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Chapter XV. "Two Revolts Against Oligarchy" THE MOST provocative and sensitive conclusion of what muckraking and Progressivism were all about was given by Theodore Roosevelt at Osawatomie, Kansas, in August, 1910.1 There had been two great crises in the nation's history, the ex-President told his rain-drenched audience, the Revolution and the Civil War. The third epochal crisis was then at hand: "Exactly as the special interests of cotton and slavery threatened our political integrity before the Civil War, so now the great special business interests too often control and corrupt the men and methods of government. . . ."2 Roosevelt's analogy went further: the Progressive "interest is primarily in the application to-day of the lessons taught by the contest of a half a century ago."3 Roosevelt was speaking to an audience who well under­ stood what he meant. The brother of Gifford Pinchot, who sat on the stand with him, had just authored an article articulating this parallel with the Civil War. The McCluretS article by Amos Pinchot was entitled "Two Revolts Against Oligarchy."4 The causes, Pinchot wrote, "of the political and indus­ trial crises which we are passing through to-day are the same as the causes of the most momentous episode of our his­ tory, the Civil War."5 A belief in the sacredness of prop­ erty, that "ancient and feudal idea," made blood brothers of the slavocracy and the industrial plutocracy, for both clung tenaciously to that anachronistic and unjust precept. "One has only to read the speeches and letters of North1See Amos Pinchot, History of the Progressive Party, 1912-1916, ed. Helen Hooker (New York, 1958), 166-67; and Forcey, The Crossroads of Liberalism, 121-5«. 2 Theodore Roosevelt, The New Nationalism, intro. William E. Leuchtenburg (New York, 1961), 27. s Ibid., 3. 4 McClure's, xxxv (Sept., 1910), 581. 5 Ibid. " T W O R E V O L T S A G A I N S T O L I G A R C H Y " ern leaders of thought before and during the war," it seemed to Pinchot, "to be struck by their peculiar resem­ blances to the utterances of the 'Insurgent' leaders of to­ day."6 As the cotton interests, planters and spinners, "in­ trenched and upheld by slavery," ruled formerly behind the three-fifths clause of the Constitution, in 1910 the spe­ cial interests, "represented by the railroads and industrial trusts," dominated Congress.7 Like the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which had stimulated the formation of the Republi­ can Party, the Payne-Aldrich tariff was responsible for the Insurgency and proved that the "eternal and irrepressible conflict between the people and the great industrial inter­ ests for control of the government has again become acute."8 Representative government had been destroyed in Con­ gress by the machinations of Aldrich and Cannon, and Taft, a prototype of Buchanan, a weak executive, was an accom­ plice in the crime. The regular Republicans had demon­ strated their propertied allegiance by supporting the maladministration of Ballinger and by being party to plots to repeal the Sherman Act. So in the final analysis, asserted Pinchot, the radical Free Soilers had "stood in exactly the same relationship to the Whigs as the Insurgents of to-day stand in relation to theso-called 'regular' Republicans."9 There were many Progressives who saw such an obvious parallel. "It is always easy," wrote Jane Addams, who was born near Freeport, Illinois, and whose father was a Repub­ lican legislator in Illinois while Lincoln was President, "to overwork an analogy, and yet the economist who for years insisted that slave labor continually and arbitrarily lim­ ited the wages of free labor, and was, therefore a detri­ ment to national wealth, was a forerunner of the econo­ mist of to-day who points out the economic basis of the social evil."10 Hull House, in Miss Addams' opinion, was like a station on the underground railroad for the victims β Ibid,., 583. 7 Ibid., 586. 8 Ibid., 585. sibid., 583. 10 Ibid., χχχνπ (Nov., 1911), 3. " T W O R E V O L T S A G A I N S T O L I G A R C H Y " of a social blight which exploited women. And just as the abolitionists had given the Negro the suffrage to doom slav­ ery forever, she promised that the feminine vote would end white slavery. But first there needed to be a wide dissemina­ tion of propaganda, in the...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781400872305
MARC Record
OCLC
614006860
Pages
360
Launched on MUSE
2016-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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