By: B. L. Putnam Weale
Source: Weale, B L. (Bertram Lenox) Putnam. The Conflict of Colour: The Threatened Upheaval Throughout the World. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1910, 228–232, 234–235.
About the Author: B.L. (Bertram Lenox) Putnam Weale (1877–1930) was a prominent American author who wrote about the emerging non-Western world—especially China and Japan. Throughout his writings, he warned of the dangers that the rise of strong non-white nations would pose for the United States.
It became apparent by 1910 that the era of imperialism—with its driving belief in the White Man's Burden—had mostly come to an end. With little remaining Third-World lands to divide up among themselves, the imperial powers seemed content to administer and develop the possessions that they had already acquired, rather than seeking fresh conquests. There was also pressure from critics back home to develop these new lands, in part to demonstrate that these territories had been in fact worth obtaining and now holding.
Elsewhere, other elements entered the equation. As early as 1896, the Ethiopians had shocked the world by defeating Italy in a war. Meanwhile, Japan, the first...
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The Woman Shopper: How to Make Her Buy
By: Isaac F. Marcosson
Source: Marcosson, Isaac F. "The Woman Shopper: How to Make Her Buy." The Saturday Evening Post 183, no. 8, August 20, 1910.
About the Author: Isaac Frederick Marcosson (1876–1961), a prolific writer on various business-related issues, was one of America's leading advertising and marketing authorities during the first half of the twentieth century.
A debate has engaged historians regarding which came first: the chicken or the egg. In this case, the discussion revolves around an intriguing question: Did the women's liberation movement of the 1960s create an increased consciousness among working women, or did the working women themselves create the women's liberation movement? Similarly, the feminist movement earlier in the century appears to have been largely the result of the changing attitudes among working women as early as 1910. This movement culminated in 1920 with the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which granted American women the right to vote.
Indeed, it seems clear that the emergence around 1910 of a new generation of actualized women—who made their mark in the workplace, in the professions, in the...
(The entire section is 2442 words.)
By: The Vice Commission of Chicago
Source: The Vice Commission of Chicago. The Social Evil in Chicago. Chicago: Gunthorp-Warren Printing Company, 1911, 25–27, 31, 45, 47.
About the Organization: A distinguished citizens' body formed to investigate crime and "social evil" in the city of Chicago in the early twentieth century.
Much civic concern focused on prostitution, often dubbed the "world's oldest profession," during the early twentieth century. Aside from the usual moral questions raised by the practice, a growing awareness of public health issues, such as controlling the spread of venereal disease, helped fuel the debate. In addition, the size and scope of government expanded at all levels of American life during the Progressive era. The public was also increasingly willing to allow the state's police power to interfere with many areas of daily activity; these included areas of life that had previously been private.
Indeed, the Progressive era featured a good deal of what later came to be known as "social engineering." Along with Prohibition, the anti-narcotics crusade, and the war on pornography, the assault on prostitution definitely displayed coercive aspects. But...
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The Immigration Problem
By: Jeremiah W. Jenks and W. Jett Lauck Date: 1912 Source: Jenks, Jeremiah W. and W. Jett Lauck The Immigration Problem. New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1912, 198–203.
About the Author: Jeremiah Whipple Jenks (1856–1929) and William Jett Lauck (1879–1949) were both well-known economists who frequently wrote on the subject of immigration.
By 1910 immigration (and all of its ramifications) had become one of the most pressing public issues in American life. Indeed, after a full decade of discussion on the matter, the United States wound up completely reorienting its national policy. The United States abandoned its opengate in 1921 in favor of tight restrictions that remained in place, virtually unchanged, until 1965.
During normal times, the immigration issue had pitted American business against American organized labor. The business community favored unlimited immigration in order to provide a huge pool of workers that would act to hold down wages and forestall unionization. In contrast, organized labor wanted to limit the immigration that created an oversupply of workers, thus depressing wages and hindering unionization efforts. (Incidentally, throughout American history many newly arrived immigrant groups, having...
(The entire section is 2104 words.)
"On the Imitation of Man"
By: Ida M. Tarbell
Source: Tarbell, Ida M. "On the Imitation of Man" in The Business of Being a Woman. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1913, 30–36.
About the Author: Ida Minerva Tarbell (1857–1944) became America's most famous investigative journalist of the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. The daughter of an independent oil refiner who was driven out of business by the ruthless tactics of Standard Oil Company's John D. Rockefeller, Tarbell gained her revenge with The History of the Standard Oil Company (1904), a devastating book that exposed Rockefeller. The piece also helped to launch her career as a muckraker (someone who exposes misconduct of a prominent individual).
By 1920 the first phase of the American Feminist Movement had triumphed. Women received the right to vote with the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that year. Moreover, as women entered the workforce in significant numbers (especially in more prestigious professional positions), their incomes increased.
By 1920 support for women's suffrage, once thought radical, had become mainstream. Women had achieved the vote due to a fortuitous set of...
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America's Sex Hysteria
"Sex O'Clock in America"
By: Current Opinion
Source: "Sex O'Clock in America." Current Opinion, August 1913, 113–114.
"Popular Gullibility as Exhibited in
the New White Slavery Hysteria"
By: Current Opinion
Source: "Popular Gullibility as Exhibited in the New White Slavery Hysteria," Current Opinion. February 1914, 129.
By all accounts, 1913 was the year when cracks first developed in the carefully constructed nineteenth-century Victorian façade of sexual prudery. In time, this edifice would be replaced by today's media-driven titillation. That first wave of sexual liberation was abruptly stamped out. Indeed, it barely survived the First World War when the heavy hand of wartime government censorship, combined with the fear engendered by the Red Scare (1919–20), drove open displays of sexuality deeply underground. For instance, the once-vibrant silent-movie industry buckled under pressure from government coercion, industry self-regulation, and the consolidation of small...
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"Making Men of Them"
By: Thornton W. Burgess
Source: Burgess, Thornton W. "Making Men of Them." Good Housekeeping Magazine, July 1914, 3–6, 12.
About the Author: Thornton Waldo Burgess (1874–1965) was a well-known author of children's books and a lifelong amateur naturalist.
The Boy Scouts were founded in Britain by the highly eccentric Anglo–Boer War hero General Robert (Lord) Baden-Powell. The organization reinforced very conservative social and political values. Swiftly transported to the United States, the Boy Scouts continued to emphasize traditional fidelity to God, country, and morality.
Scouting grew in the United States
because many Americans around 1910 felt anxious over the condition of the nation's youth. With sex, alcohol, narcotics, and other pleasures seemingly all too readily available, scouting was seen as a means of channeling youthful energies into a more wholesome direction. Scouting was also widely viewed as a method of Americanizing the wave of immigrants then coming ashore by influencing the newcomers' children with traditional American values. Finally, with its emphasis on nature, scouting was an antidote to the soft, sedentary life that seemed to...
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"The Next and Final Step"
By: P.A. Baker
Source: Baker, P.A. "The Next and Final Step." In The Anti-Saloon League Year Book. Westerville, Ohio: The American Issue Press, 1914, 16–17.
About the Author: P.(Purley) A. Baker (1858–1924) served as general superintendent of the Anti-Saloon League of America from 1903 until his death in 1924. During his tenure, the Anti-Saloon League successfully lobbied Congress in 1917 to pass the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution mandating national Prohibition. The measure was eventually ratified by the requisite number of states in 1919.
The Anti-Saloon League, one of the most effective (indeed single-minded) pressure groups in American political history, can take a great deal of the credit for the surprising passage of the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. This amendment mandated the national Prohibition of alcoholic beverages. Founded in 1893, the Anti-Saloon League wisely avoided targeting individual drinkers and instead concentrated its fire on the business end of the liquor industry—saloon owners, brewers, and distillers. In this fashion, the Prohibition Movement coincided with the anti-corporate thrust of the Progressive era, which included...
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By: Henry L. Mencken
Source: Mencken, Henry L. "The Flapper." The Smart Set: A Magazine of Cleverness, February 1915, 1–2.
About the Author: Henry L. (Louis) Mencken (1880–1956) was a longtime figure in American journalism and literary criticism. In addition, his biting social commentaries, which cover an extraordinarily wide variety of topics, are legendary.
The term "Flapper" is associated in the American public's mind with the decade of the Roaring 20s along with bootleg gin, Al Capone, Charles Lindbergh, and the Stock Market craze. But the word "Flapper" comes from the pre-World War I period when humorist and social satirist Henry L. Mencken popularized the term (already in use in Britain) in a cheeky piece in The Smart Set: a Magazine of Cleverness, a New York-based, avant garde publication.
Evidently, the magazine's name was intended to be a self-conscious parody of itself. But despite the obvious humorous intent of Mencken's piece, the name "Flapper" stuck—in large measure because the time was ripe for a fresh term to describe what was happening to young American women. As mentioned above, the label appears to have originated in Britain. In cultural...
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"How We Manage"
By: E.S.E. (pseudonym)
Source: E.S.E. (pseudonym), "How We Manage." American Cookery, August–September 1915, 132–135.
Although the economic, political, and social trends of an era highlight the larger currents in any society, the vast majority of people rarely, if ever, give much thought to such weighty matters. Instead, the average citizen fills up his or her day with the mundane tasks of earning a living and budgeting for the family. State policies matter far less than everyday practical concerns. Elsewhere, despite laments emanating from the educated classes, this arrangement of priorities doubtless makes perfect sense for the vast bulk of the population.
Nevertheless, it remains difficult for historians to reconstruct with accuracy the texture of day-to-day life. For such knowledge has an inherent elusive (indeed ethereal) quality about it. Unlike, say, high politics, mundane affairs rarely draw the attention of observers—even at the time. That said, the following excerpt from American Cookery titled "How We Manage" does provide a revealing glimpse at what the typical middle-class American family encountered as they struggled to make the optimal use of their time and money....
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The Passing of the Great Race
By: Madison Grant
Source: Grant, Madison. The Passing of the Great Race or The Racial Basis of European History. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1916, 14–16, 42–45, 47.
About the Author: Madison Grant (1865–1937), amateur anthropologist and president of the New York Zoological Society, wrote and spoke extensively in favor of immigration restriction in order to preserve the traditional Anglo character of the United States.
By 1916 many Americans were consumed by anxiety over the demographic future of the United States. The "Old-Stock" Americans, primarily of Anglo descent, had long since adopted measures to control family size. This included the partial liberation of their women, which served to empower them somewhat in family reproductive matters. In contrast, most newcomers—the recent immigrants pouring into the United States in record numbers—often used little or no birth control.
A pair of suggestions surfaced regarding how to deal with this battle of the birthrates. The first, Eugenics, a movement designed to discourage the supposed "less desirable" people from breeding, advocated drastic steps including, if deemed necessary, forced sterilization....
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"Are the Movies a Menace to the Drama?"
By: Brander Matthews
Source: Matthews, Brander. "Are the Movies a Menace to the Drama?" North American Review, March 1917, 447–451, 453–454.
About the Author: Brander Matthews (1852–1929) was a prolific essayist, as well as a literary and drama critic.
Before 1915, the silent motion picture had posed little threat to the popularity of the theater. Grand drama (even the lowly farce) had hardly anything to fear from carnival nickelodeons or from dimly lit, poorly ventilated movie houses in seedy neighborhoods. Besides, silent films had an exceedingly unsavory reputation, exacerbated by the fact that pornography flourished early on alongside legitimate films. "Proper" middle-class Americans left moviegoing to sleazy sailors and poor immigrants.
However, the breakthrough silent film, D.W. Griffith's "Birth of a Nation," revolutionized America moviegoing habits. Perhaps the first silent film worth watching by today's standards, "Birth of a Nation" was vastly superior to anything that had been filmed and released previously. Now, with screen epics like Griffith's masterpiece playing in local cinemas across the country, the silent film had finally arrived as a serious art form and...
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The Individual Delinquent
By: William Healy
Source: Healy, M.D, William. in The Individual Delinquent: A Text-Book of Diagnosis and Prognosis For All Concerned in Understanding Offenders. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1918, 308–310.
About the Author: William Healy, M.D., born in 1869, was a recognized authority on adolescent criminal psychology.
The Progressive era exhibited an obsession with what could be characterized as "social engineering." Eschewing America's longstanding libertarian tradition and its reliance on voluntary self-improvement and moral persuasion to produce changes in individual behavior, the period circa 1910 saw an increased emphasis on the use of state police power to alter individual behavior. The problem of handling what appeared to be an epidemic of juvenile delinquency fits this pattern perfectly.
In the nineteenth century, the issue of inappropriate underage conduct was treated as a moral problem. Even the rise of scouting in the United States around 1910 still reflected this more gentle volunteer tradition. But the Progressive era was well aware of environmental factors that might contribute to juvenile delinquency and intended to use the power of government...
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Dark Side of Wartime Patriotism
Woodrow Wilson's Memorandum to His Secretary, Joseph Tumulty
By: Woodrow Wilson
Source: Baker, Ray Stannard, ed. Woodrow Wilson: Life and Letters: Armistice, March 1–November 11, 1918. New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company, Inc., 1939, 362.
About the Author: Woodrow Wilson (1856–1924), political scientist and president of Princeton University, served as President of the United States from 1913–1921. Wilson led America to victory over Imperial Germany in the First World War, but failed to reconstruct the international political order when the United States Senate rejected his ambitious plans for America to join the newly formed League of Nations.
"Chicagoans Cheer Tar Who Shot
Source: "Chicagoans Cheer Tar Who Shot Man," Washington Post, May 7, 1919.
On the eve of American entry into World War I against Imperial Germany, United States President Woodrow Wilson met in the White House with his old friend, newspaperman Frank Cobb, editor-in-chief of New York World. About to send Congress a message...
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"The Negro Should Be a Party to the Commercial Conquest of the World"
By: Marcus Garvey
Source: Hill, Robert A., ed. "The Negro Should be a Party to the Commercial Conquest of the World: Wake Up You Lazy Men of the Race—This is the Time of Preparation for All." In The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983, 351–353.
About the Author: Marcus Garvey (1887–1940), a Jamaican-born political and social leader, was America's first true black nationalist. In 1914 Garvey founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) in Jamaica. Two years later he brought the UNIA to the United States. He preached black pride, black power, and black economic self-sufficiency, and sought to link the struggle of American blacks with the worldwide uprising of colored people against their white oppressors.
America after 1916 was shocked and disturbed by the rise to prominence of Marcus Garvey and his organization, the United Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). As the nation's first major Black Nationalist leader, Garvey naturally rejected the second-class status to which American blacks had been reduced as a result of the two-decade-long Jim Crow counterrevolution in the South that had reduced the blacks...
(The entire section is 1784 words.)