The 1890s in America: Documenting the Maturation of a Nation

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One of the most significant decades in United States history, the 1890s represented a transitional time of political, economic, social, diplomatic, and cultural change. It was both the conclusion of the Gilded Age as well as the beginning of modern America and progressive reform. The twin forces of change and continuity came into play. An agricultural, rural, largely homogeneous society was shifting into a more industrial, urban, and heterogeneous republic marked by increasing presidential prerogative in domestic affairs and international relations. How Americans reacted to these growing pains presents historians with a wealth of information with which to dissect the times and better understand the momentous events that occurred between 1890 and 1899.

This book is an edited compilation of first-person accounts consisting of over four hundred pages of valuable primary source material. Each entry is accompanied by an introduction. Easier to use in one format than having tediously to track down forty-nine separate entities, the book analyzes important roles played that decade by social reformers, economic theorists, religious leaders, political figures, literary achievers, educational innovators, medical doctors, protesting labor strikers, judicial decisions, dedicated conservationists, avowed agitators, diplomatic initiators, philosophers, prohibitionists, sectionalists, librarians, and agriculturists who discussed a number of issues, such as civil rights, crime, anti-imperialism, and the growth of monopolies.


“Over the years, scholars and students seeking contextual material for study of the Gilded Age searched for published contemporary writings, only to find references to many of the same overused examples. This book brings together disparate works from a variety of famous and lesser known writers of the 1890s ... The editors have selected a sampling of viewpoints, issues, and experiences, all of which helped define the 1890s as a distinctive era during which the United States was just beginning to emerge as a world power. The world began to take notice of America’s inward struggles as well as the nation’s ascendance to a more prominent place on the international stage … This book provides a balanced view of Gilded Age writers from many different walks of life, lifestyles, and perspectives. Its contribution is a better understanding and foundation for the study of America in the 1890s.” – (from the Foreword) John V. Miller, Archivist, The University of Akron

“The editors have assembled a diverse collection of primary documents from the 1890s. Any collection of readings is bound to be limited and open to criticism for who was included or excluded. In this case, however, the editors achieved their goal of providing an easy-to-use collection with should be of interest to a considerable variety of readers – teachers and professors, Gilded Age scholars, librarians and archivists, students and the general public ... For scholars and casual readers looking for handy access to primary documents, this source will serve well ...” – Professor Don Wicks, Kent State University

Table of Contents

Foreword by John V. Miller
Documents 1890-1899
1. How the Other Half Lives – Jacob A. Riis
2. The Southern Struggle for Pure Government – George Washington Cable
3. Embattled Farmers – Washington Gladden
4. Massacre at Wounded Knee – Black Elk

5. Self-Control in Curing Insanity – Dr. William A. Hammond
6. Pauperism in the United States – Richard T. Ely
7. The Farmers’ Discontent – Leonidas L. Polk
8. Wynema – S. Alice Callahan
9. The Work of Women’s Clubs – Alice Hyneman Rhine Sotheran

10. The Homestead Strike – Emma Goldman
11. The Subjective Necessity for Social Settlements – Jane Addams
12. Lynch Law in the South – Frederick Douglass
13. The Negro Question in the South – Thomas E. Watson
14. The Library of the United States – Ainsworth Rand Spofford
15. Failures of Popular Education – Charles W. Eliot

16. Abrogation of Power – Letter to Benjamin Harrison from Queen Liliuokalani
17. Russian Jews as Desirable Immigrants – Ida M. Van Etten
18. Are Our Indians Becoming Extinct? – John Wesley Powell
19. Woman’s Sphere from a Woman’s Standpoint – Laura De Force Gordon
20. The Isolation of Life on Prairie Farms – Eugene V. Smalley

21. What Americanism Means – Theodore Roosevelt
22. An Army for Relief – Jacob S. Coxey
23. The Wilson-Gorman Tariff – Grover Cleveland
24. The Catholic Church and the Saloon – John Ireland

25. Encyclical on Catholicity in the United States – His Holiness Pope Leo XIII
26. The Soldier’s Faith – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
27. The Red Badge of Courage – Stephen Crane
28. The Case Stated – Ida B. Wells-Barnett
29. Atlanta Compromise Speech – Booker T. Washington

30. Plessy v. Ferguson: Dissenting Opinion – John Marshall Harlan
31. Western Feeling Towards the East – William Vincent Allen
32. Sexual Inversion – Havelock Ellis
33. Democratic Crisis – Henry Watterson

34. Farewell Address as Governor of Illinois – John Peter Altgeld
35. Homosexual Life in America – Earl Lind
36. The Future of the Red Man – Simon Pokagon
37. American Forests – John Muir
38. A Letter to Havelock Ellis in Defense of Homosexuality – James Mills Peirce as Professor X
39. Is There a Santa Claus? – Francis Pharcellus Church

40. God Is A Negro – Henry McNeal Turner
41. The Condition of Cuba – Redfield Proctor
42. Affairs in Cuba – John M. Thurston
43. Trusts: Causes and Remedy – Marion Butler
44. Opposition to Acquiring Distant Possessions – Andrew Carnegie

45. The Man with the Hoe – Edwin Markham
46. The White Man’s Burden – Rudyard Kipling
47. The Black Man’s Burden – Henry Theodore Johnson
48. Open Letter to President McKinley – Archibald H. Grimke and others
49. Views of an Anti-Imperialist – George G. Vest

Selective Bibliography

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