Federal officials and reformers regarded education as the linchpin in the government's efforts to Americanize and assimilate Native Americans, which became the dominant federal policy starting in 1887. They placed the greatest stock in off-reservation boarding schools, because they removed Indian youths from their home environment and culture. The U.S. Training and Industrial School founded in 1879 at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, was the model for most of these schools. Ellis B. Childers, a Creek Indian student at Carlisle, wrote approvingly in his school newspaper about the visit of a large delegation of educated Indians to the school in 1882.
The women's movement of the 1970's sent shock-waves through every corner of American life, transforming the way people thought about families, jobs, and every day interactions. By questioning traditional sex roles, feminism also encouraged the growth of the gay and lesbian rights movement. Previously, many gay men and lesbians had concealed their sexuality, but the 1970's witnessed the growth of assertive and visible gay and lesbian alternative cultures. As a college student at the University of Michigan and a union activist within the city bus company, Shelley Ettinger remembered living and participating in an active, assertive lesbian culture during the mid-1970's. Although gay men and lesbians still faced harassment and discrimination, they were no longer afraid to express their identities or to speak out against bias and discrimination.
During the second quarter of the 19th century numerous radical movements emerged, and some withdrew from society and formed ideal or utopian communities. The Shakers (or Shaking Quakers) were the oldest and largest of these utopian movements, founded in Great Britain by Mother Ann Lee, who arrived in North America in 1774. Shakers abandoned the traditional family in favor of a new fellowship of men and women who lived as brothers and sisters, worked in agriculture and artisanal crafts, and adopted the practices of cooperation and celibacy. Many were attracted to their communitarian message, especially women like Mary Doolittle of New Lebanon, New York, who joined the local Shakers (the second of what became 19 communities stretching from New England, across New York, to Ohio and Kentucky). Doolittle narrates her initial emotional conflict between family and belief, and the suspicion, even hostility, of local people toward her new "Family," as Shaker units were called.
With the annexation of Texas in 1848 at the end of the Mexican-American War, Tejanos--Texans of Mexican descent--lost property rights and political power in a society dominated by Anglos. Through discriminatory practices and violent force, Tejanos were kept at the bottom of the new political and socio-cultural order. From 1900-1930, as an influx of immigrants from Mexico came north to meet a growing demand for cheap labor in the developing commercial agriculture industries, Tejanos experienced continued discrimination in employment, housing, public facilities, the judicial system, and educational institutions. Many school districts segregated Tejano and Anglo children into separate facilities with the Mexican schools grossly underfunded and often offering only a grade school education. In 1930, when 90% of the schools in South Texas were segregated, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), a Tejano advocacy group organized the previous year, supported the first major court challenge in Texas to end school segregation. The Texas Court of Appeals, however, ruled that school districts could use such criteria as language and irregular attendance due to seasonal work to separate children in school. The struggle of Mexican Americans to end discriminatory practices accelerated following World War II. In 1948, LULAC and the newly formed American G.I. Forum, an advocacy group of Mexican American veterans, assisted in a lawsuit. The federal district court ruling in that case prohibited school segregation based on Mexican ancestry. Localities devised ways to evade the ruling, however, and de facto segregation continued. Student protests in the late 1960s achieved an end to some discriminatory practices. In subsequent years a new civil rights organization, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), continued the fight in the courts, eventually concentrating on the introduction of bilingual and bicultural programs into schools. In the following interview, Ed Idar, associated with both the Forum and MALDEF, related a successful grassroots effort in the early 1950s to desegregate a school without a court ruling.
Wartime production demanded the mobilization of thousands of workers to make steel and rubber, to work in petrochemical industries, and to build ships. As a result, African Americans made striking gains in employment even while also facing continuing discrimination. Black women, for example, got jobs working on the railroads for the first time during the world war. Black women found jobs as laborers, cleaning cars, wiping engines, tending railroad beds. Helen Ross was one of them, working for the Santa Fe Railroad. In an interview with the Women's Service Section of U.S. Railroad Administration, Ross described the advantages of her railroad job. Nevertheless, the same agency later declared such work too heavy for women.
In the decades following the Confederacy's 1865 defeat and the abolition of racial slavery, white southern landowners, entrepreneurs, and newspaper editors heralded the coming of a "New South" economic order. Freed from the plantation system, the South would enter the modern age, building factories to turn its cotton into cloth, its tobacco crop into finished cigars and cigarettes, and its growing coal and iron ore output into steel. But not all southerners benefited from a prosperous and industrialized New South. Mill workers, small farmers, and tenants and sharecroppers bore the brunt of the sacrifices required to build a new southern economy. These extracts from letters by tenants and farm laborers to the North Carolina Bureau of Labor Statistics in 1887 and 1889 described the depressed crop prices, usurious interest rates charged by landowners for seed and equipment, and the absence of decent schooling for children faced by southern agricultural workers.
In 1889, Knights of Labor General Investigator Leonora Barry surprised the union by recommending that the Woman's Department, which she headed, be disbanded. "There can be no separation or distinction of wage workers on account of sex," she argued, "and a separate department for the interests of women is a direct contradiction of this." The Knights rejected her recommendations, and Barry continued her organizing work. What finally halted Barry's organizing efforts--and the work of the union's Woman's Department--was her marriage in 1890 to Obadiah Read Lake, a St. Louis Knight and printer. Terrence V. Powderly, the head of the Knights, had not always fully supported Barry's efforts and his readiness to see her marriage as the equivalent of her death (as this letter to a fellow Knight revealed) showed the limitations of the Knights' commitment to women's full participation. Although Barry's labor organizing ended, she remained active in temperance, women's suffrage, and other progressive causes.
The productive capacity of the United States during World War II surpassed all expectations. To boost that production and maintain supply levels for troops abroad, Americans at home were asked to conserve materials and to accept ration coupons or stamps that limited the purchase of certain products. Gasoline, rubber, sugar, butter, and some kinds of cloth were among the many items rationed. American responses to rationing varied from cheerful compliance to resigned grumbling to instances of black market subversion and profiteering. Government-sponsored posters, ads, radio shows, and pamphlet campaigns urged Americans to contribute to scrap drives and accept rationing without complaint. "Aluminum for Defense," a comic program from New York's radio station WOR in 1941, conveyed some of the tone of these campaigns. This excerpt, complete with clashing pots and pans, moved from Times Square to Harlem to the tony Stork Club.
African-American women held as slaves were particularly vulnerable to abuse at the hands of their white owners. This engraving appeared in abolitionist George Bourne's Slavery Illustrated in Its Effects upon Women, published in 1837. It highlighted the connections between the anti-slavery and women's rights movements, as some women abolitionists, such as Sarah and Angelina Grimke, used the anti-slavery cause to address their own plight as women. The connections they drew were highly controversial, and many anti-slavery organizations were split over the issue of women's rights.
An organized movement led by women and dedicated to winning equality took formal shape at the first women's rights convention, held in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848. Many of the women who took part had been active in other social causes, such as the abolition of slavery, before joining the struggle for women's rights. In this 1859 cartoon published in Harper's Weekly, hecklers disrupted the proceedings of a women's-rights meeting.
In the years following the 1920 ratification of the 19th Amendment extending voting rights to women, the National Woman's Party, the radical wing of the suffrage movement, advocated passage of a constitutional amendment to make discrimination based on gender illegal. The first Congressional hearing on the equal rights amendment (ERA) was held in 1923. Many female reformers opposed the amendment in fear that it would end protective labor and health legislation designed to aid female workers and poverty-stricken mothers. A major divide, often class-based, emerged among women's groups. While the National Woman's Party and groups representing business and professional women continued to push for an ERA, passage was unlikely until the 1960s, when the revived women's movement, especially the National Organization for Women (NOW), made the ERA priority. The 1960s and 1970s saw important legislation enacted to address sex discrimination in employment and education--most prominently, the Equal Pay Act of 1963, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and Title IX of the 1972 Higher Education Act--and on March 22, 1972, Congress passed the ERA. The proposed amendment expired in 1982, however, with support from only 35 states÷three short of the required 38 necessary for ratification. Strong grassroots opposition emerged in the southern and western sections of the country, led by anti-feminist activist Phyllis Schafly. Schlafly charged that the amendment would create a "unisex society" while weakening the family, maligning the homemaker, legitimizing homosexuality, and exposing girls to the military draft. In the following document submitted in 1984 to a House committee considering a new bill to enact the ERA, a male rights advocate assessed potential legal benefits men might receive due to its passage.
President Lyndon Johnson formed an 11-member National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders in July 1967 to explain the riots that plagued cities each summer since 1964 and to provide recommendations for the future. The Commission's 1968 report, informally known as the Kerner Report, concluded that the nation was "moving toward two societies, one black, one white--separate and unequal." Unless conditions were remedied, the Commission warned, the country faced a "system of 'apartheid'" in its major cities. The Kerner report delivered an indictment of "white society" for isolating and neglecting African Americans and urged legislation to promote racial integration and to enrich slums--primarily through the creation of jobs, job training programs, and decent housing. President Johnson, however, rejected the recommendations. In April 1968, one month after the release of the Kerner report, rioting broke out in more than 100 cities following the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. In the following statements to a joint Congressional committee, two Commission members summarized their findings and recommended the creation of jobs. In 1998, 30 years after the Kerner Report, Harris co-authored a study that found the racial divide had grown in the ensuing years with inner-city unemployment at crisis levels. Opposing voices argued that the Commission's prediction of separate societies failed to materialize due to a marked increase in the number of African Americans living in suburbs.
Inspired by Mary Shelley's novel about a man-made monster who turned upon its creator, this cartoon depicted the railroad trampling the rights of the American people. Agriculture
During the U.S. war in the Philippines between 1899 and 1904 (which grew out of the Spanish-American War that had erupted in 1898), ordinary American soldiers shared the nationalist zeal of their commanders and pursued the Filipino "enemy" with brutality and sometimes outright lawlessness. Racism, which flourished in the United States in this period, led American soldiers to repeatedly assert their desire "to get at the niggers." An anti-imperialist movement, which rejected annexation by the United States of former Spanish colonies like Puerto Rico and the Philippines, attempted to build opposition at home to the increasingly brutal war. Although few soldiers joined the anti-imperialist cause, their statements did sometimes provide ammunition for the opponents of annexation and war. In 1899, the Anti-Imperialist League published a pamphlet of Soldiers Letters, with the provocative subtitle: "Being Materials for a History of a War of Criminal Aggression." Historian Jim Zwick notes that the publication "was immediately controversial. Supporters of the war discounted the accounts of atrocities as the boasting of soldiers wanting to impress their friends and families at home or, because the identities of some of the writers were withheld from publication, as outright fabrications." But the brutal portrayal of the war that is found in these letters (excerpts from twenty-seven of them are included here) is supported in other accounts.
The rise of a new Northern middle class brought with it new ideals of family life and gender roles. While men worked outside the home, women were to preside over the domestic sphere, not only by performing household labor but also by setting a moral example for children and creating a haven that was protected from the outside world. This frontispiece and title page came from a popular 1869 guide to the formation and Maintenance of Economical
Combatants in World War II possessed far greater firepower than ever before. Consequently, the incidence of death and mutilation in units actually fighting the enemy was extremely high, sometimes one in three. World War II was the first war in which combat deaths actually outnumbered fatalities from disease or accident. President Franklin D. Roosevelt's wartime government carefully controlled what information reached the American public from the battle fronts. Until September, 1943, government censors blocked the publication of all photographs showing dead American soldiers. After that, censors continued to withhold many pictures such as this photograph taken on Leyte Island in the Philippines on October 31, 1944that did not, even in death, conform to the heroic image of the American fighting man.
In July 1839, captive West Africans rebelled and took over the Spanish slaveship Amistad . They ordered the owners to Africa but, instead, the Amistad was taken on a meandering course, finally waylaid by a U.S. Navy brig. The Africans were charged with the murder of the captain and jailed in New Haven, Connecticut. Abolitionists came to their support; ex-President John Quincy Adams represented them in court. After a long legal battle, the Supreme Court freed the "mutineers" in 1841. The following year they returned to Africa.
Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) on June 25, 1938, the last major piece of New Deal legislation. The act outlawed child labor and guaranteed a minimum wage of 40 cents an hour and a maximum work week of 40 hours, benefiting more than 22 million workers. Although the law helped establish a precedent for the Federal regulation of work conditions, conservative forces in Congress effectively exempted many workers, such as waiters, cooks, janitors, farm workers, and domestics, from its coverage. In October 1949, President Harry S. Truman signed into law the Fair Labor Standards Amendments of 1949, raising the minimum wage to 75 cents hour and extending coverage, but still leaving many workers unprotected. In the following statement to the 1949 Senate subcommittee on FLSA amendments, members of the laundry workers' union detailed the working conditions of laundry workers, argued that fair wages would not bankrupt commercial laundries, and called upon Congress to extend protection to laundry workers. The questioner, Senator Claude Pepper (D-Florida), a key advocate for the 1938 legislation, chaired the 1949 hearings and pushed the amendments through Senate and conference committees.
The Bonus March was one of several grassroots movements of the unemployed during the Great Depression that galvanized thousands of men and women and helped focus attention on the role of the federal government in alleviating economic hardship. Twenty thousand World War I veterans marched to Washington to demand the immediate release of promised cash bonuses and set up camp until their demands were met. With President Herbert Hoover's authorization, federal troops, armed with tanks and cavalry, attacked the homeless veterans and burned their encampment. When images like this photograph, which shows the Bonus Marchers' shantytown burning down in sight of the Capitol on the afternoon of July 28, 1932, reached the public, Hoover's image was permanently tarnished.
Few terms have been surrounded with as much myth and misunderstanding as "anarchism." Part of the difficulty is that there are many kinds of anarchists. The high point of American anarchism surely came in the 1880s in the movement led by Chicago "Social Revolutionaries," such as Lucy and Albert Parsons. Contrary to the stereotype, anarchists like the Parsons did not object to order itself but to the oppressive forms of order imposed by the capitalist state. Albert Parsons also frankly acknowledged the belief shared by other anarchists in his circle that social transformation would only come through revolution, "through bloodshed and violence." What is perhaps less clear from the statement is Parsons's simultaneous commitment to trade unionism as the primary agency of social change. In this 1887 essay, "What Is Anarchism?" social revolutionary Parsons explained how his strain of anarchist socialism derived its name and purpose from the Greek words for "no" and "government."