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­ 78 4­ Scott’s Fre­ netic ­ Decade, 1893 to 1904 Great ex­ cite­ ment and al­ most a panic pre­ vailed on the stock ex­ change this morn­ ing . . . a stam­ pede to sell set in . . . ­ prices went down as if on a to­ bog­ gan slide. Daily Il­ li­ nois State Jour­ nal, 5 May 1893 The ­ president’s [Cleveland’s] order clos­ ing the white house to of­ fice seek­ ers ­ formed the chief topic among the pol­ i­ ti­ cians today. Daily Il­ li­ nois State Jour­ nal, 9 May 1893 Between 1893 and 1904 Scott in­ volved him­ self in many pro­ jects but ­ seemed to lack pur­ pose. He had en­ coun­ tered sig­ nif­i­ cant chal­ lenges be­ fore, but per­ haps only the war and its im­ me­ di­ ate after­ math ­ trumped the prob­ lems and the chang­ ing mood of the coun­ try that he faced at the end of the cen­ tury. The enor­ mous ­ growth in Amer­ ica’s in­ dus­ try in the 1880s had led to an over­ pro­ duc­ tion of goods, an ag­ gres­ sive spec­ u­ la­ tion in rail­ road con­ struc­ tion, cur­ rency, and­ stocks, and a stock ex­ change col­ lapse that ­ brought with it one of the worst and long­ est de­ pres­ sions in the ­ nation’s his­ tory. The re­ form move­ ment, which had fo­ cused on slav­ ery be­ fore and dur­ ing the war and on civil ­ rights in the two ­ decades that fol­ lowed it, had ­ changed into forms that en­ dan­ gered his live­ li­ hood—anti­ pat­ ron­ age, anti­ al­ co­ hol, anti­ gam­ bling, and anti­ vice. The coun­ try was look­ ing for scape­ goats to blame for the ­ nation’s ills, and it mat­ tered lit­ tle­ whether they were in the busi­ ness and po­ lit­ i­ cal sec­ tors or in race. And fi­ nally, the old guard of black ac­ ti­ vists who had ­ emerged from slave roots and who had­ fought bat­ tles to ob­ tain civil ­ rights as preach­ ers and news­ paper ed­ i­ tors was being over­ taken by ac­ ti­ vists con­ sist­ ing of uni­ ver­ sity grad­ u­ ates and law­ yers who saw them­ selves as a van­ guard of tal­ ented and priv­ i­ leged lead­ ers. Liv­ ing the life of a gam­ bler, Scott could take a ­ chance and ­ change his game. ­ Rather than a time of de­ spair, this was a time to re­ de­ sign and in­ crease his wager, even if that­ needed to be along a path that was any­ thing but clear. Scott’s Frenetic Decade 79 The turn of the cen­ tury was not a time of prog­ ress for ­ blacks in Amer­ ica,­ whether they were lo­ cated in the old South or in the Mid­ west and North. The Civil War had ended slav­ ery, but it had not ended the issue of ­ states’ ­ rights or the over­ whelm­ ing be­ lief among ­ whites that they were super­ ior to all other races. Nor had it ended an eco­ nomic ­ system that al­ lo­ cated ­ nearly all ­ wealth and prop­ erty to ­ whites. The Fif­ teenth Amend­ ment to the Con­ sti­ tu­ tion had given­ blacks enor­ mous vot­ ing power in ­ states and dis­ tricts where they ei­ ther out­ num­ bered white vot­ ers or were nu­ mer­ ous ­ enough to de­ ter­ mine elec­ tion out­ comes. Re­ pub­ li­ cans in the South and in sev­ eral ­ states in the North ­ relied upon black votes for elec­ tion suc­ cess, and for a time it ­ seemed pos­ sible in sev­ eral sec­ tions of the coun­ try that ­ blacks and ­ whites who were col­ lab­ o­ rat­ ing in ­ thirdparty move­ ments might ­ change the ­ nation’s party struc­ ture, as had oc­ curred with the emer­ gence of the Re­ pub­ li­ can Party in the 1850s. That ended, how­ ever, with the con­ vinc­ ing ar­ gu­ ment of ­ Lily-White Re­ pub­ li­ cans and re­ sur­ gent white Demo­ crats in the 1880s that suc­ cess for any ­ third-party move­ ment would in­ ev­ i­ ta­ bly bring with it a “Sec­ ond Re­ con­ struc­ tion,” a pros­ pect un­ ac­ cept­ able to­ nearly all south­ ern ­ whites. When Demo­ crats re...


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