AP papers due tomorrow and i have no idea where to start?
i need to compare and contrast the attitudes of three of the following toard the wealth that was created in the united states during the late nineteenth centure, andrew carnegie, eugene v. debs, horatio alger, booker t. washington , ida m. tarbell
- Anonymous1 decade agoFavorite Answer
Three different people with 3 different takes on the us economy. a white man, a black man, and a white woman. you could probably compare in addition to your assignment, the effect of race or how important race was in designing who these people were and their effects on the economy. jsut a suggestion
carnegie had a steel monopoly in america during the industrial revolution.
"My heart is in the work." -- Andrew Carnegie
Neither a rags-to-riches biographical sketch nor a perfectly scanned-in image of Mr. Carnegie could serve as as great a personal tribute to the great Founder of Libraries, the earnest Champion of Peace and the resolute Captain of Industry as presenting his own words online--available electronically and immediately to the whole world through the World Wide Web. He would be tickled pink.
Mr. Carnegie loved to promote his ideas and opinions in print. As one of America's most successful businessmen and, perhaps, the world's richest man, it can be assumed that he felt his opinions and advice were not without proven merit. In fact, his journalistic career had begun early when the young man found himself barred from free membership in Col. James Anderson's "Mechanics' and Apprentices' Library." In 1853 Carnegie took the matter to the pages of the Pittsburgh Dispatch; and, as Joseph Wall notes in his definitive biography of Andrew Carnegie, the victory the young man won through his letters to the editor left a lasting impression:
It was also his first literary success, and for Andrew nothing else that he had known in the way of recognition by others had been quite as exhilarating as this experience of seeing his own words in print. It fed his vanity and at the same time increased his appetite for more such food. At that moment a journalistic ambition was born which he would spend the remainder of his life attempting to satisfy. (1)
An American possessed of nineteenth century grandeur, he was yet a man of contradictions. The wealthiest human being of his time, he was convinced of the merits of poverty in developing character. His vast wealth, produced by the sweat of "the toilers of Pittsburgh," he returned to the city he loved, to America, to Scotland, to England and to the world. Not a religionist, he yet spoke in spiritual terms when expressing what he hoped his benefactions would accomplish in the world and in the lives of those very toilers whose labor had produced his wealth:
"Man does not live by bread alone." I have known millionaires starving for lack of the nutriment which alone can sustain all that is human in man, and I know workmen, and many so-called poor men, who revel in luxuries beyond the power of those millionaires to reach. It is the mind that makes the body rich. There is no class so pitiably wretched as that which possesses money and nothing else. Money can only be the useful drudge of things immeasurably higher than itself. Exalted beyond this, as it sometimes is, it remains Caliban still and still plays the beast. My aspirations take a higher flight. Mine be it to have contributed to the enlightenment and the joys of the mind, to the things of the spirit, to all that tends to bring into the lives of the toilers of Pittsburgh sweetness and light. I hold this the noblest possible use of wealth. (2)
In fact, by the time he died in 1919, he had given away $350,695,653 (3). At his death, the last $30,000,000 (4) was likewise given away to foundations, charities and to pensioners.
Andrew Carnegie was convinced of and committed to the notion that education was life's key. He was convinced of the power of, what we term today, access to information. He learned that lesson profoundly in the libraries of Col. Anderson in Allegheny City. It was an experience he never forgot and which motivated his campaign of world-wide library-building. Over the doors of The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, carved in stone, are his own words, "Free to the People." (5)
William F. Buckley, Jr., in a newspaper column, describes a proposal for a portable mini-computer ("TeleRead") able to effectively store and display the texts of hundreds of books--"everyone's personal library." Buckley pays Mr. Carnegie this perspicacious compliment:
Andrew Carnegie, if he were alive, would probably buy TeleRead from Mr. Rothman for $1, develop the whole idea at his own expense, and then make a gift of it to the American people. (6)
Andrew Carnegie stood somewhere between 5'2" and 5'6". But inside, where the meanings are, there had to be a great, tough, disciplined and determined giant of a man--a spirit much akin to the gracefully powerful and wonderfully purposeful image of The Reading Blacksmith, the focus of Mr. Carnegie's memorial to his childhood benefactor, James Anderson.
Although a Captain of Industry, he was peculiarly naive or perhaps just eternally optimistic about human nature--sharing with old Walt Whitman an abiding democratic faith in the common sense, decency and nobility of spirit of the people. Andrew Carnegie lived through the industrialization of America and was one of the leading actors in that drama. He was a shrewd and alert businessman who could charm Mark Twain with his adage, "Put all your eggs in one basket and then watch that basket." (7) He was also a millionaire with an extraordinary social conscience. "The man who dies thus rich, dies disgraced," (8) he so wrote and so believed.
His legacy lives on in the hundreds and hundreds of libraries that his wealth made possible. The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, one of Mr. Carnegie's chiefest joys, celebrates this November its 100th anniversary, a refuge to August Wilson and to thousands and thousands of inquiring minds over ten decades. The spirit of Andrew Carnegie, his faith in the ability of individuals to better themselves and thus the society in which they live, now prepares to face the challenges of the 21st Century. Through the power of a technology unforeseen in his day, may his ideas and his example gain a new audience and a new life.
Mr. Carnegie Speaks (567K 52.68 sec.)
I quote from The Gospel of Wealth, published  years ago:
This, then, is held to be the duty of the man of wealth: first, to set an example of modest unostentatious living, shunning display; to provide moderately for the legitimate wants of those dependent upon him; and, after doing so, to consider all surplus revenues which come to him simply as trust funds which he is strictly bound as a matter of duty to administer in the manner which, in his judgment, is best calculated to produce the most beneficial results for the community.
http://afroamhistory.about.com/library/blwashingto... this is his writing: the awakening of hte *****
Booker T. Washington: True Believer
By Elizabeth Wright
[Reprinted from American Enterprise Magazine, September/October 1995]
Booker T. Washington might have expressed the same ideas in different terms, but he probably would have agreed with the major theme of Joel Kotkin’s recent book, Tribes. Kotkin selects five of America’s immigrant ethnic groups to demonstrate how each--Jews, Chinese, Japanese, British and Indian--achieved economic dominance primarily due to a tradition of strong ethnic ties.
In each case, cultural identity acted as a positive force, inspiring trust and mutual dependence, that were to be the catalysts for phenomenal success in business. Members of these groups, not only expanded the American economic pie, but went on to create their own peculiar niches. Each group became, as Kotkin puts it, "embedded in the American economy."
At the turn of this century, a very similar idea ruled Washington’s vision of the role of blacks in America. It was his determination that his people should create for themselves, "through the struggle toward economic success," an indispensable place in the American economy. He spoke of blacks "knitting our business and industrial relations" to those of others, so that the contribution of blacks would become "essential to the welfare of the republic."
In 1900, at the founding convention of the National ***** Business League, there was good reason to hope that these aspirations would come to fruition. After all, the purpose of establishing the League was to help black men and women who had already achieved success in business, to become even more effective entrepreneurs.
"It is easily seen," wrote Washington, " that if every member of the race should strive to make himself the most indispensable man in his community, and to be successful in business, however humble that business might be, he would contribute much towards smoothing the pathway of his own and future generations."
As a keen observer of the behavior of other ethnic groups, Washington reflected on their mutual cooperation, which eased the path to business success. At one point, he cautioned blacks that if they did not find their place in the economic scheme of things, there were sure to be more immigrants coming to the shores of America who would eagerly fill the void.
With resources scarce among blacks, Washington stressed all the more the critical importance of group solidarity. He encouraged blacks to emulate others and create the financial resources needed to continue the upward climb. Independence and self-sufficiency could best be achieved when blacks, working cooperatively, would "gain knowledge, experience and wealth within our own ranks."
By the time of this first convention of the League, thousands of blacks had already demonstrated their capacity to seize opportunities. Many engaged in the skilled trades, since every type of craft had been learned by the slaves. Later, blacks took advantage of the fact that most crafts businesses could be started with little capital.
As noted in a 1950 study, The ***** in American Business, "The ***** in the South was not only proficient as a carpenter, blacksmith, shoemaker, barber, tailor and cook, but as a result of almost two and a half centuries of slavery, up to the outbreak of the Civil War, the knowledge of these skills was concentrated almost exclusively in the hands of the Negroes, free and slave."
By the late 18th century, blacks were an economic presence in several cities. In Philadelphia, which was regarded as the largest and most important center of free black life in the country, a 1798 report showed that almost 25% of the black families used their property for business. The city was renowned for its excellent restaurants and caterer--both fields monopolized by blacks.
Success stories were common also in southern cities like Richmond, Norfolk, Charleston (NC), Baltimore and the District of Columbia. In Virginia, property ownership among free blacks doubled between 1830 and 1860, and in Tennessee, real estate owned by blacks tripled during the decade of 1850-60. Before the end of slavery, Savannah had more free blacks and black businesses than any other municipality in Georgia, and there were many successful businesses in Macon. The wealthiest free black in Georgia was James Boisclair, who owned a popular saloon and the largest dry goods store in Dahlonega.
These blacks clearly understood the connection between the ownership of businesses and property and the ability to have greater control over what happened in their lives. Historian Juliet Walker points out that, "In pre-Civil War America, even the absence of political freedom did not preclude the business participation of blacks as creative capitalists. . . . Antebellum blacks developed enterprises in virtually every area important to the pre-Civil War business community."
The very principle that protected property rights in general, including slave ownership, was what protected blacks’ rights to own personal property. Walker writes, "It was the very sanctity of private property in American life and thought that allowed blacks, slave and free, to participate in the antebellum economy as entrepreneurs."
• • •
By the turn of the century, it was clear that a spirit of enterprise prevailed among large numbers of blacks. It was Washington’s mission to find the methods to transmit this spirit to still greater numbers. He made an appeal to group identity, to the individual’s responsibility to play his part in uplifting the race.
That it would take black helping black was a given. Self-help began with each person’s willingness to commit himself to the discipline of work, no matter how modest the labor. Like others before and after him, Washington linked moral virtues to his "bootstraps" philosophy of self-help. The defining expression born in this period, that which exhorted blacks to live their lives so that each would become a "credit to the race," still rings in the latent memories of many.
Washington’s teaching of capital development through work and thrift acknowledged the customs so characteristic of other economically successful groups. By emphasizing the importance of industriousness, thrift and sobriety, he sought to link a homespun nationalism to a personal commitment to the ongoing improvement of the race.
If the legacy of slavery had its countless adverse consequences, then it was up to blacks to discover a positive legacy on which to capitalize and turn to their advantage. As a former slave, Washington was well-acquainted with the humiliation of bondage, yet he had no patience with those who would replay the sins of the past. With all of its ambiguities, he still viewed America as a land of opportunity for blacks. He declared, "We should not permit our grievances to overshadow our opportunities." Yes, it was possible for blacks themselves to retrieve from the years of degradation the means for economic and moral uplift, and to find, through their own effort, "compensations for the losses suffered."
Washington’s rational, optimistic message was fully appreciated by a great many blacks of the time. In 1899, when William Pettiford became head of the black-owned Alabama Penny Loan & Savings in Birmingham, he was determined that the bank should be a tool of instruction for Birmingham’s blacks. His goal was to educate ordinary people in the principles of saving and thrift, to impart the importance of sacrificing today to build for tomorrow.
After a successful advertising campaign to recruit new depositors, Pettiford discovered that about 90% of his new customers had never before held bank accounts. Regarding it his duty to encourage the wise use of money, he set about educating all who walked through his bank’s doors in finance and investment, while providing loans and other services. Pettiford claimed that by encouraging blacks to save and make prudent investments, "it has been possible to stimulate a wholesome desire among our people to become property owners and substantial citizens."
Penny Savings became well known for granting loans for home building and business development. The bank was praised also for the role it played in keeping the money of blacks "constantly in circulation in our immediate community." Washington called the operation of Penny Loan & Savings the best illustration of "how closely the moral and spiritual interests of our people are interwoven with their material and economical welfare." He praised Pettiford because he was "far-seeing enough to attempt to develop this wealth that is latent in the ***** people."
Just as honorable were those blacks who used financial clout to combat racism. Washington celebrated Harlem Realtor Philip Payton, who attained national attention when he and other black realtors bought two apartment buildings in order to prevent the eviction of black tenants by bigoted white landlords. A newspaper editorial cited Payton’s actions as an "unexpected and novel method of resisting race prejudice."
Payton’s sense of responsibility epitomized all that Washington sought to teach. By acquiring wealth as Payton had done, blacks could slap bigotry in the face, and be prepared to move confidently into the future, when legal restrictions were at last lifted.
• • •
Throughout the worst days of Jim Crow constraints, Washington never doubted that efforts to win full legal rights would eventually succeed. He said, "It is important and right that all privileges of law be ours, but it is vastly more important that we be prepared for the exercise of these privileges." This is why he saw in a healthy business class the key to the future. He held business men and women to a high standard, since he believed they had a unique responsibility to the race. On their success depended the building of a sound economic foundation upon which everything else would rest.
To people like Washington, the businessman was the ultimate role model. "It was evident," he wrote "that the success of ***** businessmen was largely dependent upon, and would tend to instill into the mass of the ***** people, habits of system and fidelity in the small details of life, and that these habits would bring with them feelings of self-reliance and self-respect, which are the basis of all real progress, moral or material."
In turning obstacles and difficulties to advantage, claimed Washington, "the ***** businessman has a peculiar opportunity for service, an opportunity that is offered to no other class among the members of the race." He wanted all blacks to take pride in the race’s business people. In referring to the perseverance required by black entrepreneurs to overcome what often seemed like insurmountable obstacles, he once reflected, "I was never more proud than I am today that I am a *****. I am proud and grateful to be identified with a race which has made such creditable progress in the face of discouragement and difficulty."
After the National ***** Business League was founded in 1900, between each annual convention impressive numbers of new black enterprises were founded. Fannie Barrier Williams had been an observer at the fourth annual convention of the League, which met in Nashville. In writing to a Chicago newspaper, she said of the meeting, "It was an excellent tonic for drooping and discouraged spirits to be in this bracing atmosphere of optimism . . . . The business interests created by the members of the League, and belonging solely to its members and associates, will measure up to over $2,000,000. From the Wall Street standpoint this is not much, but from the standpoint of men who are merely learning to live and learning to be something in a nation of great things, it is all-important and inspiring."
The business successes of blacks during the 18th and 19th centuries came during the period before severe Jim Crow restrictions went into effect in the South. But even after such biased laws were in place, great numbers of blacks continued to found businesses, turning sections of some cities into what historian John Sibley Butler describes as "entrepreneurial enclaves."
Serious damage was done to black economic development by laws that prevented the expansion of businesses beyond the limited borders of segregated black neighborhoods. But even greater damage was caused by the later arrival of a black leadership whose teachings were vastly different from those of people like Washington, Pettiford and Payton. Blacks now were guided to view their problems as beyond their abilities to resolve; to look outward, especially to government, for solutions; and to see themselves as objects of sympathy.
Washington’s greatest fears came true. By the time of the legal victories in the 1960s, the earlier spirit of enterprise had been depleted, and a new civil rights vision redefined the mission and the goals. The call to group solidarity now became a strategy primarily to coerce benefits from whites, or "the system." Even self-help was redefined as an initiative first requiring the input of whites.
The moral force of earlier leaders, who had galvanized tens of thousands of blacks to work toward economic independence and self-reliance, ceased to carry influence. As new leaders recharted the course and established different agendas, Booker T. Washington’s call for blacks to make themselves economically indispensable faded into a distant echo.
Course all about btw from slavery to economist
Three Visions for African Americans
In the early years of the 20th century, Booker T. Washington, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Marcus Garvey developed competing visions for the future of African Americans.
Civil War Reconstruction failed to assure the full rights of citizens to the freed slaves. By the 1890s, Ku Klux Klan terrorism, lynchings, racial-segregation laws, and voting restrictions made a mockery of the rights guaranteed by the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments, which were passed after the Civil War.
The problem for African Americans in the early years of the 20th century was how to respond to a white society that for the most part did not want to treat black people as equals. Three black visionaries offered different solutions to the problem.
Booker T. Washington argued for African Americans to first improve themselves through education, industrial training, and business ownership. Equal rights would naturally come later, he believed. W. E. B. Du Bois agreed that self-improvement was a good idea, but that it should not happen at the expense of giving up immediate full citizenship rights. Another visionary, Marcus Garvey, believed black Americans would never be accepted as equals in the United States. He pushed for them to develop their own separate communities or even emigrate back to Africa.
Booker T. Washington
Booker T. Washington was born a slave in Virginia in 1856. Early on in his life, he developed a thirst for reading and learning. After attending a elementary school for African-American children, Washington walked 500 miles to enroll in Hampton Institute, one of the few black high schools in the South.
Working as a janitor to pay his tuition, Washington soon became the favorite pupil of Hampton's white founder, General Samuel Chapman Armstrong. Armstrong, a former Union officer, had developed a highly structured curriculum, stressing discipline, moral character, and training for practical trades.
Following his graduation from Hampton, for a few years Washington taught elementary school in his hometown. In 1880, General Armstrong invited him to return to teach at Hampton. A year later, Armstrong nominated Washington to head a new school in Tuskegee, Alabama, for the training of black teachers, farmers, and skilled workers.
Washington designed, developed, and guided the Tuskegee Institute. It became a powerhouse of African-American education and political influence in the United States. He used the Hampton Institute, with its emphasis on agricultural and industrial training, as his model.
Washington argued that African Americans must concentrate on educating themselves, learning useful trades, and investing in their own businesses. Hard work, economic progress, and merit, he believed, would prove to whites the value of blacks to the American economy.
Washington believed that his vision for black people would eventually lead to equal political and civil rights. In the meantime, he advised blacks to put aside immediate demands for voting and ending racial segregation.
In his famous address to the 1895 Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta, Georgia, Washington accepted the reality of racial segregation. He insisted, however, that African Americans be included in the economic progress of the South.
Washington declared to an all-white audience, "In all things social we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress." Washington went on to express his confidence that, "No race that has anything to contribute to the markets of the world is long in any degree ostracized [shut out]."
White Americans viewed Washington's vision as the key to racial peace in the nation. With the aid of white philanthropists such as Andrew Carnegie, Washington's Tuskegee Institute and its philosophy of economics first and equal rights later thrived.
Recognized by whites as the spokesman for his people, Washington soon became the most powerful black leader in the United States. He had a say in political appointments and which African-American colleges and charities would get funding from white philanthropists. He controlled a number of newspapers that attacked anyone who questioned his vision.
Washington considered himself a bridge between the races. But other black leaders criticized him for tolerating racial segregation at a time of increasing anti-black violence and discrimination.
Washington did publicly speak out against the evils of segregation, lynching, and discrimination in voting. He also secretly participated in lawsuits involving voter registration tests, exclusion of blacks from juries, and unequal railroad facilities.
By the time Booker T. Washington died in 1915, segregation laws and racial discrimination were firmly established throughout the South and in many other parts of the United States. This persistent racism blocked the advancement of African Americans.
W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois was born in Massachusetts in 1868. He attended racially integrated elementary and high schools and went off to Fiske College in Tennessee at age 16 on a scholarship. Du Bois completed his formal education at Harvard with a Ph.D. in history.
Du Bois briefly taught at a college in Ohio before he became the director of a major study on the social conditions of blacks in Philadelphia. He concluded from his research that white discrimination was the main reason that kept African Americans from good-paying jobs.
In 1897, two years after Booker T. Washington's "Atlanta Address," Du Bois wrote, "We want to be Americans, full-fledged Americans, with all the rights of American citizens." He envisioned the creation of an elite group of educated black leaders, "The Talented Tenth," who would lead African Americans in securing equal rights and higher economic standards.
Du Bois attacked Washington's acceptance of racial segregation, arguing that this only encouraged whites to deny African Americans the right to vote and to undermine black pride and progress. Du Bois also criticized Washington's Tuskegee approach as an attempt "to educate black boys and girls simply as servants and underlings."
Lynchings and riots against blacks led to the formation in 1909 of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), an organization with a mainly black membership. Except for Du Bois who became the editor of the organization's journal, The Crisis, the founding board of directors consisted of white civil rights leaders.
The NAACP used publicity, protests, lawsuits, and the editorial pages of The Crisis to attack racial segregation, discrimination, and the lynching of blacks. Booker T. Washington rejected this confrontational approach, but by the time of his death in 1915 his Tuskegee vision had lost influence among many African Americans.
By World War I, Du Bois had become the leading black figure in the United States. But he became disillusioned after the war when white Americans continued to deny black Americans equal political and civil rights. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, Du Bois increasingly advocated socialist solutions to the nation's economic problems. He also questioned the NAACP's goal of a racially integrated society. This led to his resignation as editor of The Crisis in 1934.
Du Bois grew increasingly critical of U. S. capitalism and foreign policy. He praised the accomplishments of communism in the Soviet Union. In 1961, he joined the U.S. Communist Party. Shortly afterward, he left the county, renounced his American citizenship, and became a citizen of Ghana in Africa. He died there at age 95 in 1963.
Du Bois never took part in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s, which secured many of the rights that he had fought for during his lifetime.
Marcus Garvey, the third major black visionary in the early part of the 20th century, was born in Jamaica in 1887. He founded his Universal ***** Improvement Association (UNIA) in 1914.
UNIA stressed racial pride and self-improvement, much like the views of Booker T. Washington whom Garvey admired. Garvey, however, had greater international ambitions, including the development of worldwide black-owned industries and shipping lines. He also called for the end of white colonial rule in Africa.
At the invitation of Washington, Garvey traveled to the United States in 1916. He soon established his UNIA in New York City, opened a restaurant, and started a newspaper. In 1919, he formed the Black Star Line, the first black-owned shipping company in the United States.
The publicity over the Black Star Line caused great excitement among black Americans, many of whom bought stock in it. Garvey organized huge parades to promote this and other UNIA projects. He often appeared in a colorful uniform, wearing a plumed hat.
In 1920, over 20,000 people attended Garvey's first UNIA convention in New York. The convention produced a "Declaration of ***** Rights," which denounced lynchings, segregated public transportation, job discrimination, and inferior black public schools. The document also demanded "Africa for the Africans." Without actually consulting any African people, the convention proclaimed Garvey the "Provisional President of Africa."
Garvey believed that white society would never accept black Americans as equals. Therefore, he called for the separate self-development of African Americans within the United States.
The UNIA set up many small black-owned businesses such as restaurants, groceries, a publishing house, and even a toy company that made black dolls. Garvey's goal was to create a separate economy and society run for and by African Americans.
Ultimately, Garvey argued, all black people in the world should return to their homeland in Africa, which should be free of white colonial rule. Garvey had grand plans for settling black Americans in Liberia, the only country in Africa governed by Africans. But, Garvey's UNIA lacked the necessary funds and few blacks in the United States indicated any interest in going "back to Africa."
A poor economy and the near-bankruptcy of the Black Star Line caused Garvey to seek more dues-paying members for the UNIA. He launched a recruitment campaign in the South, which he had ignored because of strong white resistance.
In a bizarre twist, Garvey met with a leader of the Ku Klux Klan in Atlanta in 1922. Garvey declared that the goal of the UNIA and KKK was the same: completely separate black and white societies. Garvey even praised racial segregation laws, explaining that they were good for building black businesses. Little came of this recruitment effort. Criticism from his followers grew.
In 1922, the U.S. government arrested Garvey for mail fraud for his attempts to sell more stock in the failing Black Star Line. At his trial, the evidence showed that Garvey was a poor businessman, but the facts were less clear about outright fraud. The jury convicted him anyway, and he was sentenced to prison.
In 1927, President Calvin Coolidge commuted his sentence, and he was released. The government immediately deported him to Jamaica.
His vision for black separatism and "back to Africa" never caught on with most African Americans, and he and his spectacular movement soon faded away. Garvey died in 1940, an almost forgotten man.
* * * * *
The visions of Washington, Du Bois, and Garvey all fell short of settling the future of black people in American society. In the mid-20th century, new leaders emerged to guide the civil rights movement. Martin Luther King Jr. and others pursued a strategy of passive non-violence to overcome segregation in the South. Leaders of the NAACP, such as Thurgood Marshall, pushed forward legal cases to end segregation. Some took more militant stands. The Black Muslims led by Elijah Muhammad advocated separation. Malcolm X broke from the Muslims and founded a rival organization opposing separation. The Black Panthers led by Huey Newton prepared for revolution. Today, new black leaders continue to struggle among themselves over the best way for African Americans to improve their lives.
her book on the history of teh standard oil company
And "The Business of Being a Woman"
by Paula Treckel,
Professor of History
"What I discovered, or was allowed to discover by a woman who was as self-consciously remote in her correspondence as she was in person, was disturbing... this woman, who personified the word "success" in her own generation, and who, if she were alive today, would stand at the forefront of journalism, was the same woman who asserted that women's place was in the home and that they were incapable of greatness in a man's world because of their nature."
My interest in Ida Tarbell was first sparked when, as a young girl studying American History in elementary school, Ida Tarbell's name appeared on the pages of my history book. Whether it was because she was one of the few women mentioned --along with Pocahontas, Abigail Adams, Betsy Ross and Harriet Beecher Stowe--or because of her "funny name" and appellation "muckraker", I tucked her away in my memory. All the while, of course, forgetting the more important people and events of America's past!
Perhaps it was my brief encounter with Ida as a child, and with only a few others women deemed significant in creating the America nation, that led me to question the absence of women from history books and devote myself to the search for their past. When I was hired to teach American women's history at Allegheny College, I looked forward to looking at the College's extensive collection of its most illustrious graduate--Ida Tarbell. This would be the ideal opportunity, I thought, to investigate this shadowy figure from my childhood, using her own letters, works, her private as well as her public correspondence.
What I discovered, or was allowed to discover by a woman who was as self-consciously remote in her correspondence as she was in person, was disturbing. For what was revealed to me in this remarkable woman's literary remains was an enigma--a woman who exemplified an incomprehensible mixture of opposing qualities and defied my understanding.
Let me outline my confusion.
I found Tarbell an intelligent, resourceful, strong, courageous, forceful, single-minded, successful woman. Remarkable in her determination to pursue a career during an era in American history when it was still unusual for women to attend college let alone seek a life outside the home. Yet, this woman, who personified the word "success" in her own generation, and who, if she were alive today, would stand at the forefront of journalism, was the same woman who asserted that women's place was in the home and that they were incapable of greatness in a man's world because of their nature. That career women were freaks and misfits, doomed to failure and dissatisfaction. That women were intellectually unable to cope with the problems and complexities of the man's world and therefore should not be granted the right to vote.
"Her life reveals the high cost of being a pioneer, a "token" female, always the "exception" to the rule."
My initial reaction to this discovery of these contradictions between Tarbell's life and her beliefs was anger, and yes, a sense of betrayal.
How could she, a woman who had accomplished what millions of women then and now sought to attain, deny her very achievements and thus, her life? For in her remarks women's roles and rights, Tarbell publicly rejected the very premise upon which her own life was based--that women were not only men's equals, but that they had the right to participate in the public sphere, long the preserve of men. She used her considerable influence as a path breaking journalist to campaign against not only women's suffrage but women's involvement in the professions.
My frustration was best articulated by Jane Addams, the Progressive reformer. When Addams heard Tarbell say that women's suffrage was not only unnecessary but wrong and that women's participation in politics and government was against their "true" nature, she bluntly concluded: "There is some limitation to Ida Tarbell's mind."
Why? Why did Tarbell try to convince other women to give up the battle for the vote, for equal rights, and for access to careers?
In many ways, Ida Tarbell exemplified the dilemma of many women at the turn of the century. She was reared in a culture that believed that women and men were different and had complimentary natures: Women were thought to be morally superior to men, but men were women's intellectual superiors. Women were emotional and ruled by their hearts. Men were ruled by their heads. Thus, it was argued, the brutal public arena of commerce, trade and politics was better left to men. Fragile, vulnerable women should be sheltered and protected in the home.
But the post-Civil War world in which Ida Tarbell came of age also witnessed great change. Immigration, industrialization, urbanization, and American imperialism, transformed the nation. Many concerned Americans--some who wished to preserve the past, others who embraced the future--became convinced that reform of society and government was necessary. Fortified by the Social Gospel movement, people across the land were urged to put their Christian principles into action. They were told they were "their brother's keeper" and exhorted to become involved, to improve themselves and the world around them.
Many believed that women had special qualities and skills to bring to this Age of Reform. Women's innate difference from men--their moral superiority, their purity and their compassion--made them especially suited to the campaign to "uplift" America. Their skills as mothers and homemakers would help them diffuse the hot tempers of urban politics and "clean up" the corrupt cities. But to do so, women required the vote. And so it was that women's suffrage gained much wider acceptance during the closing years of the twentieth century as a tool for progressive reform.
This was the world, and these were the values that shaped Ida Tarbell.
But, to succeed in the male-dominated world of journalism, Ida had to repudiate--for herself at least--her culture's ideas about women's "special" nature. She was different from other women, she believed. The exception that proved the rule. Extremely self-conscious of her pioneering role, but lacking confidence in her own ability as a writer, she jealously guarded her position from would-be challengers and new comers, and held everyone at arms' length. For Tarbell the price of success was high: love not shared, friendships not sustained, children not born.
Was the price she paid for her success too high?
I believe that Ida Tarbell began to regret some of the choices she made. But rather than taking responsibility for her decisions or faulting the culture that demanded that women choose between love and work, she blamed feminists for daring women to dream. She accused them of falsely telling women they were the equals of men; that they had a right to be whomever they wished to be. She chastised feminists for disparaging women's "noble" calling as housewives and mothers and urging women to take their place on the political stage. Instead, she argued that women did not have the capacity to achieve greatness in men's world and implored them to stay at home, raise their families, and leave politics and industry to men.
But in arguing against women's equality and for their return to the home, Ida Tarbell repudiated her own accomplishments. Did she not see the inconsistency between her life and her words? Or was she unable to face it?
I believe that Ida's self-doubt and her anti-feminism are two sides of the same coin, and both were a consequence of her success in a hostile, doubting society. Her life reveals the high cost of being a pioneer, a "token" female, always the "exception" to the rule. Ida felt she had to hide her insecurities and deficiencies from the men around her. But at the same time she distanced herself from other professional women who might have seen the truth beneath the mask she wore. In doing so, she cut herself off from the support, encouragement, and understanding these women could offer her. Sadly, despite her great success as a journalist and writer, Ida found herself isolated and alone. Studying Ida Tarbell's life can help us better understand the difficult choices encountered by other pioneering professional women in 19th century America. And, perhaps even holds some important lessons for women of achievement today.
Let us, then, unravel Ida Tarbell's tangled life and see how she struggled with what she called "the business of being a woman."
The Muckrakers: how a group of writers in the early 20th century exposed troubling cases of corruption in America
Students should understand
* The muckrakers were investigative reporters of the early 20th century who exposed injustices of Industrial Revolution America.
* Writers such as the muckrakers are crucial to the process of necessary social change,
Upton Sinclair lived with Chicago stockyard workers for seven weeks while researching The Jungle. His primary intention was to expose dangerous working conditions in the meatpacking houses. He was taken aback when Americans seemed more concerned with the disgusting revelations about how meat was processed. "I aimed at the public's heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach," he wrote.
* CRITICAL THINKING
COMPREHENSION: How does a monopoly increase the likelihood of high prices? (Lacking competition, a monopoly can charge any price for the commodity it controls. People wanting the product have no choice but to pay the price.)
MAKING PAST-PRESENT CONNECTIONS: Can investigative journalism have the same impact today as it did a century ago? Find at least one example of such an article or series of articles in your local newspaper and explain why it/they did or did not bring change. (Answers will vary.)
IN OTHER WORDS: Have students read and analyze an excerpt from one of the muckraker's work (see p. T-7 for a Tarbell excerpt), then rewrite it in their own words.
IN THEIR OWN WORDS. Ask students to investigate a community issue that they care about, then write a brief report on it. Have them try to use facts rather than their own opinions to sway readers.
"As for the other men, who worked in tank rooms full of steam ... their peculiar trouble was that they fell into the vats [of lard].... Sometimes they would be overlooked for days, till all bur the bones of them had gone out into the world as Anderson's Pure Leaf Lard!"
A century ago, a writer named Upton Sinclair horrified Americans with the above description of working conditions in a meat-processing plant. Sinclair and other journalists were uncovering some of America's most troubling secrets. Critics accused them of just wanting to stir up trouble. But the writers proudly wore their nickname: the muckrakers.
At the turn of the 20th century, the United States was on the brink of an exciting era. The economy was booming. The Industrial Revolution had helped turn U.S. businesses such as beef, steel, and oil into economic giants.
But everywhere, ordinary people suffered. Factory workers labored under dangerous conditions. Immigrants poured into the country looking for jobs, but were trapped in crowded city slums. Meanwhile, the richest 10 percent of Americans owned 90 percent of the country's wealth.
Some Americans began to call for reform. Their collective demands came to be known as the Progressive Movement. The muckrakers--the voices of reform--exposed corrupt (dishonest) government and the greed of big business like never before.
The Importance of McClure's
In 1893, an ambitious Irish immigrant named S. S. McClure started a magazine in New York City. McClure's was important because it was the first magazine to allow its writers to examine a story in depth. In its pages, Lincoln Steffens, Ida M. Tarbell, Ray Stannard Baker, and other reporters created what is now called the investigative journalist.
In 1902, Steffens wrote a story for McClure's about government and police corruption in St. Louis, Missouri. Readers were shocked to learn of the amount of graft in a major U.S. city. Steffens went on to write similar stories from Chicago, Minneapolis, and New York. His 1904 book, The Shame of Our Cities, inspired urban reforms across the country.
Monopolies were another big problem. A businessman could gain a monopoly by buying up small companies or driving them out of business. Eventually, he would be able to control the markets for a resource, such as oil or steel. Then he could charge anything he wanted for it.
As a girl, Ida M. Tarbell had watched John D. Rockefeller's oil business spread across northwestern Pennsylvania. Tarbell later investigated Rockefeller's powerful monopoly. In 1902, she published the first in a series of articles on the subject. They became a book, The History of the Standard Oil Company, which alarmed many U.S. officials. In 1911, the government broke up the monopoly. Standard Oil was forced to split into more than 33 companies.
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