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American industrial city Essay

1. Describe the rise of the American industrial city, and place it in the context of worldwide trends of urbanization and mass migration (the European diaspora) Cities grew up and out, with such famed architects as Louis Sullivan working on and perfecting skyscrapers (first appearing in Chicago in 1885). The city grew from a small compact one that people could walk through to get around to a huge metropolis that required commuting by electric trolleys. Electricity, indoor plumbing, and telephones made city life more alluring. Department stores like Macy’s (in New York) and Marshall Field’s (in Chicago) provided urban working-class jobs and also attracted urban middle-class shoppers. Theodore Dreiser’s Sister Carrie told of a woman’s escapades in the big city and made cities dazzling and attractive. However, the move to city produced lots of trash, because while farmers always reused everything or fed “trash” to animals, city dwellers, with their mail-order stores like Sears and Montgomery Ward, which made things cheap and easy to buy, could simply throw away the things that they didn’t like anymore.

2. Describe the New Immigration, and explain how it differed from the Old Immigration and why it aroused opposition from many native-born Americans

Until the 1880s, most of the immigrants had come from the British Isles and Western Europe (Germany and Scandinavia) and were quite literate and accustomed to some type of representative government. This was called the “Old Immigration.” But by the 1880s and 1890s, this shifted to the Baltic and Slavic people of southeastern Europe, who were basically the opposite, “New Immigration.” Many Europeans came to America because there was no room in Europe, nor was there much employment, since industrialization had eliminated many jobs. The “nativism” and anti-foreignism of the 1840s and 1850s came back in the 1880s, as the Germans and western Europeans looked down upon the new Slavs and Baltics, fearing that a mixing of blood would ruin the fairer Anglo-Saxon races and create inferior offspring.

The “native” Americans blamed immigrants for the degradation of the urban government. These new bigots had forgotten how they had been scorned when they had arrived in America a few decades before. Trade unionists hated them for their willingness to work for super-low wages and for bringing in dangerous doctrines like socialism and communism into the U.S. Anti-foreign organizations like the American Protective Association (APA) arose to go against new immigrants, and labor leaders were quick to try to stop new immigration, since immigrants were frequently used as strikebreakers.

3. Discuss the efforts of social reformers and churches to aid the New Immigrants and alleviate urban problems, and the immigrants’ own efforts to sustain their traditions while assimilating to mainstream America

Since churches had mostly failed to take any stands and rally against the urban poverty, plight, and suffering, many people began to question the ambition of the churches, and began to worry that Satan was winning the battle of good and evil. The emphasis on material gains worried many. A new generation of urban revivalists stepped in, including people like Dwight Lyman Moody, a man who proclaimed the gospel of kindness and forgiveness and adapted the old-time religion to the facts of city life.

The Moody Bible Institute was founded in Chicago in 1889 and continued working well after his 1899 death. Roman Catholic and Jewish faiths were also gaining many followers with the new immigration. Cardinal Gibbons was popular with Roman Catholics and Protestants, as he preached American unity. By 1890, Americans could choose from 150 religions, including the new Salvation Army, which tried to help the poor and unfortunate. The Church of Christ, Scientist (Christian Science), founded by Mary Baker Eddy, preached a perversion of Christianity that she claimed healed sickness. YMCA’s and YWCAs (Young Men’s/Women’s Christian Association) also sprouted.

4. Analyze the changes in American religious life in the late nineteenth century, including the expansion of Catholicism, Orthodoxy, and Judaism, and the growing Protestant division between liberals and fundamentalists over Darwinism and biblical criticism

In 1859, Charles Darwin published his On the Origin of Species, which set forth the new doctrine of evolution and attracted the ire and fury of fundamentalists. “Modernists” took a step from the fundamentalists and refused to believe that the Bible was completely accurate and factual. They contended that the Bible was merely a collection of moral stories or guidelines, but not sacred scripture inspired by God. Colonel Robert G. Ingersoll was one who denounced creationism, as he had been widely persuaded by the theory of evolution. Others blended creationism and evolution to invent their own interpretations.

5. Explain the changes in American education and intellectual life, including the debate between DuBois and Washington over the goals of African American education

During this time period, public education and the idea of tax-supported elementary schools and high schools were gathering strength. Teacher-training schools, called “normal schools”, experienced great expansion after the Civil War. The New Immigration in the 1880s and 1890s brought new strength to the private Catholic parochial schools, which were fast becoming a major part of the nation’s educational structure. Public schools excluded millions of adults. Crowded cities generally provided better educational facilities than the old one-room rural schoolhouses. The South lagged far behind other regions in public education, and African-Americans suffered the most.

The leading champion of black education was ex-slave Booker T. Washington. He taught in 1881 at the black normal and industrial school at Tuskegee, Alabama. His self-help approach to solving the nation’s racial problems was labeled “accommodationist” because it stopped short of directly challenging white supremacy. Washington avoided the issue of social equality. George Washington Carver taught and researched at Tuskegee Institute in 1896. He became an internationally famous agricultural chemist. Black leaders, including Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois, attacked Booker T. Washington because Washington condemned the black race to manual labor and perpetual inferiority. Du Bois helped to form the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1910.

6. Describe the literary and cultural life of the period, including the widespread trend towards realism in art and literature, and the city beautiful movement led by urban planners

Libraries such as the Library of Congress also opened across America, bringing literature into people’s homes. With the invention of the Linotype in 1885, the press more than kept pace with demand, but competition sparked a new brand of journalism called “yellow journalism,” in which newspapers reported on wild and fantastic stories that often were false or quite exaggerated: sex, scandal, and other human-interest stories. Two new journalistic tycoons emerged: Joseph Pulitzer (New York World) and William Randolph Hearst (San Francisco Examiner, et al.) Luckily, the strengthening of the Associated Press, which had been established in the 1840s, helped to offset some of the questionable journalism.

7. Explain the growing national debates about morality in the late nineteenth century, particularly in relation to the changing roles of women and the family. Victoria Woodhull proclaimed free love, and together with her sister, Tennessee Claflin, wrote Woodhull and Claflin’s Weekly, which shocked readers with exposés of affairs, etc. Anthony Comstock waged a lifelong war on the “immoral.” The “new morality” reflected sexual freedom in the increase of birth control, divorces, and frank discussion of sexual topics. Urban life was stressful on families, who were often separated, and everyone had to work—even children as young as ten years old. While on farms, more children meant more people to harvest and help, in the cities, more children meant more mouths to feed and a greater chance of poverty.


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