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Background: America’s Age of Imperialism was relatively short-lived, and somewhat anomalous in terms of overall US history. For a few brief years in the 1890s, the US aggressively pursued overseas colonies, holding on to those colonies even in the face of indigenous resistance and, unlike its handling of continental territories, offering the new colonies no pathway toward equal statehood and citizenship. The Filipino Insurrection of 1899 to 1902 provides a particularly unsettling episode in terms of how Americans generally like to remember their past. Having driven the Spanish out of the Philippines, the US ignored the Filipinos’ demand for independence, for which they had been fighting against the Spanish for several years, and instead took possession of the islands, treating the Filipinos as colonial subjects. For several years, Americans and Filipinos fought over the destiny of the Philippines in a brutal conflict which cost the lives of hundreds of thousands—perhaps even more than a million—Filipino civilians. 

American Imperialism combined the expansionist ideology that propelled Americans from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans with a desire to become a world power as well as the need for new markets and raw materials to feed the growing industrial base. Inspired by Alfred Thayer Mahan’s concept of sea power, Americans began to look outside their borders for the means to grow their global political influence. Fueled by the technological innovations and cheap labor of the Industrial Revolution, American industry looked abroad for new markets and access to natural resources. Unlike in previous periods, the United States pursued territorial expansion through the acquisition of imperial possessions with no intention of offering a path to statehood. An early and vociferous proponent of American Imperialism, Theodore Roosevelt aggressively and effectively promoted the cause through initiatives like the construction of the Panama Canal and the demonstration of American military power embodied by the Great White Fleet. With the articulation of the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine, Roosevelt claimed the US right to keep European powers out of Latin America through the use of military force. 

Drawing from material in the textbook and the video below, explain how American foreign policy generally grew more interventionist and aggressive from the 1890s into the twentieth century, identifying key moments in that development. Then, examine the specifics of the Filipino Insurrection, explaining how the conflict was perceived in the United States. Using at least three primary sources—articles written during the conflict—summarize the arguments which Americans of the time made for and against the colonization of the Philippines. Also, review one scholarly secondary article about the insurrection. Summarize its contents and explain how its depiction of the insurrection compares with what you read in the primary sources.


  1. BeamLibrary. (2009, September 23). Primary, secondary, tertiary sources . [Video file]. Retrieved from http://youtu.be/L5DdedR_iF8
  2. Review the How to Research Primary Sources and How to Research Secondary Sources in the Ashford Writing Center located in the Learning Resources tab in the left navigation bar.
Draw from material in the following video for a discussion of American foreign policy generally:

  1. (2001). America becomes a world power [Television series episode]. In America in the 20th Century. New York, NY: Films for the Humanities & Sciences. Retrieved from http://digital.films.com/OnDemandEmbed.aspx?Token=36214&aid=18596&Plt=FOD&loid=0&w=640&h=480&ref=
  2. Chapter_02.pdf  Textbook Chapter
Instructions: After reviewing your Instructor’s Guidance and completing the weekly reading assignments (including those in the resource section below), please post a substantive discussion post of at least 200 words that analyzes American Imperialism in either the Philippines or Latin America, using the following questions as the basis of your analysis: 

  • How did American foreign policy become more interventionist (aggressive) from the 1890s into the twentieth century? 
  • What issues led to the Filipino Insurrection? How was this conflict perceived in the United States? 
  • What arguments did Americans use to justify their colonization of the Philippines? What arguments were used against colonization? 
  • Why did the U.S. want to build a canal across Central America? How did the U.S. eventually accomplish this? 
  • What is the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine, and how was it used to justify imperialism? 
  • In your opinion, which branch of the service, the Army or the Navy was more influential in this period of imperialism? Why?
Your initial post should be at least 200 words in length. Support your claims with examples from the required material(s) and properly cite any references. You may use additional scholarly sources to support your points if you choose.

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2 Pivotal Decades, 1900–1920 For the United States, the first two decades of the twentieth century marked a turning point. During these twenty years a political, economic, social, and cultural agenda was set that still dominates American life . . . —Cooper, 1990 bow11111_02_c02_065-122.indd 65 6/10/11 8:26 AM Chapter Outline 2.1 The American Empire (1890s) 67 The Idea of Imperialism 68 Seward’s Folly—Alaska 69 Hawaii 70 Cuba and Spain 70 Remember the Maine! 71 War with Spain 72 The Empire after War 74 Conclusion 75 2.2 Progressivism in America (1900–1919) 75 Who Were the Progressives? 76 Democracy 77 Efficiency 78 Regulation 79 Social Justice 80 Sixteenth and Seventeenth Amendments 81 Prohibition 82 Conclusion 83 2.3 2.4 bow11111_02_c02_065-122.indd 66 Suffrage and Segregation (1900–1920) 83 Women and Work 84 The Gibson Girl 85 Fashion and Birth Control 85 Women’s Suffrage 85 The Color Line 88 Racial Violence 88 Up from Slavery 89 Birth of a Nation 88 The Souls of Black Folk 90 Conclusion 91 Pivotal Technologies (1900–1920) 91 Birth of the Computer Age 92 Modern Prometheus 93 Realizing the Dream of Flight 94 Streets and Model Ts 95 Sloanism 96 Conclusion 98 2.5 From the Square Deal to the New Freedom (1901–1914) 98 Roosevelt the Cowboy 99 Roosevelt’s Square Deal 99 Roosevelt’s Big Stick 101 Taft, the Reluctant President 102 The Election of 1912 102 Woodrow Wilson and the New Freedom 102 New Freedom? 104 Conclusion 104 2.6 The United States in the Great War (1914–1919) 104 The Causes of World War I 105 The United States Enters the War 106 Trench Warfare 107 Mobilizing for War 108 The Home Front 109 Women and War 109 African Americans and War 110 The American Soldier 110 Bloodshed at Meuse-Argonne 111 The End of the Great War 111 Wilson’s Postwar Vision 112 Conclusion 110 2.7 Savage Peace (1919) 113 Demobilization 114 The Spanish Flu 114 Race Riot 115 The Rise of Communism and the First Red Scare 116 Clear and Present Danger 117 Baseball and the Police 118 Conclusion 119 6/10/11 8:26 AM Section 2.1 The American Empire (1890s) CHAPTER 2 I magine for a moment taking a walk down a city street in the year 1900. If you looked up at the sky you would never see an airplane, because they had not yet been invented. If you talked to a woman, she might discuss politics with you, but she was unable to vote because in most states only men could go to the ballot box on election day. If you struck up another conversation with an African American man, you would hear an even bleaker story. Though free from slavery, he still encountered racial violence, segregation, and isolation from white society. While you pondered these conversations, your attention would soon be drawn to the street itself. People, carts, horses, trolleys, bicycles, and buggies all interacted in the chaotic street space, only occasionally sharing the road with an automobile. The other curious thing you would notice was an absence of personal technologies. If you went into anyone’s home, you would find no radios, televisions, or computers. Entertainment came from nonelectronic devices like pianos, books, and stories told by visitors. If you asked one of those visitors to tell you about the United States in 1900, he would say that it was an isolated place, separated from the rest of the world by two great oceans. The natural landscape protected it, and as a result its Army numbered less than 100,000 men (no women except for nurses), and its Navy was smaller than Germany or England’s in terms of overall size and firepower capabilities. An Air Force did not exist. However, the nation was at a critical turning point, and during the 20 years from 1900 to 1920, technological, political, economic, and social developments transformed the country in ways that still effect us today (Cooper, 1990). These were the pivotal decades. 2.1 The American Empire (1890s) I n order to understand the pivotal decades at the turn of the 20th century, we need to step back into the 19th and explore how the United States changed its view of the world and its relationship with it. For the first time in its history, the nation’s leaders were not looking to expand within the continent itself. Instead they set their sights on global expansion with the desire to control various island nations that represented strategic importance. The motivation was not physical expansion. The United States had enough land, and its people did not seek new regions to conquer and occupy. Economic expansion was one motivating force, though trade with the inhabitants of these islands was not the priority. These locations served as access points to even larger markets from which to expand America’s commercial interests. In the age before the airplane, the seas were the avenue of economic interaction, and the United States knew that if it could control places like the Hawaiian Islands, those places could serve as an important gateway to Asia. This was the era of the growing American empire, and its leaders formulated an imperialistic strategy to protect and promote its interests throughout the world. The idea of an American “empire” and “imperialism” is challenging to some because it is typically associated with European nations and their colonies. This was a tremendous era of European imperialism, and in the years between the late 19th and early 20th centuries, these powers claimed 25 percent of the world for themselves. Was the United States like one of these empires, such as Britain, with a desire to boldly colonize the world? With a hint of sarcasm, historian Niall Ferguson said, “The great thing about the American empire is that so many Americans disbelieve in its existence . . . They think that they’re bow11111_02_c02_065-122.indd 67 6/10/11 8:26 AM Section 2.1 The American Empire (1890s) CHAPTER 2 so different that when they have bases in foreign territories, it’s not an empire. When they invade sovereign territories, it’s not an empire” (Immerman, 2010). Yet, by annexing Hawaii, purchasing Alaska from Russia, creating a protectorate in Cuba, going to war with Spain, and taking control of the Philippines, Guam, and Puerto Rico, the American “empire” was on the march. The Idea of Imperialism Americans had always felt the desire to grow, move, and acquire, as expressed through the ideal of Manifest Destiny (see Section 1.3 for a history of this term). This concept suggested that progression from east to west across the continent was not so much a choice of the European settlers as it was their destiny to do so. Many believed it was God’s plan for the United States to control the continent from sea to shining sea. However, when they fulfilled this destiny, America did not declare itself a finished nation (Brinkley, 2010). It continued to explore new areas of expansion in the 1890s for several reasons. The first was simply that expansionist tendencies were a fundamental component of the American psyche, and since the first settlers came to North America in the 17th century, they had sought to expand. Second, though the United States seemed protected by its oceans, many thought it was also trapped by them. The natural resources that existed in America were finite, and once depleted, the nation might be helpless to sustain itself. Third, in 1859 Charles Darwin had published a revolutionary scientific theory called The Origin of Species. In it he described the idea that all life evolved from simple to complex organisms (including humans) through a process called natural selection. This meant that the genetic traits of organisms that allowed them to better survive were passed on to succeeding generations, enabling the formation of more complex organisms. In the late 19th century, some observers applied this scientific theory and the idea of “survival of the fittest” to the social world. Though not Darwin’s idea, proponents called this controversial ideology social Darwinism, and it provided the rationale for strong nations to control weak ones, simply because it was viewed as an extension of natural law. Thus, some felt this was a scientific justification for imperialism and empire building, and for others, more tragically a desire to create a “master race” (Hofstadter, 1993). Alfred Thayer Mahan (1840–1914) was an American naval historian who advocated the importance of strong naval forces for military preparedness. bow11111_02_c02_065-122.indd 68 Fourth, another concern was that other nations like Britain had navies far stronger than the United States. Alfred Thayer Mahan, in his famous book entitled The Influence of Sea Power upon History, argued that the strength of a nation was measured by the power of its navy. By this criterion, the United States was weak, and many sought to immediately strengthen the deficiency. This meant not simply building a strong navy, but also establishing an American military presence around the world where its vessels could dock, refuel, and restock. The best places to do this were islands strategically positioned 6/10/11 8:26 AM Section 2.1 The American Empire (1890s) CHAPTER 2 in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and the Caribbean Sea. However, controlling the seas was valuable for more than just military might. There was another essential reason to pursue it, which Mahan called the “profound influence of sea commerce” (Mahan, 1890). The pursuit of economic gain has been a reason for imperialistic desires of many nations, including America. Taken together, these ideals—historical precedent, natural resources, social Darwinism, military power, and economics—led the United States into an era of imperialistic expansion. It should be noted that there was an underlying tension with these issues deeply rooted in the American past. The American colonists fought against what they saw as oppression from British control and unfair taxation without political representation. As a result, these themes of tension and enthusiasm for expansion shaped its American imperial destiny. Seward’s Folly—Alaska As the Civil War was ending in 1865, the nation returned its focus to Manifest Destiny. The question was, Where next to expand? The answer, according to U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward, was to purchase land from Russia in the far northwest. Why would Russia choose to part with this land? First, it was a long way from Moscow and, therefore, was nearly impossible to colonize. Second, the country needed money, and their asking price of $7.2 million for land it could not colonize seemed like a good deal. Finally, because of its location, Russia could not adequately defend it. As a result, they were ready to sell—and Seward was eager to buy. Baron Edouard de Stoeckly, Russia’s minister in Washington, appeared at Seward’s doorstep and at 4 a.m. on March 30, 1867, signed the deal. Remarkably, he did this without the knowledge of Andrew Johnson, the president of the United States (Jones, 2009). This resulted in the addition of nearly 400 million acres haps most importantly, it was a strategic move, which eliminated another powerful nation from the continent that the United States was dominating. When asked what the most significant moment of his career was, Seward responded that it was the purchase of Alaska. However, he predicted it would take the United States another generation to realize the brilliance of it (Borneman, 2004). He was correct—for many years after 1867, the purchase was known in mocking terms as “Seward’s folly,” “Frigidia,” “Polar Bear Garden,” and “Seward’s icebox.” Seward’s purchase was eventually appreciated for its significance. As explorers surveyed the area, they came back with stories about the important natural resources in Alaska, which included control of whaling and fishing regions. In the 20th century, it became a vital oil reserve, secured the continent for the United States (along with allies like Canada), and thus enabled the nation to begin expanding its reach across the seas (Harrell, 2005). bow11111_02_c02_065-122.indd 69 of land for 2¢ an acre. But, per- Northwestern America showing the territory ceded by Russia to the United States, 1867. 6/10/11 8:27 AM Section 2.1 The American Empire (1890s) CHAPTER 2 Hawaii Throughout the late 19th century, there was a small American population that resided on the Hawaiian Islands. At the time, Hawaii was nation led by King Kalakaua, and though he had some diplomatic ties with the United States, such as the lease of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii was an independent nation. In 1890, military leaders were reading Mahan’s book The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, and one of the ideas within it was that the nation had to have a stronger sea presence. Secretary of the Navy Benjamin Tracy agreed and said in his annual report, “The sea will be the future seat of empire” (McDougall, 2004). Hawaii appeared to be strategically essential for the United States because it had a naval base at Pearl Harbor and could ensure protection Letter from Liliuokalani, Queen of of its Pacific coastline. It also possessed natural prodHawaii, to U.S. House of Represenucts like sugar cane and pineapple that were desirable tatives protesting the United States’s commodities. However, political conflict on the islands assertion of ownership of Hawaii, made the American goals there problematic. One year December 19, 1898. after Mahan published his book, King Kalakaua died while on a visit to California, and Queen Liliuokalani, his sister, succeeded him. She was strongly nationalistic and wanted to rid her nation of its American settlers. But she increasingly demonstrated strange behavior that alienated her from her people. This culminated with a speech delivered on her balcony in January 1893, when she claimed that only native Hawaiians had the right to vote and that as the sovereign ruler, her command was absolute. To solidify her power, she planned a new constitution. Her once-loyal government disapproved and with U.S. support, mounted a revolution; Queen Liliuokalani abdicated her throne. By this time, Mahan was the head of the Naval War College and had attained worldwide celebrity status. Looking at the turmoil in the Pacific, he said that the Hawaiian Islands were essential for the United States, both economically and militarily. Most agreed with him, but the United States was patient and did not move immediately. From 1894 to 1898, Hawaii maintained its independent status as the Republic of Hawaii. When William McKinley became president, the goal to annex Hawaii became stronger, and on July 4, 1898, McKinley issued the Newlands Resolution, which made it the Territory of Hawaii. One month later, on the steps of Iolani Palace, Hawaii transferred sovereignty to the United States. However, it would not officially become a state until March 1959, when President Eisenhower welcomed it as the nation’s 50th state. Just two months earlier, he had named Alaska the 49th state. Cuba and Spain The impending Spanish-American War was another reason the annexation of Hawaii was so critically important in the late 19th century. The problems with Spain began in another island far from Hawaii. This was the island of Cuba, about 90 miles south of Florida. Cuba was a territory of Spain, and for many years, its people sought independence. The bow11111_02_c02_065-122.indd 70 6/10/11 8:27 AM Section 2.1 The American Empire (1890s) CHAPTER 2 United States also saw a free Cuba as in its best interest because it would eliminate a European power from being close to its shores. José Marti (1853–1895), one of the revolutionaries, came to America to gather money, weapons, and people to support his Cuban cause. Meanwhile, Cuba and the United States strengthened their economic ties with exports of Cuban sugar and tobacco. Despite the common interests against Spain, this Cuban– American relationship began to suffer when, in 1894, the Wilson-Gorman Tariff established a duty on all Cuban sugar entering the United States. Prior to this, there had been no duty at all. While this hurt Cuba economically, it increased Cuba’s resolve to start a revolution against Spain, and one year later it commenced under Marti’s leadership (Norton, 2008). Remember the Maine! President Grover Cleveland’s position was to remain neutral in Cuban and Spanish relations. However, this policy changed when President McKinley took office in 1898. That year, Enrique Dupuy de Lôme, who was the Spanish minister in Washington, DC, wrote a private letter that Cuban rebels intercepted. In it, Lôme described McKinley as a “weak” leader and a “would-be politician” who was a “bidder for the admiration of the crowd” (Lens, 2003). Newspaper publishers such as William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer fueled the fire with what came to be known as yellow journalism. This was a term first used in 1897 in New York newspapers that redefined the way people learned about current events. The genre had several important characteristics, including large multicolumn headlines, a combination of diverse front-page topics from politics to society, heavy use of photographs and charts to accompany the text, experimental page layouts and some attempts at color, reliance on anonymous sources, and self-promotion for the newspapers. Most important were the reporters who wrote for these papers and their crusades against the corruption they saw from city leaders, business monopolies, and corrupt political and corporate activities (Campbell, 2001). Hearst and Pulitzer helped perfect yellow journalism with their depictions of the cruel Spaniards acting against the people of Cuba, and this helped create an American resolve for war to support Cuba (Gilderhus, 2000). There was truth to some of the inflammatory stories—like Spanish military leaders forcing women, children, old, and sick into concentration camps where they quickly died from disease and starvation. Theodore Roosevelt wrote, “It was a dreadful thing for us to sit supinely and watch her death agony. It was our duty, even more from the standpoint of National interest, to stop the devastation and destruction” (Cirillo, 2004). President McKinley dispatched the U.S.S. Maine battleship to lend support to the Cuban cause and also show support for Americans in Cuba. On February 15, 1898, the Maine suffered a devastating explosion in which 266 of its 354-member crew died. Americans immediately blamed Spain for the attack. McKinley attempted a diplomatic resolution, but it quickly failed, and on April 11, he sought congressional authorization to go to war with bow11111_02_c02_065-122.indd 71 This graphic illustrates the violent destruction of the battleship Maine in Havana harbor on February 15, 1898. 6/10/11 8:27 AM Section 2.1 The American Empire (1890s) CHAPTER 2 Spain and establish a stable government in Cuba. Seven days later, the United States made an announcement that it regarded Cuba as a free nation, and Congress gave McKinley the power to remove Spain from the island. The Spanish-American War commenced, though in an ironic twist, Americans soon realized that Spain had no involvement in the explosion on the Maine. It occurred because there was faulty ventilation of the coal bunkers. Nevertheless, “Remember the Maine!” was the cry that led the United States to battle (Trask, 1996). War with Spain On April 22, 1898, Spain issued its own declaration of war against the United States, and Secretary of State John Hay called it a “splendid little war”—in part due to the brief period in which America endured casualties (from April to September 1898). At no time was there a possibility of the United States annexing Cuba like it had with Hawaii because it issued the Teller Amendment, which assured the Cuban revolutionaries that America would support their independence. The war was not confined to Cuba itself. Combat began on May 1, 1898, when the United States destroyed the Spanish Pacific Squadron in the Philippines. This was one reason the annexation of Hawaii was so important: the Islands played a vitally strategic role in the attacks on the Philippines. This was in line with America’s imperialistic goals because control of the Philippines also gave America better access to Asia. This was yet another step in transforming the United States into a world power. While the Navy took charge in the Pacific, the Army controlled the battle in Cuba. Though the army was a strong fighting force, some referred to it as a “comic opera” (Gilderhus, 2000). For example, many of the soldiers sent to the hot Cuban climate were outfitted with warm gear suited for the cold and snow. Rations were poor and medical services inadequate. Despite these obstacles, there was dramatic military success. One of the most notable stories was that of Theodore Roosevelt, who left his position as Assistant Secretary of the Navy to serve as second in command of the First Volunteer Calvary, known as the Rough Riders. The term came from Buffalo Bill’s western show called “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and Congress of Rough Riders” (Reddin, 1999). To Roosevelt, this was a perfect term for his men because their real-life experiences on the western frontier made them “accustomed to handling wild and savage horses.” They were a diverse group of men Roosevelt described as “children of the dragon’s blood” who were used to “lawless freedom” and on whom “danger acted like wine” (Watts, 2003). Roosevelt knew that these were the best type of men to take into battle, and there was no doubt that he sought the most intense action for himself. In his account of the war, Roosevelt said, “I had determined that, if a war came, somehow or other, I was going to the front” (Roosevelt, 1899). He got his wish when his Colonel Theodore Roosevelt and his storming of the Spanish troops at San Juan Hill became Rough Riders at the top of San Juan one of the war’s turning points. In August 1898, Spain Hill during the Spanish American surrendered. This was the last war by Western nations in War. which the number of deaths due to disease and sickness bow11111_02_c02_065-122.indd 72 6/10/11 8:27 AM Section 2.1 The American Empire (1890s) CHAPTER 2 Technology in America Flight In 1903, two Ohio bicycle makers, Orville and Wilbur Wright, achieved the first powered airplane flight in North Carolina, thus beginning the age of air travel. The ramifications of the Wright Brothers’ first brief flights had a significance that extended throughout the 20th century and beyond. It began with a group of “barnstormers,” who toured the United States demonstrating their piloting skills. This included African American Bessie Coleman, who was the first of her race to earn an international pilot’s license. Other daring exploits focused not on stunts in the sky, but on long-distance travel. The most notable demonstrations were by Charles Lindbergh, who became the first to successfully complete a solo, nonstop, transatlantic flight in 1927. Lindbergh took flight beyond these daring exploits by teaming up with Juan Trippe to form a commercial venture. They dreamed of a passenger airlines company that enabled people to take advantage of the increasing safety of flight. Beginning in Latin America, these two eventually established one of the most significant airlines in the 20th century—Pan American. Flight also had a dramatic effect on military strategy. Though it was used in limited ways during World War I, it had a significant role in World War II and an increasingly important role in every military conflict after it. Curtis LeMay was the great champion of this and devised America’s strategic bombing campaign during World War II; he later created a superior Air Force in the Cold War. Through the use of air power, LeMay believed in “deterrence through intimidation” and the most important way to prevent the Soviet Union from attacking the United States. By the 1950s, flight had progressed from experimentation, barnstorming, distance exploits, commercial development, and military air power, but there was one final frontier that was untouched. This was into space. Starting in 1958, the government formed the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to catch up with the Soviets and their orbiting Sputnik satellite. Soon NASA overtook its Cold War competitor and developed massive rockets like Apollo, which enabled a human to leave the isolation of the planet and step for the first time on the surface of the moon. Remarkably, this took less than 70 years after the Wright Brothers’ first flight. For further reading see: Dawson, V. P., Bowles, M. D., & United States. (2005). Realizing the dream of flight: Biographical essays in honor of the centennial of flight, 1903–2003. Washington, DC: National Aeronautics and Space Administration. were greater than lives lost in combat. In total, the United States lost 392 soldiers in combat operations, while another 2,621 died of disease (Tucker, 2009). It was also a very difficult war for African Americans because these soldiers not only had to endure challenging battlefield conditions, but also faced intense racial hatred from their white commanding officers. Roosevelt fought alongside African American troops on San Juan Hill, and immediately after the war told an African American journalist that he could wish for “no better man beside me in battle than these colored troops showed themselves to be” (Nalty, 1986). He later changed this story to say that the African Americans only demonstrated bravery because white officers led them. He wrote an article for Scribner’s Monthly in 1899 in which he said that the only way he could convince some of the black bow11111_02_c02_065-122.indd 73 6/10/11 8:27 AM Section 2.1 The American Empire (1890s) CHAPTER 2 troops to fight was through coercion with his pistol (Astor, 2001). It was another example of the hope and despair that African Americans faced—hope in fighting valiantly for their country and despair at returning to racism once home. The Empire after War As a result of the Spanish-American War, Cuba was independent, and the United States freed itself from a European power close to its southern border; in the process, the United States gained more territory. Per the terms of the December 1898 Treaty of Paris that ended the war, America annexed Puerto Rico and Guam and, in a clause that the Spanish initially regarded with shock, claimed the Philippines. Spain reluctantly accepted the terms—and $20 million in compensation. This action met with a great deal of divisiveness in the United States. The Anti-Imperialist League vehemently opposed this and actually came close to defeating approval of the Treaty of Paris in the Senate. Established in Boston in November 1898, the League had some very prominent members from politics, business, and the arts, including Grover Cleveland, Samuel Gompers, Andrew Carnegie, and Mark Twain (Manning and Wyatt, 2011). It was representative of the divisions within American society over war and expansion—politicians, labor leaders, business tycoons, and literary giants. While public response to the imperial victory over Spain and the counterinsurgent measures against Filipinos did not end the nation’s imperialistic tendencies, they did “inaugurate two decades of public debate in the United States about the proper relationship between liberty and power” (Anderson and Cayton, 2005). The United States quickly found that having an American empire embroiled it in a vast number of new problems and conflicts. It kept its forces in Cuba until 1902, attempting to build an infrastructure of roads and educational and medical facilities. The Platt Amendment of 1901, named for republican Senator Orville Platt from Connecticut, defined the ways that America attempted to force its economic will over the new nation. This included preventing it from signing treaties with other nations, restricting its national debt, and formally stating that the United States had the right to intervene in Cuba to preserve its independence. Furthermore, it forced Cuba to sell part of its land to the United States for use by its navy, leading to its control of Guantanamo Bay. The Cubans reluctantly agreed to these terms (Suri, 2010). 1905 cartoon entitled “Peace” shows “Great White Fleet.” Theodore Roosevelt’s face is on the bow of the lead battleship. During Roosevelt’s presidency, the United States was recognized as a world power. bow11111_02_c02_065-122.indd 74 The expansion of the American empire into the Philippines was also difficult at best. The native Filipinos were unhappy with the results of the war. Even before it started, they had been fighting against the Spanish, so when the Americans took over, they transferred their hatred to them. The result was a war between the Philippines and the United States that lasted until 1902 and included the loss of 4,325 U.S. soldiers. Most tragic were the losses of the Filipino people, who suffered the deaths of 16,000 soldiers and an estimated 250,000 to 1 million civilians due to disease (Tucker, 2009). 6/10/11 8:27 AM Section 2.2 Progressivism in America (1900–1919) CHAPTER 2 For the American military leaders, one thing became clear from these interventions. The United States needed to improve its military. McKinley gave this job to Elihu Root, who had somewhat of an unusual background for this position as a well-known corporate lawyer and trust regulator. But he brought these reform skills to the military and adapted it to new international conditions, combining the military with political and economic interests in support of American expansionism (Rossini, 1995). By 1903, he increased the size of the military fourfold, established the National Guard, and created the Joint Chiefs of Staff. This staff would help to better coordinate the efforts among the branches of the military, who all reported to the Secretary of War (now called the Secretary of Defense). Conclusion After his success in the Spanish-American War, Theodore Roosevelt became President of the United States from 1901 to 1909. In Section 2.5, we will see how he continued to expand America’s empire with his Roosevelt Corollary and the construction of the Panama Canal. Though we are jumping ahead slightly in our narrative, a moment at the end of Roosevelt’s presidency dramatically exemplifies the emergence of the United States as a world power. In February 1909, just 10 days before Roosevelt was to step down as president, there was a moment that he described as one of the most satisfying of his administration (Zimmerman, 2004). Two years earlier, he had sent the Great White Fleet, 16 first-class American battleships, to travel the world as a demonstration of power. They navigated around the Straits of Magellan to San Francisco and then New Zealand, Australia, the Philippines, China, Japan, and the Mediterranean. Fourteen months later, they returned as Roosevelt sat on his presidential yacht, the Mayflower, watching them come home. A 45,000-mile trip, it was the longest voyage in naval history. Roosevelt wrote: In my judgment the most important service that I rendered to peace was the voyage of the battle fleet round the world. I had become convinced that for many reasons it was essential that we should have it clearly understood, by our own people especially, but also by other peoples, that the Pacific was as much out home waters as the Atlantic, and that our fleet could and would at will pass from one to the other of the two great oceans. (Roosevelt, 1914) While the ships would soon change their colors to gray to make them less conspicuous in the ocean, these returning giant white ships in a seven-mile column made for an impressive sight. As each passed by the president, they acknowledged him with a thunderous 21-gun salute. There was no better example of Mahan’s argument for the influence of sea power in American history. The modern American military was born, the American empire was expanding, and isolation was ending. 2.2 Progressivism in America (1900–1919) W e turn now from the American empire abroad to the need for reforms at home. As you should remember, the United States ended the 19th century while confronting numerous problems such as corruption in business, an economic depression, and labor unrest. Add to this other significant social problems such as legalized segregation and bow11111_02_c02_065-122.indd 75 6/10/11 8:27 AM Section 2.2 Progressivism in America (1900–1919) CHAPTER 2 racial violence that often went unpunished by local law enforcement. Punctuating these ongoing problems were horrific events that indicated the nation might be heading down the wrong path. Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire reported on the front page of The New York World newspaper on March 16, 1911. One was the “fire that changed America” (Von Drehle, 2003). This occurred in March 1911, when workers were ending their day at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York. Suddenly a fire broke out; it spread quickly, trapping people in the upper three floors. When firemen eventually extinguished the blaze, more than 150 people were dead, mostly young women. This remained the most tragic moment in New York history until 9/11. Many blamed the fire on the company itself for inhuman working conditions and an unsafe environment. More than 40,000 people protested, bringing together a wave of reformers and social activists who worked prevent a similar disaster in the future. Out of tragedy often comes moments of hope for change and reform. That is exactly what happened during this period in the United States. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire was not the first, but one of a growing line of significant social problems that spawned a new wave of activists who struggled to improve the world around them. They sought to inspire new levels of government activism to result in social and economic change. They were known as the Progressives because they firmly believed that they could change society for the better, and even come close to a state of perfection. They rallied against the political machines that were so dominant in the 19th century and hoped to replace them with stronger local governments, such as commissions and city managers. In this section, we will explore the Progressive mission and their faith in government to cure the evils of the world. Who Were the Progressives? In April 1912, Theodore Roosevelt gave a speech with the title “Who Is a Progressive?” In it he said that the ideas of Progressivism are so common that “A well-meaning man may vaguely think of himself as a Progressive without having even the faintest conception of what a Progressive is.” To Roosevelt, anyone who had a forward-thinking vision of the future and intense convictions qualified as a Progressive. However, these convictions had to include sympathy for the common person, as well as imagination for how to improve their lives. On the other hand, if a person simply had “mildly good intentions,” Roosevelt considered them as “utterly useless” (Pestritto and Atto, 2008). As can be seen with Roosevelt’s broad and nonspecific terms, Progressivism was not one single, easily defined movement. Some have even suggested that it encompassed so many ideas, goals, and causes that it is impossible to define it at all. It could have been as narrow as rallying against conditions found in a shirtwaist factory or as broad as novelist Upton Sinclair in his book The Jungle exposing the significant health issues found in the meatpacking industry. Sinclair depicted the unsanitary conditions and use of rotten bow11111_02_c02_065-122.indd 76 6/10/11 8:27 AM Section 2.2 Progressivism in America (1900–1919) meat in such graphic terms that it inspired many to seek reform of the entire industry. Journalists in Collier’s and McClure’s were also fond of exposing corruption. Theodore Roosevelt called them the muckrakers because they were dredging up the worst muck and filth that they could find in society. These writers liked the term because they wanted to bring attention to these ills of society. Some were personally very committed to their causes, and many of the writers took jobs in the factories or lived in the slums to try to truly understand and empathize with the struggling poor. They were also influential in bringing these issues to a middle class that was growing larger and more powerful in their political clout (Boyer, 2008). CHAPTER 2 Ida M. Tarbell (1857–1944), muckraking journalist, best known for her McClure’s magazine articles in the early 1900s describing the monopolistic business practices of the Standard Oil Company. While these Progressives had many different faces, they all shared the common theme of activism. This included women suffragists (suffrage is the legal right to vote in a political election) who fought to gain the right to vote and marched in the streets to voice an opinion that they were not allowed to cast at the ballot box. It also included those who believed that the nation would be better off if alcoholic beverages were illegal and that a temperate society was a better society. There were the settlement house workers who tried to ease the struggles of new immigrants in America. Some of the wealthiest members of society also considered themselves Progressives, such as Andrew Carnegie and his mission of philanthropic charity. While their causes were diverse, common to all of them were an adherence and commitment to ideals of democracy, efficiency, regulation, and social justice (Tindall and Shi, 2006). Democracy For change to take place in the political realm in any democracy, people have to rise up and make informed decisions at the ballot box. At the turn of the 20th century, women and African Americans were not able to do this, and while the Progressive record was not as successful in these areas as some would like, they did begin the process of more inclusivity in the process of democracy. The first step was through the direct primary, which was important because it transformed an informal caucus-convention process (often in the so-called smoky back rooms in convention halls) to include more rigorous and open rules (Ware, 2002). This established a way for the people to directly vote on who would be candidates for their parties in larger elections instead of having the political parties themselves simply nominate someone. Some have suggested that the implementation of this system between 1899 and 1915 was the most radical party reform in the entire course of American history (Ranney, 1975). Another example of Progressive reform was the recall. Though this democratic power is not often used by the people, it nevertheless gives them power to remove an elected official if it is generally agreed upon that they have offended their oath of office (Schmidt et al., 2009). The referendum is the “Progressive cousin” to the recall, which has several functions. On the one hand, it allows voters to prevent a particular piece of legislation bow11111_02_c02_065-122.indd 77 6/10/11 8:27 AM Section 2.2 Progressivism in America (1900–1919) CHAPTER 2 Technology in America Wireless Radio In the first two decades of the 20th century, wireless radio began connecting people across the nation in new ways by allowing them to hear news and entertainment broadcasts that originated from great distances. David Sarnoff was one of the first people to envision the future of radio. He was working at Marconi Wireless Telegraph in 1915 and wrote a memo stating: “I have in mind a plan of development which would make radio a ‘household utility’ in the same sense as a piano . . . ” This statement is historically significant for two reasons. First, it pinpoints a time when home electrical devices, other than early phonographs, simply did not exist. Second, from our current perspective, how unusual is it to think of pianos as being a standard household utility? At that time, entertainment was not something that people listened to on the radio, watched on television, or surfed on the Internet. Instead, entertainment was something that was created specifically in the home. The only exception to this was reading. However, the radio was not just an entertainment device, as it also played a vital role in World War I. Though extraordinarily primitive by our current standards, wireless radio was essential for enabling soldiers to communicate at a distance. Problems included the size and bulk of the devices and the limited range. A radio in an airplane could only communicate less than half a mile, but this did mean that the pilot could now talk to allies on the ground immediately below the aircraft. World War I essentially served as a turning point in the history of radio, because it demonstrated how significant the technology could be for future conflicts. Soldiers in the field no longer needed to feel isolated from larger troop movements. It was after World War I, during the 1920s, that radios became a significant component of home use. It moved from the status of a luxury item to something of a standard necessity for families that began to rely on it for news and entertainment. Along with this arose the commercialization of broadcasting as a new and important way for businesses to advertise and sell their products to consumers. For further reading see: Barnouw, E. (1966). A tower in Babel: A history of broadcasting in the United States: to 1933. New York: Oxford University Press. Coe, L. (2006). Wireless radio: A brief history. Jefferson, NC: Mcfarland. from becoming law, while on the other, it is used in some states to ratify constitutional amendments and as the enacting part of the initiative process (Lawrence, 2007). Another “institution of direct democracy” is the initiative. This allows one citizen or a group to file a bill and then demonstrate voter support by collecting signatures. If enough are collected, then the bill qualifies to appear on a state ballot. Today, this is used extensively in California, as well as other states: 24 have a statewide initiative, 24 allow a referendum, and 18 enable the recall of public officials (Donovan et al., 2009). Efficiency A second central theme of Progressivism was efficiency. Progressives strove to examine every aspect of life itself and determine, often through new scientific principles, how to do more work with less energy. This was part of a broader trend in America at this time bow11111_02_c02_065-122.indd 78 6/10/11 8:27 AM Section 2.2 Progressivism in America (1900–1919) toward a new bureaucratic-minded middle class that was, for the most part, better educated because of the expansion of higher education at the university level in the 19th century. The new middle class were urban, professional men and women who saw government as an ally in improving life and bureaucratic administration as a path to achieve it. As historian Robert Wiebe wrote, “A bureaucratic orientation now defined a basic part of the nation’s discourse. The values of continuity and regularity, functionality and rationality, administration and management set the form of problems and outlined their alternative solutions” (Wiebe, 1967). CHAPTER 2 Men at work on an assembly line at Ford Motor Company, 1913. This striving for efficiency became the “American way,” and one important component was the search for experts to solve problems. One of the leaders was Frederick W. Taylor and his widely read 1895 treatise entitled Scientific Management. He argued that through time-and-motion studies of workers on the job, managers could devise new tools, machines, and processes that would streamline business and increase productivity and profit. Taylor and President Roosevelt himself urged everyone to answer the “question of national efficiency” and strive to achieve it. They both saw wasted effort that resulted in a country that did not live up to its potential. Taylor’s answer was to organize and create a corporate system where workers became more efficient. When he visited businesses, he realized that “Awkward, inefficient, or ill-directed movements of men . . . leave nothing visible or tangible behind them” (Taylor, 1911). In other words, there was no progress. He argued that a remedy for this inefficiency was his principles of management and that these were applicable to the smallest activities and tasks performed from the individual to the largest corporation. Through his work, the ideals of efficiency spread to the management of farms, businesses, homes, churches, government, philanthropic organizations, and universities. Taylor used stopwatches to time worker actions, cameras to document motion, and engineers to define the most precise movements for the workers. While this was a boon to efficiency, in the process it deskilled the worker and left him in a less powerful position because another person could be easily trained. The introduction of assembly lines at Henry Ford’s automobile plant was an example of how managers redesigned jobs. One person was no longer responsible for building a complete product. Instead, conveyor belts brought pieces of the work to the laborers, who specialized in a repetitive task they performed so frequently that they became efficient experts. Regulation As we have already seen, while business in the United States grew larger, there was a greater opportunity for corruption because there were few governmental regulations. Though there were some attempts at reform in the late 19th century, these were not as successful as hoped. The first possible solution was the laissez-faire approach, which is a French term meaning “do nothing.” In other words the government should sit back and let business leaders work out their own problems with no interference and rules. The second was to restructure capitalism and transform it more toward socialism that bow11111_02_c02_065-122.indd 79 6/10/11 8:27 AM Section 2.2 Progressivism in America (1900–1919) CHAPTER 2 redistributed wealth to the many and took ownership of the means of production away from the few. A third option was to have the government more aggressively break up the largest companies with the most power. While there were proponents of each of these ideas, ultimately none presented a widely accepted solution. Instead, Progressives began to support an idea known as regulation (Saros, 2009). The federal regulation of railroads was an early example of this strategy—and one of the first demonstrations of the national Progressive movement (Kolko, 1965). But regulation was not just for a single industry. Instead, it was a goal to improve all of business, with the ultimate purpose of protecting the unorganized against the organized (Harrison, 2004). In other words, businesses used Taylor’s scientific management to become organized. One of the main questions was who would do the regulating, and with their faith in government, the Progressives believed that those in public office were best suited for the job. (We will see some of the regulatory successes in Section 2.5). Progressives believed that government should have the power to regulate industry; they also believed that it also had the power to create a moral uplift for the downtrodden of society. Social Justice The final main theme of Progressivism was attention to social justice, which was a passionate concern for the well-being of the less fortunate in society. At this time, there were no government welfare systems in place. Therefore, people who were sick, injured, or unable to work for any of a number of reasons found themselves destitute and homeless. A number of Progressives became committed to improving and uplifting their lives through the process of social justice. By coordinating technological and governmental initiatives, Progressives believed that it was possible to fundamentally improve the lives of the poorest Americans through education and housing. With this goal in mind, leaders adopted scientific terms and applied them toward “social experiments” designed to achieve important results (Feffer, 1993). This had many proponents—including the Rockefeller Foundation, which donated millions of dollars to urban activists who improved health conditions in cities; churches that espoused the “social gospel” and engaged charity work directed toward those in need; and politicians, who used the tools of government. In many ways, social justice unified the diverse goals of all the Progressives because despite their differences they “shared a belief in society, a common good, and social justice, and that society could be changed into a better place” (Nugent, 2010). Jane Addams (1860–1935), founder of Hull House and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. bow11111_02_c02_065-122.indd 80 One of the best examples of this was Jane Addams. Born in 1860, she grew up in a wealthy family and had the privilege of pursuing a higher education, which was something that few women enjoyed at this time. Upon her father’s death, she inherited enough money to enable her and a friend to tour Europe, where she visited a settlement house for wayward boys. When she 6/10/11 8:27 AM Section 2.2 Progressivism in America (1900–1919) CHAPTER 2 returned home, she decided that she wanted to devote her life to the spirit of charity and social justice and create a settlement house for girls. Addams founded the U.S. Settlement House Movement with Hull House in Chicago. The first opened in 1889 and became a model for more than 400 similar homes in the United States by the early 20th century. It was a home where women assisted the needy and provided social uplift for those suffering from what she called the “wrecked foundations of domesticity.” She wrote that we often “forget how new the modern city is,” and so need to step back and analyze it. She said that that “never before in civilization have such numbers of young girls been suddenly released from the protection of the home and permitted to walk unattended upon city streets and to work under alien roofs” (Addams, 1909). These houses did more than simply help young women. Their leaders expanded their services to assist immigrant families who were struggling to understand American language and culture. The settlement houses also provided an opportunity for ambitious women to have a career opportunity at a time when few options other than marriage were open to them. One notable example of a settlement house worker who went on to notoriety was First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Finally, this social justice movement evolved into the profession of social work that we know today. Sixteenth and Seventeenth Amendments The Progressive use of the amendment created lasting effects on our political system and is often considered the greatest success of the entire movement. One of the first examples was the adoption of the Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution in 1913, which provided the ability for the federal government to collect an income tax from all workers. Though considered a Progressive success that enabled government to generate revenue to carry out reforms, there were some who strongly disagreed. One lawyer from North Dakota wrote in 1915: “This amendment was added by the people without noise, without rancor, without violence, without criticism of the Supreme Court or threat to abolish it . . . But mark you! . . . Through this same method amendments may be added to the Constitution as many and as often as the people shall determine. Through the same method every provision of the Constitution may be changed or modified until there is left no vestige of the original instrument. We can emerge into socialism, communism, anarchy . . .” (Estabrook, 1915). Soon after the Sixteenth Amendment, Progressive reformers achieved another Constitutional victory with the passage of the Seventeenth Amendment. This was important because it provided for the direct election of U.S. senators by the American people, whereas previously they gained office through state legislatures. As Christopher Hoebeke wrote, this was the “road to mass democracy,” because more than any other act the 17th Amendment “symbolizes America’s traditional resentment of political constraints.” It was also the “culminating episode to a generation of reforms intended to make government more ‘responsive’ to popular demands, in addition to being the logical and almost inevitable consequence of popular discontents that had been fermenting since the earliest days of our republic” (Hoebeke, 1995). bow11111_02_c02_065-122.indd 81 6/10/11 8:27 AM Section 2.2 Progressivism in America (1900–1919) CHAPTER 2 Prohibition One of the most significant Progressive uses of the amendment process was their work in making alcohol illegal in the United States. The temperance movement had a long history dating back to the 18th century. It also spawned numerous colorful individuals staunchly committed to the cause. One of the most dynamic was Carry Nation (1846–1911). She led a life of diversity at a time when women had few career options. She was a hotel manager, both a widow and a divorcee, a vaudeville performer, a suffragist, and a settlement house matron. She was profoundly religious, and at the turn of the 20th century, she used her unconventional skills to help bring an end to the consumption of alcohol in the United States. This included wielding a hatchet and destroying saloons in a process she called “hatchetaCarry Nation at the peak of her tion.” She was an imposing figure, standing nearly six career in the early 1900s feet tall. When she strode into a saloon with her axe and attacked the wooden bar with her hatchet, onlookers stared silently in shock. Often she sang hymns while she swung her axe, and between 1900 and 1910 authorities arrested her 30 times for vandalism. While Carry Nation was her given name, she adopted the middle initial “A,” and her name became something of a slogan to the entire prohibition movement: Carry A. Nation. Overall, many Progressives adopted the goal of ending the evils of alcohol, though typically with much less missionary zeal than Carry Nation. Ultimately, in 1919 they were successful in changing the Constitution of the United States with the Eighteenth Amendment, which gave Congress the power to create laws to enforce the prohibition of the “manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors.” Prohibition became the stuff of cultural legend in the 1920s with bootleggers, bathtub gin, and gang wars. These stories sometimes give the impression today that Prohibition was something that no one really took seriously. This view is reinforced because Prohibition only lasted 14 years, when the Twenty-first Amendment repealed it in 1933. However, Prohibition was important for one central reason. It represented one of the most significant political and social achievements of the Progressive reform movement (along with the income tax, popularly elected senators, and women’s suffrage) because it actually changed the Constitution (Kyvig, 2000). In many ways, Prohibition was emblematic of the Progressive movement itself. It met with a remarkable success A Prohibition political poster pubin regulating society, and like this movement itself, it lished by the National Women’s Christian Temperance Union would not last long. bow11111_02_c02_065-122.indd 82 6/10/11 8:27 AM Section 2.3 Suffrage and Segregation (1900–1920) CHAPTER 2 Conclusion The two words that perhaps best described the Progressives are “fierce discontent” (McGerr, 2005). It was a movement of agitation, conducted by those who sought nothing less than to bring justice for the downtrodden and punish those who would do others harm. They used the ideals of democracy, efficiency, regulation, and social justice to try to create a better world than the one that they found themselves living in. Clearly, they did not solve all the ills of society as any look at our communities today will attest. So, what then is the legacy of the Progressive movement? It had a strong impact on American government through Progressives’ belief that it was the tool by which America could achieve positive change and solve problems. In their own era, they were certainly responsible for bringing some improvement to those in need around them. Their constitutional amendments represented some of their longest lasting reforms, as well as the implementation of institutions of democracy through the initiative, recall, and referendum. The Progressives were not always successful, and their ideals often fell short, particularly in the realm of racial equality. But, their nearly utopian goals of creating a society that ended poverty, controlled big business, improved gender relations, and cleansed corruption from politics inspired people throughout the nation to donate time and money to settlement houses, churches, and schools. In the long run, the ambitious agenda fell short. It reached its zenith point during World War I (1917–1919), but the nadir of the movement was soon to come. In the meantime, two of the most significant social problems were ongoing—racism and the exclusion of women from democracy. 2.3 Suffrage and Segregation (1900–1920) B y most measures, the United States was a beacon of democracy for the world, represented by the torch of its new Statue of Liberty, installed in 1886. However, significant problems lurked under the surface, most notably with the racial and gender equality of African Americans and women. As we have seen, the hopes shared by African Americans after being released from slavery soon dissipated by the end of the 19th century. The Supreme Court case of Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896 legalized racism in the country by proclaiming that separate but equal facilities for the races were fair and just. While the facilities were often separate, they were rarely equal. At the turn of the century African American intellectual W.E.B. Du Bois predicted that one of the central problems of the 20th century would be how black and white Americans could live together in a just and equal society (Du Bois and Lewis, 1995). Women also struggled at the turn of the century. From the founding of the United States, women did not share equally in its democratic freedoms, most notably in the inability to cast a political vote. Over the course of the 19th century, women began the fight to gain political equality with men, most notably at Seneca Falls, New York, where the women’s rights movement commenced in 1848. It was there that Elizabeth Cady Stanton drafted the Declaration of Rights and Sentiments for women. Signed by 68 women and 32 men, it was a powerful symbol and the beginning of a long struggle for legal, professional, educational, and voting rights. Stanton, and others like Susan B. Anthony, labored through the late 19th century to achieve victory, but by the time of their deaths in 1902 and 1906, they still were not welcome at the ballot box (McMillen, 2008). bow11111_02_c02_065-122.indd 83 6/10/11 8:27 AM Section 2.3 Suffrage and Segregation (1900–1920) CHAPTER 2 In this section, we will explore the social turmoil for women and African Americans in the first decades of the 20th century. We will see the ways in which the legal system and cultural values excluded and isolated them from fully participating in the nation that was the home of democracy and freedom. Women and Work The United States at the turn of the turn of the century was a gendered place, meaning that there were social spaces where women could and could not go. Various cultural norms dictated a woman’s limitations and opportunities, such as where she could work, learn, and go for enjoyment. The typical life path for a woman of this era was marriage and family, where her responsibility was tending to a home and caring for the needs her children and spouse. Women had some measure of control in their homes, but outside them was a different story. There were few professions for women if they sought a career of their own. Other than teacher, nurse, or social worker, women simply could not pursue a job because she had skills or an interest. Catholic women had an option of joining a convent and becoming a nun. For many, the vow of poverty and a life of religious service was a welcome professional and spiritual path. Clerical work was another option for women, and by 1900 this profession became feminized. At the beginning of this transformation, middle-class, high school–educated, native-born white women were the ones who took advantage of these opportunities. Men slowly lost interest in clerical jobs, and as women filled them, employers began paying less money for the same work. Business schools began to emerge that taught women specific skills such as stenography, bookkeeping, and typewriting. In 1870 women accounted for just 3 percent of clerical workers; in 1890 this increased to 17 percent. By World War I, clerical work was completely feminized. Other viable options for women included working as a sales clerk at department and retail stores. Between 1870 and 1900, these jobs increased 10-fold for women. The other main occupational option at this time was as a teacher. In fact, this was the one area of employment in which women had the earliest gains; even during the time of the Civil War, one out of every four teachers were women. By 1900, three out of every four teachers were women. But there were significant limits to what women could teach because they predominately had jobs at the primary level and rarely at the secondary. Black women also participated in these opportunities when African American public schools in the South began opening (Woloch, 2006). Suffrage leader Carrie Chapman Catt wrote, “No occupation illustrates more clearly the immensity of changes wrought than teaching (Sedgwick, 1901). Four African American women students seated on steps of building at Atlanta University, Georgia. Ca. 1899. bow11111_02_c02_065-122.indd 84 Higher education was only slowly changing to allow women to gain a university degree. There were women’s colleges such as Mount Holyoke, Vassar, Radcliffe, and Bryn Mawr, but women were unable to attend Harvard, Yale, or other notable institutions (Horo­ witz, 1993). Coeducation was becoming an option in some schools such as the University of Chicago, where women accounted for more than half of the students in 1902. African American women had options to attend 6/10/11 8:27 AM Section 2.3 Suffrage and Segregation (1900–1920) CHAPTER 2 segregated schools of higher education like Atlanta University, where W.E.B. Du Bois was a professor of economics and history. Even for women who did attain a diploma, there was little that they could do with it professionally once they graduated, unless they had basic clerical skills or sought work as a teacher. The Gibson Girl Changes were occurring, but not fast enough for many. While the political reform efforts stagnated, culturally women took advantage of areas in which they had more control. One example was their bodies. Images drawn by Charles Dana Gibson of the New Woman emphasized athleticism and slimness, unconfined by the stiff petticoats of the past. Known as the Gibson Girl, such drawings appeared in magazines and served as a model for other women to emulate. This came at an impor- A fashionable Gibson Girl with hair tant time in history. While suffragists often encountered piled up on her head, long elegant scorn, disdain, and hostility while struggling to attain dress, and a slim waist. political independence, the Gibson Girl portrayed an image of freedom. She was strong-willed, confident about her future, and able to do as she pleased. Ironically, Charles Gibson himself was unsympathetic to these types of women and drew them as caricatures. Many were fearful of these New Women disrupting the social order, and this fact alone made other women aspire to this ideal (Buszek, 2006). Other images soon depicted women pushing the bounds of what was culturally acceptable. Advertisements in women’s magazines portrayed women as healthy outdoors types, which contrasted sharply to the Victorian, pale, and submissive counterpart. Women like Isadora Duncan, a popular entertainer and dancer, became real-life examples of these ideals. Duncan boldly subverted gender norms by dancing in bare feet and wearing short Greek-inspired tunics. She conveyed the message that she achieved what she wanted in life without having to rely on a man to do it. For example, she wanted children, but not a husband, and so she willingly became pregnant outside of marriage. One of the first “liberated” women, she died tragically in a sports car accident when her own scarf, which had been blowing freely in the wind, wrapped around the spoke of a wheel and snapped her neck (Daly, 2002). Fashion and Birth Control Despite her untimely death, the impact of women like Duncan spread throughout popular culture. Women’s skirt lengths rose higher and higher each year, and though it still sounds quite conservative today, in 1915 most considered a skirt that reached mid-calf scandalous. Other changes to fashion included bobbed hair and the use of makeup. Prior to 1910, very few women wore any lipstick or powder on their faces. The only exceptions were stage actresses. But as movies became more popular, stars like Lillian Gish and Mary Pickford redefined feminine beauty (Whitfield, 2007). This also included smoking. bow11111_02_c02_065-122.indd 85 6/10/11 8:27 AM Section 2.3 Suffrage and Segregation (1900–1920) CHAPTER 2 Typically, the only women who smoked worked in brothels, but by the second decade of the 20th century, smoking represented an act of defiance and freedom for many women (Cooper, 1990). Taboos about sex also changed. Margaret Sanger, a New York nurse, led a movement to enable women to control their pregnancies with her American Birth Control League. This let women explore their sexuality without Margaret Sanger in 1916 at the first having to concern themselves with unwanted babies. birth-control clinic in the United Many city and state politicians reacted negatively and States. worked to pass anti-contraceptive laws. This did not dissuade Sanger, who continued to distribute condoms and birth-control pamphlets. She opened a birth-control clinic in Brooklyn, New York, in 1916; one year later, the authorities arrested her for giving contraceptives to immigrant women. She equated a woman’s power over reproduction as a central measure of liberation and equality (Chesler, 2007). Others criticized her for involvement with eugenics, which was a scientific movement in which its practitioners advocated the notion that all mental and physical “abnormalities” were linked to hereditary and, with selective breeding, could be eliminated. They questioned whether or not Sanger’s insistence on birth control and abortion was in fact a way to limit the growth of ethnic populations. As Esther Katz explained: Some went further, seeming to limit the fertility of the poor, nonwhites, and recent immigrants who, they believed, were more likely to pass on such inferior traits as shiftlessness, intemperance, sexual immorality, criminality, and mental retardation. By promising to resolve social problems and relieve society of the burden of supporting the poor, the insane, the criminal element, and the ‘feeble-minded,’ eugenics attracted progressives and reactionaries . . . all convinced, at least for a time, of the importance of building a better society through scientific breeding.” (Sanger et al., 2002) The debate over birth control and abortion was ongoing; however, what needed immediate resolution in the minds of many was that it was not enough to have the power to change one’s own appearance or to explore sexuality. Women needed the right to vote. Women’s Suffrage Gradually over the first two decades of the 20th century, the suffrage movement gained momentum. Much of this was due to the grassroots organization skills of Carrie Chapman Catt. In 1900, she became the president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), which was founded by Susan B. Anthony in 1890, and devised what she called her “winning plan.” The idea was to focus on winning the right to vote by promoting education of the issue at the state level. This way she could tailor her message more directly to the people. For example, there was much more tolerance and gender equality in the western states, in part because the hardships of life on the frontier required a greater partnership between men and women in order to survive. Therefore, the suffrage message to the western women was different than that conveyed to those in the South, bow11111_02_c02_065-122.indd 86 6/10/11 8:27 AM CHAPTER 2 Section 2.3 Suffrage and Segregation (1900–1920) who supported more traditional gender roles. By 1914, her plan was returning important victories as 10 western states allowed women to vote in state elections. Others were convinced that this slow approach was not yielding results fast enough. Suffragists like Alice Paul began advocating a more militant strategy, which was quite different from the more controlled and refined suffrage movement in the 19th century. Paul organized 5,000 women in 1913 to protest the inauguration of new president Woodrow Wilson because, at the time, he was not certain that women should be allowed to vote. One year later, Paul left the NAWSA and formed the Congressional Union. This organization strove to enact a new constitutional amendment to grant women voting rights nationally. Paul also organized what she called the “Silent Sentinels,” who became the first group ever to picket in front of the White House. On January 1, 1917, they stood rigid and silent in front of the presidential home with banners that demanded the right to vote. Paul said that the strategy was to “visualize the movement to the man and woman on the street” to become “part of the vocabulary of the nation” (Adams, 2008). Because of the White House demonstrations, police arrested Paul and put her in prison, where she went on a hunger strike. The prison guards called her insane, but due to public demand, they eventually released her. Almost one year after the Silent Sentinels began protesting, on January 10, 1918, the suffragists won a major victory when the House of Representatives approved an amendment to change the Constitution and allow women to vote by a narrow margin. The Senate required further convincing, and by this time President Wilson worked with those in favor of the voting amendment and privately tried to convince key Democrats, who threatened to block the vote in the Senate. Wilson’s message was that women were playing an active role in partnering to win World War I (see Section 2.6). Therefore, he asked, “Shall we admit [women] only to a partnership of suffering and sacrifice and toil and not to a partnership of privilege and right?” (Remini, 2006). N.H. WASH. VT. 1910 MONT. ORE. 1912 1913 ID. 1896 1914 UTAH 1870 WYO. COLO. 1893 CALIF. 1911 ARIZ. 1912 MINN. 1918 NEB. IOWA KAN. 1912 OKLA. 1915 NEW MEXICO N.Y. WIS. S.D. 1869 NEV. N.D. ILL. MICH. IND. MO. OHIO KY. W.V. VA. MISS. ALA. MASS. R.I. CONN. N.J. DEL. MD. N.C. TENN. ARK.* TEXAS PENNA. N.D. S.C. GA. LA. FLA. AK. TERR. 1913 HI Before 1871 1871–1910 Dates Dates of of Women’s Women’s Suffrage Suffrage bow11111_02_c02_065-122.indd 87 1910–1918 Presidential suffrage only, 1919 (*only in primaries) No women’s suffrage, 1919 6/10/11 8:27 AM Section 2.3 Suffrage and Segregation (1900–1920) CHAPTER 2 Though persuasive to some, Wilson’s efforts fell just short, and the amendment did not gain the necessary two-thirds of the votes in the Senate. Suffrage organizations decided to fight back and actively campaigned against two Republican and two Democratic senators in the elections one month later. In a demonstration of their growing political power, three of those senators lost, and the fourth barely won election. Based on this display of power, one year later the amendment passed both the House and the Senate; in August 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment became a part of the U.S. Constitution. In November of that year, women across the nation voted in their first presidential election (Cooper, 1990). The Color Line Though the struggle over suffrage had been a long and important battle, it was more successful than the trials that African Americans faced during these years. For African Americans, there would be no resolution to the segregation and suffrage restriction imposed upon them until the 1950s and 1960s. The struggles were particularly intense during the first two decades of the 20th century, which some have called the lowest point for black Americans since the end of the Civil War. Separation and segregation were the rule of the land, with African Americans riding in separate railroad cars, getting water out of their own drinking fountains, and even having their own courthouses and hotels. These facilities were of a far lower standard than the ones enjoyed by whites. But worst of all, voting regulations virtually eliminated the African American political voice. The color line was firmly established in American culture, and there was infrequent crossing of the divide. Segregation and disenfranchisement actually increased racial hatred, and several extremist white politicians fueled this flame. These included “Pitchfork Ben” Tillman in South Carolina and James Vardaman the so-called White Chief of Mississippi. They did not hide their racial beliefs during their campaigns. Vardaman said, “Everybody knows that I believe in the divine right of the white man to rule, to do the voting, and hold all the offices, both state and federal” (Kirwan, 1965). While these were lesser-known political figures from the era, they demonstrate the effort by some to firmly establish a segregated color line in society to keep the races separated and disenfranchised. Racial Violence This type of racial hatred fueled violence. Lynching became public occasions attended by men, women, and children and occurred when a white mob accused a black man of a crime, such as having an affair with a white woman or various other charges. The mob took the law into its own hands by torturing and hanging the victim and then burning the mutilated body. Whites lynched between 60 and 80 black men each year from 1905 to 1915. Race riots were another form of violence. The most dramatic was in Chicago during the summer of 1919, when 38 people died and 537 were wounded (Tuttle, 1996). Ida Wells was an African American journalist who documented many of the tragic lynching stories throughout the United States. Born into slavery in 1862, she devoted her life to the freedom and equality of African Americans. After witnessing one lynching of five black men accused of raping white women, she angrily wrote, “The same programme of hanging, then shooting bullets into the lifeless bodies was carried out to the bow11111_02_c02_065-122.indd 88 6/10/11 8:27 AM Section 2.3 Suffrage and Segregation (1900–1920) CHAPTER 2 letter. Nobody in this section of the country believes the old thread bare lie that Negro men rape white women. If Southern white men are not careful, they will over-reach themselves and public sentiment will have a reaction” (Davidson, 2007). While she also worked toward women’s suffrage, she is today best known as the “mother of the civil rights movement.” Up from Slavery There were several different approaches by African Americans to improve their situation. One was a conservative approach, first articulated by Booker T. Washington, a former slave who used higher education to create a better life and escape poverty. He believed that his success could serve as a model for the black community and that through education black men could aspire to and attain middle-class status. Education held the tools for this success, and he worked to expand the network Booker T. Washington (1856–1915), of black colleges that formed during Reconstruction. He speaking to African American also established his own—the Tuskegee Institute in Ala- schoolchildren. bama. But his message was a conservative one. Gaining national attention for his Atlanta Compromise speech in 1895 and his autobiography Up from Slavery, Washington became one of the most important civil rights leaders of his day (Washington, 1900). His philosophy was conservative because he advocated career paths that led African Americans to agricultural and industrial trades, while at the same time he urged them to adopt white, middle-class standards to overcome racism. Washington did not want African Americans to become professionals like doctors or lawyers because he believed there was too much prejudice in white society for them to attain success. Birth of a Nation D. W. Griffith’s film Birth of a Nation was one of the examples of just how acceptable racism was in society. The film focused on the Civil War and the years during Reconstruction. From a cinematography standpoint, the film was unlike anything seen at that time. Typically, movies of the day were only 15 minutes in length with very little thought put into production, editing, or even actor rehearsals. Griffith broke the mold by spending more than $100,000 to make a nearly three-hour film with complex edits, jump cuts, pans, and zooms. It premiered in 1915 and in it he told the story of the reemergence of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). The original Klan traced its origins to the Reconstruction period but died out in the 1870s. Griffith’s film, which he based on a novel called The Clansman (1905) by Thomas Dixon, reinvigorated the KKK. With a motto of “100% American” and only white Protestants as members, the KKK strove to return the country to its “true identity,” which members claimed was white-only (see Section 3.2). By 1924 there were more than 4 million Klansmen in the United States. Griffith painted a sympathetic portrait of this organization, and he depicted African Americans as sexual predators who threatened and stalked white women. The film ended “triumphantly” as thousands of Klansmen drove out the Northern military and the African Americans—and restored the South to home rule. bow11111_02_c02_065-122.indd 89 6/10/11 8:27 AM Section 2.3 Suffrage and Segregation (1900–1920) CHAPTER 2 When it first premiered, there were quite different reviews of the film from white and black audiences. The African American magazine called The Crisis had the following review: “The Birth of a Nation is not history; it is travesty. It is not realism; it is an abomination . . . Some of us have wondered that Negroes of New York and other cities have been patient enough to permit this vile spectacle to be presented day to day without being roused to some act of violence” (Anon., February 1916). White reviewers presented a much different review. The Moving Picture World stated that “The drama critics of all of the New York newspapers attended the premiere, and in almost every instance the picture was reported at length and in glowing terms” (Stokes, 2007). It was not just the white newspaper critics who applauded the film. So too did the President of the United States. Griffith screened it at the White House, and President The Birth of a Nation movie poster, Woodrow Wilson, a PhD in history, watched it with his 1915, with a Klansman riding triumdaughters and closest advisors. He was spellbound and, phantly on a horse. when it was over, exclaimed, “It is like writing history with lightning . . . And my only regret is that it is all so terribly true” (Dray, 2002). It was time, according to many in the African American community, to abandon Booker T. Washington’s conservative approach to race relations and adopt a more aggressive approach. The Souls of Black Folk Leading this new and radical charge was a brilliant African American scholar, W.E.B. Du Bois. Unlike Washington, he was never a slave, but as Harvard’s first black PhD, he possessed a powerful intellect. In 1903, he published The Souls of Black Folk, in which he openly criticized Washington’s encouragement of segregation and plan of emulating middle-class white society. Du Bois called for a “talented tenth” of all African Americans to attend a university and aspire to the highest professions. His philosophy was to fight for civil rights and not simply sit back and hope that a benevolent white society would welcome African Americans into their social circles. Du Bois lent his support in 1909 to a new black organization called the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Du Bois also criticized Marcus Garvey, another African American leader of his day. Garvey directed his attention to organize a “back to Africa” movement and focused on the less educated African Americans. He thought bow11111_02_c02_065-122.indd 90 Writer and Civil Rights leader W.E.B. Du Bois in his later years. 6/10/11 8:27 AM Section 2.4 Pivotal Technologies (1900–1920) CHAPTER 2 that Du Bois, with his emphasis on the education for just a “tenth” of the race, exposed him as a “race traitor” and said that the KKK was better to African Americans than the NAACP. Du Bois did not take this criticism quietly and called Garvey a “demagogue” and said that all who supported him were the “lowest type of Negroes” (Young, 2001). Du Bois and the NAACP were also active in attempting to block showings of Birth of a Nation. They picketed the theaters, and Du Bois attacked it on historical grounds. They were successful in having it banned in five states and 19 cities. The fight between Du Bois and Griffith went on for years; it was renewed in the 1930s, when Griffith added sound to the originally silent film. Ironically, the film and the NAACP helped to make each other stronger (Lewis, 2001). The film unfortunately inspired many to join the Ku Klux Klan, but it also empowered the NAACP to serve as the voice of the African American community. Thousands of new activists came to the support of Du Bois and the NAACP. Though it took many decades before racial barriers began to fall, this moment marked the beginning of the modern civil rights movement. Conclusion The stories of social turmoil for women and African Americans ended very differently as the pivotal decades from 1900 to 1920 came to a close. Women enjoyed the prized victory that they had been fighting for since the founding of the nation. White women could finally vote in all national and state elections and begin to make a political difference in shaping the direction of the nation. For African Americans, the 1910s ended with racial hatred emblazoned across movie screens, yet this motivated many to fight for reform. Though change would not happen overnight, the NAACP and its leaders prepared for a long, drawn-out battle, and they would not rest until they could finally achieve freedom and equality. 2.4 Pivotal Technologies (1900–1920) W e have been exploring some of the important reasons the years from 1900 to 1920 were pivotal to the United States, and one of the best examples is technology. Look around your home today, and you can see the results of this innovative era. There are electric outlets that provide an easy gateway to alternating current power in multiple locations of every room. Electric light bulbs enable us to overcome the dark and free us from dependence upon the sun for reading or working. Silence in a home is rare as the music from radios or computers often fills the void. Now look out your window and you will likely see paved streets and automobiles that allow for incredible personal freedom. You might hear the sound of an airplane soaring in the skies above, making long-distance travel safe and efficient. What is remarkable is that all of these technological advancements—computers, power transmission, automobiles, airplanes, and plastics—came of age in the years just before and after 1900. These were pivotal technologies that significantly shaped the 20th century, and they still affect our lives every day. bow11111_02_c02_065-122.indd 91 6/10/11 8:27 AM Section 2.4 Pivotal Technologies (1900–1920) CHAPTER 2 Technology in America From Mass Transit to Personal Transportation Today we think of technological change as being so rapid that what was cutting edge 10 years ago is now considered quaint and old-fashioned. This was not always the case, and personal transportation is an important example. Transportation technology actually changed remarkably little between the development of the wheel (around 4000 b.c.) and the railroad in the 19th century. San Francisco established its first cable car in 1873, and Frank Sprague developed the first electric streetcar or trolley in 1887 in Richmond, Virginia. What all of these had in common were that they were forms of “mass” transit. Though this is still an important component of travel today with buses, trains, and airplanes, today we have privileged personal transportation as the ultimate form of travel because it enables us the freedom, choice, and independence to go where we want and when. Personal transportation represents many of the values held by Americans. Prior to the 1880s, personal transportation existed only by walking, riding a horse, or being pulled in a cart or wagon by a horse. But this decade saw the birth of the first “safety bicycle,” which provided an unparalleled freedom of movement. In the 1890s, inventors began experimenting with motorized automobiles. When Henry Ford applied techniques of mass production in the early 20th century, creating an inexpensive automobile for the masses, the personal transportation revolution officially began. Historian James Flink, writing in his book The Automobile Age, described the significance of this development: “Improved transportation . . . increased personal mobility, brought city amenities to the countryside, decentralized urban space, sanitized the central city, and created an integrated national culture, economy and society.” In other words, personal transportation played a vital role in ending isolation and unifying the nation. The automobile was also important for its relationship to other industries as well. It helped create a new service industry for automobile repair and maintenance, as well as the need to develop locations to purchase gasoline. The rubber industry vastly expanded with the need for tires, as did the steel industry for parts, frames, and bodies for the automobiles. This personal technology was also important for serving as an impetus to building roads, and the decentralization of the city with the growth of the suburbs. Today, there are nearly a quarter of a billion automobiles in use in the United States alone. For further reading see: Flink, J. J. (1998). The automobile age. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Flink, J. J. (1987). The car culture. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Birth of the Computer Age The computer is typically considered a modern invention, but its roots extend back over a century when inventors first used mechanical devices for analyzing data. The data were the U.S. census, which was a vitally important measure of the growth and composition of the nation. The government commissioned the first census in 1790, and with only 4 million people in the country at the time, it was a manageable task to account for everyone. However, as the nation expanded through the 19th century, census taking became more and more difficult. The government took a new census every 10 years, and by 1880, experts predicted that it would take seven years to complete the tally. Their concern was that by 1890 it might take longer than a decade, meaning that the 1900 census would be bow11111_02_c02_065-122.indd 92 6/10/11 8:27 AM Section 2.4 Pivotal Technologies (1900–1920) CHAPTER 2 started before the 1890 census was complete. Something had to be done, and Herman Hollerith had a solution (Aspray and Campbell-Kelly, 2004). After graduating as a mining engineer from Columbia University, Hollerith got a job tabulating data for the 1880 census. He soon realized how tedious the job was and began experimenting with a way to have a machine perform many of the tasks. In 1882, he began teaching at Woman working with punch cards the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), but he at an early tabulating machine at the continued to work on the census problem and eventu- U.S. Census Bureau, ca. 1908. ally devised a system by which small cards with holes in them represented data. He got the idea while riding on a train—the conductor punched holes in tickets, which represented various physical features of the passengers (eye color, hair color, etc.). The conductor used this as a simple method of preventing people from stealing tickets, but as Hollerith watched, he realized this was potentially an answer to the census problem (Heide, 2009). After developing a tabulating machine and securing a government contract, Hollerith and his device managed the 1890 census, with 100 men and 100 women working day and night punching data onto cards. Just six weeks later, his tabulator counted 63 million people. Based on the success of the census, Hollerith formed the Tabulating Machine Company, which later became International Business Machines, or IBM. With one of the nation’s most important problems successfully solved, the computer age had begun (Maney, 2003). Modern Prometheus Technology requires power. While human, animal, water, and steam initially provided the power for the industrial revolution, by the turn of the 20th century, there was a new way to make things work—electricity. In your own home, when you plug a device into the wall this is known as alternating current (ac). If you use a device with a battery, this is direct current (dc). Nikola Tesla was the person most responsible for developing ac motors and transmission equipment. Born in Croatia, he went to work at one of Thomas Edison’s plants in Paris, France. Edison soon learned of his abilities, and Tesla moved to the United States, where Edison had him working on a dc generator. Soon the two had a falling out, and Westinghouse hired Tesla because they shared a common philosophy about electricity. Both Tesla and Westinghouse believed that ac was the wave of the future. In 1895, he supervised the project to construct ac generators at Niagara Falls and succeeded in transmitting power over a distance of more than 20 miles. This was the first hydroelectric plant. Teslas’s discoveries serve as the “technological backbone” of the 20th century, and soon electrical wires began crisscrossing the land, electrifying the nation. His other Nikola Tesla produces artificial inventions included fluorescent and neon lights, wire- “lightning” in his laboratory in less communication, remote control, robotics, induction Colorado Springs. bow11111_02_c02_065-122.indd 93 6/10/11 8:27 AM Section 2.4 Pivotal Technologies (1900–1920) CHAPTER 2 motors, and electrical-power distribution systems (Seifer, 1999). These achievements have inspired some to call him the “modern Prometheus,” after the Greek god who gave the gift of fire to man (Cheney, 2001). Realizing the Dream of Flight At the same time Tesla was inspiring godlike mythological comparisons to his achievements, another great race was on in the 1890s. The race was for the skies to see who would be the first to construct a flying machine. Taking the early lead in this race was Samuel P. Langley, a Harvard professor of astronomy and secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. He became obsessed with flying aircraft and soon attracted the world’s attention when the U.S. War Department funded his unusual “aerodrome” experiments. His goal was to create the first manned flying machine, but instead all he succeeded in doing was creating spectacular crashes. The press began referring to his machines as “Langley’s folly.” He died in 1906 having never flown. His fundamental flaw was that he approached flight as a problem of power and spent all of his efforts attempting to construct stronger engines (Tobin, 2003). This was the wrong approach. (See Flight.) In contrast to Langley’s very public experiments, on the other side of this great race, two brothers in Ohio labored in relatively obscurity with the same dream. Wilbur and Orville Wright were bicycle mechanics, and when they looked at how to construct a flying machine, they emphasized the issue of balance, as opposed to Langley’s concentration on power. They came up with a three-axis control that let the pilot adjust the aircraft’s equilibrium while flying. The Wright Brothers tinkered in their bicycle shop, making models and testing designs in a wind tunnel that let them experiment with their ideas of flight. Their equilibrium system required a great deal of skill for the pilot, and they practiced with full-scale gliders on the ocean dunes of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. By 1903, they built a powered aircraft called the Wright Flyer I. Eventually, on December 17, 1903, they attained success with Orville flying 120 feet in 12 seconds (Crouch, 2003). While the name of the Wright Brothers became immortalized, Langley’s remained in relative obscurity. However, in 1915, the government chartered the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), the forerunner of today’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and when they selected a name, the government chose Langley, despite him having never flown. More than any other American institution, the NACA Langley Research Center was responsible for the research necessary to solve the problems of flight and develop the airplane into both a commercial product and a centerpiece of the nation’s defense. The NACA charter of 1915 defined a very specific mission: to “supervise and direct the scientific study of the problems of flight with a view to their practical solution.” Commissioned in 1920, its early years were filled with both promise and hardship. Langley’s three original buildings included a wind tunnel and a research laboratory that became what some described as an “aeronautical Mecca” in the United States (Roland, 1985). Realizing the dream of flight was more than a story of technology; it had important cultural consequences as well. The brilliant demonstrations by the Wright Brothers enabled those who followed them to use flight for a variety of reasons besides getting from point A to point B without touching the ground. These included racial uplift (Bessie Coleman bow11111_02_c02_065-122.indd 94 6/10/11 8:27 AM Section 2.4 Pivotal Technologies (1900–1920) as the first African American pilot in 1920), personal adventure (Charles Lindbergh crossing the Atlantic for the first time in 1927), gender equalization (Amelia Earhart becoming the first aviatrix to fly solo across the Atlantic in 1928), commercial gain (engine manufacturers, mechanics, and pilots all contributing to the airlines industry), African American equality (the Tuskegee squadron of African American pilots in World War II), military superiority (the development of the U.S. Air Force in 1947), and eventually space exploration (NASA landing on the moon in 1969). Flight defined many of the most important moments of the 20th century, but the pivotal moment was the genesis of flight with the Wright Brothers (Dawson and Bowles, 2005). CHAPTER 2 One of the Wright Brothers flying their glider by the ocean at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, with spectators looking in. Streets and Model Ts While the skies were changing in these pivotal decades, so too were the roads. In 1900, the city street was a communal and unregulated space. People aimlessly walked across it from side to side as horse-drawn carriages slowed, stopped, or barged their way to their destinations. Streets were also where children liked best to play. Bicycles made their way through the streets as the most popular form of personal transportation. However, a new intruder into this haphazard street culture was soon to come—the automobile. By the end of the 1920s, the auto transformed streets into motor fares, where the car came first and everything else yielded to its right of way. Children were no longer allowed, and pedestrians were given limited access on crosswalks. When they encroached on the space of the cars, the drivers condemned them as “jaywalkers.” Pedestrians fought back, inventing derogatory language of their own to attack the motorists calling them “road hogs” or “speed demons.” There was a sometimes a violent social interaction on the city street, but in the end, the automobile reigned supreme (Norton, 2008). Where did the automobile come from? While many are responsible for the shape of the automobile industry today, much of the early success in the first decades of the 20th century was due to Henry Ford. Growing up on his father’s farm in Michigan, Ford learned at an early age how to fix machines, and he especially loved to work on intricate timepieces. However, a farmers’ life was ultimately not what he aspired to, and at age 16 he left the farm and headed to Detroit. In 1891, he took a job at the Edison Illuminating Company and, because of his mechanical skills, did well for himself. He soon began to tinker with the idea of building a self-propelled automobile. There were many with similar ideas at this time. Electric streetcars ran through many major American cities, and in 1900 there was more than 2,000 miles of track. But the drawback was that there was no personal freedom with the streetcar. One had to share a ride with other passengers, and you could only go where the track led. The dream was personal transportation, and there were several types of models vying for success, such as steam- and electric-powered cars. Eventually, the gasoline-powered engine gained the most proponents, and Paris became the center of the automotive world with companies like Peugeot and Renault (Flink, 1988). bow11111_02_c02_065-122.indd 95 6/10/11 8:27 AM Section 2.4 Pivotal Technologies (1900–1920) Henry Ford with his son Edsel in the Model T. CHAPTER 2 Ford eagerly watched these developments and continued to work on his own designs, sometimes to the exclusion of his own job with Edison; in 1899, his employer gave him an ultimatum—his career or his hobby. Ford selected his hobby, and in 1903, he established the Ford Motor Company. There were roughly 25 other American manufacturers of automobiles at the time, but they were mainly expensive toys for the rich. Only Olds managed to sell more than 100 a year (Brinkley, 2010). Ford differed from these competitors with a unique idea. He decided that he would build an automobile for the masses. In 1907, he announced his plans: “I will build a motor car for the great multitude. It will be large enough for the family but small enough for the individual to run and care for. It will be constructed of the best materials, by the best men to be hired, after the simplest designs that modern engineering can devise. But it will be so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one...
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