The Big Vote
Gender, Consumer Culture, and the Politics of Exclusion, 1890s–1920s
Publication Year: 2004
Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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Introduction: Making Dominance
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In 1872, Harper’s Weekly, a middle-class magazine of current events and fiction, celebrated the election season with a line drawing of “Pennsylvania Miners at the Polls” (see fig. 1). Dressed for work, lunch buckets in hand, the miners thronged at the polling place set up for them near the mine shaft, eager to deposit their ballots into the glass globe signaling the party of their choice. ...
1. "Civic Slackers" and "Poll Dodgers": Nonvoting and the Construction of Discursive Dominance
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“Poo-pooh! I never vote!” the man sniffed, lazily reclining on pillows, casually puffing a cigar (see fig. 3). He might look like an upstanding citizen—middle- aged, upper class, clothed in a smoking jacket and banker’s pinstripes, the very picture of masculine respectability—but in the wake of a Great War...
2. "A Whole Fleet of Campaigns": The Get-Out-the-Vote Campaigns in Overview
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“Register So You Can Vote November 8th.” In 1927, on Fountain Square in downtown Cincinnati, the local League of Women Voters erected an immense billboard to summon citizens to civic duty. “Civic thermometers” put the tally of registered voters in public view; each city ward’s “thermometer” would rise as the registration numbers climbed. ...
3. "Vote as You Please"—But Vote!": The Leadership of the Get-Out-the-Vote Campaigns [Includes Image Plates]
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“VOTE AS YOU PLEASE—BUT VOTE,” the stickers urged, patriotically presented in red, white, and blue (see fig. 9). Businessmen, factory owners, and merchants from coast to coast brought the GOTV message to colleagues, customers, and employees by pasting these stickers on business correspondence, newsletters, employee pay envelopes, and customers’ parcels. ...
4. "Good for at Least 100 Votes": The Get-Out-the-Vote Campaigns at the Local Level
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On the day before the September primary, the Grand Rapids, Michigan, League of Women Voters sponsored a parade to drum up enthusiasm at the polls. “With the Firemen’s band at its head,” a procession of twenty-five cars “decorated in patriotic colors and bearing pennants with slogans admonishing all voters to use their voting privilege”...
5. The Expert Citizen: Civic Education and the Remaking of Civic Hierarchies
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In the 1920s, the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company took an intense interest in improving the civic qualities of immigrants. Met Life agents personally met newly landed immigrants at the boat, put them in touch with relatives, boarded them on trains bound for their final destinations, and hired a Washington lobbyist to help with difficult legal cases. ...
6. The Methods of Wrigley and Barnum: The Get-Out the Vote Campaigns and the Commodification of Political Culture
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In 1927, in an advertisement in a businessmen’s magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle pitched its power to reach consumers by touting the civic qualities of its readers. The Chronicle promised advertisers that its pages were a good way to catch the eye of “Mr. Solid Citizen,” the reader who was at once a husband, father, and businessman. ...
Conclusion: The New Regime
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Middle-class and elite whites in the early twentieth century succeeded spectacularly in their efforts to contain the radical potential of universal suffrage. By the 1920s, immigrants, ethnic Americans, and workers had practically disappeared as respectable participants from discussions of civic issues in the large-circulation daily newspapers...
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A Note on Method and Sources
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Page Count: 280
Illustrations: 4 line drawings, 11 halftones
Publication Year: 2004
Series Title: Reconfiguring American Political History
Series Editor Byline: Ronald P. Formisano, Paul Bourke, Donald DeBats, and Paula M. Baker, Series Founders