To all SHGAPE members:
The July 2014 issue of the Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, vol. 13, n. 3, should be reaching people about now. Journal subscribers should write if they don't receive their copy soon. The contents are listed below. Comments on the issue are appreciated.
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Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era
Volume 13 • Number 3 • July 2014
Nature, the City, and the Family Circle: Domesticity and the Urban Home in Henry George’s Thought
Lawrence M. Lipin
This essay provides a reexamination of Henry George by focusing on how ideas about gender and nature informed one of the key objectives of the George movement: the transformation of the Gilded Age city into a metropolis of working-class suburbs tied together by single-tax funded public transportation. George was hardly a conservationist, and his understanding of nature was very different from those urban elites who sought to preserve nature. He simply did not accept the conservationist notion of depleted resources, which was inconsistent with his natural law belief in a boundless nature, a point that in turn grew out of the producerist emphasis of his political economy. Yet, George appreciated the need for a nonproductive relationship with nature, and he and his followers articulated this in terms of developing a healthier and more moral domestic environment. He applied such thinking to his political efforts in New York City during the mid-1880s, condemning the moral as well as the physical consequences of overcrowding that he blamed on land speculation. George enthusiastically embraced emerging transportation technologies as facilitators of mass residential decentralization. In so doing, he articulated a vision of a thoroughly reconfigured city that integrated nature into family life by enabling the development of a more spread-out metropolis.
Regulatory Transformations in a Changing City: The Anti-Smoke Movement in Baltimore, 1895–1931
This study of the Baltimore anti-smoke movement illustrates how Americans altered their approach to environmental regulation during the Progressive Era. After citizen groups came to recognize the limits of common-law regulation, they became enamored with administrative regulation and the promise of rationalized, professional agencies. While Baltimore did mirror the national regulatory trends, the city’s unique circumstances limited its capacity to reduce the sooty, black smoke that provoked episodes of public activism. Fearful about the city’s economic future, regulators exempted manufacturing from the city’s early anti-smoke measures. Furthermore, although railroads were major polluters, they balked at electrifying the bulk of their tracks. Finally, the anti-smoke movement was narrowly based in the northeastern, more affluent parts of the city and failed to expand its support to working-class whites and African Americans. Hence, while the ideas about what constituted appropriate regulation “modernized” in Baltimore, the city did not alter its regulatory practices until the 1930s, long after other cities had done so.
Forum: Populists and Progressives, Capitalism and Democracy
Capitalism and Politics in the Progressive Era and in Ours
Daniel T. Rodgers
Making War Their Business: The Short History of Populist Anti-Militarism
Catherine McNicol Stock
If They Repeal the Progressive Era, Should We Care?
Long Live Teddy/ Death to Woodrow: The Polarized Politics of the Progressive Era in the 2012 Election
Robert D. Johnston
Editor’s introduction: The next four essays are revised versions of talks given at a roundtable at the 2012 Organization of American Historians conference in Milwaukee. The event, thankfully, did not provide the drama of the Progressive Party rally in the same city a century before, when Theodore Roosevelt revealed theatrically to the crowd that he had been shot on his way to the hall and then—resisting repeated entreaties that he go to the hospital already—he delivered an impassioned, one-hour defense of his New Nationalist vision for progressive reform. The Bull Moose version of Roosevelt recurs in the essays in this forum, as he and Woodrow Wilson (far more than Taft or Debs) reappeared in portrait and caricature throughout the 2012 campaign.
Asked to consider the place of populism and progressivism in present-day politics, the four participants in this forum responded with New History-style reflections on the uses of past politics in the present and the usefulness of populist and progressive concerns, attitudes, and ideas for contemporary agendas. Daniel T. Rodgers took the occasion to update for present circumstances his 1982 essay, “In Search of Progressivism,” in this editor’s view the founding essay in the modern historiography of progressivism. Nowadays, Rodgers explains, he would stress progressive misgivings over capitalism more than thirty years ago, especially Progressive Era efforts to create institutions and spheres of politics and life capable of standing apart from, judging, and delimiting capitalism’s tendency to commodify everything.
In a variant of the old question, “What’s the Matter with Kansas?,” Catherine McNicol Stock turns her attention to foreign affairs and the military. She notes that the Great Plains that supported the People’s Party and the Bryanite Democrats had for much of its history leaned heavily toward the anti-militarist, isolationist strains in U.S. politics. Stock offers surprising suggestions as to how and why that changed, along with hints that present-day Kansas may not have cast aside its customary outlook as much as it seems on the surface.
Charles Postel and Robert D. Johnston address the historical background of the odd competition over the Progressive Era’s meaning and legacy that broke out, at times loudly, amid the campaign of 2012. Both point to the long evolution of conservative intellectual traditions and analyses that most academic scholars of progressivism had overlooked or failed to take seriously enough. In Postel’s view, this makes the current era a neo-progressive moment both because
Americans find themselves refighting the battles of the Progressive Era and because all sides assume that interpretations of history are crucial to understanding and shaping the present. From the same starting point, Johnston goes in a different direction. He scrutinizes the versions of the Progressive Era that have come to prevail on the Right and Left and finds that each holds up as history in its own way, more or less. Also in a neo-populist or neo-progressive fashion, Johnston argues that understanding of and deliberation with those who perceive the past and experience the present differently from oneself are essential for a democratic resolution of the country’s quarrels.
Since self-conscious relevance was a hallmark of the progressive approach to history, the editor allowed the essayists, if they so desired, to retain the atmosphere of 2012. This helps explain these essays’ vitality, even though from the perspective of 2014, the tumult of 2012 seems long ago.
Militarism in a Global Age: Naval Ambitions in Germany and the United States before World War I, by Dirk Bönker; From Liberation to Conquest: The Visual and Popular Cultures of the Spanish-American War of 1898, by Bonnie M. Miller; Pacific Gibraltar: U.S.-Japanese Rivalry over the Annexation of Hawaii, 1885–1898, by William Michael Morgan
Reviewed by Nicole M. Phelps
Rebels at the Bar: The Fascinating, Forgotten Stories of America’s First Women Lawyers, by Jill Norgren
Reviewed by Mary Whisner
Making the World Safe: The American Red Cross and a Nation’s Humanitarian Awakening, by Julia F. Irwin
Reviewed by Ian Tyrrell
Josephus Daniels: His Life and Times, by Lee A. Craig
Reviewed by Dirk Bönker
Empire on Display: San Francisco’s Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915, by Sarah J. Moore
Reviewed by Robert D. Miller
No Votes for Women: The New York State Anti-Suffrage Movement, by Susan Goodier
Reviewed by Faye E. Dudden