foot- 
steps, had negotiated treaties for fiscal receiverships in Honduras 
and Nicaragua, only to have them rejected by the Senate. Never- 
theless, Nicaragua the same year, with the approval of the State 
Department, put her customs in charge of an American financial 
expert as the price of securing a loan from certain New York 
banking houses. In August, 1912, marines were landed to allay 
civil disorder, and remained until 1925 as a legation guard at the 
capital. In the interval order was preserved at elections with the 
aid of American bayonets. A treaty of 1914 granted the United 
States exclusive and perpetual right to build a canal through 
Nicaragua, turned over to America certain naval bases, and stip- 
ulated a payment of $3,000,000 for these privileges. In Decem- 
ber, 1926, the marines returned in order to protect American lives 
and property, and this time stayed on until January, 1933, fight- 
ing rebels and bandits, supervising elections and helping to train 
a native constabulary. Thus, without express treaty stipulations, 
Nicaragua found herself, in fact if not in law, an American pro- 

In 1922 Salvador, tiniest of the Central American nations, 
followed Nicaragua's example of obtaining a loan from American 
bankers at the cost of turning over the management of her cus- 
toms to an American official chosen with the approval of the 
State Department. This whole line of policy was variously 
regarded in the United States as an altruistic assumption of the 
"white man's burden," as an ungrateful task imposed by con- 
siderations of national safety and as an ugly manifestation of 
economic and financial imperialism. Doubtless all these elements 
figured in the unfolding of the program. Nothing more clearly 
evinced the limited objectives of the progressive movement than 
the failure of these crusaders for democracy at home to insist 
upon applying the democratic principle of self-determination to 


the Caribbean. Only in the case of Mexico, which we shall next 
consider, did an American President attempt a policy that pre- 
sumably harmonized with the new governmental ideals. 


Though the United States made no move to establish protec- 
torates south of Central America and the Caribbean, the out- 
ward thrust of Yankee dominion produced great uneasiness 
throughout the Latin-American world. If, as Roosevelt asserted, 
the southward advance found its justification in the Monroe Doc- 
trine, then it looked as though a policy originally forged as de- 
fensive armor had turned into a weapon of imperialistic aggran- 
disement. 1 Resentment against ' c Monroeism ' ' burned especially 
fiercely among the peoples of Argentina, Brazil and Chile, the 
so-called A. B. C. Powers, who felt that their political stability 
and cultural progress entitled them to freedom from alien tute- 
lage. As a result, a powerful sentiment developed for a Pan- 
American Doctrine, which would replace the United States as 
sole interpreter and guarantor of the Monroe Doctrine with a 
league of New World republics. A Pan-American Doctrine, of 
course, would act as a curb on the " Colossus of the North" as 
well as on European powers. 

To allay Latin- American apprehensions aroused by his cavalier 
treatment of Colombia during the Panama revolt, President 
Roosevelt solemnly avowed in his message of December 5, 1905, 
that "under no circumstances will the United States use the 
Monroe Doctrine as a cloak for territorial aggression." Subse- 
quent administrations reiterated the assurance. But the acid 
test of American good faith came when a prolonged reign of 
anarchy began in Mexico in 1911 at America's very doors. 
United States citizens at the time held Mexican investments, 
mostly in oil properties, mines, railways and ranches, amounting 
to a billion dollars. Fifty or sixty thousand of them carried 
on business there, and the bulk of Mexico's commerce lay with 
her northern neighbor. Nevertheless, President Wilson made 

1 It is noteworthy that a memorandum made public by the State Department 
in 1930 denied that the Roosevelt corollary was "justified by the terms of the 
Monroe Doctrine, however much it may be justified by the application of the 
doctrine of self-preservation." But to many Latin Americans this seemed a dis* 
tinction without a difference. 


it clear from the outset that the administration's policy would 
not be controlled by selfish economic considerations. "We have 
seen material interests threaten constitutional freedom in the 
United States," he declared in a speech at Mobile in 1913. 
"Therefore we will now know how to sympathize with those in 
the rest of America who have to contend with such powers, not 
only within their borders but from outside their borders also." 
As his program took form, he established a further precedent by 
calling on Latin-American nations, at critical junctures, to co- 
operate in the settlement of Mexican difficulties. Only the future 
can disclose whether these were the first steps toward the de- 
velopment of a Pan-American Doctrine. 

Since 1877 Mexico had been almost continuously under the 
iron rule of Porfirio Diaz, nominally president but actually dic- 
tator. Representative government existed in form only, and 
the agrarian masses, mostly of Indian blood, were tied to the 
soil by a system of peonage. But peace and order prevailed, 
foreign capital was welcomed, and the country experienced a 
wonderful material transformation. Native dissatisfaction in- 
creased to a dangerous pitch, and the eighth " election" of Diaz 
in 1910 proved the signal for a popular uprising headed by Fran- 
cisco Madero, a sincere democrat. In 1911, when the aged Diaz 
fled to Europe, Madero became his successor. The tide of law- 
lessness, however, still ran strong. In February, 1913, General 
Victoriano Huerta, supported by the old Diaz faction, over- 
turned the new government and, there is good reason to believe, 
instigated Madero's assassination. Once more Mexico plunged 
into anarchy with Venustiano Carranza leading the insurgent 
bands as Madero's political heir. 

Though European powers promptly recognized Huerta, Wilson 
declined to follow suit, justifying his course on the novel ground 
that the regime rested on force and murder. Convinced that 
Huerta's authority would soon collapse without American rec- 
ognition and financial aid, he notified Congress that his policy 
would be one of " watchful waiting." Meantime the destruction 
of life and property continued, and American interests bent on 
armed intervention savagely denounced the President as an im- 
practical idealist. In fact, even Wilson found the game of waiting 
a trying one. When Huerta failed to make suitable apology for 


arresting some American marines at Tampico, the President 
ordered the seizure of Vera Cruz in April, 1914. He then accepted 
an offer of the A. B. C. governments to mediate the difficulties. 
This action, however, proved of little practical consequence, for 
Huerta, overwhelmed by his enemies, fled Mexico almost at 
once. Carranza, the chief insurgent leader, succeeded to his 
place, and in November the American forces evacuated Vera 

With the popular party once more in control, the situation 
assumed a new aspect, for the victors fell to quarreling among 
themselves. Francisco Villa, a former bandit chieftain, proved 
the chief disturbing element, and so fierce was the ensuing strife 
that Mexico City changed hands thrice in a single month. His 
patience sorely taxed, Wilson once more turned to Latin America 
for counsel. An inter-American conference of Bolivia, Uruguay, 
Guatemala, the A. B. C. Powers and the United States decided 
in October, 1915, to recognize Carranza as the true head of 
Mexico. This action immeasurably strengthened Carranza's hold, 
but Villa succeeded in continuing his stormy career for over a 
year. In a spirit of pique against the United States, he raided 
across the border in March, 1916, killing seventeen persons in 
Columbus, New Mexico. A punitive expedition under Gen- 
eral J. J. Pershing went in pursuit; and although Villa managed 
to elude capture, many lawless bands were dispersed, and Villa 
himself was forced to cease his activities. Meanwhile, Wilson 
called out 150,000 state militiamen to guard the international 
frontier. In January, 1917, the forces were withdrawn. 

Later differences between the two nations centered in the 
interpretation of a new Mexican constitution, adopted in 1917. 
This instrument was designed to accomplish a radical economic 
and social reconstruction of the country. Besides devoting much 
attention to the welfare of industrial workers, it provided for 
breaking up the great landed estates, and asserted national 
ownership of all oil and other mineral resources. The provision 
(Article 27) in regard to property rights vitally affected the se- 
curity of American investments, and provoked sharp protests 
from Washington. Finally, Mexico in 1923 gave assurance that 
Article 27 would not be so applied as to work the confiscation 
of American mineral rights acquired under the previous consti- 


tution, and agreed further to compensate American citizens 
whose estates had been seized and partitioned. A month later 
certain other difficulties were cleared away by the signing of two 
conventions setting up mixed claims commissions to determine 
the amount of American damages suffered during the revolu- 
tionary disturbances and for the adjustment of Mexican losses 
growing out of the Vera Cruz and Pershing expeditions. After 
yet further diplomatic exchanges, the Mexican congress in 1927 
liberalized its petroleum and land laws in such a way as to render 
greater justice to foreign holdings acquired before 1917. Though 
it was likely that the revolutionary fever was checked rather than 
cured, relations between the two countries were at last on a 
satisfactory basis, and augured well for the future. 


The rising tide of democracy throughout the world, the new 
value placed upon the welfare of the common man, the incessant 
internationalist agitation of the socialists, the tightening net- 
work of financial and commercial ties among the powers, .the 
staggering cost of national armaments influences such as these 
smoothed the way for the growth of a powerful world peace move- 
ment in the first decade of the twentieth century. In this enter- 
prise the United States took an energetic part. Indeed, no other 
country had done more in the past to encourage the pacific settle- 
ment of international difficulties. But it was at the suggestion of 
the Czar of Russia that twenty-six leading powers conferred at 
The Hague in 1899 on the possibility of limiting armaments and 
promoting universal amity. This body drafted certain principles 
to govern the conduct of warfare on land and sea, and established 
a Permanent Court of Arbitration to sit at The Hague. In 1907 
a second Hague conference of forty-four states, held this time 
at the instance of President Roosevelt, adopted additional rules 
to mitigate the horrors of war, reorganized the court, and in- 
dorsed the principle that the debts of one country to another 
should not be collected by force. 

In the ordinary sense, the Permanent Court of Arbitration 
was not a court, being a list of judges selected by the several 
countries, from which special courts might be composed with 
the consent of the governments directly concerned, whenever 


specific cases arose. Though the submission of cases was left 
optional and the machinery of adjustment proved somewhat 
cumbersome, its establishment was an important move in the 
right direction. The tribunal settled seventeen disputes between 
1902 and the end of 1914, and to four of these the United States 
was a party. The most notable case involved the long-standing 
question of the rights of Americans in the fisheries off New- 
foundland and Labrador; the decision, rendered in 1910, was 
favorable to the United States. 

Private endeavors were being made along similar lines. Al- 
though the hopeful efforts of the American Peace Society in 
the mid-nineteenth century had been blasted by the Civil War, 
the movement had slowly got under way again, notably with the 
help of various church groups. But it was not until the new 
century came and practical men of affairs lent their support 
that the agitation assumed large consequence. Thanks to the 
benefactions of Andrew Carnegie, Edwin Ginn and others, foun- 
dations were set up to investigate and promote the cause. Peace 
agencies multiplied, their literature received wide distribution, 
and the greater universities aided by creating international 
exchange professorships. Such exertions did not go unchecked. 
Thus the Navy League, formed in 1903 largely by retired navy 
officers and armor-plate manufacturers, and closely interlocked 
with New York banking firms, kept up an incessant propaganda 
for bigger armaments. Besides, the increase of investments 
abroad did not always promote a pacific disposition. Not only 
did it lead to unacknowledged wars in the Caribbean, but Ameri- 
can bankers found it profitable to supply the financial sinews for 
other nations 7 conflicts. In 1901 they lent $50,000,000 to help de- 
fray the expenses of the British government in conquering the 
Boers. A few years later their loans assisted Japan at Russia's 
cost to extend her sway into southern Manchuria. By 1909 Amer- 
ican investments in various parts of the globe had climbed to 
two billion dollars, and four years later to over two and a half 
billion, of which a seventh was placed in Europe itself. 

Nevertheless, Roosevelt struck a responsive chord in 1904 
when he assumed leadership in an effort to enlarge the authority 
of the Hague court beyond the limits set. He submitted to the 
Senate a group of treaties, which, departing from the existing 


arrangement, obligated the United States and the contracting 
powers to submit all their disputes to the tribunal, save those 
involving vital interests, independence or national honor. An 
unhappy quarrel between the President and the Senate prevented 
ratification in a form acceptable to him, and the matter hung 
fire until 1908-1909 when the United States entered into twenty- 
two agreements of this kind. As a promoter of peace, however, 
Roosevelt did not subscribe to many of the tenets of the pro- 
fessional pacifist. Even his arbitration treaties, through their 
reservation of certain large subjects, left the gate wide open 
for a resort to force. Ever an ardent nationalist, he held that 
heavy armaments were, after all, the best guarantee of peace. 
Nor did he hesitate to plunge into the hurly-burly of world poli- 
tics in pursuit of his objective. In January, 1906, when the 
peace of Europe was menaced by a controversy between Ger- 
many and France over the latter 's claims to Morocco, the United 
States joined with ten other governments in a conference at 
Algeciras in Morocco to compose the differences. The Senate 
in ratifying the act of settlement cautiously disclaimed any 
" purpose to depart from the traditional American foreign policy 
which forbids participation ... in the settlement of political 
questions which are entirely European in their scope. " 

Meanwhile, without consulting the Senate and in the great- 
est secrecy, Roosevelt had launched upon an even bolder course. 
Fearing lest the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905 develop into 
a general international conflict, he warned Germany and France 
that, if either of them intervened on the side of Russia, he would 
bring in America on the side of Japan. Knowledge of this un- 
precedented, if not unconstitutional, action did not become pub- 
lic until many years later. As Japan drew near the end of her 
resources, he persuaded the warring powers to join in a peace 
conference at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, from which Japan 
as the victorious combatant issued with the former Chinese 
holdings of Russia. 

Yet, in the ensuing years, the gravest threat to American 
peace, Mexico excepted, proved to be the increasing tension 
with Japan. Roosevelt's pressure on Japan's delegates at Ports- 
mouth not to insist upon a war indemnity, discriminations against 
her subjects on the Pacific Coast, and the enlarging influence of 


America in the Far East, all fed the flames of Japanese resent- 
ment. The United States on its part suspected the island king- 
dom of designs upon China subversive of her independence and 
the preservation of the open door. The question of Japanese 
immigration was presently set at rest, at least for the time (see 
page 354), and in 1908 an endeavor was made to dispose of the 
larger and more fundamental problem. In the Root-Takahira 
agreement, the two powers, " uninfluenced by any aggressive 
tendencies/ 7 pledged themselves to respect each other's terri- 
torial possessions in the Pacific and to support "by all pacific 
means 37 Chinese independence and the open door. The under- 
standing partook of the nature of a gentlemen's agreement, and 
hence was not acted upon by the Senate. In 1917, in the Lansing- 
Ishii agreement, the two powers reaffirmed these assurances, 
with the imprudent admission by America that " territorial pro- 
pinquity" gave Japan "special interests 77 in China. Innocently 
intended by Secretary Lansing, the phrase was construed by 
Japan to sanction new aggressions. 

In the meantime President Taft had bent his efforts to create 
larger opportunities for the export of capital to China. Hay's 
open door, it will be remembered, applied to trade, not to in- 
vestments. Nevertheless, from 1900 to 1914, American invest- 
ments there increased from seventeen and a half million to 
forty-two. To accelerate the process, Taft's State Department 
encouraged American financial groups to unite with bankers of 
other countries in joint loans to the Chinese government for 
railway construction and other internal purposes. A six-power 
consortium for a loan of $125,000,000 to the new-fledged Chinese 
republic was thus being formed when President Wilson appeared 
on the scene in 1913. Disapproving certain of the terms and 
particularly the "implications" of governmental responsibility, 
he withdrew administration support and the American syndicate 
dropped out. Several years later, however, he saw the problem 
from a different angle as a means of checking Japan's financial 
advance into China. Hence American bankers, with the govern- 
ment's full blessing, took the lead in forming the four-power 
consortium of 1920. 

The advent of the Democrats led to a notable extension of 
the arbitration principle beyond the limits of the Roosevelt 


treaties. Long before becoming Secretary of State, Bryan had 
advocated referring every sort of dispute, even those involving 
national honor or vital interest, to arbitration. With Wilson's 
approval, in April, 1913, he invited the governments of the 
world to sign treaties with the United States committing the 
parties to submit their controversies "of whatever kind" to an 
investigating commission, and to refrain from hostilities until 
after the commission's report had been made. By allowing time 
for bellicose passions to subside he believed most wars could be 
prevented. The plan was so well received that thirty-one gov- 
ernments agreed to enter " cooling-off" treaties, and twenty-one 
ratifications were eventually exchanged. The dawn of a new 
era of world brotherhood seemed to be at hand when suddenly, 
almost without warning, the glittering dream was shattered by 
the outbreak of the great European war in 1914. 


Adapting the Constitution to an Imperial System. State activity in con- 
stitutional revision is sketched in Dealey, Growth of American State Con- 
stitutions. For an understanding of the Insular cases, two books by Wil- 
loughby are helpful: Territories and Dependencies of the United States, and 
The Constitutional Law of the United States. 

The Imperial System in Operation. Reinsch, Colonial Administration, is 
a useful early work of general scope. For further light on particular depend- 
encies, see Kuykendall, A History of Hawaii; Nichols, Alaska; Clark, 
History of Alaska; Mixer, Porto Rico: History and Conditions; Clark and 
others, Porto Rico and Its Problems; Westergaard, The Danish West Indies; 
and Tansill, The Purchase of the Danish West Indies. 

America in the Philippines. Most of the works on this subject are con- 
troversial, having been written by Americans for or against insular inde- 
pendence, or by Philippine patriots. Much enlightening information may 
be gleaned from Forbes, The Philippine Islands; Worcester, The Philip- 
pines, Past and Present; LeRoy, The Americans in the Philippines; and 
Reyes, Legislative History of America's Economic Policy toward the Philip- 

The Caribbean Sphere of Influence. Latane, The United States and Latin 
America, and Robertson, Hispanic-American Relations with the United States, 
include discussions of the American advance into the Caribbean. Winkler, 
Investments of United States Capital in Latin America, deals with an essential 
aspect. For the Venezuelan incident, see Hill, Roosevelt and the Caribbean, 
which punctures a widely accepted earlier version. Particular protectorates 
receive detailed treatment in Chapman, A History of the Cuban Republic; 
Jenks, Our Cuban Colony; Knight, The Americans in Santo Domingo, which 


concerns the Dominican Republic; Millspaugh, Haiti under American Con~ 
trol, 1915-1930; and Cox, Nicaragua and the United States, 1909-1927. 

The United States and Mexico. Haring, South America Looks at the United 
States, presents the Latin-American attitude toward the new role of the 
United States. Priestley, The Mexican Nation, Gruening, Mexico and Its 
Heritage, and Callcott, Liberalism in Mexico, 1857-1929, make clear Mexico's 
internal situation. For American relations Hackett, The Mexican Revolution 
and the United States, 1910-1926, Rippy, The United States and Mexico, 
Callahan, American Foreign Policy in Mexican Relations, and Dunn, The 
Diplomatic Protection of Americans in Mexico, are important. 

The New Peace Movement. Significant phases of the revived interest in 
world peace are discussed in Beales, The History of Peace; Allen, The Fight 
for Peace; anon., Arbitration and the United States; Scott, The Hague Peace 
Conferences of 1899 and 1907; and Curti, Bryan and World Peace. On 
Japanese- American relations, consult Dennett, Theodore Roosevelt and the 
Russo-Japanese War; Hornbeck, Contemporary Politics in the Far East; 
Treat, Japan and the United States, 1853-1921; Norton, China and the 
Powers; and Remer, Foreign Investments in China. 



THE seeds of the European war were sown as early as 1870 
when the Germans imposed a drastic peace on their van- 
quished foe at the close of the Franco-Prussian War. The ground 
was fertilized by the intense nationalism which, in the same 
decade, started the Great Powers on strenuous imperialistic 
careers, involving a world-wide scramble for territory, spheres of 
influence, raw materials, markets and trade routes. As part of 
the drift of events there occurred an ominous division of Europe 
into two armed camps, each with its own ambitions, fears, secret 
treaties and unrecorded commitments Russia, France and 
Great Britain heading one coalition, Germany and Austria- 
Hungary the other. An exhausting competition in armaments 
took place, leading to the creation of ever bigger armies and 
navies, undertaken quite as much from the rival powers' dread 
of each other as from motives of aggression. 

By 1914 Europe had become a powder magazine which needed 
only a careless match to set it off. This spark fell on June 28 
when the Austro-Hungarian heir-apparent was assassinated by a 
youth belonging to one of the many subject peoples composing 
the empire. Without proof, Austria-Hungary charged Serbia 
with being a party to the crime and, after making certain of the 
German Kaiser's support, declared war on Serbia a month later. 
Such was the tenseness of feeling and the obligation of alliances 
that all the Great Powers quickly plunged into the conflict, with 
the Central Empires Germany and Austria-Hungary cap- 
taining one set of belligerents, and the Entente Allies Russia, 
France and Great Britain the other. 1 

1 Between July 28 and November 5 Austria-Hungary, Germany and Turkey 
entered the war on the one side, Serbia, Russia, France, Great Britain, Belgium, 
Montenegro and Japan on the other. Italy joined the Allies in May, 1915. Smaller 
states followed. 



The people of America were stunned. Notwithstanding the 
rapid advance of the United States as a world power since 1898, 
the progressive movement had chained public attention to domes- 
tic problems, leaving the people blind to the forces that were 
driving Europe to disaster. On August 4, when five nations had 
taken up arms, President Wilson issued a proclamation of neu- 
trality, which he repeated as successive countries joined the 
conflict. Later in August he made a special appeal to his country- 
men to be ''impartial in thought as well as action." The former 
measure accorded with a century and a quarter of consistent 
practice; the latter, however desirable, was impossible of fulfill- 

Of the hundred million people in the United States when the 
war began, a third were foreign-born or American-born of alien 
parentage. Of the total number of immigrants the Central Em- 
pires contributed a third, Great Britain and Canada a sixth. 
Next in order stood the Russians, the Irish (who generally sided 
with Germany because of hatred of England) and the Italians, 
each of whom numbered well above a million. These peoples, 
hitherto dwelling peaceably together in the land of their common 
adoption, were soon deeply stirred by emotions born of racial 
attachments, family relationships and rekindled patriotisms. The 
older American stock had its prejudices as well The "ancient 
grudge" against Great Britain, nourished by school histories, 
was by no means offset by the multiplying evidences of Anglo- 
American accord. From the start, however, the business and 
banking interests, notably in the Atlantic states, sympathized 
with Britain, thanks to close financial ties and to their disap- 
proval and fear of German commercial methods. Despite such 
differences the people generally eagerly supported the Presi- 
dent's position of official neutrality, viewing the European con- 
flict as something horrible and unclean. The stronghold of 
pacifist feeling was the Midwest, hitherto the breeding ground 
of progressivism. 


The European struggle placed America in somewhat the same 
position she had occupied during the Napoleonic wars. With 
German shipping swept from the seas and a large part of Brit- 


ain's merchant marine devoted to military uses, the United 
States became the chief carrier of the world's commerce. The 
derangement of European industry and agriculture and the in- 
satiable demand for munitions, metal products, foodstuffs and 
raw materials poured a flood of gold into America, especially 
from the Allied countries whose markets were easily reached. 
The value of explosives exported rose from $6,300,000 in 1914 
to $803,000,000 in 1917; of chemicals, dyes, drugs and the like 
from $22,000,000 to $181,000,000; of iron and steel from $252,- 
000,000 to $1,134,000,000; and of wheat from $88,000,000 to 
$298,000,000. The country's shipping proved unequal to the 
demands. In an effort to remedy the situation, Congress in 
August, 1914, enacted a law to facilitate the purchase of mer- 
chant vessels built in neutral nations by admitting such ships 
to immediate registry without the former five-year restriction. 
A few weeks later it instructed the government to set up a bureau 
of war-risk insurance in order to keep marine insurance charges 
within reasonable limits. 

These measures, though helpful, failed to meet the real need: 
the construction of more ships. Accordingly, the administration 
proposed that the government itself engage in the business. 
Congress, slow to act through fear of foreign complications and 
dislike of government ownership, waited until September, 1916, 
to set up a shipping board, with authority to build, buy or lease 
merchant vessels and to operate them for a period not longer 
than five years after the war. In addition, the board was granted 
permanent powers to regulate private vessels engaged in inter- 
state or foreign commerce. It thus attained a footing similar 
to the interstate-commerce commission and the federal trade 
commission. Unfortunately the law came too late to be of 
much use before America's entry into the war; but thereafter 
the board was given virtual control of the entire shipbuilding 
resources of the nation and, in that capacity, performed indis- 
pensable service. 

The war also stimulated an extraordinary export of capital 
to embattled Europe. From August i, 1914, to January i, 1917, 
several months before the nation's entry, Americans had pur- 
chased foreign securities to the amount of $2,325,000,000, of 
which $1,900,000,000 consisted of loans to the Allies. The 


workingmen shared in the good times. Since the abnormal ex- 
pansion of industry occurred at a time of sharply declining im- 
migration, organized labor was in a position to demand higher 
wages and other concessions, which employers found it easy to 
pass on to the public in the form of higher prices. 

As in Napoleon's time, along with the tide of material pros- 
perity came grave perils to the maintenance of national security. 
Neither Great Britain nor Germany was disposed to allow the 
interests of countries at peace to endanger its chances of victory. 
Accordingly, as the principal power not engaged in war, America 
was obliged once more to assume her historic r61e as champion 
of neutral rights. Britain's infringements consisted chiefly in 
arbitrary interruptions of commerce between the United States 
and neutral countries bordering on the Teutonic states. Per- 
ceiving that war materials were thus finding a backdoor entry 
into enemy territory, she freely seized cargoes of contraband. 
Though the United States, asserting the right of neutrals to 
absolute freedom in trading with other neutrals, denounced the 
interferences as illegal, the seizures continued. Already before 
the end of 1914 the British had taken over thirty-one cargoes of 
copper to a value of $5,500,000. Partly to obviate American ob- 
jections, Britain in March, 1915, adopted a policy that amounted 
to a blockade of the German coast and near-by neutral ports. 
This move was likewise protested by the President as " illegal 
and indefensible " on the score that, under international law, 
countries at peace were not subject to blockade. Again Britain, 
pleading the law of national self-preservation, declined to aban- 
don her course. The British government also extended the list 
of contraband articles greatly beyond those tentatively agreed 
to at a conference of ten maritime powers at London in 1909. 
Early in 1915 it even forbade the shipment of foodstuffs to the 
civil population of Germany, alleging that a recent German 
order nationalizing the food supply made it impossible to dis- 
tinguish provisions intended for noncombatants from those 
destined for the army. 

Vexatious and unlawful as such practices were, they inflicted 
property losses merely; but the troubles that developed with 
the Central Empires involved, in addition, plots against American 
domestic tranquillity and the destruction of lives on the high 


seas. Since German success required that the Allied shortage in 
munitions should not be replenished from other sources, Teutonic 
agents in the United States undertook a vigorous propaganda to 
induce Congress to place an embargo on war supplies. The 
government, however, was not to be persuaded, for the muni- 
tions trade was fully sanctioned by international law, and it was 
not America's fault that Germany was unable to buy in the 
American market. Thwarted at this point, the Central Empires 
undertook to accomplish their purpose through a campaign 
of terrorism. "It is my impression," boasted the Austrian 
Ambassador, Dr. Constantin Dumba, to his government in 
August, 1915, "that we can disorganize and hold up for months, 
if not entirely prevent, the manufacture of munitions in Bethle- 
hem and the Middle West." At the instigation of Teutonic agents 
and pro- German sympathizers, explosions and incendiary fires 
damaged or destroyed munition plants, bombs were concealed 
aboard vessels carrying cargoes to the Allies, and strikes were 
set afoot among seamen and munition workers. The federal 
authorities apprehended most of the individual culprits, and 
soon managed to establish a connection with the Teutonic em- 
bassies in Washington. In September, 1915, the President forced 
the recall of Dumba and, three months later, that of two German 
naval and military attaches. 

Along the sea lanes the Central Empires engaged in an even 
more desperate attempt to prevent shipments to the Allies. Out- 
matched by the British on the ocean's surface, Germany had 
developed undersea craft ("U-boats") to a point of perfection 
hitherto undreamed of. The use of submarines, though sanctioned 
by international law, was subject to severe restrictions. A mer- 
chant or passenger vessel must not be attacked unless, after being 
warned, it refused to allow visit and search, and under no circum- 
stances should it be destroyed without safeguarding the lives of 
those on board. From Germany's unwillingness to abide by these 
restrictions stemmed all the difficulties that arose over submarine 
warfare. In justification, she pleaded the inability of undersea 
craft to carry additional passengers, and contended that, by 
rising to the surface to give warning, the frailty of the vessel 
exposed it to quick destruction from hostile gunfire. The United 
States, on its part, maintained that, if the new instrument could 


not be used according to the well-established rules, then the sub- 
marine should be abandoned, not the rules. 

Germany began her U-boat operations with a proclamation 
that from February 18, 1915, she would destroy every enemy mer- 
chantman found in the waters about the British Isles without 
regard to the safety of passengers or crew, and that even neutral 
vessels might, through accident, meet with like treatment. ^ At 
once Wilson replied that, if this course caused the loss of American 
vessels or lives, he would hold Germany to " strict accountabil- 
ity." Nevertheless, in March an American was drowned by the 
torpedoing of the British steamer Falaba, and on May i the 
Gulflight, an American ship, was sunk. Six days later occurred 
the most shocking incident of all when the British transatlantic 
liner Lusitania, carrying military supplies and nearly 2000 people, 
was sent to the bottom unwarned, with a loss of more than a 
thousand, including 114 United States citizens. 

America blazed with resentment, and war might at once have 
followed had a less resolute friend of peace been in the White 
House. In a series of diplomatic dispatches, Wilson demanded 
that the German government disavow her lawless practices, take 
prompt steps to prevent their recurrence, and make all possible 
reparation for losses already inflicted. But the only immediate 
result was Bryan's resignation as Secretary of State. With a 
large body of American sentiment, especially strong in the Mid- 
west, he felt that citizens should travel at their own risk on 
munition-carrying ships, and he wished the difficulties with 
Germany to be settled according to the principle of the " cooling- 
off" treaties (see page 393). Meanwhile the depredations con- 
tinued, culminating on August 18 in the sinking of the British 
liner Arabic and the loss of two more American lives. Fearful 
of the consequences, Germany nine days later gave the definite 
pledge that "Liners will not be sunk by our submarines without 
warning and without safety of the lives of noncombatants." In 
October she offered apologies and indemnity for the Arabic 

Wilson had won a diplomatic victory, but its edge was some- 
what dulled by lack of confidence in Germany's good faith. 
Thus, in February, 1916, when Germany made indemnity for the 
lives lost in the Lusitania, she refused to admit the illegality of 


the destruction. This was followed on March 24 by a further loss 
of American lives through the sinking of the French passenger 
ship Sussex. As an outright violation of the Arabic pledge ; the 
President declined to accept the German excuse that the sub- 
marine commander had made an unfortunate mistake. In a 
note of April 18 he delivered an ultimatum to the effect that, 
unless unrestricted submarine attacks ceased, the United States 
would sever diplomatic relations. Convinced at last of the aroused 
state of American opinion, Germany grudgingly made the con- 
cession demanded. The crisis was over, at least for the moment. 
For the next nine months relations between the two nations 
showed less tension than at any time since hostilities had begun. 


When the war opened in 1914, it had seemed remote from the 
ordinary concerns of American life. But successive incidents, 
such as British interferences with American trade, German plots 
against American industry and the ruthless submarine opera- 
tions, had gradually caused the people to think of the conflict as 
a concrete reality affecting intimately their own comfort and 
happiness. Moving westward from the Atlantic Seaboard, a 
strong pro-Ally sentiment began to envelop the people. Its 
spread was assisted not only by the greater enormity of Teutonic 
infractions of American neutrality, but also by disapproval of 
the invasion of neutral Belgium at the start of the war, and 
notably by skillful British manipulation of American opinion. 1 
The British had complete control of the transatlantic cables, 
and hence censored all messages that passed over them. Besides, 
as one of their number later divulged, they supplied newspapers 
with a weekly pro- Ally review of the war, established connections 
with " eminent people of every profession in the United States, 
beginning with university and college presidents, professors and 
scientific men and running through all the ranges of the popula- 
tion," and also streamed their " documents and literature " into 
public libraries, clubs, Y. M. C. A. branches, colleges and news- 

1 American interest in the plight of Belgium was greatly stimulated by the leader- 
ship of Herbert Hoover, an American mining engineer, in organizing food relief 
for the people. As head of the Commission for the Relief of Belgium, he secured 
widespread financial support in the United States, obtained much-needed food and, 
in spite of many hindrances, provided for its effective distribution. 


paper offices. Through such channels were disseminated appalling 
tales of Teutonic war atrocities and barbarities, and a growing 
number of people came to fear a triumphant Germany as a 
definite menace to the United States itself. 

As the Teutonic cause lost favor in America, its supporters, 
led by the widespread German-language press, grew more and 
more strident in their efforts to stem the tide. The nation, as it 
were, turned into a vast and vociferous debating society, with 
the President a somewhat lonely figure bent on avoiding interven- 
tion save as a last resort. Increasingly he became a target for 
acrid criticism from "hyphenated" Americans, both pro-Ger- 
mans who accused him of dealing too gently with Great Britain, 
and pro- Allies who charged him with weakness toward Germany. 
Inspired by Roosevelt, Leonard Wood and the recently organized 
National Security League (subsidized mostly by munitions and 
armor-plate interests and international bankers), an active 
agitation began early in the war for a stronger army and navy. 
Wilson was at first averse, for, like many of his countrymen, he 
attributed the demand to hysteria. Convinced at last by the 
thickening dangers, he advocated "preparedness 73 in his annual 
message of December, 1915, and even toured the Midwest to 
educate public sentiment on the question. 

Under spur of the President's insistence, Congress in June, 
1916, adopted the Hay act to strengthen the military department. 
It provided for augmenting the regular army by five annual 
accessions, for enlarging the state militia and placing it under 
federal control, and for establishing civilian training camps and 
introducing military instruction into schools and colleges. In 
protest against the bill Secretary of War Garrison, who thought 
it too mild, resigned, being replaced by Newton D. Baker of Ohio. 
In August Congress turned its attention to the navy, adopting a 
three-year program embracing the construction of ten dread- 
naughts, six cruisers and 140 minor war craft, and making provi- 
sion for a government-owned armor-plate plant. At the same 
time, Congress authorized a council of national defense of six 
cabinet members, to be set up in case of war as a board of strat- 
egy for industrial mobilization. 

With Wilson preparedness for war represented a sober second 
thought. From the beginning of hostilities he had devoted his 


chief energies to meeting the international crisis through the 
healing methods of diplomacy. Nor had he been content to con- 
fine his efforts to safeguarding the rights of neutrals. On the 
contrary, he endeavored to attack the evil at its source by re- 
peatedly offering his good offices to the belligerents to end the 
conflict. In these transactions his confidential agent was Colonel 
E. M. House of Texas, a man of wide acquaintance abroad 
and of unusual ability as a diplomat. Wilson made an even 
bolder gesture in February, 1916, while the opposing armies 
lay deadlocked on the western front. Through House he as- 
sured the British government that he stood ready to call a 
peace conference at which he would act as mediator, and that, 
if Germany declined, the United States " would probably enter 
the war against Germany." 1 This offer the English leaders 
rejected, possibly because they hoped through continuing the 
struggle to secure better terms, possibly because Walter Hines 
Page, the pro-Ally American Ambassador at London, openly 
scoffed at the administration's sincerity, and perhaps also be- 
cause the word, "probably," did actually leave the way open 
for Wilson to recede from his position. At any rate, America's 
delay in entering the conflict, so bitterly criticized by Allied 
statesmen, may in considerable part be laid at their own door. 
But already the President was arriving at a new conception 
of peace terms. Thanks to the activities of an organization 
called the League to Enforce Peace, founded at Philadelphia in 
1915, he adopted as his own the notion of a world federation 
for the prevention of war. The idea also made a ready convert 
of ex-President Taft and of other public figures irrespective of 
party. Believing that the European conflict might be made 
into a war to end war, Wilson on December 18, 1916, requested 
the belligerents to state " their respective views as to the terms 
upon which the war might be concluded, and the arrangements 
which would be deemed satisfactory as a guarantee against its 
renewal.' 7 On January 22, 1917, he reported the results to the 
Senate in an address intended for the whole world to hear. The 

1 According to a memorandum of Sir Edward Grey, approved by Wilson, the 
President had in mind as peace terms "the restoration of Belgium, the transfer of 
Alsace and Lorraine to France, and the acquisition by Russia of an outlet to the 
sea," with compensation to Germany for her territorial losses in "concessions to her 
in other places outside Europe." 


Central Empires, he said, had refused to define peace terms; the 
reply of the Allies had been more satisfactory, and had outlined 
" indispensable conditions. " As a neutral whose rights the 
struggle had put "in constant jeopardy/ 7 he asserted America's 
vital interest in a righteous and enduring peace not "a vic- 
tor's terms imposed upon the vanquished/' provocative of fu- 
ture bloodshed, but "a peace without victory," The settlement 
must embrace such principles as the right of self-determination, 
freedom of the seas, limitation of armaments and a league to 
safeguard peace. Through the President's efforts, the United 
States was rapidly attaining the moral leadership of the world. 
At home, however, the address exposed him to fresh volleys 
of execration because of the expression, " peace without victory," 
which was interpreted by his critics as a confession of weakness 
and indecision. In reality, the conception underlying the phrase 
remained the essence of America's purpose even as a belligerent, 
though, in view of the altered circumstances and his certainty 
of direct participation in the peace negotiations, Wilson later 
changed the expression to a "peace of justice." 

Before the President sent his formal request to the warring 
powers, the campaign of 1916 had taken place. At the outset 
the Republicans and the Progressives met in Chicago on the same 
day (June 7), in the hope that the two conventions might unite 
upon a single ticket. But the passions of four years before had 
not yet sufficiently cooled. The older party proposed the nomi- 
nation of Charles E. Hughes who, as a member of the Supreme 
Court since 1910, had kept free from partisan embroilments; but 
the Progressives, despite Hughes's earlier reform record in New 
York, would have none other than Roosevelt. In the end, each 
side named its own candidate, the Republican ticket being 
completed by the addition of C. W. Fairbanks of Indiana. The 
Republican platform stigmatized Wilson's foreign policy as one 
of "phrase-making" and "shifty expedients," indorsed thor- 
oughgoing preparedness, and promised a "strict and honest neu- 
trality between the belligerents." Roosevelt, who had no liking 
for lost causes, waited until the Progressive convention had 
adjourned and then declined to run, urging his supporters to 
follow him back into the Republican party. His running mate, 
J. M. Parker of Louisiana, however, declared for Wilson. The 


Democrats, convening at St. Louis on June 14, renominated 
their ticket of 1912. For the first time in many years they could 
point to a record of actual achievement. After rehearsing the 
party's epoch-making economic and humanitarian measures, 
the platform condemned "hyphenism," pledged adequate pre- 
paredness, and vaunted the President's diplomatic victories in 
dealing with the European belligerents. 

The ensuing canvass proved close and exciting. As the " Outs/' 
the Republicans brought all their batteries to bear upon the 
shortcomings of the "Ins." The pro-Germans, urged on by an 
organization called the German-American Alliance, helped by 
bitterly denouncing Wilson, and until the last week of the cam- 
paign Hughes avoided saying anything that might alienate their 
support. In the words, "He kept us out of war," Democratic 
orators found an effective vote-getting slogan, especially in the 
case of the women who now possessed the franchise in eleven 
states. Wilson's own speeches, however, contained nothing to 
justify an expectation that peace would necessarily continue. 
The American Federation of Labor advocated his reelection and, 
as the campaign wore on, the independent voters began to turn to 
him, largely because of Hughes's lukewarmness toward social and 
economic reforms. The outcome was in doubt for several days 
after the election. The President received 277 electoral votes 
to 254 for his opponent, and 49.2 per cent of the popular ballots 
to 46. The Democratic ticket swept the South and the Far West, 
including nearly all the woman-suffrage states. For the first 
time in almost fifty years, if the Hayes-Tilden contest be ex- 
cepted, a candidate won without the electoral vote of New 

The significance of the result was misunderstood in the Central 
Empires. "The Germans," later declared J. W. Gerard, the 
American Ambassador at Berlin, "believed that President Wilson 
had been elected with a mandate to keep out of war at any cost, 
and that America could be insulted, flouted, and humiliated with 
impunity." Hence they redoubled the secret exertions already 
begun for the most extensive and destructive submarine cam- 
paign within their resources. On January 31, 1917, Germany 
abruptly informed the United States that thereafter, in dis- 
regard of the Sussex pledge, she would sink on sight all vessels, 


neutral as well as belligerent, found in certain specified waters 
about the British Isles and in the Mediterranean. At once, in 
conformity with his ultimatum on the former occasion, Wilson 
broke off diplomatic relations, and appealed, vainly, to all neutral 
countries to follow America's example so that the weight of world 
opinion might be thrown against Germany. Meanwhile, seeing 
a possibility of halting that power in her reckless course by draw- 
ing Austria into a separate peace, he exerted pressure upon the 
Allies to make known to Austria their willingness to accept 
milder terms than they had hitherto contemplated. Though 
Britain met his wishes part way, Austria proved obdurate. As 
a result, Wilson on February 26 asked Congress to authorize a 
policy of armed neutrality. The House promptly responded, but 
in the Senate eleven Western and Southern members, led by 
La Follette, managed to block action before the session ended a 
few days later. Nevertheless, the President, by authority of an 
almost forgotten statute, directed the arming of merchant ships. 1 
Meantime, Teutonic ruthlessness was taking its toll. From 
February 3 to April i, eight American vessels were sent to the 
bottom with a loss of forty-eight lives. Armed neutrality was 
fast proving its futility when Wilson called a special session 
of Congress for April 2. 

Before that date two new events helped further to clarify 
the popular mind in regard to the issues at stake. One was the 
so-called Zimmermann note, whose contents were made public 
on March i through the enterprise of the British intelligence serv- 
ice. This document, signed by the German Foreign Minister 
on January 19, instructed the German Minister in Mexico to urge 
that government to attack the United States in case the latter 
declared war on Germany, and to offer as inducements " general 
financial support" and the opportunity to recover "the lost ter- 
ritory of New Mexico, Texas and Arizona." The American 
people, deeply shocked by the disclosure, were alarmed anew by 
the menace of German militarism to their own safety and peace. 
The other event was the news of the Russian revolution and the 
setting up of a republican government. By the overthrow of the 
Czar the principal Allies all became exponents of popular govern- 

1 On the Attorney-General's advice, Wilson resorted to a law of 1819 which, 
however, had specific reference to piratical vessels. 


merit, leaving to the Teutonic states and Turkey the dubious 
distinction of being the last strongholds of military autocracy. 
There can be no doubt, further, that American financial inter- 
ests deeply involved in Allied bonds, along with the merchants 
and manufacturers who had fattened on the war-swollen export 
trade, were badly frightened lest a German triumph imperil 
their chances of repayment. Economic interests thus lent fervor 
to political and idealistic considerations. 

When the special session assembled, President Wilson in 
words that profoundly stirred the nation asked Congress to 
recognize the existence of a state of war with Germany. He 
recited the submarine depredations and the conspiracies against 
American national security culminating in the Zimmermann note, 
picturing these as the inevitable accompaniments of "autocratic 
governments backed by organized force which is controlled wholly 
by their will, not by the will of their people." The United States, 
he said, would battle for the rights of mankind, "for the ulti- 
mate peace of the world and for the liberation of its peoples, 
the German peoples included/' And he added, in a phrase that 
rang round the globe, "The world must be made safe for de- 

The period of indecision was at an end. After three years of 
unexampled forbearance, Wilson led the nation into the con- 
flict when the people were fully convinced that no alterna- 
tive remained. Moreover, he made the fateful choice turn not 
on motives of revenge or of selfish national gain, but on the 
opportunity to extend traditional American ideals to oppressed 
peoples. On April 6 Congress by overwhelming majorities 
voted to back up the President. A declaration of war against 
Austria-Hungary was withheld until December 7, in the hope 
that meantime she might still be weaned from her alliance 
with Germany. America's entry was a signal for similar action 
by many other neutral countries. The response of the repub- 
lics of the New World was particularly significant for the light 
it shed upon Pan-American solidarity. In the ensuing months 
Brazil, Cuba, Panama, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Honduras, 
Haiti and Nicaragua declared war, while most of the other 
countries, not wishing to go so far, severed diplomatic rela- 



The World War was not the first but the eighth general inter- 
national conflict in which the American people had taken part 
the fourth since national independence. 1 Every major European 
war involving operations in the Atlantic had, sooner or later, 
drawn America into it. When she entered the lists against Ger- 
many, the war had been raging two years and eight months. 
At the outset the Germans had tried for a speedy decision, but, 
after getting within sight of Paris, they had been turned back at 
the battle of the Marne. Since then, in spite of titanic Allied exer- 
tions, they had retained possession of most of Belgium and an im- 
portant section of northern France. Besides fighting on the west- 
ern front, the contending forces struggled on the Russo-Austrian 
frontier and, after the spring of 1915, on the Austro-Italian fron- 
tier as well. On land the advantage lay everywhere with the Cen- 
tral Empires. But their commerce had been swept from the seas, 
and nearly all the German colonies had been captured. 

The war had developed along unprecedented lines. With 
millions of soldiers engaged on the two sides, open-field fight- 
ing proved out of the question, and trench warfare on a vast 
scale took its place. Moreover, mechanisms and discoveries 
that had been developed in peace time to promote human hap- 
piness were now converted to purposes of human destruction. 
Chief among these were the motor car, which not only quick- 
ened the movement of men and materials but, in the form of 
armored tanks, became itself an engine of warfare; and the 
airplane which, developed by the combatants to new perfection, 
rendered indispensable service in scouting, bombing and com- 
bat. Among other inventions, wireless telegraphy (devised in 
1895 by Guglielmo Marconi, an Italian) proved valuable for 
keeping the many units of the gigantic armies in constant com- 
munication, while the beneficent peace-time discoveries of the 
world's chemists were utilized in the manufacture of explosive 
bombs and clouds of poison gas. The new machinery of warfare 

1 Though it is often forgotten, the following conflicts were merely American 
phases of greater international struggles: the four intercolonial wars with the 
French; the Revolutionary War following the French alliance of 1778; the naval 
defense of neutral rights against France from 1798 to 1800; and the War of 1812- 


gave unexpected importance to petroleum or gasoline, which 
supplied motive power for conveyances on land, in the air and 
under the water, and was even displacing the use of coal on war- 
ships. It "is as necessary as blood in the battles of tomorrow/' 
wrote Georges Clemenceau, the French Premier, to President 
Wilson shortly after America's entry. 

The intervention of the United States placed at the disposal 
of the Allies not only an unplumbed reservoir of man power, 
but also unlimited quantities of money, foodstuffs, minerals, 
manufactures, shipyards and material resources of every kind. 
Perhaps even more significant was the fresh enthusiasm and 
ardent idealism that America brought to the struggle, for a 
spirit of exhaustion and defeatism lay heavily on the Allied 
peoples. Official missions, hastening to Washington, made clear 
the extent of the Allied need, and urged the greatest possible 
speed in the sending of troops. While American preparations 
were getting under way, the United States before the close of 
1917 lent the Allied governments $885,000,000, a mere earnest 
of the huge sums that were to follow. These loans were not 
advanced in gold, but in credits in American banks with which 
to purchase war supplies in the United States. Resolved to 
cooperate in every practicable way, the American government 
did not forget that it had joined the war for American, not Euro- 
pean, reasons, and it refrained therefore from entering a formal 
alliance, preferring to regard the Allies officially as " Associates'" 
in a common effort. 

However remiss the government may have been in forearming 
against war, it sought now to make up for lost time by organ- 
izing the nation on a war basis with a thoroughness and on a 
scale unparalleled in American annals. Under Wilson's compelling 
leadership, and against fierce opposition from leaders of his own 
party, Congress on May 18, 1917, adopted the selective-service 
act. The President was empowered to conscript a million men 
from between the ages of 21 and 30 inclusive, with exemption 
or deferred classification for public officials, clergymen, members 
of religious sects opposed to war, persons engaged in employ- 
ments essential to military success, men upon whom others were 
dependent, and physical and mental defectives. 1 No one was 

1 The draft age was lowered to 18 and raised to 45 inclusive on August 31, 1918. 


permitted to purchase exemption or hire a substitute, as in Civil 
War times. The President justified the measure on the demo- 
cratic principle "that there is a universal obligation to serve 
and that a public authority should choose those upon whom the 
obligation of military service shall rest, and also in a sense 
choose those who shall do the rest of the nation's work." With- 
out loss of time the men of draft age were registered, and this, 
with the subsequent enrollment of youths later coming of age, 
soon made available more than ten million. From this body the 
names of the first half million to be called to the colors were 
drawn on July 20. The operation of the draft occasioned local 
protests, but, unlike Civil War times, no serious disturbances. 
The act of May 1 8 also increased the regular army to 287,000, 
and incorporated the entire national guard in the federal service. 
With these additions, the total military strength at the end of 
1917 attained one and a quarter million men and more than 
100,000 officers. 

The problem of assembling the elements of an army was less 
difficult than that of fitting them for the grim business ahead. 
Sixteen great tent-camps in the South served as training quarters 
for the augmented national guard, while a similar number of 
cantonments in various parts of the country was provided for the 
national or draft army. Swiftly constructed to meet the need, 
these cantonments resembled full-fledged towns more than camps. 
Each comprised a thousand or more frame barracks and other 
buildings to care for about 48,000 men, and was amply equipped 
with sewers, running water, artificial light, camp newspapers, 
libraries, theaters, laundries and hospitals. Here, thanks to able 
direction and conscientious devotion to duty, the men prepared 
for active service in an average period of six months. Officers 
were supplied through special training camps, the best known 
being that at Plattsburg, New York. The curse of political 
appointments, which had marred the conduct of earlier wars, was 
avoided by the adoption of a scientific rating system, designed 
to recognize ability and experience. Even the colleges were formed 
into training schools, and ultimately about 170,000 youths in five 
hundred institutions joined the so-called students' army train- 
ing corps. 

Simultaneously with the creation of an army, thoroughgoing 


measures were taken to mobilize the country's material resources. 
" Under modern conditions" to quote Secretary of War 
Baker "wars are not made by soldiers only, but by nations. 
. . . The army is merely the point of the sword. " The council of 
national defense, authorized before America's entrance, assumed 
general charge, though much of the actual work was carried on 
through an advisory commission composed of seven, men thor- 
oughly familiar with the nation's industrial, professional and 
labor potentialities. Thus Daniel Willard, president of the 
Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, acted as expert in transportation; 
Julius Rosenwald, head of a Chicago mail-order concern, in 
clothing and similar supplies; and Samuel Gompers in labor 
matters. From this group as a generating center there developed 
from time to time, as occasion demanded, numerous subcom- 
mittees and special technical boards. The elaborate national 
organization was, in many of its features, paralleled by the states. 
Every state had its special council of defense, and some of them a 
network of local councils as well. Everywhere the people showed 
that capacity for practical cooperation in face of an emergency 
which had distinguished them time and again in their earlier 

Of the committees of the council of national defense, that on 
munitions attained such importance that in July, 1917, it was 
reorganized as the war-industries board. Under the chairmanship 
of Bernard M. Baruch it exercised dictatorial powers over the 
processes of manufacture. It bought supplies for the Allies as 
well as for the American government, fixed prices and determined 
priorities of production and delivery. At the war's close its 
efforts were estimated to have increased the nation's industrial 
capacity at least twenty per cent. For heavy artillery, machine 
guns and airplanes, however, the United States was forced to rely 
largely upon the French and British. 

America had hoped to make her distinctive contribution in 
aeronautics, for in the large-scale manufacture of aircraft the 
mechanical and organizing genius of the nation would have full 
play. Moreover, the prospect of fighting above the clouds ap- 
pealed to the imagination of a people accustomed to frontier 
warfare and displays of personal daring. In July, 1917, the gov- 
ernment formulated a plan for building 11,500 combat planes 


before the following summer, besides a large number of training 
craft. Unfortunately no American factories were equipped to 
turn out combat planes, and this fact, along with other delays 
and difficulties, some of them avoidable, prevented the execution 
of the program, greatly to the public's exasperation. Not until 
well into the second year did the plans begin to yield substantial 
results, though when the armistice was signed only about 12,000 
planes had been completed, a third of them service planes. 

Another committee of the council of national defense, that on 
food supply, derived its importance from a dangerous shortage 
of foodstuffs in the Allied countries and the need to collect huge 
supplies to feed the American forces. This committee, headed by 
Herbert Hoover, famed as the organizer of Belgian relief, at 
first lacked adequate authority, but on August 10, 1917, the 
food and fuel-control act gave Hoover as food administrator 
practically unlimited power to stimulate agriculture and con- 
serve food. To assist him, subordinate food administrators were 
appointed in the states and local subdivisions. The problem 
centered mainly in wheat, meat, sugar and fats. In order to 
increase production, every effort was exerted to expand the ex- 
isting cultivated acreage. Farmers were encouraged to make 
extensive plantings by the government's agreement to buy all 
wheat raised in 1918 at two dollars a bushel. Even city dwellers 
converted their yards and near-by vacant lots into " war gardens " 
and, by consuming their own produce, lessened the demand on 
the grocer. In order to curtail domestic consumption, the food 
administration resorted both to official regulations of whole- 
salers and retailers and to the encouragement of voluntary 
cooperation by the public. The slogan, " Food Will Win the War," 
was spread over the billboards of the country, and a new verb, 
"to hooverize," entered the vocabulary. Housewives hung cards 
in their windows to proclaim their fidelity to the regulations, and 
showed patriotic zeal in the use of substitutes and the observ- 
ance of "meatless meals" and "wheatless days." It was a move- 
ment of general renunciation such as no country had ever under- 
taken except at the urge of biting necessity. 

The results amply justified the self-denial. In the four sum- 
mer months of 1918 the American people through savings from 
their regular consumption sent abroad half a million tons of 


sugar. The autumn saw an increase of nearly a million tons of 
pork products over that available the preceding year. In general, 
during the crop year of 1918, America doubled the average 
amount of food exported to Europe immediately before the 
war. By such means the United States was able not only to feed 
the Allied armies, but also to save their peoples (and later much 
of Central and Southeastern Europe) from almost certain star- 

The food administration hardly began its work before it was 
paralleled by the establishment of a fuel administration, author- 
ized in the same law. As in the case of food, the coal problem 
involved both increased production and frugal use. Miners and 
operators zealously cooperated, while householders observed 
unwonted domestic economy. Difficulties of distribution were 
heightened by congested rail conditions and by the cruelly cold 
winter of 1917-1918 which held up transportation and impris- 
oned coal barges in icebound harbors. At one juncture H. A. Gar- 
field, the fuel administrator, ordered a temporary shutdown of 
industry in the trans-Mississippi region in order that the coal 
might be diverted to more essential purposes. Attention was also 
given to oil production, which in 1918 increased fourteen per 
cent over the yield of 1914. The motoring public reduced pleas- 
ure riding to a minimum, and willingly heeded the request for 
"gasless Sundays." 

As the fuel situation made evident, success in industrial mo- 
bilization required the most efficient utilization of rail facilities. 
The problem of troop movements was similarly involved. Be- 
cause the railways, obliged to carry an unprecedented volume 
of traffic and hampered by long-established habits of rivalry, 
could not rise to the emergency, the President on December 26, 
1917, put them in charge of Secretary of the Treasury McAdoo 
as director-general, an act later validated by Congress. Calling 
to his aid experienced rail executives, McAdoo operated the 
chief lines as a single system. Arbitrary control of the routing 
and distribution of traffic relieved the congestion on certain roads, 
and obtained ampler service from others. Terminals, equipment, 
repair shops and other facilities were used wherever needed irre- 
spective of ownership. The sole object was the hurrying of wanted 
supplies to their destination, and in this respect McAdoo's success 


was remarkable. But he found it necessary to raise wages by 
an aggregate sum of more than $600,000,000, and to effect sub- 
stantial advances in freight and passenger rates. Despite the 
higher transportation charges, the greatly enhanced costs caused 
the railways to be operated at a deficit throughout the period 
of federal control. In July, 1918, the Postmaster-General, by 
direction of the President, took over the telephone and telegraph 
lines, and later extended his authority to cables. In a similar 
fashion the express business was placed under federal manage- 
ment in November. At the behest of Mars the government, for 
the time being, moved far in the direction of state socialism. 


America and the World War, Among general accounts are Frothingham, 

The American Reinforcement in the World War; Bassett, Our War with 
Germany; McM aster, The United States in the World War; and Seymour, 
Woodrow Wilson and the World War. America's situation as a neutral is 
discussed from various angles in Ogg, National Progress; Scott, A Survey 
of International Relations between the United States and Germany, August i, 
iQi4-April (5, 1917; Jones and Hollister, The German Secret Service in Amer- 
ica; and Grattan, Why We Fought, an unorthodox treatment. The " nation 
in arms" is portrayed in Crowell and Wilson, How America Went to War, a 
comprehensive account devoted chiefly to economic mobilization; Wil- 
loughby, Government Organization in War Time and After; Van Hise, Con- 
servation and Regulation in the United States during the World War; Dixon, 
Railroads and Government; Hines, The War History of American Railroads; 
Surface, The Grain Trade during the World War; Powell, The Army behind 
the Army; Clarkson, Industrial America in the World War; and Kolbe, The 
Colleges in War Time and After. Biographies of leading figures include 
Dodd, Woodrow Wilson; Palmer, Newton D. Baker; Seymour, The Intimate 
Papers of Colonel House; Synon, McAdoo; and Hendrick, The Life and 
Letters of Walter H. Page. 



/ THHE naval forces were the first to begin operations. Within 
A eighteen days after America's entry, six destroyers started 
for Europe where, under Admiral W. S. Sims's command, they 
at once set about to aid the British navy in chasing and sinking 
submarines. Battleships and cruisers followed until, at the close 
of the war, 5000 naval officers and 70,000 enlisted men were serv- 
ing abroad. The three-year construction plan, adopted in 1916 as 
part of the preparedness program, was accelerated and expanded. 
The government also commandeered private vessels and took 
over German ships that had been interned in American ports. 
In the first nine months of 1918, no less than eighty-three new 
destroyers were launched. During the war period the total num- 
ber of vessels in commission increased from less than 200 to 
more than 2000. Among other exploits, the navy, with British 
assistance, laid a great mine barrage, extending 245 miles from 
the Norwegian coast to the Orkney Islands, in the effort to pre- 
vent German U-boats from reaching the high seas. Also with 
British cooperation, it performed indispensable service in pro- 
tecting troop ships while crossing the Atlantic from submarine 
raids. The results amply attested Anglo-American naval effi- 
ciency, for of the whole number of transports only six were tor- 
pedoed, and of these two managed to make port. 

Shortly after the declaration of war General John J. Pershing, 
fresh from his punitive operations across the Mexican border, 
went to France to act as chief of the American Expeditionary 
Force (A. E. F.). At the urgent request of the French, a 
division of regulars followed in June and July, as a visible 
symbol of the hosts which were to come later. These hosts, 
however, were still in course of training and, by the end 
of 1917, only 195,000 troops had reached France. But then 
their numbers increased rapidly. During the four months from 


May to August, 1918, more than a million made the overseas 

To look after the multifarious needs of these arrivals, colossal 
preparations were made by the Services of Supply, an organiza- 
tion formed by Pershing in February, 1918. From its headquar- 
ters at Tours, the S. 0. S. was responsible for securing, organiz- 
ing and distributing all the food, equipment and other materials 
required for the A. E. F. Besides building gigantic docks at the 
ports of arrival, it constructed 1000 miles of railroad and more 
than 100,000 miles of telegraph and telephone, and erected great 
hospitals and warehouses. Supplies of all kinds had to be brought 
in from the United States everything from bags of cement to 
monster locomotives ready to run from the hatch of a vessel 
under their own steam. Before the armistice, over five million 
tons of materials had thus been transported, including more 
than 17,000 freight cars and 34,500 motor trucks. The fighting 
forces as they arrived usually underwent a month or so of fur- 
ther training before going to the front and then, brigaded with 
French or British troops, spent another month in a quiet part 
of the line. But in January, 1918, Pershing began to gather the 
scattered fragments of his command, though it was not until 
August that he established a distinct American army. 

While America was organizing her strength, Germany, fearful 
of the might of the western giant when fully aroused, had en- 
deavored to end the war with a series of crushing blows. A 
terrific defeat at Caporetto in October, 1917, at the hands of 
the Austrians demoralized Italy. In March, 1918, war-weary 
Russia, now dominated by socialist extremists or Bolshevists, 
concluded an inglorious peace with the Central Empires at Brest- 
Litovsk. Rumania, left in the lurch by Russia's defection, had 
little choice but to follow her example, which she did the same 
month. Free at last to concentrate their armies in the western 
theater of warfare, the Central Empires under Erich von Luden- 
dorff made gigantic preparations for a smashing drive. In March 3 
1918, as the offense got under way, the Allies for the first time 
buried their national jealousies and gave supreme command of 
the several armies to a single person, the French general, Ferdi- 
nand Foch. 

Though the Americans had hitherto done little besides join- 


ing in nocturnal raids and occasional attacks, now, inured to 
the novel conditions of warfare and eager to get into the fray on 
their own account, they played their full part, along with the 
seasoned Allied veterans, in resisting the terrific German on- 
slaughts. Of the American participation certain phases stand 
out. On May 28 the first division took Cantigny. Three days 
later the third division helped the French check the Teutonic 
advance at Chateau-Thierry on the Marne River, only forty 
miles from Paris. Near by, enemy forces occupied a densely 
forested tract known as Belleau Wood. After six days of furious 
hostilities, marked by hand-to-hand fighting, the marines of the 
second division ejected them on June u. A new assault by the 
Germans on July 14 brought the third division into action again, 
and on the next day a Franco-American charge drove the enemy 
back a mile and captured the villages of Chezy and Montlevon. 
The Teutonic offensive, as the sequel proved, was a gambler's 
last throw. The enemy not only failed to win a decisive victory, 
but suffered irreplaceable losses in men, equipment and morale. 
Unexpectedly, in mid- July, Foch launched a mighty counter- 
offensive. Once more the Americans contributed to victory. 
On the eighteenth, in cooperation with picked French troops, 
they made a successful drive on Soissons. The following weeks 
found them almost continually in action until, on August 30, 
they assumed sole responsibility for a section of the front about 
85 miles in length. From this position of vantage on Septem- 
ber 12-15 they succeeded, against feeble resistance, in capturing 
the St. Mihiel salient, a triangle of enemy ground jutting into 
Allied territory. About 550,000 Americans engaged in this bat- 
tle five and a half times as many as the Union army at Gettys- 
burg. But the most important action in which they participated 
was the Meuse-Argonne offensive. The goal of the attack was 
a four-track railroad running parallel to the front and forming a 
main supply line of the enemy. In point of sheer size this battle 
was the greatest ever fought by American troops. From Sep- 
tember 26 it proceeded with little abatement and increasing suc- 
cess for forty-seven days. A total of 1,200,000 Americans, be- 
sides 840 airplanes and 324 tanks, took part. At last, in the first 
week of November, a section of the coveted railway passed into 
the hands of the French and Americans. In Pershing's words, 




General Storage Depots 
*** Principal Railways used by A.E.F. 

(Courtesy of the V, S. War Department) 

THE A. E. F. IN FRANCE, igi8 


"We had cut the enemy's main line of communications, and 
nothing but surrender or an armistice could save his army from 
complete disaster." 

By this time the American army at home and abroad totaled 
more than 3,500,000, of whom 1,390,000 saw active service in 
France. During the whole course of the war the Americans cap- 
tured about 44,000 prisoners and 1400 guns of all kinds, while 
Yankee aviators brought down 755 enemy planes, themselves 
losing nearly half that number. Though American participation 
was confined chiefly to operations in France, United States sol- 
diers appeared on other fronts as well. At Italy's urgent request 
a regiment went to the Austro-Italian front in July, 1918. In 
October two divisions reenforced the French in Belgium. Amer- 
ica also became involved in hostilities with the Bolshevists, 
although officially the two nations were at peace. The Allies 
refused to acknowledge the separate peace concluded by the So- 
viet government with Germany at Brest-Litovsk, and were out- 
raged by Russia's cancellation of her foreign debt. Accordingly, 
they sent armed forces to assist anti-Bolshevist insurrectionary 
movements and to safeguard large stores of military supplies 
in northern Russia. About 5000 Americans joined an Allied ex- 
pedition which fought minor engagements in the vicinity of 
Archangel and Murmansk from September, 1918, until May, 
1919, when their withdrawal began. Another force of about 
10,000 served as part of an Allied expeditionary force to Vladi- 
vostok and eastern Siberia, being recalled in January, 1920. 

Of every one hundred Americans in the war two died of wounds 
or disease during the period of hostilities. 1 In the Union army 
during the Civil War, the number was about ten, and among 
other Great Powers in the World War between twenty and 
twenty-five. That the American losses in battle were not greater 
was due largely to the fact that the heavy fighting lasted only 
two hundred days. For every man killed in battle, six were 

1 The American deaths from all causes totaled 125,000, of which about 10,000 oc- 
curred in the navy. In the A. E. F. more than twice as many died from battle as 
from disease, but, for the army as a whole, almost half the total losses were from 
disease. The mortality rate from disease amounted to no a year for each 1000 
men in the Mexican War; 65 in the Civil War; 26 in the Spanish- American War; 
and 19 in the A. E. F. The total battle deaths for all countries in the World War 
exceeded all deaths in all wars in the preceding century. 


wounded and, of these, five eventually returned to duty. Ro- 
mance has always portrayed the soldier as shot through the 
heart, but in every earlier war of the United States more had 
died from disease than from battle. The health record would 
have been even more creditable but for a dreadful epidemic of 
influenza-pneumonia which swept through the country during 
the fall and winter of 1918, taking its heaviest toll in the crowded 
camps and cantonments. The remarkable record in combating 
disease attested the great advances which had been made in 
medical science in recent years as well as the completeness of 
hospital facilities. Into the medical corps of 2000 were drawn 
over 31,000 physicians and surgeons from civilian life, among 
them the foremost leaders of the profession. They not only 
facilitated the adoption of the most recent methods for the 
prevention and cure of disease, but themselves made new dis- 
coveries of vast human benefit. The main preventive measures 
involved thorough camp sanitation and control of drinking water, 
and compulsory vaccination against typhoid fever. Intestinal 
disorders, such as dysentery, typhus, cholera and typhoid, which 
had ravaged armies in the past, were virtually eliminated as 
causes of death. 

While war still raged on the several battle fronts, President 
Wilson renewed his efforts, begun as a neutral, to turn the great- 
est war in history into an instrument for lasting peace. To him 
military victory was an opportunity not for vengeance, but for 
securing a settlement that would preclude the possibility of 
future bloodshed. By common consent he became the spokes- 
man of the powers fighting Germany. If they did not subscribe 
to all his lofty idealism, they at least believed his utterances 
might have the useful effect of weakening the hold of the mili- 
tary clique on the war- weary Teutonic peoples and thus shorten 
the struggle. In an address to Congress on January 8, 1918, 
he set forth Fourteen Points that embodied the most complete 
statement he had yet made of an acceptable peace. The first 
five struck at three of the deeper causes of the conflict: secret 
diplomacy, militarism and imperialism. He demanded the 
abandonment of secret international understandings, a guar- 
antee of freedom of the seas, the removal of economic barriers 
between nations, reduction of national armaments, and an ad- 


justment of colonial claims with due regard to the interests of 
the inhabitants affected. Next followed eight points, more 
specific in character but all concerned with assuring European 
nationalities rights of self-rule and unhampered economic de- 
velopment. The German-conquered sections of Belgium, France, 
Russia, Rumania, Serbia and Montenegro, he said, should be 
evacuated and restored; the oppressed nationalities of Austria- 
Hungary and Turkey must gain political autonomy; l an inde- 
pendent Poland should be created out of German, Austrian and 
Russian territory; and the Franco- German and Austro-Italian 
frontiers be readjusted along lines of nationality. For his four- 
teenth point Wilson reserved the keystone of his arch of peace: 
the formation of an association of nations to afford " mutual 
guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity to 
great and small states alike. 7 ' In closing his address he intimated 
that America and the Allies would be unwilling to make peace 
with a government which spoke for the military party rather 
than for the people of Germany. 

But it required the great Allied offensive of the summer of 
1918 to convince Germany that she faced unavoidable disaster. 
Her allies, hemmed in on every side, their morale shattered, 
were preparing to give up the fight with or without her consent. 
The German people were seething with revolution, and the Kaiser 
was about to abdicate and flee. On October 4 the government at 
Berlin asked Wilson to take steps toward peace on the basis of 
the Fourteen Points. After assuring himself that the request 
came from representatives of the people rather than of the mil- 
itary clique, the President conferred with the Allies, who ac- 
ceded to the German proposal subject to reservations as to 
freedom of the seas and to an explicit admission of German ob- 
ligation for all damages to civilian life and property. On this 
basis an armistice was concluded on November n. 


In no previous conflict had the American people given such 
whole-hearted support to the government. Earlier differences 
of opinion as to the relative merits of the European belligerents 

1 Later, however, he altered his formula in the case of Austria-Hungary to one 
of political independence for the subject peoples. 


were drowned in a swelling tide of patriotism. Customary party 
lines vanished, though the Republicans reserved the right to 
insist on a vigorous conduct of the war and grew increasingly 
restive under what they termed Wilson's " dictatorial 7 ' methods. 
Organized labor rallied strongly to the support of the govern- 
ment. Even citizens of Teutonic origin, almost without ex- 
ception, made America's cause their own. In Congress the Presi- 
dent found them among his most zealous supporters. Hundreds 
of thousands of their number fought valiantly on the field of 

As a force for unifying and invigorating popular opinion, 
the committee on public information played an important part. 
Created by executive order on April 14, 1917, with the liberal 
journalist George Creel as chairman, it gave out news concern- 
ing war activities, withholding such as might aid the enemy. It 
also carried on a mammoth campaign of popular education re- 
garding America's objects in the war and the dangers of German 
imperialism. For these purposes, it published a daily newspaper, 
issued millions of pamphlets, produced patriotic films, directed 
countless speakers, and established press agencies in Allied and 
neutral countries. 

Notwithstanding the unexampled unity of opinion, unanimity, 
of course, did not exist. The farmers of the upper Mississippi 
Valley retained some of their earlier pacifism, and occasional 
individuals came into conflict with the law. But the chief dis- 
sent rose from the Socialists who, meeting at St. Louis on April 7, 
branded America's entry as a crime of the capitalist class against 
the people, and pledged a "continuous, active and public op- 
position to the war through demonstrations . . . and all other 
means within our power." Though their position was anticapi- 
talistic and antimilitaristic rather than pro-German, the public 
generally refused to recognize a distinction. Many prominent 
Socialists, including Allan Benson, the presidential candidate 
in 1916, bolted the party in protest. 

In order to cope with this and kindred situations. Congress 
in June adopted the espionage act. This statute provided severe 
penalties for willful attempts to obstruct recruiting or to "cause 
insubordination, disloyalty ... or refusal of duty" among 
the armed forces. It also gave the Postmaster- General authority 


to exclude from the mails any matter deemed seditious or trea- 
sonable. A year later, in May, 1918, the law was strengthened by 
the sedition act, which amplified the list of crimes, including 
among them abusive utterances in regard to the government, 
the Constitution or the flag. 1 A third statute followed in October, 
empowering the Secretary of Labor to deport, without jury trial, 
aliens who "believe in or advocate" the forcible overthrow of 
government, or who advocated the unlawful destruction of 
property, or who belonged to organizations holding such views 

All three measures, while in course of passage, were assailed 
as infringements of the constitutional rights of free speech and 
free press, and they were vigorously denounced as exceeding the 
alien and sedition acts of 1798 in severity. As in the case of 
the Civil War, however, the real or fancied rights of the indi- 
vidual were not suffered to hamper the will of the majority. The 
federal authorities systematically prevented supposedly objec- 
tionable Socialist activities, censoring and suppressing their 
newspapers, raiding their meetings and prosecuting their speak- 
ers. Debs, four times Socialist candidate for President, was 
among those sentenced to prison. In all, over 1900 judicial pro- 
ceedings were brought against Socialists and other offenders up 
to July i, 1919. About half the cases resulted in convictions. 
There can be little doubt that the zeal of the authorities often 
outran their judgment. Thus one Socialist speaker, Rose Pastor 
Stokes, received a ten-year sentence for saying, "I am for the 
people, and the government is for the profiteers." Men were 
even imprisoned for excited remarks made in the heat of private 
altercation. Higher courts set aside a number of such judgments, 
as they also did that involving Mrs. Stokes. 

One of the fantastic offshoots of excessive patriotism was the 
war on the German language. Many states banned the teach- 
ing of German in the schools, or attained the same result through 
local administrative action, while in the colleges students shunned 
the subject. Fifteen years after the armistice German had not 
recovered its former position in the curriculum. Some wanted 
to go further and suppress all public use of the enemy tongue, 
even in religious worship. In the two war years the number of 
periodicals published in German fell from about 500 to less than 

1 Many states enacted similar and even more drastic laws of their own. 


350. Bands and orchestras played German music at their peril, 
and many families and even towns bearing Teutonic names 
hastened to anglicize them to avoid trouble or to attest their 

Without an ardent public support of the war it would have 
been difficult to raise the huge sums necessary for its prosecu- 
tion. From the first of April, 1917, through April, 1919, the 
United States spent considerably more than $1,000,000 an 
hour on the war, or a total of $21,850,000,000. In addition, 
loans to the Allies occurred at the rate of nearly half a million 
an hour, amounting in the same period to $8,850,000,000. The 
expenditures arising from these two sources were almost three 
times as great as the total outlay of the government for all 
purposes during the first century of its existence. The proportion 
of war revenue secured from taxation about one third of the 
whole exceeded that in any earlier war and, indeed, that of 
any other power in the World War. Income taxes were greatly 
increased, with the heaviest burdens falling upon the largest 
amounts (rising to sixty-seven per cent in the case of incomes of 
$2,000,000 and over). In like fashion corporation profits in ex- 
cess of normal prewar earnings were taxed on a progressive 
scale. Aside from these chief founts of revenue, taxes were laid 
upon inheritances, the postage rates were raised, and internal- 
revenue duties were expanded until they touched virtually all 
the luxuries and many of the necessities of life. The tariff, long 
the mainspring of government receipts, contributed less than five 
per cent. 

In order to borrow the money needed to defray two thirds 
of the war expenditures, the government authorized five great 
bond issues, the first four known as Liberty loans and the last, 
floated after the armistice, as the Victory loan. Campaigns of 
publicity such as had never been seen in Ainerica popularized the 
bond issues, which sold in denominations as small as $50. In 
the fourth loan 21,000,000 subscribers responded, nearly one 
for every family in the population. Though the design of the 
government was to tap every available source of revenue, almost 
equally important was the desire to give a maximum number of 
people a financial stake in the war. These purposes were fur- 
ther served by the sale of war-savings certificates in denomi- 


nations of $5, and of so-called thrift stamps as low as twenty- 
five cents. Local sales committees sometimes overshot the mark 
and coerced unwilling buyers, particularly if they possessed 
Teutonic names. In such cases, reluctant purchasers might be 
haled before self-constituted "courts," or their front doors be 
smeared with yellow paint. In the end, hardly a man, woman 
or child in the entire population had failed to contribute a "sil- 
ver bullet" toward victory. 

At the same time, the government set a new standard in 
humane legislation for the soldiers and their dependents. An 
act of October, 1917, provided that the sum of $15, or half the 
pay of a private, should be sent home each month as an "allot- 
ment," the government increasing the sum by an "allowance," 
which normally amounted to $15 or more according to nearness 
of kin and the number of the dependents. The maimed soldier 
was promised vocational training at national expense in case 
he should be unable to resume his former employment, In addi- 
tion, the war-risk insurance plan provided means whereby the 
soldiers, at low cost, could take out government insurance 
against death or disability. It was hoped that these provisions 
might prevent a repetition of the pension abuses that had followed 
the Civil War. 

Meanwhile, voluntary organizations appeared on every hand 
to befriend the soldiers and sustain the national morale. Chief 
among these was the American Red Cross, which scaled new 
heights of service to distressed mankind. Besides safeguarding 
the interests of needy soldiers 7 families at home, it took charge 
of sanitary conditions in civil districts adjoining the camps, dis- 
tributed comfort articles among the fighting forces and aided 
civilian refugees outside the war zone. It also recruited ambulance 
companies, trained and directed vast numbers of nurses and 
organized great base hospitals. On March i, 1919, Henry P. 
Davison, chairman of the Red Cross War Council, reported that 
in the preceding twenty-one months the American people had 
given $400,000,000 toward the cause in cash and supplies 
"by far the largest voluntary gifts of money, of hand and heart, 
ever contributed purely for the relief of human suffering." 
Scarcely less important was the work of other civilian agencies, 
notably the Young Men's Christian Association, Young Women's 


Christian Association, National Catholic War Council of the 
Knights of Columbus, Jewish Welfare Board, Salvation Army, 
American Library Association and War Camp Community Serv- 
ice. These bodies carried on their work without class, racial or 
sectarian bias and, as in the case of the Red Cross, the public 
sustained their efforts with an unexampled financial support. 

Such support could not have been forthcoming save for the 
widespread and dazzling prosperity, which formed a fitting climax 
to the industrial revival of the period of neutrality. To the in- 
sistent call of the Allies for foodstuffs, manufactures and muni- 
tions was added the imperative need of the American govern- 
ment for such supplies. Heroic efforts were made to meet the 
demands. In order to stimulate production, the banks freely 
lent mon