Kean University Industrial Revolution Essay


Due March 14 Post in Unit 5The Industrial Revolution in the United States was completed in the fifty years between the Civil War and the first World War. Every person living in America was touched by the economic transformation and the social changes generated in its wake and the U.S. itself was propelled into a world power. Please discuss the following:1. The nature of the economic transformation in both the South and the North.2. The different ways in which the economic and resultant social changes affected the farmers, industrial workers, the middle and upper classes, the new immigrants, African Americans, Native Americans, and women as a group. Also, include a discussion about the businessman who not only made an enormous amount of money during this era, but are credited for propelling America into a world power.3. The different ways in which industrial laborers, farmers, the middle/upper classes, immigrants, African Americans, Native Americans, and women responded to the changes and attempted to recreate social order and fulfill the historic promises of the America.- No outside sources should be used for this paper and will not be accepted. Please use chapters, 16, 17, 18, 19, and 20 in the online textbook plus the class lectures, power points, and other posted resources. Textbook chapters will be assigned each week to correspond with my lectures, please read them as we go along this way if you have any questions please ask me and we can discuss it in class.Your paper should be constructed in a word or google document. It should be 6- 7 pages in length, fully documented with footnotes and bibliography using either Chicago style or a simplified form citing the chapters or other class sources at the end of the sentence
rubric is attatched textbook pdf attatched chapters 16-20 is whats needed

2 attachmentsSlide 1 of 2attachment_1attachment_1attachment_2attachment_2

Unformatted Attachment Preview

Rubric for Papers:
An A paper:
-Has a thesis clearly articulated in the introduction.
-Has within its body paragraphs containing information or evidence from the text that
supports and develops the thesis.
-Has within it indications of sustained analytical thought by the studentwriter.
-Has been carefully and thoroughly researched using the textbook for the class.
-Has been organized in a coherent, purposely manner.
-Has complete and accurate citations from the text.
-Has a conclusion that lucidly summarizes the thesis and major findings.
-Has few if any grammatical, punctuation, and/or spelling errors.
An A- paper:
-Has most of the qualities of an A paper, except to a somewhat lesser degree
in one or several of the criteria listed above. The extent to which the student has
engaged in analytical thought while writing the paper will be particularly important
in distinguishing between an A and A- paper.
A B+ paper:
-Has a clear thesis and supportive paragraphs containing mostly narrative
information supplemented by some analytical thought plus other qualities of an A paper
but to a lesser degree.
-Has been carefully and thoroughly researched using the textbook for the class.
-Has been organized in a coherent, purposely manner.
-Has complete and accurate citations from the text.
-Has a conclusion that lucidly summarizes the thesis and major findings.
-Has few if any grammatical, punctuation, and/or spelling errors.
A B paper:
-Has a thesis expressed in the introduction.
-Has subsequent paragraphs that contain narrative information or “evidence” from the
text which is generally supportive of the thesis.
-Has within it some indications of analytical thought by the student-writer.
-Has paragraphs whose internal development and transitional sentences are
sufficiently coherent to be understood by the reader.
-Has been researched using the text assigned for the class adequately, if not
-Has citations that are mostly if not entirely complete and accurate using the textbook
for the class.
-Has a conclusion that references the thesis and major findings.
-Has some but not too many grammatical, punctuation, and/or spelling errors.
A B- paper:
-Has most of the qualities of an B paper, except to a somewhat lesser degree
in one or several of the criteria listed above. The clarity of the thesis and extent to
which it is supported, the organizational coherence as established in the
introduction and conclusion especially, and the quality of the citations will be
particularly important in distinguishing between a B and B- paper.
A C+ paper:
-Has a thesis that is somewhat lacking in focus.
-Has limited analytical thought evidenced in the supportive paragraphs.
-Has paragraphs whose internal development and transitional sentences are not
sufficiently coherent to be understood by the reader and contains too many incomplete
-Has limited research or evidence from the text.
-Has incomplete or mostly inaccurate citations from the text.
-Has a conclusion that references the thesis in a limited way.
-Has some but not too many grammatical, punctuation, and/or spelling errors.
A C paper:
-Has an unclear and insufficiently developed thesis.
-Has subsequent paragraphs that are somewhat supportive of the thesis.
-Has very little or no indication of analytical thought.
-Has been researched to a limited extent using the text.
-Has incomplete or inaccurate citations from the text.
-Has numerous grammatical, punctuation, and or spelling errors.
A C- paper:
-Has a topic, but one that has been poorly organized, with little indication that serious
research using the text has been conducted.
-Has generalized material made up of narrative information, opinion, and extended
quotations from the text not organized in an ordered, fully purposeful manner.
Assignment #1
40 points=
35 points=
30 points=
25 points=
20 points=
15 points=
10 points=
5 points=
T h e A m e r i c a n Y aw p
© 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
© 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
A meric a n
Y aw p
A Massively Collaborative Open U.S. History Textbook
v ol . 2 : si n c e 1 8 7 7
e di t e d by jose ph l . l ock e a n d be n w r igh t
sta n f or d u n i v e r si t y pr e s s

sta n f or d, c a l i f or n i a
© 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
Stanford University Press
Stanford, California
© 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
Some rights reserved.
[[[Insert logo]]]
This book is licensed under the Creative Commons license CC BY-SA 4.0, AttributionShareAlike. This license permits commercial and non-commercial use of this work,
so long as attribution is given. For more information about the license, visit
Printed in the United States of America on acid-free, archival-quality paper
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Names: Locke, Joseph L., editor. | Wright, Ben, editor.
Title: The American yawp : a massively collaborative open U.S. history textbook /
edited by Joseph L. Locke and Ben Wright.
Description: Stanford, California : Stanford University Press, 2019. |
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Identifiers: LCCN 2018015206 (print) | LCCN 2018017638 (ebook) |
ISBN 9781503608139 (e-book) | ISBN 9781503606715 | ISBN 9781503606715
(v. 1 :pbk. :alk. paper) | ISBN 9781503606883(v. 2 :pbk. :alk. paper) |
ISBN 9781503608139(v. 1 :ebook) | ISBN 9781503608146(v. 2 :ebook)
Subjects: LCSH: United States—History—Textbooks.
Classification: LCC E178.1 (ebook) | LCC E178.1 .A493673 2019 (print) |
DDC 973—dc23
LC record available at
Bruce Lundquist
Typeset by Newgen in Sabon LT 11/15
Cover illustration: Detail from “Victory!” by M.F. Tobin, ca. 1884. Source: Susan H.
Douglas Political Americana Collection, Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections,
Cornell University Library.
© 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
Yawp yôp n: 1: a raucous noise 2: rough vigorous language
“I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.”
Walt Whitman, 1854
© 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
© 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
16. Capital and Labor
17. Conquering the West
18. Life in Industrial America
19. American Empire
20. The Progressive Era
21. World War I and Its Aftermath
22. The New Era
23. The Great Depression
24. World War II
25. The Cold War
26. The Affluent Society
27. The Sixties
28. The Unraveling
29. The Triumph of the Right
30. The Recent Past
© 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
© 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
We are the heirs of our history. Our communities, our politics, our culture: it is all a product of the past. As William Faulkner wrote, “The past
is never dead. It’s not even past.”1 To understand who we are, we must
therefore understand our history.
But what is history? What does it mean to study the past? History
can never be the simple memorizing of names and dates (how would we
even know what names and dates are worth studying?). It is too complex a task and too dynamic a process to be reduced to that. It must be
something more because, in a sense, it is we who give life to the past.
Historians ask historical questions, weigh evidence from primary sources
(material produced in the era under study), grapple with rival interpretations, and argue for their conclusions. History, then, is our ongoing
conversation about the past.
Every generation must write its own history. Old conclusions—say,
about the motives of European explorers or the realities of life on slave
plantations—fall before new evidence and new outlooks. Names of
Civil rights march
from Selma to
Alabama, in
1965. Library of
© 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
xP r ef ace
l­eaders and dates of events may not change, but the weight we give them
and the context with which we frame them invariably evolves. History is
a conversation between the past and the present. To understand a global
society, we must explore a history of transnational forces. To understand
the lived experiences of ordinary Americans, we must look beyond the
elites who framed older textbooks and listen to the poor and disadvantaged from all generations.
But why study history in the first place? History can cultivate essential
and relevant—or, in more utilitarian terms, “marketable”—skills: careful
reading, creative thinking, and clear communication. Many are familiar
with a famous quote of philosopher George Santayana: “Those who fail
to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”2 The role of history in
shaping current events is more complicated than this quote implies, but
Santayana was right in arguing that history offers important lessons. The
historical sensibility yields perspective and context and broader awareness. It liberates us from our narrow experiences and pulls us into, in the
words of historian Peter Stearns, “the laboratory of human experience.”3
Perhaps a better way to articulate the importance of studying history
would be, “Those who fail to understand their history will fail to understand themselves.”
Historical interpretation is never wholly subjective: it requires method,
rigor, and perspective. The open nature of historical discourse does not
mean that all arguments—and certainly not all “opinions”—about the
past are equally valid. Some are simply wrong. And yet good historical
questions will not always have easy answers. Asking “When did Christopher Columbus first sail across the Atlantic?” will tell us far less than
“What inspired Columbus to attempt his voyage?” or “How did Native
Americans interpret the arrival of Europeans?” Crafting answers to these
questions reveals far greater insights into our history.
But how can any textbook encapsulate American history? Should it
organize around certain themes or surrender to the impossibility of synthesis and retreat toward generality? In the oft-cited lines of the American poet Walt Whitman, we found as good an organizing principle as any
other: “I too am not a bit tamed—I too am untranslatable,” he wrote,
“I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.”4 Long before
Whitman and long after, Americans have sung something collectively
amid the deafening roar of their many individual voices. Here we find
both chorus and cacophony together, as one. This textbook therefore
offers the story of that barbaric, untranslatable American yawp by con-
© 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
P re f a c e x i
structing a coherent and accessible narrative from all the best of recent
historical scholarship. Without losing sight of politics and power, it incorporates transnational perspectives, integrates diverse voices, recovers
narratives of resistance, and explores the complex process of cultural
creation. It looks for America in crowded slave cabins, bustling markets,
congested tenements, and marbled halls. It navigates between maternity
wards, prisons, streets, bars, and boardrooms. Whitman’s America, like
ours, cut across the narrow boundaries that can strangle narratives of
American history.
We have produced The American Yawp to help guide students in their
encounter with American history. The American Yawp is a collaboratively built, open American history textbook designed for general readers
and college-level history courses. Over three hundred academic historians—scholars and experienced college-level instructors—have come
together and freely volunteered their expertise to help democratize the
American past for twenty-first century readers. The project is freely accessible online at www​.AmericanYawp​.com, and in addition to providing
a peer review of the text, Stanford University Press has partnered with
The American Yawp to publish a low-cost print edition. Furthermore,
The American Yawp remains an evolving, collaborative text: you are encouraged to help us improve by offering comments on our feedback page,
available through AmericanYawp​.com.
The American Yawp is a fully open resource: you are encouraged to
use it, download it, distribute it, and modify it as you see fit. The project
is formally operated under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike
4.0 International (CC-BY-SA) License and is designed to meet the standards of a “Free Cultural Work.” We are happy to share it and we hope
you will do the same.
Joseph Locke & Ben Wright, editors
N o t e s t o p r e fac e
1. William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun (New York: Random House,
1954), 73.
2. George Santayana, The Life of Reason: Or the Phases of Human Progress,
Volume I (New York: Scribner, 1905), 284.
3. Peter N. Stearns, “Why Study History,” American Historical Association (July 11, 2008). https://​www​.historians​.org/​about​-aha​-and​-membership/​aha​
4. Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass (Brooklyn: Rome, 1855), 55.
© 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
© 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
T h e A m e r i c a n Y aw p
© 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
© 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
Capital and Labor
I. Introduction
The Great Railroad Strike of 1877 heralded a new era of labor conflict in the United States. That year, mired in the stagnant economy that
followed the bursting of the railroads’ financial bubble in 1873, rail
lines slashed workers’ wages (even, workers complained, as they reaped
enormous government subsidies and paid shareholders lucrative stock
dividends). Workers struck from Baltimore to St. Louis, shutting down
railroad ­traffic—the nation’s economic lifeblood—across the country.
Panicked business leaders and friendly political officials reacted
quickly. When local police forces would not or could not suppress the
strikes, governors called out state militias to break them and restore rail
service. Many strikers destroyed rail property rather than allow militias
to reopen the rails. The protests approached a class war. The governor of
A Maryland National Guard unit
fires on strikers
during the Great
Railroad Strike of
1877. Harper’s
Weekly, via
Maryland deployed the state’s militia. In Baltimore, the militia fired into
a crowd of striking workers, killing eleven and wounding many more.
Strikes convulsed towns and cities across Pennsylvania. The head of the
Pennsylvania Railroad, Thomas Andrew Scott, suggested that if workers
© 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
2 chapter 16
were unhappy with their wages, they should be given “a rifle diet for a
few days and see how they like that kind of bread.”1 Law enforcement in
Pittsburgh refused to put down the protests, so the governor called out
the state militia, who killed twenty strikers with bayonets and rifle fire. A
month of chaos erupted. Strikers set fire to the city, destroying dozens of
buildings, over a hundred engines, and over a thousand cars. In Reading,
strikers destroyed rail property and an angry crowd bombarded militiamen with rocks and bottles. The militia fired into the crowd, killing ten.
A general strike erupted in St. Louis, and strikers seized rail depots and
declared for the eight-hour day and the abolition of child labor. Federal
troops and vigilantes fought their way into the depot, killing eighteen and
breaking the strike. Rail lines were shut down all across neighboring Illinois, where coal miners struck in sympathy, tens of thousands gathered
to protest under the aegis of the Workingmen’s Party, and twenty protesters were killed in Chicago by special police and militiamen.
Courts, police, and state militias suppressed the strikes, but it was
federal troops that finally defeated them. When Pennsylvania militiamen
were unable to contain the strikes, federal troops stepped in. When militia in West Virginia refused to break the strike, federal troops broke it
instead. On the orders of the president, American soldiers were deployed
all across northern rail lines. Soldiers moved from town to town, suppressing protests and reopening rail lines. Six weeks after it had begun,
the strike had been crushed. Nearly 100 Americans died in “The Great
Upheaval.” Workers destroyed nearly $40 million worth of property. The
strike galvanized the country. It convinced laborers of the need for institutionalized unions, persuaded businesses of the need for even greater
political influence and government aid, and foretold a half century of
labor conflict in the United States.2
II. The March of Capital
Growing labor unrest accompanied industrialization. The greatest strikes
first hit the railroads only because no other industry had so effectively
marshaled together capital, government support, and bureaucratic management. Many workers perceived their new powerlessness in the coming industrial order. Skills mattered less and less in an industrialized,
mass-producing economy, and their strength as individuals seemed ever
smaller and more insignificant when companies grew in size and power
and managers grew flush with wealth and influence. Long hours, dangerous working conditions, and the difficulty of supporting a family on
© 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
C a p i t a l a n d L a bo r 3
meager and unpredictable wages compelled armies of labor to organize
and battle against the power of capital.
The post–Civil War era saw revolutions in American industry. Technological innovations and national investments slashed the costs of production and distribution. New administrative frameworks sustained the
weight of vast firms. National credit agencies eased the uncertainties
surrounding rapid movement of capital between investors, manufacturers, and retailers. Plummeting transportation and communication costs
opened new national media, which advertising agencies used to nationalize various products.
By the turn of the century, corporate leaders and wealthy industrialists embraced the new principles of scientific management, or Taylorism,
after its noted proponent, Frederick Taylor. The precision of steel parts,
the harnessing of electricity, the innovations of machine tools, and the
mass markets wrought by the railroads offered new avenues for efficiency. To match the demands of the machine age, Taylor said, firms
needed a scientific organization of production. He urged all manufacturers to increase efficiency by subdividing tasks. Rather than having thirty
mechanics individually making thirty machines, for instance, a manufacturer could assign thirty laborers to perform thirty distinct tasks. Such a
shift would not only make workers as interchangeable as the parts they
were using, it would also dramatically speed up the process of production. If managed by trained experts, specific tasks could be done quicker
John Pierpont
Morgan with
two friends, c.
1907. Library of
© 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
4 chapter 16
Glazier Stove
moulding room,
Chelsea, Michigan,
c. 1900–1910. Library of Congress.
and more efficiently. Taylorism increased the scale and scope of manufacturing and allowed for the flowering of mass production. Building on the
use of interchangeable parts in Civil War–era weapons manufacturing,
American firms advanced mass production techniques and technologies.
Singer sewing machines, Chicago packers’ “disassembly” lines, McCormick grain reapers, Duke cigarette rollers: all realized unprecedented efficiencies and achieved unheard-of levels of production that propelled their
companies into the forefront of American business. Henry Ford made the
assembly line famous, allowing the production of automobiles to skyrocket as their cost plummeted, but various American firms had been
paving the way for decades.3
Cyrus McCormick had overseen the construction of mechanical reapers (used for harvesting wheat) for decades. He had relied on skilled
blacksmiths, skilled machinists, and skilled woodworkers to handcraft
horse-drawn machines. But production was slow and the machines were
expensive. The reapers still enabled massive efficiency gains in grain
farming, but their high cost and slow production times put them out of
reach of most American wheat farmers. But then, in 1880, McCormick
hired a production manager who had overseen the manufacturing of Colt
firearms to transform his system of production. The Chicago plant introduced new jigs, steel gauges, and pattern machines that could make
precise duplicates of new, interchangeable parts. The company had produced twenty-one thousand machines in 1880. It made twice as many in
© 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
C a p i t a l a n d L a bo r 5
1885, and by 1889, less than a decade later, it was producing over one
hundred thousand a year.4
Industrialization and mass production pushed the United States into
the forefront of the world. The American economy had lagged behind
Britain, Germany, and France as recently as the 1860s, but by 1900 the
United States was the world’s leading manufacturing nation. Thirteen
years later, by 1913, the United States produced one third of the world’s
industrial output—more than Britain, France, and Germany combined.5
Firms such as McCormick’s realized massive economies of scale: after
accounting for their initial massive investments in machines and marketing, each additional product lost the company relatively little in production costs. The bigger the production, then, the bigger the profits.
New industrial companies therefore hungered for markets to keep their
high-volume production facilities operating. Retailers and advertisers
sustained the massive markets needed for mass production, and corporate bureaucracies meanwhile allowed for the management of giant new
firms. A new class of managers—comprising what one prominent economic historian called the “visible hand”—operated between the worlds
of workers and owners and ensured the efficient operation and administration of mass production and mass distribution. Even more important
to the growth and maintenance of these new companies, however, were
the legal creations used to protect investors and sustain the power of
massed capital.6
The costs of mass production were prohibitive for all but the very
wealthiest individuals, and, even then, the risks would be too great to
bear individually. The corporation itself was ages old, but the actual right
to incorporate had generally been reserved for public works projects or
government-sponsored monopolies. After the Civil War, however, the
corporation, using new state incorporation laws passed during the Market Revolution of the early nineteenth century, became a legal mechanism for nearly any enterprise to marshal vast amounts of capital while
limiting the liability of shareholders. By washing their hands of legal and
financial obligations while still retaining the right to profit massively,
investors flooded corporations with the capital needed to industrialize.
But a competitive marketplace threatened the promise of investments.
Once the efficiency gains of mass production were realized, profit margins could be undone by cutthroat competition, which kept costs low as
price cutting sank into profits. Companies rose and fell—and investors
suffered losses—as manufacturing firms struggled to maintain supremacy
© 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
6 chapter 16
in their particular industries. Economies of scale were a double-edged
sword: while additional production provided immense profits, the high
fixed costs of operating expensive factories dictated that even modest
losses from selling underpriced goods were preferable to not selling profitably priced goods at all. And as market share was won and lost, profits
proved unstable. American industrial firms tried everything to avoid competition: they formed informal pools and trusts, they entered price-fixing
agreements, they divided markets, and, when blocked by antitrust laws
and renegade price cutting, merged into consolidations. Rather than suffer from ruinous competition, firms combined and bypassed it altogether.
Between 1895 and 1904, and particularly in the four years between
1898 and 1902, a wave of mergers rocked the American economy. Competition melted away in what is known as “the great merger movement.”
In nine years, four thousand companies—nearly 20 percent of the American economy—were folded into rival firms. In nearly every major industry, newly consolidated firms such as General Electric and DuPont
utterly dominated their market. Forty-one separate consolidations each
controlled over 70 percent of the market in their respective industries. In
1901, financier J. P. Morgan oversaw the formation of United States Steel,
built from eight leading steel companies. Industrialization was built on
steel, and one firm—the world’s first billion-dollar company—­controlled
the market. Monopoly had arrived.7
III. The Rise of Inequality
Industrial capitalism realized the greatest advances in efficiency and productivity that the world had ever seen. Massive new companies marshaled capital on an unprecedented scale and provided enormous profits
that created unheard-of fortunes. But it also created millions of low-paid,
unskilled, unreliable jobs with long hours and dangerous working conditions. Industrial capitalism confronted Gilded Age Americans with unprecedented inequalities. The sudden appearance of the extreme wealth
of industrial and financial leaders alongside the crippling squalor of the
urban and rural poor shocked Americans. “This association of poverty
with progress is the great enigma of our times,” economist Henry George
wrote in his 1879 bestseller, Progress and Poverty.8
The great financial and industrial titans, the so-called robber barons,
including railroad operators such as Cornelius Vanderbilt, oilmen such
as J. D. Rockefeller, steel magnates such as Andrew Carnegie, and bank-
© 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
C a p i t a l a n d L a bo r 7
ers such as J. P. Morgan, won fortunes that, adjusted for inflation, are
still among the largest the nation has ever seen. According to various
measurements, in 1890 the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans owned one
fourth of the nation’s assets; the top 10 percent owned over 70 percent.
And inequality only accelerated. By 1900, the richest 10 percent controlled perhaps 90 percent of the nation’s wealth.9
As these vast and unprecedented new fortunes accumulated among
a small number of wealthy Americans, new ideas arose to bestow moral
legitimacy upon them. In 1859, British naturalist Charles Darwin published his theory of evolution through natural selection in his On the
Origin of Species. It was not until the 1870s, however, that those theories gained widespread traction among biologists, naturalists, and other
scientists in the United States and, in turn, challenged the social, political, and religious beliefs of many Americans. One of Darwin’s greatest
popularizers, the British sociologist and biologist Herbert Spencer, applied Darwin’s theories to society and popularized the phrase survival
of the fittest. The fittest, Spencer said, would demonstrate their superiority through economic success, while state welfare and private charity
would lead to social degeneration—it would encourage the survival of
the weak.10
“There must be complete surrender to the law of natural selection,”
the Baltimore Sun journalist H. L. Mencken wrote in 1907. “All growth
must occur at the top. The strong must grow stronger, and that they may
mansion, The
Breakers. Newport, Rhode
Island, c. 1904.
Library of
© 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
8 chapter 16
“Five Cents a
Spot”: unauthorized immigrant
lodgings in a
Bayard Street tenement. New York
City, c. 1890. Library of Congress.
do so, they must waste no strength in the vain task of trying to uplift the
weak.”11 By the time Mencken wrote those words, the ideas of social
Darwinism had spread among wealthy Americans and their defenders.
Social Darwinism identified a natural order that extended from the laws
of the cosmos to the workings of industrial society. All species and all
societies, including modern humans, the theory went, were governed by
a relentless competitive struggle for survival. The inequality of outcomes
was to be not merely tolerated but encouraged and celebrated. It signified
the progress of species and societies. Spencer’s major work, Synthetic Philosophy, sold nearly four hundred thousand copies in the United States
by the time of his death in 1903. Gilded Age industrial elites, such as steel
magnate Andrew Carnegie, inventor Thomas Edison, and Standard Oil’s
John D. Rockefeller, were among Spencer’s prominent followers. Other
American thinkers, such as Yale’s William Graham Sumner, echoed his
ideas. Sumner said, “Before the tribunal of nature a man has no more
right to life than a rattlesnake; he has no more right to liberty than any
wild beast; his right to pursuit of happiness is nothing but a license to
maintain the struggle for existence.”12
But not all so eagerly welcomed inequalities. The spectacular growth
of the U.S. economy and the ensuing inequalities in living conditions and
incomes confounded many Americans. But as industrial capitalism overtook the nation, it achieved political protections. Although both major
political parties facilitated the rise of big business and used state power to
© 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
C a p i t a l a n d L a bo r 9
support the interests of capital against labor, big business looked primarily to the Republican Party.
The Republican Party had risen as an antislavery faction committed
to “free labor,” but it was also an ardent supporter of American business.
Abraham Lincoln had been a corporate lawyer who defended railroads,
and during the Civil War the Republican national government took advantage of the wartime absence of southern Democrats to push through a
pro-business agenda. The Republican congress gave millions of acres and
dollars to railroad companies. Republicans became the party of business,
and they dominated American politics throughout the Gilded Age and
the first several decades of the twentieth century. Of the sixteen presidential elections between the Civil War and the Great Depression, Republican candidates won all but four. Republicans controlled the Senate in
twenty-seven out of thirty-two sessions in the same period. Republican
dominance maintained a high protective tariff, an import tax designed
to shield American businesses from foreign competition; southern planters had vehemently opposed this policy before the war but now could
do nothing to prevent. It provided the protective foundation for a new
American industrial order, while Spencer’s social Darwinism provided
moral justification for national policies that minimized government interference in the economy for anything other than the protection and
support of business.
IV. The Labor Movement
The ideas of social Darwinism attracted little support among the mass
of American industrial laborers. American workers toiled in difficult
jobs for long hours and little pay. Mechanization and mass production
threw skilled laborers into unskilled positions. Industrial work ebbed and
flowed with the economy. The typical industrial laborer could expect to
be unemployed one month out of the year. They labored sixty hours a
week and could still expect their annual income to fall below the poverty
line. Among the working poor, wives and children were forced into the
labor market to compensate. Crowded cities, meanwhile, failed to accommodate growing urban populations and skyrocketing rents trapped
families in crowded slums.
Strikes ruptured American industry throughout the late nineteenth and
early twentieth centuries. Workers seeking higher wages, shorter hours,
and safer working conditions had struck throughout the a­ ntebellum era,
© 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
1 0 chapter 16
The Lawrence
textile strike,
1912. Library of
but organized unions were fleeting and transitory. The Civil War and
Reconstruction seemed to briefly distract the nation from the plight of
labor, but the end of the sectional crisis and the explosive growth of big
business, unprecedented fortunes, and a vast industrial workforce in the
last quarter of the nineteenth century sparked the rise of a vast American
labor movement.
The failure of the Great Railroad Strike of 1877 convinced workers
of the need to organize. Union memberships began to climb. The Knights
of Labor enjoyed considerable success in the early 1880s, due in part to
its efforts to unite skilled and unskilled workers. It welcomed all laborers, including women (the Knights only barred lawyers, bankers, and
liquor dealers). By 1886, the Knights had over seven hundred thousand
members. The Knights envisioned a cooperative producer-centered society that rewarded labor, not capital, but, despite their sweeping vision,
the Knights focused on practical gains that could be won through the
organization of workers into local unions.13
In Marshall, Texas, in the spring of 1886, one of Jay Gould’s rail companies fired a Knights of Labor member for attending a union meeting. His
local union walked off the job, and soon others joined. From Texas and
Arkansas into Missouri, Kansas, and Illinois, nearly two hundred thousand workers struck against Gould’s rail lines. Gould hired strikebreakers
and the Pinkerton Detective Agency, a kind of private security contractor,
to suppress the strikes and get the rails moving again. Political leaders
© 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
C a p i t a l a n d L a bo r 11
An 1892 cover of Harper’s Weekly depicted
Pinkerton detectives, who had surrendered to
steel mill workers during the Homestead Strike,
navigating a gauntlet of violent strikers. Library
of Congress.
helped him, and state militias were called in support of Gould’s companies. The Texas governor called out the Texas Rangers. Workers countered by destroying property, only winning them negative headlines and
for many justifying the use of strikebreakers and militiamen. The strike
broke, briefly undermining the Knights of Labor, but the organization regrouped and set its eyes on a national campaign for the eight-hour day.14
In the summer of 1886, the campaign for an eight-hour day, long
a rallying cry that united American laborers, culminated in a national
strike on May 1, 1886. Somewhere between three hundred thousand and
five hundred thousand workers struck across the country.
In Chicago, police forces killed several workers while breaking up
protesters at the McCormick reaper works. Labor leaders and radicals
called for a protest at Haymarket Square the following day, which police
also proceeded to break up. But as they did, a bomb exploded and killed
seven policemen. Police fired into the crowd, killing four. The deaths of
the Chicago policemen sparked outrage across the nation, and the sensationalization of the Haymarket Riot helped many Americans to associate
unionism with radicalism. Eight Chicago anarchists were arrested and,
despite no direct evidence implicating them in the bombing, were charged
and found guilty of conspiracy. Four were hanged (and one committed
© 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
1 2 chapter 16
suicide before he could be executed). Membership in the Knights had
peaked earlier that year but fell rapidly after Haymarket; the group became associated with violence and radicalism. The national movement
for an eight-hour day collapsed.15
The American Federation of Labor (AFL) emerged as a conservative
alternative to the vision of the Knights of Labor. An alliance of craft
unions (unions composed of skilled workers), the AFL rejected the
Knights’ expansive vision of a “producerist” economy and advocated
“pure and simple trade unionism,” a program that aimed for practical
gains (higher wages, fewer hours, and safer conditions) through a conservative approach that tried to avoid strikes. But workers continued to
In 1892, the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers
struck at one of Carnegie’s steel mills in Homestead, Pennsylvania. After
repeated wage cuts, workers shut the plant down and occupied the mill.
The plant’s operator, Henry Clay Frick, immediately called in hundreds
of Pinkerton detectives, but the steel workers fought back. The Pinkertons tried to land by river and were besieged by the striking steel workers.
After several hours of pitched battle, the Pinkertons surrendered, ran a
bloody gauntlet of workers, and were kicked out of the mill grounds. But
the Pennsylvania governor called the state militia, broke the strike, and
reopened the mill. The union was essentially destroyed in the aftermath.16
Still, despite repeated failure, strikes continued to roll across the industrial landscape. In 1894, workers in George Pullman’s Pullman car
factories struck when he cut wages by a quarter but kept rents and utilities in his company town constant. The American Railway Union (ARU),
led by Eugene Debs, launched a sympathy strike: the ARU would refuse
to handle any Pullman cars on any rail line anywhere in the country.
Thousands of workers struck and national railroad traffic ground to a
halt. Unlike in nearly every other major strike, the governor of Illinois
sympathized with workers and refused to dispatch the state militia. It
didn’t matter. In July, President Grover Cleveland dispatched thousands
of American soldiers to break the strike, and a federal court issued a preemptive injunction against Debs and the union’s leadership. The strike
violated the injunction, and Debs was arrested and imprisoned. The
strike evaporated without its leadership. Jail radicalized Debs, proving
to him that political and judicial leaders were merely tools for capital in
its struggle against labor.17 But it wasn’t just Debs. In 1905, the degrading conditions of industrial labor sparked strikes across the country. The
© 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
C a p i t a l a n d L a bo r 13
final two decades of the nineteenth century saw over twenty thousand
strikes and lockouts in the United States. Industrial laborers struggled
to carve for themselves a piece of the prosperity lifting investors and a
rapidly expanding middle class into unprecedented standards of living.
But workers were not the only ones struggling to stay afloat in industrial
America. American farmers also lashed out against the inequalities of the
Gilded Age and denounced political corruption for enabling economic
Two female strikers picket during
the Uprising of
the 20,000 in
New York City in
1910. Library of
V. The Populist Movement
“Wall Street owns the country,” the Populist leader Mary Elizabeth Lease
told dispossessed farmers around 1890. “It is no longer a government of
the people, by the people, and for the people, but a government of Wall
Street, by Wall Street, and for Wall Street.” Farmers, who remained a majority of the American population through the first decade of the twentieth century, were hit especially hard by industrialization. The expanding
markets and technological improvements that increased efficiency also decreased commodity prices. Commercialization of ­agriculture put ­farmers
© 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
1 4 chapter 16
in the hands of bankers, railroads, and various economic intermediaries.
As the decades passed, more and more farmers fell ever further into debt,
lost their land, and were forced to enter the industrial workforce or, especially in the South, became landless farmworkers.
The rise of industrial giants reshaped the American countryside and
the Americans who called it home. Railroad spur lines, telegraph lines,
and credit crept into farming communities and linked rural Americans,
who still made up a majority of the country’s population, with towns,
regional cities, American financial centers in Chicago and New York,
and, eventually, London and the world’s financial markets. Meanwhile,
improved farm machinery, easy credit, and the latest consumer goods
flooded the countryside. But new connections and new conveniences
came at a price.
Farmers had always been dependent on the whims of the weather and
local markets. But now they staked their financial security on a national
economic system subject to rapid price swings, rampant speculation, and
limited regulation. Frustrated American farmers attempted to reshape the
fundamental structures of the nation’s political and economic systems,
systems they believed enriched parasitic bankers and industrial monopolists at the expense of the many laboring farmers who fed the nation by
producing its many crops and farm goods. Their dissatisfaction with an
erratic and impersonal system put many of them at the forefront of what
would become perhaps the most serious challenge to the established political economy of Gilded Age America. Farmers organized and launched
their challenge first through the cooperatives of the Farmers’ Alliance and
later through the politics of the People’s (or Populist) Party.
Mass production and business consolidations spawned giant corporations that monopolized nearly every sector of the U.S. economy in
the decades after the Civil War. In contrast, the economic power of the
individual farmer sank into oblivion. Threatened by ever-plummeting
commodity prices and ever-rising indebtedness, Texas agrarians met in
Lampasas, Texas, in 1877 and organized the first Farmers’ Alliance to
restore some economic power to farmers as they dealt with railroads,
merchants, and bankers. If big business relied on its numerical strength
to exert its economic will, why shouldn’t farmers unite to counter that
power? They could share machinery, bargain from wholesalers, and negotiate higher prices for their crops. Over the following years, organizers
spread from town to town across the former Confederacy, the Midwest,
and the Great Plains, holding evangelical-style camp meetings, distribut-
© 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
C a p i t a l a n d L a bo r 15
ing pamphlets, and establishing over one thousand alliance newspapers.
As the alliance spread, so too did its near-religious vision of the nation’s
future as a “cooperative commonwealth” that would protect the interests of the many from the predatory greed of the few. At its peak, the
Farmers’ Alliance claimed 1,500,000 members meeting in 40,000 local
The alliance’s most innovative programs were a series of farmers’ cooperatives that enabled farmers to negotiate higher prices for their crops
and lower prices for the goods they purchased. These cooperatives spread
across the South between 1886 and 1892 and claimed more than a million
members at their high point. While most failed financially, these “philanthropic monopolies,” as one alliance speaker termed them, inspired
farmers to look to large-scale organization to cope with their economic
difficulties.19 But cooperation was only part of the alliance message.
In the South, alliance-backed Democratic candidates won four governorships and forty-eight congressional seats in 1890.20 But at a time
when falling prices and rising debts conspired against the survival of family farmers, the two political parties seemed incapable of representing the
needs of poor farmers. And so alliance members organized a political
party—the People’s Party, or the Populists, as they came to be known.
The banner of
the first Texas
Farmers’ Alliance. Source: N.
A. Dunning (ed.),
Farmers’ Alliance
History and Agricultural Digest
(Washington, DC:
Alliance Publishing Co., 1891), iv.
© 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
1 6 chapter 16
The Populists attracted supporters across the nation by appealing to
those convinced that there were deep flaws in the political economy of
Gilded Age America, flaws that both political parties refused to address.
Veterans of earlier fights for currency reform, disaffected industrial laborers, proponents of the benevolent socialism of Edward Bellamy’s
popular Looking Backward, and the champions of Henry George’s
farmer-friendly “single-tax” proposal joined alliance members in the
new party. The Populists nominated former Civil War general James B.
Weaver as their presidential candidate at the party’s first national convention in Omaha, Nebraska, on July 4, 1892.21
At that meeting the party adopted a platform that crystallized the
alliance’s cooperate program into a coherent political vision. The platform’s preamble, written by longtime political iconoclast and Minnesota
populist Ignatius Donnelly, warned that “the fruits of the toil of millions [had been] boldly stolen to build up colossal fortunes for a few.”22
Taken as a whole, the Omaha Platform and the larger Populist movement sought to counter the scale and power of monopolistic capitalism
with a strong, engaged, and modern federal government. The platform
proposed an unprecedented expansion of federal power. It advocated nationalizing the country’s railroad and telegraph systems to ensure that
essential services would be run in the best interests of the people. In an attempt to deal with the lack of currency available to farmers, it advocated
postal savings banks to protect depositors and extend credit. It called for
the establishment of a network of federally managed warehouses—called
­subtreasuries—which would extend government loans to farmers who
stored crops in the warehouses as they awaited higher market prices. To
save debtors it promoted an inflationary monetary policy by monetizing silver. Direct election of senators and the secret ballot would ensure
that this federal government would serve the interest of the people rather
than entrenched partisan interests, and a graduated income tax would
protect Americans from the establishment of an American aristocracy.
Combined, these efforts would, Populists believed, help shift economic
and political power back toward the nation’s producing classes.
In the Populists’ first national election campaign in 1892, Weaver received over one million votes (and twenty-two electoral votes), a truly
startling performance that signaled a bright future for the Populists. And
when the Panic of 1893 sparked the worst economic depression the nation had ever yet seen, the Populist movement won further credibility
and gained even more ground. Kansas Populist Mary Lease, one of the
© 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
C a p i t a l a n d L a bo r 17
movement’s most fervent speakers, famously, and perhaps apocryphally,
called on farmers to “raise less corn and more Hell.” Populist stump
speakers crossed the country, speaking with righteous indignation, blaming the greed of business elites and corrupt party politicians for causing
the crisis fueling America’s widening inequality. Southern orators like
Texas’s James “Cyclone” Davis and Georgian firebrand Tom Watson
stumped across the South decrying the abuses of northern capitalists and
the Democratic Party. Pamphlets such as W. H. Harvey’s Coin’s Financial
School and Henry D. Lloyd’s Wealth Against Commonwealth provided
Populist answers to the age’s many perceived problems. The faltering
economy combined with the Populist’s extensive organizing. In the 1894
elections, Populists elected six senators and seven representatives to Congress. The third party seemed destined to conquer American politics.23
The movement, however, still faced substantial obstacles, especially
in the South. The failure of alliance-backed Democrats to live up to their
campaign promises drove some southerners to break with the party of
their forefathers and join the Populists. Many, however, were unwilling
to take what was, for southerners, a radical step. Southern Democrats,
for their part, responded to the Populist challenge with electoral fraud
and racial demagoguery. Both severely limited Populist gains. The alliance struggled to balance the pervasive white supremacy of the American
South with their call for a grand union of the producing class. American
racial attitudes—and their virulent southern strain—simply proved too
formidable. Democrats race-baited Populists, and Populists capitulated.
The Colored Farmers’ Alliance, which had formed as a segregated sister
organization to the southern alliance and had as many as 250,000 members at its peak, fell prey to racial and class-based hostility. The group
went into rapid decline in 1891 when faced with the violent white repression of a number of Colored Farmers’ Alliance–sponsored cotton picker
strikes. Racial mistrust and division remained the rule, even among Populists, and even in North Carolina, where a political marriage of convenience between Populists and Republicans resulted in the election of
Populist Marion Butler to the Senate. Populists opposed Democratic corruption, but this did not necessarily make them champions of interracial
democracy. As Butler explained to an audience in Edgecombe County,
“We are in favor of white supremacy, but we are not in favor of cheating
and fraud to get it.”24 In fact, across much of the South, Populists and
Farmers’ Alliance members were often at the forefront of the movement
for disfranchisement and segregation.
© 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
1 8 chapter 16
Populism exploded in popularity. The first major political force to
tap into the vast discomfort of many Americans with the disruptions
wrought by industrial capitalism, the Populist Party seemed poise to capture political victory. And yet, even as Populism gained national traction,
the movement was stumbling. The party’s often divided leadership found
it difficult to shepherd what remained a diverse and loosely organized coalition of reformers toward unified political action. The Omaha platform
was a radical document, and some state party leaders selectively embraced its reforms. More importantly, the institutionalized parties were
still too strong, and the Democrats loomed, ready to swallow Populist
frustrations and inaugurate a new era of American politics.
VI. William Jennings Bryan and the Politics of Gold
William Jennings
Bryan, 1896. Library of Congress.
William Jennings Bryan (March 19, 1860–July 26, 1925) accomplished
many different things in his life: he was a skilled orator, a Nebraska congressman, a three-time presidential candidate, U.S. secretary of state under
Woodrow Wilson, and a lawyer who supported prohibition and opposed
Darwinism (most notably in the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial). In terms of
his political career, he won national renown for his attack on the gold standard and his tireless promotion of free silver and policies for the benefit of
the average American. Although Bryan was unsuccessful in winning the
presidency, he forever altered the course of American political history.25
© 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
C a p i t a l a n d L a bo r 19
Bryan was born in Salem, Illinois, in 1860 to a devout family with a
strong passion for law, politics, and public speaking. At twenty, he attended Union Law College in Chicago and passed the bar shortly thereafter. After his marriage to Mary Baird in Illinois, Bryan and his young
family relocated to Nebraska, where he won a reputation among the
state’s Democratic Party leaders as an extraordinary orator. Bryan later
won recognition as one of the greatest speakers in American history.
When economic depressions struck the Midwest in the late 1880s,
despairing farmers faced low crop prices and found few politicians on
their side. While many rallied to the Populist cause, Bryan worked from
within the Democratic Party, using the strength of his oratory. After
delivering one speech, he told his wife, “Last night I found that I had a
power over the audience. I could move them as I chose. I have more than
usual power as a speaker. . . . God grant that I may use it wisely.”26 He
soon won election to the Nebraska House of Representatives, where he
served for two terms. Although he lost a bid to join the Nebraska Senate, Bryan refocused on a much higher political position: the presidency
of the United States. There, he believed he could change the country
by defending farmers and urban laborers against the corruptions of big
In 1895–1896, Bryan launched a national speaking tour in which
he promoted the free coinage of silver. He believed that bimetallism, by
inflating American currency, could alleviate farmers’ debts. In contrast,
Republicans championed the gold standard and a flat money supply.
American monetary standards became a leading campaign issue. Then,
in July 1896, the Democratic Party’s national convention met to choose
their presidential nominee in the upcoming election. The party platform
asserted that the gold standard was “not only un-American but antiAmerican.” Bryan spoke last at the convention. He astounded his listeners. At the conclusion of his stirring speech, he declared, “Having behind
us the commercial interests and the laboring interests and all the toiling
masses, we shall answer their demands for a gold standard by saying to
them, you shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of
thorns. You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold.”27 After a
few seconds of stunned silence, the convention went wild. Some wept,
many shouted, and the band began to play “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow.” Bryan received the 1896 Democratic presidential nomination.
The Republicans ran William McKinley, an economic conservative who championed business interests and the gold standard. Bryan
crisscrossed the country spreading the silver gospel. The election drew
© 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
2 0 chapter 16
Conservative William McKinley promised prosperity for ordinary Americans through his “sound money”
initiative during his election campaigns in 1896 and again in 1900. This election poster touts McKinley’s
gold standard policy as bringing “Prosperity at Home, Prestige Abroad.” Library of Congress.
enormous attention and much emotion. According to Bryan’s wife, he
­received two thousand letters of support every day that year, an enormous amount for any politician, let alone one not currently in office.
Yet Bryan could not defeat McKinley. The pro-business Republicans
outspent Bryan’s campaign fivefold. A notably high 79.3 percent of eligible American voters cast ballots, and turnout averaged 90 percent in
areas supportive of Bryan, but Republicans swayed the population-dense
Northeast and Great Lakes region and stymied the Democrats.28
In early 1900, Congress passed the Gold Standard Act, which put
the country on the gold standard, effectively ending the debate over the
nation’s monetary policy. Bryan sought the presidency again in 1900 but
was again defeated, as he would be yet again in 1908.
Bryan was among the most influential losers in American political history. When the agrarian wing of the Democratic Party nominated the Nebraska congressman in 1896, Bryan’s fiery condemnation of northeastern
financial interests and his impassioned calls for “free and unlimited coinage of silver” co-opted popular Populist issues. The Democrats stood
ready to siphon off a large proportion of the Populists’ political support.
When the People’s Party held its own convention two weeks later, the party’s moderate wing, in a fiercely contested move, overrode the objections
© 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
C a p i t a l a n d L a bo r 21
William Jennings Bryan espoused many Populist positions while working within the two-party system as a
Democrat. Republicans argued that the Democratic Party was now a radical faction of Populists. The proRepublican magazine Judge showed Bryan (Populism) as a huge serpent swallowing a bucking mule (the
Democratic party). 1896. Wikimedia.
of more ideologically pure Populists and nominated Bryan as the Populist
candidate as well. This strategy of temporary “fusion” movement fatally
fractured the movement and the party. Populist energy moved from the
radical-yet-still-weak People’s Party to the more moderate-yet-powerful
Democratic Party. And although at first glance the Populist movement
appears to have been a failure—its minor electoral gains were short-lived,
it did little to dislodge the entrenched two-party system, and the Populist
dream of a cooperative commonwealth never took shape—in terms of
lasting impact, the Populist Party proved the most significant third-party
movement in American history. The agrarian revolt established the roots
of later reform, and the majority of policies outlined within the Omaha
Platform would eventually be put into law over the following decades
under the management of middle-class reformers. In large measure, the
Populist vision laid the intellectual groundwork for the coming progressive movement.29
© 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
2 2 chapter 16
VII. The Socialists
American socialist
leader Eugene
Victor Debs,
1912. Library of
American socialists carried on the Populists’ radical tradition by uniting
farmers and workers in a sustained, decades-long political struggle to reorder American economic life. Socialists argued that wealth and power
were consolidated in the hands of too few individuals, that monopolies
and trusts controlled too much of the economy, and that owners and
investors grew rich while the workers who produced their wealth, despite massive productivity gains and rising national wealth, still suffered
from low pay, long hours, and unsafe working conditions. Karl Marx
had described the new industrial economy as a worldwide class struggle
between the wealthy bourgeoisie, who owned the means of production,
such as factories and farms, and the proletariat, factory workers and
tenant farmers who worked only for the wealth of others. According to
Eugene Debs, socialists sought “the overthrow of the capitalist system
and the emancipation of the working class from wage slavery.”30 Under
an imagined socialist cooperative commonwealth, the means of production would be owned collectively, ensuring that all men and women
received a fair wage for their labor. According to socialist organizer and
newspaper editor Oscar Ameringer, socialists wanted “ownership of the
trust by the government, and the ownership of the government by the
The socialist movement drew from a diverse constituency. Party
membership was open to all regardless of race, gender, class, ethnicity, or
© 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
C a p i t a l a n d L a bo r 23
religion. Many prominent Americans, such as Helen Keller, Upton Sinclair, and Jack London, became socialists. They were joined by masses of
American laborers from across the United States: factory workers, miners, railroad builders, tenant farmers, and small farmers all united under
the red flag of socialism. Many united with labor leader William D. “Big
Bill” Haywood and other radicals in 1905 to form the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), the “Wobblies,” a radical and confrontational
union that welcomed all workers, regardless of race or gender.32 Others
turned to politics.
The Socialist Party of America (SPA), founded in 1901, carried on the
American third-party political tradition. Socialist mayors were elected in
thirty-three cities and towns, from Berkeley, California, to Schenectady,
New York, and two socialists—Victor Berger from Wisconsin and Meyer
London from New York—won congressional seats. All told, over one
thousand socialist candidates won various American political offices. Julius A. Wayland, editor of the socialist newspaper Appeal to Reason,
proclaimed that “socialism is coming. It’s coming like a prairie fire and
nothing can stop it . . . you can feel it in the air.”33 By 1913 there were
150,000 members of the Socialist Party and, in 1912, Eugene V. Debs,
the Indiana-born Socialist Party candidate for president, received almost
one million votes, or 6 percent of the total.34
Over the following years, however, the embrace of many socialist
policies by progressive reformers, internal ideological and tactical disagreements, a failure to dissuade most Americans of the perceived incompatibility between socialism and American values, and, especially,
government oppression and censorship, particularly during and after
World War I, ultimately sank the party. Like the Populists, however, socialists had tapped into a deep well of discontent, and their energy and
organizing filtered out into American culture and American politics.
VIII. Conclusion
The march of capital transformed patterns of American life. While some
enjoyed unprecedented levels of wealth, and an ever-growing slice of
middle-class workers won an ever more comfortable standard of living,
vast numbers of farmers lost their land and a growing industrial working
class struggled to earn wages sufficient to support themselves and their
families. Industrial capitalism brought wealth and it brought poverty;
it created owners and investors and it created employees. But whether
© 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
2 4 chapter 16
­ inners or losers in the new economy, all Americans reckoned in some
way with their new industrial world.
IX. Reference Material
This chapter was edited by Joseph Locke, with content contributions by Andrew
C. Baker, Nicholas Blood, Justin Clark, Dan Du, Caroline Bunnell Harris, David
Hochfelder Scott Libson, Joseph Locke, Leah Richier, Matthew Simmons, Kate
Sohasky, Joseph Super, and Kaylynn Washnock.
Recommended citation: Andrew C. Baker et al., “Capital and Labor,” Joseph
Locke, ed., in The American Yawp, eds. Joseph Locke and Ben Wright (Stanford,
CA: Stanford University Press, 2019).
N o t e s t o C h a p t e r 16
1. David T. Burbank, Reign of the Rabble: The St. Louis General Strike of
1877 (New York: Kelley, 1966), 11.
2. Robert V. Bruce, 1877: Year of Violence (New York: Dee, 1957); Philip
S. Foner, The Great Labor Uprising of 1877 (New York: Monad Press, 1977);
David Omar Stowell, ed., The Great Strikes of 1877 (Champaign: University of
Illinois Press, 2008).
3. Alfred D. Chandler Jr., The Visible Hand: The Managerial Revolution in
American Business (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 1977); David A. Hounshell,
From the American System to Mass Production, 1800–1932 (Baltimore: Johns
Hopkins University Press, 1984).
4. Hounshell, From the American System, 153–188.
5. Alfred D. Chandler Jr., Scale and Scope: The Dynamics of Industrial Capitalism (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1990), 52.
6. Chandler, Visible Hand.
7. Naomi R. Lamoreaux, The Great Merger Movement in American Business, 1895–1904 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985).
8. See especially Edward O’Donnell, Henry George and the Crisis of Inequality: Progress and Poverty in the Gilded Age (New York: Columbia University Press, 2015), 41–45.
9. Michael McGerr, A Fierce Discontent: The Rise and Fall of the Progressive Movement in America, 1870–1920 (New York: Free Press, 2003).
10. Richard Hofstadter, Social Darwinism in American Thought (Boston:
Beacon Books, 1955).
11. Henry Louis Mencken, The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche (Boston:
Luce, 1908), 102–103.
12. William Graham Sumner, Earth-Hunger, and Other Essays, ed. Albert
Galloway Keller (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1913), 234.
13. Leon Fink, Workingmen’s Democracy: The Knights of Labor and American Politics (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1983).
14. Ruth A. Allen, The Great Southwest Strike (Austin: University of Texas
Press, 1942).
© 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
C a p i t a l a n d L a bo r 25
15. James R. Green, Death in the Haymarket: A Story of Chicago, the First
Labor Movement and the Bombing That Divided Gilded Age America. New
York: Pantheon Books, 2006.
16. Paul Krause, The Battle for Homestead, 1890–1892: Politics, Culture,
and Steel (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1992).
17. Almont Lindsey, The Pullman Strike: The Story of a Unique Experiment
and of a Great Labor Upheaval (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1943).
18. Historians of the Populists have produced a large number of excellent
histories. See especially Lawrence Goodwyn, Democratic Promise: The Populist
Moment in America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1976); and Charles
Postel, The Populist Vision (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009).
19. Lawrence Goodwyn argued that the Populists’ “cooperative vision” was
the central element in their hopes of a “democratic economy.” Goodwyn, Democratic Promise, 54.
20. John Donald Hicks, The Populist Revolt: A History of the Farmers’ Alliance
and the People’s Party (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1931), 178.
21. Ibid., 236.
22. Edward McPherson, A Handbook of Politics for 1892 (Washington, DC:
Chapman, 1892), 269.
23. Hicks, Populist Revolt, 321–339.
24. Postel, Populist Vision, 197.
25. For William Jennings Bryan, see especially Michael Kazin, A Godly
Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan (New York: Knopf, 2006).
26. Ibid., 25.
27. Richard Franklin Bensel, Passion and Preferences: William Jennings
Bryan and the 1896 Democratic Convention (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 232.
28. Lyn Ragsdale, Vital Statistics on the Presidency (Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Press, 1998), 132–138.
29. Elizabeth Sanders, The Roots of Reform: Farmers, Workers, and the
American State, 1877–1917 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999).
30. Eugene V. Debs, “The Socialist Party and the Working Class,” International Socialist Review (September 1904).
31. Oscar Ameringer, Socialism: What It Is and How to Get It (Milwaukee,
WI: Political Action, 1911), 31.
32. Philip S. Foner, The Industrial Workers of the World 1905–1917 (New
York: International Publishers, 1965).
33. R. Laurence Moore, European Socialists and the American Promised
Land (New York: Oxford University Press, 1970), 214.
34. Nick Salvatore, Eugene V. Debs, Citizen and Socialist (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1983).
R e c omm e n d e d R e a d i n g
Beckert, Sven. Monied Metropolis: New York City and the Consolidation of the
American Bourgeoisie, 1850–1896. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University
Press, 2001.
© 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
2 6 chapter 16
Benson, Susan Porter. Counter Cultures: Saleswomen, Managers, and Customers
in American Department Stores, 1890–1940. Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 1986.
Cameron, Ardis. Radicals of the Worst Sort: Laboring Women in Lawrence,
Massachusetts, 1860–1912. Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 1993.
Chambers, John W. The Tyranny of Change: America in the Progressive Era,
1890–1920, 2nd ed. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2000.
Chandler, Alfred D., Jr., The Visible Hand: The Managerial Revolution in American Business. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 1977.
Chandler, Alfred D., Jr. Scale and Scope: The Dynamics of Industrial Capitalism.
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1990.
Cronon, William. Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West. New York:
Norton, 1991.
Edwards, Rebecca. New Spirits: Americans in the Gilded Age, 1865–1905. New
York: Oxford University Press, 2005.
Enstad, Nan. Ladies of Labor, Girls of Adventure: Working Women, Popular
Culture, and Labor Politics at the Turn of the Twentieth Century. New York:
Columbia University Press, 1999.
Fink, Leon. Workingmen’s Democracy: The Knights of Labor and American Politics. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1993.
Goodwyn, Lawrence. Democratic Promise: The Populist Moment in America.
New York: Oxford University Press, 1976.
Green, James. Death in the Haymarket: A Story of Chicago, the First Labor
Movement, and the Bombing That Divided Gilded Age America. New York
City: Pantheon Books, 2006.
Greene, Julie. Pure and Simple Politics: The American Federation of Labor and
Political Activism, 1881–1917. New York: Cambridge University Press,
Hofstadter, Richard. Social Darwinism in American Thought. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1944.
Johnson, Kimberley S. Governing the American State: Congress and the New
Federalism, 1877–1929. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006.
Kazin, Michael. A Godly Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan. New York:
Knopf, 2006.
Kessler-Harris, Alice. Out to Work: A History of Wage-Earning Women in the
United States. New York: Oxford University Press, 1982.
Krause, Paul. The Battle for Homestead, 1880–1892: Politics, Culture, and Steel.
Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1992.
Lamoreaux, Naomi R. The Great Merger Movement in American Business,
1895–1904. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985.
McMath, Robert C., Jr. American Populism: A Social History, 1877–1898. New
York: Hill and Wang, 1993.
Montgomery, David. The Fall of the House of Labor: The Workplace, the State,
and American Labor Activism, 1865–1925. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988.
© 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
C a p i t a l a n d L a bo r 27
Painter, Nell Irvin. Standing at Armageddon: The United States, 1877–1919.
New York: Norton, 1987.
Postel, Charles. The Populist Vision. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.
Sanders, Elizabeth. Roots of Reform: Farmers, Workers, and the American State,
1877–1917. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999.
Trachtenberg, Alan. The Incorporation of America: Culture and Society in the
Gilded Age. New York: Hill and Wang, 1982.
© 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
Conquering the West
I. Introduction
Native Americans long dominated the vastness of the American West.
Linked culturally and geographically by trade, travel, and warfare, various indigenous groups controlled most of the continent west of the Mississippi River deep into the nineteenth century. Spanish, French, British,
and later American traders had integrated themselves into many regional
economies, and American emigrants pushed ever westward, but no imperial power had yet achieved anything approximating political or military
control over the great bulk of the continent. But then the Civil War came
and went and decoupled the West from the question of slavery just as
the United States industrialized and laid down rails and pushed its everexpanding population ever farther west.
Indigenous Americans had lived in North America for over ten millennia and, into the late nineteenth century, perhaps as many as 250,000
Natives still inhabited the American West.1 But then unending waves of
American settlers, the American military, and the unstoppable onrush
Edward S. Curtis,
Navajo Riders in
Canyon de Chelly,
c. 1904. Library
of Congress.
© 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
C on qu er i n g t h e W e s t 29
of American capital conquered all. The United States removed Native
groups to ever-shrinking reservations, incorporated the West first as territories and then as states, and, for the first time in its history, controlled
the enormity of land between the two oceans.
The history of the late-nineteenth-century West is many-sided. Tragedy for some, triumph for others, the many intertwined histories of the
American West marked a pivotal transformation in the history of the
United States.
II. Post–Civil War Westward Migration
In the decades after the Civil War, Americans poured across the Mississippi River in record numbers. No longer simply crossing over the continent for new imagined Edens in California or Oregon, they settled now
in the vast heart of the continent.
Many of the first American migrants had come to the West in search
of quick profits during the midcentury gold and silver rushes. As in the
California rush of 1848–1849, droves of prospectors poured in after
precious-metal strikes in Colorado in 1858, Nevada in 1859, Idaho in
1860, Montana in 1863, and the Black Hills in 1874. While women often
performed housework that allowed mining families to subsist in often
difficult conditions, a significant portion of the mining workforce were
single men without families dependent on service industries in nearby
towns and cities. There, working-class women worked in shops, saloons,
boardinghouses, and brothels. Many of these ancillary operations profited from the mining boom: as failed prospectors found, the rush itself
often generated more wealth than the mines. The gold that left Colorado in the first seven years after the Pikes Peak gold strike—estimated at
$25.5 million—was, for instance, less than half of what outside parties
had invested in the fever. The 100,000-plus migrants who settled in the
Rocky Mountains were ultimately more valuable to the region’s development than the gold they came to find.2
Others came to the Plains to extract the hides of the great bison
herds. Millions of animals had roamed the Plains, but their tough leather
supplied industrial belting in eastern factories and raw material for the
booming clothing industry. Specialized teams took down and skinned
the herds. The infamous American bison slaughter peaked in the early
1870s. The number of American bison plummeted from over ten million
at midcentury to only a few hundred by the early 1880s. The expansion
© 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
3 0 chapter 17
While bison leather supplied America’s booming clothing industry, the skulls of the animals provided a key
ingredient in fertilizer. This 1870s photograph illustrates the massive number of bison killed in the second
half of the nineteenth century. Wikimedia.
of the railroads allowed ranching to replace the bison with cattle on the
American grasslands.3
The nearly seventy thousand members of the Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-Day Saints (more commonly called Mormons) who migrated
west between 1846 and 1868 were similar to other Americans traveling
west on the overland trails. They faced many of the same problems, but
unlike most other American migrants, Mormons were fleeing from religious persecution.
Many historians view Mormonism as a “uniquely American faith,”
not just because it was founded by Joseph Smith in New York in the
1830s, but because of its optimistic and future-oriented tenets. Mormons
believed that Americans were exceptional—chosen by God to spread
truth across the world and to build utopia, a New Jerusalem in North
America. However, many Americans were suspicious of the Latter-Day
© 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
C on qu er i n g t h e W e s t 31
Saint movement and its unusual rituals, especially the practice of polygamy, and most Mormons found it difficult to practice their faith in the
eastern United States. Thus began a series of migrations in the midnineteenth century, first to Illinois, then Missouri and Nebraska, and finally
into Utah Territory.
Once in the west, Mormon settlements served as important supply points for other emigrants heading on to California and Oregon.
Brigham Young, the leader of the Church after the death of Joseph Smith,
was appointed governor of the Utah Territory by the federal government
in 1850. He encouraged Mormon residents of the territory to engage in
agricultural pursuits and be cautious of the outsiders who arrived as the
mining and railroad industries developed in the region.4
It was land, ultimately, that drew the most migrants to the West.
Family farms were the backbone of the agricultural economy that expanded in the West after the Civil War. In 1862, northerners in Congress
passed the Homestead Act, which allowed male citizens (or those who
declared their intent to become citizens) to claim federally owned lands
in the West. Settlers could head west, choose a 160-acre surveyed section
of land, file a claim, and begin “improving” the land by plowing fields,
building houses and barns, or digging wells, and, after five years of living
on the land, could apply for the official title deed to the land. Hundreds
of thousands of Americans used the Homestead Act to acquire land. The
treeless plains that had been considered unfit for settlement became the
new agricultural mecca for land-hungry Americans.5
The Homestead Act excluded married women from filing claims because they were considered the legal dependents of their husbands. Some
unmarried women filed claims on their own, but single farmers (male or
female) were hard-pressed to run a farm and they were a small minority. Most farm households adopted traditional divisions of labor: men
worked in the fields and women managed the home and kept the family
fed. Both were essential.6
Migrants sometimes found in homesteads a self-sufficiency denied at
home. Second or third sons who did not inherit land in Scandinavia, for
instance, founded farm communities in Minnesota, Dakota, and other
Midwestern territories in the 1860s. Boosters encouraged emigration by
advertising the semiarid Plains as, for instance, “a flowery meadow of
great fertility clothed in nutritious grasses, and watered by numerous
streams.”7 Western populations exploded. The Plains were transformed.
In 1860, for example, Kansas had about 10,000 farms; in 1880 it had
© 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
3 2 chapter 17
239,000. Texas saw enormous population growth. The federal government counted 200,000 people in Texas in 1850, 1,600,000 in 1880, and
3,000,000 in 1900, making it the sixth most populous state in the nation.
III. The Indian Wars and Federal Peace Policies
The “Indian wars,” so mythologized in western folklore, were a series
of sporadic, localized, and often brief engagements between U.S. military forces and various Native American groups. The more sustained
and more impactful conflict, meanwhile, was economic and cultural.
The vast and cyclical movement across the Great Plains to hunt buffalo,
raid enemies, and trade goods was incompatible with new patterns of
American settlement and railroad construction. Thomas Jefferson’s old
dream that Indian groups might live isolated in the West was, in the face
of American expansion, no longer a viable reality. Political, economic,
and even humanitarian concerns intensified American efforts to isolate
Indians on reservations. Although Indian removal had long been a part
of federal Indian policy, following the Civil War the U.S. government
redoubled its efforts. If treaties and other forms of persistent coercion
would not work, more drastic measures were deemed necessary. Against
the threat of confinement and the extinction of traditional ways of life,
Native Americans battled the American army and the encroaching lines
of American settlement.
In one of the earliest western engagements, in 1862, while the Civil
War still consumed the nation, tensions erupted between Dakota Sioux
and white settlers in Minnesota and the Dakota Territory. The 1850 U.S.
census recorded a white population of about 6,000 in Minnesota; eight
years later, when it became a state, it was more than 150,000.8 The influx
of American farmers pushed the Sioux to the breaking point. Hunting
became unsustainable and those Sioux who had taken up farming found
only poverty. Starvation wracked many. Then, on August 17, 1862, four
young men of the Santees, a Sioux tribe, killed five white settlers near
the Redwood Agency, an American administrative office. In the face of
an inevitable American retaliation, and over the protests of many members, the tribe chose war. On the following day, Sioux warriors attacked
settlements near the Agency. They killed thirty-one men, women, and
children. They then ambushed a U.S. military detachment at Redwood
Ferry, killing twenty-three. The governor of Minnesota called up militia
and several thousand Americans waged war against the Sioux insurgents.
© 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
C on qu er i n g t h e W e s t 33
Buffalo Soldiers, the nickname given to African American cavalrymen by the native Americans they fought,
were the first peacetime, all-black regiments in the regular U.S. Army. These soldiers regularly confronted
racial prejudice from civilians and other soldiers but were an essential part of American victories during the
Indian Wars of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. 1890. Library of Congress.
Fighting broke out at New Ulm, Fort Ridgely, and Birch Coulee, but the
Americans broke the Indian resistance at the Battle of Wood Lake on
September 23, ending the so-called Dakota War, also known as the Sioux
More than two thousand Sioux had been taken prisoner during the
fighting. Many were tried at federal forts for murder, rape, and other
atrocities. Military tribunals convicted 303 Sioux and sentenced them to
hang. At the last minute, President Lincoln commuted all but thirty eight
of the sentences. Terrified Minnesota settlers and government officials insisted not only that the Sioux lose much of their reservation lands and be
removed farther west, but that those who had fled be hunted down and
placed on reservations as well. The American military gave chase and, on
September 3, 1863, after a year of attrition, American military units surrounded a large encampment of Dakota Sioux. American troops killed an
estimated three hundred men, women, and children. Dozens more were
taken prisoner. Troops spent the next two days burning winter food and
supply stores to starve out the Sioux resistance, which would continue
to smolder.
© 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
3 4 chapter 17
Farther south, tensions flared in Colorado. In 1851, the Treaty of Fort
Laramie had secured right-of-way access for Americans passing through
on their way to California and Oregon. But a gold rush in 1858 drew
approximately 100,000 white gold seekers, and they demanded new
treaties be made with local Indian groups to secure land rights in the
newly created Colorado Territory. Cheyenne bands splintered over the
possibility of signing a new treaty that would confine them to a reservation. Settlers, already wary of raids by powerful groups of Cheyennes,
Arapahos, and Comanches, meanwhile read in their local newspapers
sensationalist accounts of the Sioux uprising in Minnesota. Militia leader
John M. Chivington warned settlers in the summer of 1864 that the
Cheyenne were dangerous savages, urged war, and promised a swift military victory. Sporadic fighting broke out. Although Chivington warned
of Cheyenne savagery, the aged Cheyenne chief Black Kettle, believing
that a peace treaty would be best for his people, traveled to Denver to
arrange for peace talks. He and his followers traveled toward Fort Lyon
in accordance with government instructions, but on November 29, 1864,
Chivington ordered his seven hundred militiamen to move on the Cheyenne camp near Fort Lyon at Sand Creek. The Cheyenne tried to declare
their peaceful intentions but Chivington’s militia cut them down. It was
a slaughter. About two hundred men, women, and children were killed.10
The Sand Creek Massacre was a national scandal, alternately condemned and applauded. News of the massacre reached other Native
groups and the American frontier erupted into conflict. Americans
pushed for a new “peace policy.” Congress, confronted with these tragedies and further violence, authorized in 1868 the creation of an Indian
Peace Commission. The commission’s study of American Indians decried
prior American policy and galvanized support for reformers. After the inauguration of Ulysses S. Grant the following spring, Congress allied with
prominent philanthropists to create the Board of Indian Commissioners,
a permanent advisory body to oversee Indian affairs and prevent the further outbreak of violence. The board effectively Christianized American
Indian policy. Much of the reservation system was handed over to Protestant churches, which were tasked with finding agents and missionaries
to manage reservation life. Congress hoped that religiously minded men
might fare better at creating just assimilation policies and persuading
Indians to accept them. Historian Francis Paul Prucha believed that this
attempt at a new “peace policy . . . might just have properly been labelled
the ‘religious policy.’”11
© 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
C on qu er i n g t h e W e s t 35
Tom Torlino, a member of the Navajo Nation, entered the Carlisle Indian School, a Native American
boarding school founded by the U.S. government in 1879, on October 21, 1882, and departed on August
28, 1886. Torlino’s student file contained photographs from 1882 and 1885. Carlisle Indian School Digital
Resource Center.
Many female Christian missionaries played a central role in cultural
reeducation programs that attempted to not only instill Protestant religion but also impose traditional American gender roles and family structures. They endeavored to replace Indians’ tribal social units with small,
patriarchal households. Women’s labor became a contentious issue because few tribes divided labor according to the gender norms of middleand upper-class Americans. Fieldwork, the traditional domain of white
males, was primarily performed by Native women, who also usually controlled the products of their labor, if not the land that was worked, giving
them status in society as laborers and food providers. For missionaries,
the goal was to get Native women to leave the fields and engage in more
proper “women’s” work—housework. Christian missionaries performed
much as secular federal agents had. Few American agents could meet
Native Americans on their own terms. Most viewed reservation Indians
as lazy and thought of Native cultures as inferior to their own. The views
of J. L. Broaddus, appointed to oversee several small Indian tribes on
the Hoopa Valley reservation in California, are illustrative: in his annual
report to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs for 1875, he wrote, “The
great majority of them are idle, listless, careless, and improvident. They
© 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
3 6 chapter 17
seem to take no thought about provision for the future, and many of
them would not work at all if they were not compelled to do so. They
would rather live upon the roots and acorns gathered by their women
than to work for flour and beef.”12
If the Indians could not be forced through kindness to change their
ways, most agreed that it was acceptable to use force, which Native
groups resisted. In Texas and the Southern Plains, the Comanche, the
Kiowa, and their allies had wielded enormous influence. The Comanche
in particular controlled huge swaths of territory and raided vast areas,
inspiring terror from the Rocky Mountains to the interior of northern
Mexico to the Texas Gulf Coast. But after the Civil War, the U.S. military
refocused its attention on the Southern Plains.
The American military first sent messengers to the Plains to find the
elusive Comanche bands and ask them to come to peace negotiations
at Medicine Lodge Creek in the fall of 1867. But terms were muddled:
American officials believed that Comanche bands had accepted reservation life, while Comanche leaders believed they were guaranteed vast
lands for buffalo hunting. Comanche bands used designated reservation
lands as a base from which to collect supplies and federal annuity goods
while continuing to hunt, trade, and raid American settlements in Texas.
Confronted with renewed Comanche raiding, particularly by the
famed war leader Quanah Parker, the U.S. military finally proclaimed
that all Indians who were not settled on the reservation by the fall of
1874 would be considered “hostile.” The Red River War began when
many Comanche bands refused to resettle and the American military
launched expeditions into the Plains to subdue them, culminating in the
defeat of the remaining roaming bands in the canyonlands of the Texas
Panhandle. Cold and hungry, with their way of life already decimated by
soldiers, settlers, cattlemen, and railroads, the last free Comanche bands
were moved to the reservation at Fort Sill, in what is now southwestern
On the northern Plains, the Sioux people had yet to fully surrender.
Following the troubles of 1862, many bands had signed treaties with the
United States and drifted into the Red Cloud and Spotted Tail agencies
to collect rations and annuities, but many continued to resist American
encroachment, particularly during Red Cloud’s War, a rare victory for
the Plains people that resulted in the Treaty of 1868 and created the
Great Sioux Reservation. Then, in 1874, an American expedition to the
Black Hills of South Dakota discovered gold. White prospectors flooded
© 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
C on qu er i n g t h e W e s t 37
the territory. Caring very little about Indian rights and very much about
getting rich, they brought the Sioux situation again to its breaking point.
Aware that U.S. citizens were violating treaty provisions, but unwilling
to prevent them from searching for gold, federal officials pressured the
western Sioux to sign a new treaty that would transfer control of the
Black Hills to the United States while General Philip Sheridan quietly
moved U.S. troops into the region. Initial clashes between U.S. troops
and Sioux warriors resulted in several Sioux victories that, combined
with the visions of Sitting Bull, who had dreamed of an even more triumphant victory, attracted Sioux bands who had already signed treaties but
now joined to fight.14
In late June 1876, a division of the 7th Cavalry Regiment led by
Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer was sent up a trail into
the Black Hills as an advance guard for a larger force. Custer’s men approached a camp along a river known to the Sioux as Greasy Grass but
marked on Custer’s map as Little Bighorn, and they found that the influx of “treaty” Sioux as well as aggrieved Cheyenne and other allies
had swelled the population of the village far beyond Custer’s estimation.
Custer’s 7th Cavalry was vastly outnumbered, and he and 268 of his men
were killed.15
Custer’s fall shocked the nation. Cries for a swift American response
filled the public sphere, and military expeditions were sent out to crush
Native resistance. The Sioux splintered off into the wilderness and began
a campaign of intermittent resistance but, outnumbered and suffering
after a long, hungry winter, Crazy Horse led a band of Oglala Sioux to
surrender in May 1877. Other bands gradually followed until finally, in
July 1881, Sitting Bull and his followers at last laid down their weapons
and came to the reservation. Indigenous powers had been defeated. The
Plains, it seemed, had been pacified.
IV. Beyond the Plains
Plains peoples were not the only ones who suffered as a result of American expansion. Groups like the Utes and Paiutes were pushed out of the
Rocky Mountains by U.S. expansion into Colorado and away from the
northern Great Basin by the expanding Mormon population in Utah Territory in the 1850s and 1860s. Faced with a shrinking territorial base,
members of these two groups often joined the U.S. military in its campaigns in the southwest against other powerful Native groups like the
© 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
3 8 chapter 17
Hopi, the Zuni, the Jicarilla Apache, and especially the Navajo, whose
population of at least ten thousand engaged in both farming and sheep
herding on some of the most valuable lands acquired by the United States
after the Mexican War.
Conflicts between the U.S. military, American settlers, and Native
populations increased throughout the 1850s. By 1862, General James
Carleton began searching for a reservation where he could remove the
Navajo and end their threat to U.S. expansion in the Southwest. Carleton
selected a dry, almost treeless site in the Bosque Redondo Valley, three
hundred miles from the Navajo homeland.
In April 1863, Carleton gave orders to Colonel Kit Carson to round
up the entire Navajo population and escort them to Bosque Redondo.
Those who resisted would be shot. Thus began a period of Navajo history called the Long Walk, which remains deeply important to Navajo
people today. The Long Walk was not a single event but a series of forced
marches to the reservation at Bosque Redondo between August 1863
and December 1866. Conditions at Bosque Redondo were horrible. Provisions provided by the U.S. Army were not only inadequate but often
spoiled; disease was rampant, and thousands of Navajos died.
By 1868, it had become clear that life at the reservation was unsustainable. General William Tecumseh Sherman visited the reservation and
wrote of the inhumane situation in which the Navajo were essentially
kept as prisoners, but lack of cost-effectiveness was the main reason Sherman recommended that the Navajo be returned to their homeland in the
West. On June 1, 1868, the Navajo signed the Treaty of Bosque Redondo,
an unprecedented treaty in the history of U.S.-Indian relations in which
the Navajo were able to return from the reservation to their homeland.
The destruction of Indian nations in California and the Pacific Northwest received significantly less attention than the dramatic conquest of
the Plains, but Native peoples in these regions also experienced violence,
population decline, and territorial loss. For example, in 1872, the California/Oregon border erupted in violence when the Modoc people left
the reservation of their historic enemies, the Klamath Indians, and returned to an area known as Lost River. Americans had settled the region after Modoc removal several years before, and they complained
bitterly of the Natives’ return. The U.S. military arrived when fifty-two
remaining Modoc warriors, led by a man called Captain Jack, refused
to return to the reservation and holed up in defensive positions along
the state border. They fought a guerrilla war for eleven months in which
© 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
C on qu er i n g t h e W e s t 39
at least two hundred U.S. troops were killed before they were finally
forced to surrender.16 Four years later, in the Pacific Northwest, a branch
of the Nez Percé (who, generations earlier, had aided Lewis and Clark
in their famous journey to the Pacific Ocean) refused to be moved to
a reservation and, under the leadership of Chief Joseph, attempted to
flee to Canada but were pursued by the U.S. Cavalry. The outnumbered
Nez Percé battled across a thousand miles and were attacked nearly two
dozen times before they succumbed to hunger and exhaustion, surrendered, and were forced to return. The flight of the Nez Percé captured
the attention of the nation, and a transcript of Chief Joseph’s surrender,
as recorded by a U.S. Army officer, became a landmark of American
rhetoric. “Hear me, my chiefs,” Joseph was supposed to have said, “I am
tired. My heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands, I will
fight no more forever.”17
The history of Indian-American relations in California typified the
decline of the western Indians. The treaties that had been signed with numerous Native nations…

Purchase answer to see full


Economic Transformation

industrial nations

User generated content is uploaded by users for the purposes of learning and should be used following Studypool’s honor code & terms of service.

Reviews, comments, and love from our customers and community:

This page is having a slideshow that uses Javascript. Your browser either doesn't support Javascript or you have it turned off. To see this page as it is meant to appear please use a Javascript enabled browser.

Peter M.
Peter M.
So far so good! It's safe and legit. My paper was finished on time...very excited!
Sean O.N.
Sean O.N.
Experience was easy, prompt and timely. Awesome first experience with a site like this. Worked out well.Thank you.
Angela M.J.
Angela M.J.
Good easy. I like the bidding because you can choose the writer and read reviews from other students
Lee Y.
Lee Y.
My writer had to change some ideas that she misunderstood. She was really nice and kind.
Kelvin J.
Kelvin J.
I have used other writing websites and this by far as been way better thus far! =)
Antony B.
Antony B.
I received an, "A". Definitely will reach out to her again and I highly recommend her. Thank you very much.
Khadija P.
Khadija P.
I have been searching for a custom book report help services for a while, and finally, I found the best of the best.
Regina Smith
Regina Smith
So amazed at how quickly they did my work!! very happy♥.