Late Nineteenth Century Politics
From Woman Lawyer: The Trials of Clara Foltz -- Online Notes For The Book
This Note includes general resources relating to Nineteenth Century Politics, with a particular focus on women's participation in it.
A huge literature exists on politics in this period. ROBERT WEIBE, THE SEARCH FOR ORDER: 1877-1920 (1967) remains the classic text. For the immediate post-war period, ERIC FONER, RECONSTRUCTION: AMERICA'S UNFINISHED REVOLUTION, 1863-1877 (1988) is indispensable. SEAN DENNIS CASHMAN, AMERICA IN THE GILDED AGE: FROM THE DEATH OF LINCOLN TO THE RISE OF THEODORE ROOSEVELT (1984) is a bold sweeping overview. NELL PAINTER, STANDING AT ARMAGEDDON: THE UNITED STATES 1877-1917 (1987) and MORTON KELLER, AFFAIRS OF STATE: PUBLIC LIFE IN LATE NINETEENTH-CENTURY AMERICA (1977) also provide thorough overviews. JACKSON LEARS, REBIRTH OF A NATION: THE MAKING OF MODERN AMERICA, 1877-1920 (2009) brings together an array of characters to support his thesis that this period was one in which all kinds of people sought “regeneration,” as was variously defined at the time. The book offers a fresh and sympathetic look at many of the late nineteenth century reformers and cultural figures.
Coxey's Army, The Pullman Strike, and the Haymarket Tragedy
On the turbulent political climate of the 1890s generally, GEORGE BROWN TINDELL, GILDED AGE POLITICS AND AGRARIAN REVOLT (1984) provides an excellent basic history. On Coxey’s Army and the Pullman Strike, see CARLTON BEALS, THE GREAT REVOLT AND ITS LEADERS: THE HISTORY OF POPULAR AMERICAN UPRISINGS IN THE 1890’S (1968); THE PULLMAN STRIKE (Leon Stein ed., 1969); CARLOS A. SCHWANTES, COXEY’S ARMY: AN AMERICAN ODYSSEY, 130-32 (1985); NELL IRVIN PAINTER, STANDING AT ARMAGEDDEN: THE UNITED STATES—1877-1919, at 117-26 (1987). See the Anna Smith section of this Note for more on her leadership of an Oakland California division of the Army. The Haymarket tragedy (also known as the “affair” the “massacre”, the “riot” or simply “Haymarket”) is covered in all American histories of the period. Still, the best single work on this topic is PAUL AVRICH, THE HAYMARKET TRAGEDY (1984); see also RICHARD SCHNEIROV, LABOR AND URBAN POLITICS: CLASS CONFLICT AND THE ORIGINS OF MODERN LIBERALISM IN CHICAGO, 1864–97 (1998).
Bellamy Nationalism and Populism
For more on California in the last decades of the nineteenth century, RUMBLE, is excellent, especially on Bellamy Nationalism and Populism (pg. 99-122). Other essential works are R. HAL WILLIAMS, THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY AND CALIFORNIA POLITICS 1880-1896 (1973) [hereafter WILLIAMS, DEMOCRATIC PARTY] and WILLIAM A. BULLOUGH, THE BLIND BOSS AND HIS CITY: CHRISTOPHER AUGUSTINE BUCKLEY AND NINETEENTH-CENTURY SAN FRANCISCO (1979) [hereafter, BULLOUGH, BLIND BOSS] (dealing with Buckley’s creation of a Democratic machine). Bullough is one of the few historians to note women’s participation in the politics of the day, albeit without much explanation. For example, he notes that the “Democratic party made overtures to increasingly important organizations of women who, although they could not vote, exerted substantial influence upon those who could.” BULLOUGH, BLIND BOSS, at 177. Bullough is especially insightful on the election of 1890. BULLOUGH, BLIND BOSS, at 208-30. See also, William A. Bullough, Hannibal Versus the Blind Boss: The "Junta," Chris Buckley, and Democratic Reform Politics in San Francisco, 46 PAC. HIST. REV. 181 (1977). Other good sources on the early 1890’s include: SPENCER C. OLIN, CALIFORNIA POLITICS 1846-1920, at 40-50 (1981); A.A. GRAY, HISTORY OF CALIFORNIA, at 502-05 (1934).
BRETT MELENDY & BENJAMIN F. GILBERT, THE GOVERNORS OF CALIFORNIA: PETER H. BURNETT TO EDMUND G. BROWN (1965) has a good account of the various measures that were important in the post civil war administrations. WILLIAM ISSEL & ROBERT W. CHERNY, SAN FRANCISCO, 1865-1932: POLITICS, POWER, AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT (1986) (offering a systematic overview of sources of political power that covers local political struggles, the rise of the labor movement, and interethnic politics); William Issel, Citizens Outside Government: Business and Urban Policy in San Francisco and Los Angeles, 1890-1932, 58 PAC. HIST. REV., 117, 117-46 (May 1988); Paul Kleppner, Politics Without Parties: The Western States, 1900-1984, in THE TWENTIETH CENTURY WEST: HISTORICAL INTERPRETATIONS (Gerald D. Nash & Richard W. Etulian eds., 1989) (essays on the various groups and forces that shaped the modern society); Kleppner, Voters and Parties in the Western States, 1876-1900, 14 W. HIST. Q., 49, 49-68 (Jan. 1983); CHESTER MCARTHUR DESTLER, WESTERN RADICALISM, 1865-1901, at 1-31 (1963); Ralph E. Shaffer, Radicalism in California, 1896-1929 (Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Berkeley).
On California sympathy to railroad strikers, including sympathy among farmers, see WILLIAMS, DEMOCRATIC PARTY, at 195-96 (citing S.F. CHRON., June 30, 1894). Among the supporters of the railroad strikes, the article mentioned: “the farmers whose fruit was rotting on the ground, business men whose prosperity was imperiled, professional men, manufacturers who were threatened with ruin, hosts of persons who ordinarily have no direct relations with ‘organized labor.’ Men such as these with few exceptions, felt a profound sympathy with these strikers, and hoped that they might win.” Another commentator wrote that all classes accepted their losses equably “as long as the railroads suffer quite as much or more.” Nation, July 12, 1894, quoted in PULLMAN STRIKE, at 249.
On Populism, RICHARD HOFSTADTER, THE AGE OF REFORM: FROM BRYAN TO F.D.R. (1955) is still the best starting place. Another older source, still fruitful, is JOHN D. HICKS, THE POPULIST REVOLT: A HISTORY OF THE FARMERS’ ALLIANCE AND THE PEOPLE’S PARTY (1931). But for understanding the complex and disorganized Populist movement, a recent book is extremely helpful. CHARLES POSTEL, THE POPULIST VISION (2008) brings many more women into the story (including Mary Elizabeth Lease and Marian Todd) and shows how the Populists brought together the Farmer’s Alliance and Urban reformers. Other sources I used were ROBERT C. MCMATH, AMERICAN POPULISM: A SOCIAL HISTORY, 1877-1898 (1993); LAWRENCE GOODWYN, THE POPULIST MOMENT (1978); MICHAEL KAZIN, THE POPULIST PERSUASION: AN AMERICAN HISTORY (1998); O. GENE CLANTON, POPULISM: THE HUMANE PREFERENCE IN AMERICA 1890-1900 (1990); WILLIAM ALFRED PEFFER, POPULISM: ITS RISE AND FALL (1991). On Populism in California in particular, see Donald E. Waters, The Feud Between California Populist T.V. Cator and Democrats James Maguire and James Barry, 27 PAC. HIST. REV. 281 (Aug. 1958); Tom G. Hall, California Populism at the Grass-Roots: The Case of Tulare County, 1892, 69 S. CAL. Q., 193 (1967); The People’s Party in California, WOMAN’S TRIB., Dec. 5, 1891, at 320 (personal account by a suffragist of her acceptance from the Populists).
On the relationship of Populists and Bellamy Nationalists, see On-Line Bibliographic Note: Bellamy Nationalism. Especially good on the overlap is ARTHUR LIPOW, AUTHORITARIAN SOCIALISM IN AMERICA, EDWARD BELLAMY AND THE NATIONALIST MOVEMENT, at 16-25(1982). On the bridge between labor and other reformers which the Populists provided in the election of 1894, see Alexander Saxton, San Francisco Labor and the Populist and Progressive Insurgencies, 34 PAC. HIST. REV. 421 (1965). Two years earlier, in 1892, the Populist platform declared that all workers “rural and civic” shared common enemies and interests. Id. at 425.
Women's Pre-Suffrage Participation in Politics
The last few decades have seen a surge of interest in women’s participation in regular party politics, including the period before they had suffrage. REBECCA EDWARDS, ANGELS IN THE MACHINERY: GENDER IN AMERICAN PARTY POLITICS FROM THE CIVIL WAR TO THE PROGRESSIVE ERA (1997); JO FREEMAN, WE WILL BE HEARD: WOMEN’S STRUGGLES FOR POLITICAL POWER IN THE UNITED STATES (2008); A ROOM AT A TIME: HOW WOMEN ENTERED PARTY POLITICS (2000); WE HAVE COME TO STAY: AMERICAN WOMEN AND POLITICAL PARTIES, 1880-1960 (Melanie Gustafson, Kristie Miller, & Elisabeth I. Perry, eds. 1999); MELANIE GUSTAFSON, WOMEN AND THE REPUBLICAN PARTY 1854-1924 (2001); ROBERT J. DINKEN, BEFORE EQUAL SUFFRAGE, WOMEN IN PARTISAN POLITICS FROM COLONIAL TIMES TO 1920 (1995); ALANA S. JEYDEL, POLITICAL WOMEN: THE WOMEN'S MOVEMENT, POLITICAL INSTITUTIONS, THE BATTLE FOR WOMEN'S SUFFRAGE AND THE ERA (2004).
1894 Election in California
For information on the 1894 election in California, see WINFIELD J. DAVIS, POLITICAL CONVENTIONS IN CALIFORNIA 1849-1892 (1893). S.F. CALL, Feb. 7, 1895, describes the Republican platform endorsement of suffrage. Grove Johnson submitted the platform as a whole without opportunity for consideration of its individual parts. For more on the election, see GULLETT, BECOMING CITIZENS, at 82-83; 4 HWS, at 78-82; WILLIAMS, DEMOCRATIC PARTY, at 201-02; Alexander Saxton, San Francisco Labor and the Populist and Progressive Insurgencies, PAC. HIST. REV. 34 (Nov. 1965). MICHAEL PAUL ROGIN, JOHN L. SHOVER, POLITICAL CHANGE IN CALIFORNIA: CRITICAL ELECTIONS AND SOCIAL MOVEMENTS, 1890-1966, at 16-20 (1969) describes the connection between labor and farm interests. It also explains that anti-Catholic racism—in the form of American Protective Association—appealed to farmers, and cut into the Populist vote. Though the Populist candidates were largely unsuccessful, the party provided the balance of power in every single electoral unit. RUMBLE, at 99-122. Eric Falk Petersen, The End of an Era; California’s Gubernatorial Election of 1894, 38 PAC. HIST. REV. 141 (May 1969) (description of parties and personalities; Budd, the Democrat won the Governorship while Republicans swept the rest of the offices and won large legislative majorities.)
Mary Elizabeth Lease (also known as Mary Ellen)
For information on Mary Elizabeth Lease, see RICHARD STILLER, QUEEN OF POPULISTS: THE STORY OF MARY ELIZABETH LEASE (1970) and Kathryn Price, Mary Elizabeth Lease: Lawyer, Politician and Hellraiser (1997), at WLH website. For an interesting insight from Lease’s contemporaries, see A. L. Livermore, Mary Elizabeth Lease: The Foremost Woman Politician of the Times, METROPOLITAN MAG., Nov. 1896, at 263-66. See also Edward T. James, Notes and Documents: More Corn, Less Hell? A Knights Of Labor Glimpse Of Mary Elizabeth Lease, 16 LABOR HIST. 408 (1975). Discussions of Lease’s oratorical style can be found in Susan Estelle Kelso, Less Corn and More Hell in Performance, 8 PLAINSWOMAN 2, 7 (1984). The S.F. EXAMINER, Aug. 10, 1892, noted the “manner in which she made herself heard throughout the vast hall.” By comparison, a previous male speaker had caused a stampede to the front by his weak tones. O. Gene Clanton, Intolerant Populist? The Disaffection of Mary Elizabeth Lease, 34 KANSAS HIST. Q. 189 (1968). Finally, a good overview of Lease’s style and impact can be found in Dorothy Rose Blumberg, Mary Elizabeth Lease, Populist Orator: A Profile, 1 KANSAS HIST. 3 (Spring 1978).
White was a towering political figure in his lifetime. KEVIN STARR, INVENTING THE DREAM 69-70 (1986) portrays his personality as well as his accomplishments and he is much referenced by other historians of the period. See e.g., BULLOUGH, BLIND BOSS and WILLIAMS, DEMOCRATIC PARTY. Curtis Grassman, Prologue to Progressivism: Senator Stephen M. White and the California Reform Impulse (1970) (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles). Tending to hagiography but thorough on the issues: PETER THOMAS CONMY, STEPHEN MALLORY WHITE: CALIFORNIA STATESMAN (1956); EDITH DOBIE, THE POLITICAL CAREER OF STEPHEN MALLORY WHITE (1927); LEROY E. MOSHER, STEVEN M. WHITE: CALIFORNIAN, CITIZEN, LAWYER, SENATOR (1903) (a character sketch which also includes White’s principal public addresses).
Anna Ferry Smith
Many political histories mention Anna Smith, who was an important public woman in California for forty years, though there is no comprehensive biographical work. She spoke on the sandlots when Dennis Kearney formed the Workingmen’s Party of California. She was a major organizer for the Bellamy Nationalists, took the quick step to the Farmer’s Alliance, and easily on to the People’s Party, and then to organize in Southern California for the Socialist Labor Party. Her main concern was always for the position of working women—pressed from beneath by cheap immigrant labor (mainly the Chinese as she saw it) and blocked from above by sex prejudice. MARY JO BUHLE, WOMEN AND AMERICAN SOCIALISM, 74, 120 (1983). Ralph Shaffer, Radicalism in California, 1869-1924 (1962) (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of California-Berkeley); RUMBLE, at 100 (describing her as “a rugged veteran fighter of the labor movement”). Other sources for this period that also mention Anna Smith: Martha Gardner, Working on White Womanhood: White Working women in the San Francisco Anti-Chinese Movement, 1877-1890, 33 J. SOC. HIST. 73 (1999); Michael Kazin, The Great Exception Revisited: Organized Labor and Politics in San Francisco and Los Angeles, 1870-1940, 55 PAC. HIST. REV. 371 (1986).
Before coming to California, Smith had been a nurse for the Union soldiers in her husband’s regiment. Though far less well known, Anna Smith was like Mother Jones, in her radical views cloaked in a guise of respectability. Mother Jones also marched in Coxey’s Army, see PHILIP S. FONER, WOMEN AND THE AMERICAN LABOR MOVEMENT, at 280-87 (1979). On Foltz’s relationship with Anna F. Smith, the time they were closest was probably in the Nationalist clubs in southern California in the early 90’s. EVERETT W. MACNAIR, EDWARD BELLAMY AND THE NATIONALIST MOVEMENT, 1889 to 1894, at 245 (1957), says Anna Smith organized most of the rural clubs in southern California. In tribute to Smith, MacNair writes that she not only organized the clubs, but “helped in all departments. They asked her back again and again to speak . . . list of her engagements reads like a candidate in the heat of a campaign—nothing could stop her or dilute her courage and enthusiasm.” Smith and Foltz were together at the organizational meeting of the Nationalists in San Diego. MACNAIR, EDWARD BELLAMY AND THE NATIONALIST MOVEMENT, at 203-04 (citing the SAN DIEGO BEACON, Aug. 10, 1889); Anna Smith, Letter, LIBERAL THINKER, Jan. 1890 (“Mrs Foltz tells me that there is a movement on foot in the East to organize against a union of God and the State. I would like to be counted in,” and she signed the convention call). See On-Line Bibliographic Note: The Woman’s National Liberal Union.
Smith’s participation in Coxey’s army was well publicized and the response was quite positive. SCHWANTES, COXEY’S ARMY, at 130-32, and GULLETT, BECOMING CITIZENS, at 89. At the head of 300 men, a “most fantastic body” according to the Examiner, she marched through the California countryside, to the strains of drums, bagpipes, and occasionally The Marseillaise, S.F. EXAMINER, Apr. 28, 1894. See also S.F. CHRON., Apr. 30, May 1, & May 31, 1894. Explaining how she became a commander of the Army, when most women, even if they were unemployed workers, were not allowed in the army at all, Smith explained that “I have some local reputation as a speaker and the men want me to speak for them when we get to Washington.” And she had other qualifications: “I am a San Francisco woman, a woman who has been brought up on this coast, and I’m not afraid of anything, not even hunger. I have a woman’s heart and a woman’s sympathy, and these lead me to do what I have done for these men…” SACRAMENTO RECORD-UNION, May 31, 1894.