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Title: Chapter%20Twenty

Chapter Twenty
  • Commonwealth and Empire, 18701900

Part One
  • Introduction

"O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of
our hearts, go forth to battle-be Thou near them!
With them-in spirit-we also go forth from the
sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the
foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their
soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells help
us to cover their smiling fields with the pale
forms of their patriot dead help us to drown the
thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their
wounded, writhing in pain help us to lay waste
their humble homes with a hurricane of fire help
us to wring the hearts of their unoffending
widows with unavailing grief help us to turn
them out roofless with their little children to
wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated
land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the
sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter,
broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring.
Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied
it-for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast
their hopes, blight their lives, protract their
bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water
their way with their tears, stain the white snow
with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it,
in the spirit of love, of Him who is the Source
of Love, and who is the ever-faithful refuge and
friend of all that are sore beset and seek His
aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen."
Mark Twain
This chapter covers the conflicts between the
populists and those groups that held the wealth
and power. Mass political movements of farmers
and workers were organized. These movements were
also actively supported and shaped by women in
addition to struggling for their own rights.
There was a moment of democratic promise that was
lost when Americans might have established a
commonwealth based on agreement of the people for
the common good. Instead a national governing
class and a large bureaucratic state emerged.
While debating their future, most Americans
seemed united in pursuing an empire.
Anti-imperialists lost as the U.S. acquired
numerous territories and took an interventionist
stance toward others.  
"One of the things that I got out of reading
history was to begin to be disabused of a notion
of what democracy is all about. The more history
I read, the more it seemed very clear to me that
whatever progress has been made in this country
on various issues, whatever things have been done
for people, whatever human rights have been
gained, have not been gained through the calm
deliberations of Congress or the wisdom of
presidents or the ingenious decisions of the
Supreme Court. Whatever progress has been made
in this country has come because of the actions
of ordinary people, of citizens, of social
movements. Not from the Constitution." Howard
"The Bill of Rights says nothing about the right
to work, to a decent wage, to housing, to health
care, to the rights of women, to the right of
privacy in sexual preference, to the rights of
peoples with disabilities. . . . We should look
beyond the Bill of Rights to the UN's Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, which says that all
people, everywhere in the world, are entitled to
work and decent wages, to holidays and vacations,
to food and clothing and housing and medical
care, to education, to child care and maternal
care." Howard Zinn
"We are living in a dangerous world. Our state
of civilization is such that mankind already is
capable of becoming enormously wealthy but as a
whole is still poverty-ridden. Great wars have
been suffered. Greater wars are imminent, we are
told. Do you not think that in such a
predicament every new idea should be examined
carefully and freely?" Bertolt Brecht What he
was prevented from saying to the House Committee
on Un-American Activities His plays include
Galileo, The Good Woman, Mother Courage
"Liberties are not given they are taken."
Aldous Huxley   One day in London Marx refused
to a "Marx Club" organized by Pieper saying
"Thanks for inviting me to speak to your Karl
Marx Club. But I can't. I'm not a Marxist."
Zinn, Failure to Quit page 146 "Je ne suis
pas un Marxiste." Karl Marx
"Marx's critique of capitalism in those
Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts did not need
any mathematical proofs of surplus value. It
simply stated (but did not state it simply) that
the capitalist system violates whatever it means
to be human. The industrial system Marx saw
developing in Europe not only robbed them of the
product of their work, it estranged working
people from their own creative possibilities,
from one another as human beings, from the
beauties of nature, from their own true selves.
They lived out their lives not according to their
own inner needs, but according to the necessities
of survival. This estrangement from self and
others, this alienation from all that was human,
could not be overcome by an intellectual effort,
by something in the mind. What was needed was a
fundamental, revolutionary change in society, to
create the conditions -- a short workday, a
rational use of the earth's natural wealth and
people's natural talents, a just distribution of
the fruits of human labor, a new social
consciousness -- for the flowering of human
potential, for a leap into freedom as it had
never been experienced in history." Howard Zinn
Failure to Quit, pg. 147
"The People's Party is the protest of the
plundered against the plunderers -- of the victim
against the robbers. Tom Watson 1892 ". . .
if the great industrial combinations do not deal
with us they will have somebody to deal with who
will not have the American idea." Samuel Gompers
c. 1916 "No concession can be made to the
minority in this country without a surrender of
the fundamental principle of popular government.
The people have a right to have what they want,
and they want prohibition." Williams Jennings
Bryan 1923 "I hold that if the Almighty had
ever made a set of men that should do all the
eating and none of the work, He would have made
them with mouths only and no hands and if He had
ever made another class that He intended should
do all the work and no eating, He would have made
them with hands only and no mouths." Abraham
Lincoln 1859
". . . Hofstadter did not share the view of more
recent scholars that progressivism was an impulse
fundamentally different from, indeed antithetical
to, populism. Instead, he portrayed the two
movements as part of the same broad current of
reform." Alan Brinkley, American Retrospectives
page 52 "wie es eigenlich gewesen ist"
Historian Von Rankin? "Hofstadter's
treatment, which embraced his deep suspicion of
agrarianism, hypothesized that the angry farmers
in the South and Middle West were hard-pressed
Protestants and petty capitalists unable to come
to terms with the realities of a worldwide market
economy and turned -- as did other groups with
declining status -- to xenophobia and
anti-Semitism. . . . Populism had a dark side
that could be seen as contributing to America's
authoritarian and xenophobic tradition." Martin
Ridge, American Retrospectives
Commonwealth and Empire
Chapter Focus Questions
  • What characterized the growth of federal and
    state governments and the consolidation of the
    modern two-party system?
  • How did mass protest movements develop?
  • What were the economic and political crises of
    the 1890s?
  • How did the United States develop as a world
  • What were the causes and outcomes of the
    Spanish-American War?

Part Two
  • American Communities

  • 1867 Patrons of Husbandry (Grange) founded
  • Secretary of State William H. Seward negotiates
    the purchase of Alaska
  • 1873 Coinage Act adds silver to gold as the
    precious metal base of currency
  • Panic of 1873 initiates depression
  • 1874 Granger laws begin to regulate railroad
    shipping rates
  • 1877 Rutherford B. Hayes elected president
  • Great Uprising of 1877 by railroad workers is
    1st nationwide strike
  • 1879 Henry George publishes Progress and
  • 1881 President James A. Garfield assassinated
  • Chester A. Arthur becomes president
  • 1883 Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act passed
  • 1884 Grover Cleveland elected president

1886 May 3 Haymarket Bombing 1887 Interstate
Commerce Act creates the Interstate Commerce
Commission 1888 Edward Bellamy publishes
Looking Backward National Colored Farmer's
Alliance and Cooperative Union formed Benjamin
Harrison elected president 1889 National
Farmers' Alliance and Industrial Union formed
1890 Sherman Silver Purchase Act adds to amount
of money I n circulation McKinley tariff
establishes highest import duties yet Rival
woman suffrage organizations merge to form the
National American Woman Suffrage Association
1891 National Women's Alliance formed
Populist (People's) Party formed 1892 Grover
Cleveland elected to second term as president
Coeur d'Alene miners' strike Homestead,
Pennsylvania, steel-workers' strike Ida B.
Wells begins crusade against lynching
1893 Western Federation of Miners formed
Financial panic and economic depression begin
World's Columbian Exhibition opens in Chicago
1894 "Coxey's Army" marches on Washington, D.C.
Pullman strike 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson
separate but equal segregation William McKinley
defeats William Jennings Bryan 1897 Dingley
tariff again raises import duties to all-time
high 1898 Eugene V. Debs helps found Social
Democratic Party Hawaii is annexed War is
declared against Spain Cuba Philippines
Anti-Imperialist League formed 1899 Cumming v.
Richmond County Board of Education sanctions
separate schools for black and white children
Secretary of State John Hay announces Open Door
Guerilla war begins in the Philippines 1900
Gold Standard Act commits US to gold standard
McKinley reelected
The Cooperative Commonwealth
  • Edward Bellamys Looking Backward described a
    utopian society in which the economy was under
    the collective ownership of the people.
  • People enjoyed short workdays, long vacations,
    and retired at age 45.
  • The Point Loma community, established near San
    Diego in 1897
  • was a communal society that provided both private
    and shared housing
  • where no one earned wages
  • sought self-sufficiency through agriculture
  • received donations from admirers and wealthy

Part Three
  • Toward a National Governing Class

The Growth of Government
  • The size and scope of government at all levels
    grew rapidly during the gilded age.
  • New employees, agencies, and responsibilities
    changed the character of government.
  • Taxes increased as local governments assumed
    responsibility for providing such vital services
    as police, fire protection, water, schools, and

The Machinery of Politics
  • The federal government developed its departmental
  • Power resided in Congress and the state
  • The two political parties only gradually adapted
    to the demands of the new era. Political
    campaigns featured mass spectacles that reflected
    the strong competition for votes.
  • Political machines financed their campaigns
    through kickbacks and bribes and insured support
    by providing services for working-class
  • Offices were filled by the spoils system that
    rewarded friends of the winning party.

The Spoils System and Civil Service Reform
  • In 1885, Congress passed the Pendleton Civil
    Service Reform that created the civil service
    system and a professional bureaucracy.
  • This effort paralleled similar efforts at
    professionalism in other fields.

Part Four
  • Farmers and Workers Organize their Communities

The Grange
  • Farmers and workers built movements that
    challenged the existing system.
  • The Grange formed in the 1870s by farmers in the
    Great Plains and South who suffered boom and bust
    conditions and natural disasters.
  • Grangers blamed hard times on a band of thieves
    in the night, especially railroads, and pushed
    through laws regulating shipping rates and other
    farm costs.
  • Grangers created their own grain elevators and
    set up retail stores for farm machinery. The
    depression of the late 1870s wiped out most of
    these programs.

The Farmers Alliance
  • In the late 1880s, Texas farmers, led by Charles
    W. Macune, formed the National Farmers Alliance
    and Industrial Union, in cooperation with the
    Colored Alliance. The Alliance sought to
  • challenge the disproportionate power of the
    governing class
  • restore democracy
  • establish a cooperative economic program
  • Northern Plains farmer organizations soon joined
    the Alliance.
  • Midwestern farm groups battled railroad
  • By 1890, the Alliance was a major power in
    several states demanding demanded a series of
    economic reforms.

Workers Search for Power
  • In 1877, a Great Uprising shut down railroads
    all across the country.
  • Federal troops were called out precipitating
  • Government created national guards to prevent
    similar occurrences.
  • Workers organized stronger unions that
    increasingly resorted to strikes and created
    labor parties.
  • Henry George ran for mayor of New York and
    finished a respectable second.
  • In the late 1880s, labor parties won seats on
    numerous city councils and in state legislatures
    in industrial areas where workers outnumbered
    other classes.

Women Build Alliances
  • Women actively shaped labor and agrarian protest.
  • The Knights included women at their national
    convention and even ran day-care centers and
    baking cooperatives.
  • Women were active members in the Grange and
  • The greatest female leader was Frances E.
    Willard, who
  • was president of the Womens Christian Temperance
  • mobilized nearly one million women to promote
    reform and to work for womens suffrage.

Farmer-Labor Unity
  • Between 1890 and 1892, the Farmers Alliance, the
    Knights of Labor, the National Colored Farmers
    Alliance and other organizations formed the
  • Party.
  • The Peoples' Party platform called for
  • government ownership of railroads, banks, and
  • the eight-hour day
  • the graduated income tax, and other reforms
  • Though the party lost the 1892 presidential race,
    Populists elected three governors, ten
    congressional representative, and five senators.

Part Five
  • The Crisis of the 1890s

Financial Collapse and Depression
  • In 1893, the collapse of the nations major rail
    lines precipitated a major depression.
  • Full recovery was not achieved until the early
  • Unemployment soared and many suffered great
  • Tens of thousands took to the road in search of
    work or food.
  • Jacob Coxey called for a march on Washington to
    demand relief.
  • Coxeys Army never reached its intended size
    and was met with violence in 1894.

Strikes and Labor Solidarity
  • In Idaho, a violence-plagued strike was broken by
    federal and state troops. In the aftermath, the
    miners formed the Western Federation of Miners.
  • The hard times precipitated a bloody
    confrontation at Andrew Carnegies Homestead
    steel plant.
  • A major strike in Pullman, Illinois
  • spread throughout the nations railroad system
  • ended with the arrest of Eugene Debs
  • resulted in bitter confrontations between federal
    troops and workers in Chicago and other cities.

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The Social Gospel
  • A social gospel movement led by ministers such
    as Washington Gladden, called for churches to
    fight against injustice.
  • Charles M. Sheldon urged readers to rethink their
    actions by asking What would Jesus do?
  • The Catholic Church endorsed the right of workers
    to form trade unions.
  • Immigrant Catholic groups urged priests to ally
    with the labor movement.
  • Womens religious groups such as the YWCA (Young
    Womens Christian Association) strove to provide
    services for poor women.

Part Six
  • Politics of Reform, Politics of Order

The Free Silver Issue
  • Grover Cleveland won the 1892 election by
    capturing the traditional Democratic Solid South
    and German voters alienated by Republican
    nativist appeals.
  • When the economy collapsed in 1893, government
    figures concentrated on longstanding currency
    issues to provide a solution.
  • The debate was over hard money backed by gold or
    soft money backed by silver. Cleveland favored a
    return to the gold standard, losing much popular

Populism's Last Campaign
  • The hard times strengthened the Populists, who
    were silver advocates.
  • They recorded strong gains in 1894.
  • But in 1896, when the Democrats nominated William
    Jennings Bryan as a champion of free silver,
  • Populists decided to run a fusion ticket of Bryan
    and Tom Watson. broke out in over 100 cities.

The Republican Triumph
  • Republicans ran William McKinley as a safe
    alternative to Bryan.
  • Republicans characterized Bryan as a dangerous
    man who would cost voters their jobs.
  • Mark Hannahs campaign techniques

The Election of 1896
  • Bryan won 46 of the vote but failed to carry the
    Midwest, Far West, and Upper South.
  • Traditional Democratic groups like Catholics were
    uncomfortable with Bryan and voted Republican.
  • The Populists disappeared and the Democrats
    became a minority party.
  • McKinley promoted a mixture of pro-business and
    expansionist foreign policies.
  • The return to prosperity after 1898 insured
    continued Republican control.

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Nativism and Jim Crow
  • Neither McKinley nor Bryan addressed the
    increased racism and nativism throughout the
  • Nativists blamed foreign workers for hard times
    and considered them unfit for democracy.
  • Southern whites enacted a system of legal
    segregation and disenfranchised blacks, approved
    by the Supreme Court.
  • Racial violence escalated, despite Ida B. Wellss
    one-woman crusade against lynching.
  • Reformers abandoned their traditional support for
    black rights and accepted segregation and

The Spread of Disfranchisement
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Part Seven
  • "Imperialism and Righteousness"

The White Man's Burden
  • Many Americans proposed that the economic crisis
    required new markets for American production.
  • Others suggested Americans needed new frontiers
    to maintain their democracy.
  • The Chicago Worlds Fair
  • showed how American products might be marketed
    throughout the world
  • reinforced a sense of stark contrast between
    civilized Anglo-Saxons and savage people of
  • A growing number of writers urged America to take
    up the White Mans Burden.
  • Clergymen like Josiah Strong urged that Americans
    help Christianize and civilize the world.

Foreign Missions
  • After the Civil War, missionary activity
    increased throughout the non-western world. They
    helped generate public interest in foreign lands
    and laid the groundwork for economic expansion.

An Overseas Empire
  • Beginning in the late 1860s, the United States
    began expanding overseas.
  • Secretary of State William Henry Seward launched
    the nations Pacific empire by buying Alaska and
    expanding the United States presence in Hawaii.
  • The United States policy emphasized economic
    control, particularly in Latin America.
  • During the 1880s and 1890s, the United States
    strengthened its navy and began playing an
    increased role throughout the Western Hemisphere
    and the Pacific.

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  • The United States annexed Hawaii in 1898.
  • Hawaii was a stepping-stone to Asian markets.
  • In 1899, Secretary of State John Hay proclaimed
    the Open Door policy in Asia to insure American
    access and laid the basis for twentieth-century
    foreign policy.

Part Eight
  • The Spanish-American War

The United States and Cuba
  • By 1895, public interest in Cuban affairs grew,
    spurred on by grisly horror stories of Spanish
    treatment of revolutionaries.
  • McKinley had held off intervention, but public
    clamor grew following an explosion on the USS

The Spanish-American War
  • The United States smashed Spanish power in what
    John Hay called a splendid little war.
  • The Platt Amendment protected U. S. interests and
    acknowledged its unilateral right to intervene in
    Cuban affairs.
  • The United States also annexed a number of other
    Caribbean and Pacific islands including the

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War in the Philippines
  • Initially Filipino rebels welcomed American
  • After the United States intended to annex their
    country, they turned against their former
  • Between 1899 and 1902, Americans fought a war
    that led to the death of one in every five
  • Supporters defended the war as bringing
    civilization to the Filipinos.
  • Critics saw the abandonment of traditional
    support for self-determination and warned against
    bringing in dark-skinned people.

Critics of Empire
  • The Filipino war stimulated the founding of an
    Anti-Imperialist League that denounced the war
    and territorial annexation in no uncertain terms.
  • But most Americans put aside their doubts and
    welcomed the new era of aggressive nationalism.

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