1-31-14 Notes - Sister Carrie's America

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University of California - Berkeley
Robin Einhorn

Sister Carrie's America • Spoils system; Pendleton Act • Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser o Jaundiced view of the world • Vibrant mass, popular, didactic culture that predates radio, movies, tv o Important part of big city life in the US I. Political corruption th • In the late 19 century, politics in the North was influenced by the trauma of the Civil War • The pattern of party competition began in the War (Repubs = Patriots/Union; Dems = Rebels/Confeds) o Dems = “Party of White Supremacy” (this is a good thing…) Openly and proudly racist o Both parties survived the war. • SEE Haarper’s Weekly “Tis but a change of banners” Repubs call dems kkk A. Bloody shirt • Waving the bloody shirt! • Cynical exploitation of the war – Dems • 1892 “Judge” – Copperhead (Adlei Stevenson Snake-man-head-dude) • 1887 “Puck” – Sherman waving shirt *! • Basically the Repubs keep trying to use the war as an argument against the Dem party • Repubs still the party of the Union incl John Sherman who kept trying to help the slaves in the south • 1868-onward – Repub presidents were all union veterans B. Boss Tweed • Grover Cleveland running for Pres. He was a bachelor who had fathered a child a decade earlier. “Judge” • Support of strict liquor laws • Courted protestants, alienated middle class by temperance (esp catholic immigrants, and Dem city “bosses” who built political “machines” by using the enourmous growth of cities to make $$$$* most famous = NY’s Tameney Hall which achieved city wide power under the leadership of Whilliam M “Boss” Tweed (See Harpers Weekly Oct 12, 1871)) • Boss Tweed built a machine that ran pieces of the govt, basically • Got the legislature to change the municipal thingy for NY so that it would have an audit board (THAT HE WAS IN CHARGE OF) • “Kickback” of money • New County courthouse ($12.5mil) & other crap made the city go into debt, but Tweed just got richer. • Then Tweed was arrested for bribery and fraud, he died in prison. • NOT JUST NY • Pennsylvania City Hall • Chicanery and corruption involved • Also San Francisco City Hall – finished in 1899 then 7 years later, 1906 earthquake & fire… C. Dennis Kearney • City govt = the one failure of US govt • Dennis Kearney & the workingman’s party of CA • The problem wasn’t corruption, it was that Kearney was a demagogue in a literal sense • He blamed the depression of the 1870s on capitalists • Loved to threaten to lynch the bosses and burn their properties • His real target were the Chinese • He wanted to kick Chinese workers out of CA (See slide w his rally and also a ticket and also his face) • Big victory in 1879 where the state constitution had explicit anti Chinese stuff. • Kearny thought it was an awesome example of democracy.. he’s a dip. II. Urban culture A. Public works • NY Brooklyn Bridge (iconic, awesome) • City govts in the US were coping well with massive growth (See City Growth Chart Slide) • If all these people are going to live in cities you need infrastructure (bridges, streets, streetlights, fire depts.) US were providing better of these than Europe (except London had more park-land) Best example is Central park in NY • Chicago also reserved huge tracks of land (Lincoln Park) • Lots of parks and they were used • There were also another set of instutitions B. High culture • To teach the masses, they wanted mus
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