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Chapter VII. The Genesis of Muckraking IT IS difficult to maintain either that reform journalism came "suddenly, unexpectedly, upon the American scene," or that sole "credit for the sponsorship of muckraking does undoubtedly belong to McClure and McClure's."1 The magazine only played in symphonic form what was already by 1903 a lively melody. The country at large, the press in general, and the national government were already pre­ paring for battle with the two hundred odd trusts that had arisen behind the Dingley Tariff of 1897.2 t^e cities the National Municipal Reform League, the Civil Service Re­ form League, the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, the Anti-Saloon League, and even the Christian Endeavor, to name a few organizations, were arousing the middle class against political machines. Although their aims were far more modest than those of Bryan, Debs, or Henry George, these groups wanted the abolition of the liquor traffic, the gambling dens, and the houses of ill fame.8 This public sentiment between 1899 and 1903 must be accounted as the greatest force shoving McClure's towards radical journalism. But other public forces were at work. The editorial staffs pouring out of the Manhattan office buildings in the publishing district were abuzz over the clarity with which Governor Theodore Roosevelt and Mayor Seth Low spoke for the public interest. Josiah Flynt had shown vast new areas for the application of their methods. Daily the Wall Street situation was becoming more ominous. In the wind, all of the writers attest, was 1Louis Filler, Crusaders for American Liberalism, 31, 95. 2 See ibid., 6off; C. C. Regier, The Era of the Muckraker (Chapel Hill, 1932), 47®, 53-55; Mark Sullivan, Our Times (6 vols., New York, 1926-35), 11, 253; Elmo Ellis, Mr. Dooley's America, 224, 401. ZGalesburg Daily Mail, June 1, 1895; see Emporia Gazette (w), Sept. si, 1899; Chicago Inter-Ocean, Sept. 16, 1899. T H E G E N E S I S O F M U C K R A K I N G the expectancy of reform.4 In the McClure's office a pro­ found change was taking place between 1900 and 1903, and to understand that development these external forces must be kept in mind. Two men are especially significant in McClure's editorial decision to move from the high grade fictional realism of Flynt and Lefevre to the authenticated exposures so char­ acteristic of the magazine's muckraking. Their roles are worth considering at length. Both John Finley and Al­ fred Maurice Low, a Washington journalist, helped McClure and his band of ex-reporters solidify their thinking on the questions before the country. John Finley came to McClure's office in 1899 as a thirtyfour -year-old, tall, polished academician, who was to manage one of the magazines acquired from Harper's. When that position did not materialize, Finley stayed in the editorial offices for over a year, helping his brother-in-law, Albert Boyden, as well as Phillips and Miss Tarbell. Although at first resented as something of an intruder by his friend Miss Tarbell, Finley soon showed the capabilities which were tomake him a masterful editor of the New York Times at a later date, and won warm acceptance.5 Finley, because of his connections with the Charities Review, brought the entire McClure's staff into contact with the powerful Charity Organization Society of New York. Robert Weeks DeForest, president of the Society and Finley's long-time friend, became Seth Low's first tene­ ment house commissioner. As such, DeForest relied upon the advice of the new McClure's editor to the extent of let­ ting him recommend housing inspectors.® Because of his academic training and experience in the administration of charities, Finley's advice and friendship were sought by other reformers across the country. He was«See Mark Sullivan, The Education of An American (New York, 1938), 200. 5 See Tarbell to Finley, May 3, 1900, Phillips Papers.«Robert W. DeForest to Finley, Dec. 21, 1901, Finley Papers. T H E G E N E S I S O F M U C K R A K I N G the first to introduce the McClure's staff to Jane Addams, Albert Beveridge, Robert La Follette, Woodrow Wilson, and Frederick Howe.7 Howe particularly served as the staff's window upon the progressive battle in state and mu­ nicipal politics. Undoubtedly Finley explained to his colleagues how Frederick Howe and Tom Johnson were...


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