A detailed history of a vitally important year in Alabama history
The year 1865 is critically important to an accurate understanding of Alabama’s present. In 1865 Alabama:From Civil War to Uncivil Peace Christopher Lyle McIlwain Sr. examines the end of the Civil War and the early days of Reconstruction in the state and details what he interprets as strategic failures of Alabama’s political leadership. The actions, and inactions, of Alabamians during those twelve months caused many self-inflicted wounds that haunted them for the next century.
McIlwain recounts a history of missed opportunities that had substantial and reverberating consequences. He focuses on four factors: the immediate and unconditional emancipation of the slaves, the destruction of Alabama’s remaining industrial economy, significant broadening of northern support for suffrage rights for the freedmen, and an acute and lengthy postwar shortage of investment capital. Each element proves critically important in understanding how present-day Alabama was forged.
Relevant events outside Alabama are woven into the narrative, including McIlwain’s controversial argument regarding the effect of Lincoln’s assassination. Most historians assume that Lincoln favored black suffrage and that he would have led the fight to impose that on the South. But he made it clear to his cabinet members that granting suffrage rights was a matter to be decided by the southern states, not the federal government. Thus, according to McIlwain, if Lincoln had lived, black suffrage would not have been the issue it became in Alabama.
McIlwain provides a sifting analysis of what really happened in Alabama in 1865 and why it happened—debunking in the process the myth that Alabama’s problems were unnecessarily brought on by the North. The overarching theme demonstrates that Alabama’s postwar problems were of its own making. They would have been quite avoidable, he argues, if Alabama’s political leadership had been savvier.
The Civil War did not end with Confederate capitulation in 1865. A second phase commenced which lasted until 1871—not Reconstruction but genuine belligerency whose mission was to crush slavery and create civil and political rights for freed people. But as Gregory Downs shows, military occupation posed its own dilemmas, including near-anarchy.
An important story of one man’s life, lived with courage and principle
During the decades of Bourbon ascendancy after 1874, Alabama institutions like those in other southern states were dominated by whites. Former slave and sharecropper Jack Turner refused to accept a society so structured. Highly intelligent, physically imposing, and an orator of persuasive talents, Turner was fearless before whites and emerged as a leader of his race. He helped to forge a political alliance between blacks and whites that defeated and humiliated the Bourbons in Choctaw County, the heart of the Black Belt, in the election of 1882. That summer, after a series of bogus charges and arrests, Turner was accused of planning to lead his private army of blacks in a general slaughter of the county whites. Justice was forgotten in the resultant fear and hysteria.
The election year of 1948 remains to this day one of the most astonishing in U.S. political history. During this first general election after World War II, Americans looked to their governments for change. As the battle for the nation’s highest office came to a head in Illinois, the state was embroiled in its own partisan showdowns—elections that would prove critical in the course of state and national history.
In Battleground 1948, Robert E. Hartley offers the first comprehensive chronicle of this historic election year and its consequences, which still resonate today. Focusing on the races that ushered Adlai Stevenson, Paul Douglas, and Harry Truman into office—the last by the slimmest of margins—Battleground 1948 details the pivotal events that played out in the state of Illinois, from the newspaper wars in Chicago to tragedy in the mine at Centralia.
In addition to in-depth revelations on the saga of the American election machine in 1948, Hartley probes the dark underbelly of Illinois politics in the 1930s and 1940s to set the stage, spotlight key party players, and expose the behind-the-scenes influences of media, money, corruption, and crime. In doing so, he draws powerful parallels between the politics of the past and those of the present. Above all, Battleground 1948 tells the story of grassroots change writ large on the American political landscape—change that helped a nation move past an era of conflict and depression, and forever transformed Illinois and the U.S. government.
New Jersey’s legal system was plagued with injustices from the time the system was established through the mid-twentieth century. In Battleground New Jersey, historian and author of Boardwalk Empire, Nelson Johnson chronicles reforms to the system through the dramatic stories of Arthur T. Vanderbilt—the first chief justice of the state’s modern-era Supreme Court—and Frank Hague—legendary mayor of Jersey City. Two of the most powerful politicians in twentieth-century America, Vanderbilt and Hague clashed on matters of public policy and over the need to reform New Jersey’s antiquated and corrupt court system. Their battles made headlines and eventually led to legal reform, transforming New Jersey’s court system into one of the most highly regarded in America.
Vanderbilt’s power came through mastering the law, serving as dean of New York University Law School, preaching court reform as president of the American Bar Association, and organizing suburban voters before other politicians recognized their importance. Hague, a remarkably successful sixth-grade dropout, amassed his power by exploiting people’s foibles, crushing his rivals, accumulating a fortune through extortion, subverting the law, and taking care of business in his own backyard. They were different ethnically, culturally, and temperamentally, but they shared the goals of power.
Relying upon previously unexamined personal files of Vanderbilt, Johnson’s engaging chronicle reveals the hatred the lawyer had for the mayor and the lengths Vanderbilt went to in an effort to destroy Hague. Battleground New Jersey illustrates the difficulty in adapting government to a changing world, and the vital role of independent courts in American society.
Before Brown details the ferment in civil rights that took place across the South before the momentous Brown vs. Board of Education decision in 1954. This collection refutes the notion that the movement began with the Supreme Court decision, and suggests, rather, that the movement originated in the 1930s and earlier, spurred by the Great Depression and, later, World War II—events that would radically shape the course of politics in the South and the nation into the next century.
This work explores the growth of the movement through its various manifestations—the activities of politicians, civil rights leaders, religious figures, labor unionists, and grass-roots activists—throughout the 1940s and 1950s. It discusses the critical leadership roles played by women and offers a new perspective on the relationship between the NAACP and the Communist Party.
Before Brown shows clearly that, as the drive toward racial equality advanced and national political attitudes shifted, the validity of white supremacy came increasingly into question. Institutionalized racism in the South had always offered white citizens material advantages by preserving their economic superiority and making them feel part of a privileged class. When these rewards were threatened by the civil rights movement, a white backlash occurred.
Binga is the definitive full-length biography of Jesse Binga, the first black banker in Chicago. Born into a large family in Detroit, Binga arrived in Chicago in 1892 in his late twenties with virtually nothing. Through his wits and resourcefulness, he rose to wealth and influence as a real estate broker, and in 1908 he founded the Binga Bank, the first black-owned bank in the city. But his achievements were followed by an equally notable downfall. Binga recounts this gripping story about race, history, politics, and finance.
The Black Belt, where Binga’s bank was located, was a segregated neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side—a burgeoning city within a city—and its growth can be traced through the arc of Binga’s career. He preached and embodied an American gospel of self-help and accrued wealth while expanding housing options and business opportunities for blacks. Devout Roman Catholics, he and his wife Eudora supported church activities and various cultural and artistic organizations; their annual Christmas party was the Black Belt’s social event of the year. But Binga’s success came at the price of a vicious backlash. After he moved his family into a white neighborhood in 1917, their house was bombed multiple times, his offices were attacked twice, and he became a lightning rod for the worst race riots in Chicago history, which took place in 1919. Binga persevered, but, starting with the stock market crash of October 1929, a string of reversals cost him his bank, his property, and his fortune.
A quintessentially Chicago story, Binga tells the history of racial change in one of the most segregated cities in America and how an extraordinary man stood as a symbol of hope in a community isolated by racial animosity.
When the venerable historian Norman D. Brown published Hood, Bonnet, and Little Brown Jug in 1984, he earned national acclaim for revealing the audacious tactics at play in Texas politics during the Roaring Twenties, detailing the effects of the Ku Klux Klan, newly enfranchised women, and Prohibition. Shortly before his death in 2015, Brown completed Biscuits, the Dole, and Nodding Donkeys, which picks up just as the Democratic Party was poised for a bruising fight in the 1930 primary. Charting the governorships of Dan Moody, Ross Sterling, Miriam “Ma” Ferguson in her second term, and James V. Allred, this engrossing sequel takes its title from the notion that Texas politicians should give voters what they want (“When you cease to deliver the biscuits they will not be for you any longer,” said Jim “Pa” Ferguson) while remaining wary of federal assistance (the dole) in a state where the economy is fueled by oil pump jacks (nodding donkeys).
Taking readers to an era when a self-serving group of Texas politicians operated in a system that was closed to anyone outside the state’s white, wealthy echelons, Brown unearths a riveting, little-known history whose impact continues to ripple at the capitol.
William Thomas Scott (1839–1917) was an entrepreneur and political activist from East Saint Louis and Cairo, Illinois, who in 1904 briefly became the first African American nominated by a national party for president of the United States before his scandalous past forced him to step aside. A free man before the Civil War, Scott was a charismatic hustler who built his fortune through both vice trades and legal businesses including hotels, saloons, and real estate. Publisher and editor of the Cairo Gazette and an outspoken advocate for equal rights, he believed in political patronage and frequently rebelled against political bosses who failed to deliver, whether they were white, black, Republican, or Democrat.
Scott helped build the National Negro Liberty Party to forward economic, political, and legal rights for his race. But the hustling that had brought him business success proved his undoing as a national political figure. He was the NNLP's initial presidential nominee, only to be replaced by a better-educated and more socially acceptable candidate, George Edwin Taylor.
When originally published, Charles Vincent's scholarship shed new light on the achievements of black legislators in the state legislatures in post-Civil War Louisiana-a state where black people were a majority in the state population but a minority in the legislature.
Now updated with a new preface, this volume endures as an important work that illustrates the strength of minorities in state government during Reconstruction. It focuses on the achievements of the black representatives and senators in the Louisiana legislature who, through tireless fighting, were able to push forward many progressive reforms, such as universal public education, and social programs for the less fortunate.
Hailed as the definitive study of the subject when it appeared in 1951, Bourbon Democracy in Alabama analyzes and describes the state government of Alabama during the Bourbon Period as it operated under the Democratic and Conservative party. For this edition, the author has prepared a new foreword in which he surveys recent scholarship. The term Bourbon originated during the Reconstruction Era and was used by the Radicals to label their Democratic opponents as anti-progressive and ultraconservative. The term has been adopted generally to describe the period following the overthrow of Radical Reconstruction.
Along with barrooms and bordellos, there has hardly been a more male-focused institution in Texas history than the Texas Legislature. Yet the eighty-six women who have served there have made a mark on the institution through the legislation they have passed, much of which addresses their concerns as citizens who have been inadequately represented by male lawmakers. This first complete record of the women of the Texas Legislature places such well-known figures as Kay Bailey Hutchison, Sissy Farenthold, Barbara Jordan, Irma Rangel, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Susan Combs, and Judith Zaffirini in the context of their times and among the women and men with whom they served. Drawing on years of primary research and interviews, Nancy Baker Jones and Ruthe Winegarten offer concise biographies and profiles of all eighty-six women who have served or currently hold office in the Texas Legislature. The biographies describe the women lawmakers’ lives, campaign strategies, and legislative successes and defeats. Four introductory essays provide historical and cultural context for the biographies, which are arranged chronologically to give a sense of the passage of time, of relationships among and between women, and of the issues of their eras.
This anthology brings together the late Barry A. Crouch’s most important articles on the African American experience in Texas during Reconstruction. Grouped topically, the essays explore what freedom meant to the newly emancipated, how white Texans reacted to the freed slaves, and how Freedmen’s Bureau agents and African American politicians worked to improve the lot of ordinary African American Texans. The volume also contains Crouch’s seminal review of Reconstruction historiography, “Unmanacling Texas Reconstruction: A Twenty-Year Perspective.” The introductory pieces by Arnoldo De Leon and Larry Madaras recapitulate Barry Crouch’s scholarly career and pay tribute to his stature in the field of Reconstruction history.
A mid-level Confederate official and lawyer in secessionist North Carolina, David Schenck (1835–1902) penned extensive diaries that have long been a wellspring of information for historians. In the midst of the secession crisis, Schenck overcame long-established social barriers and reshaped antebellum notions of manhood, religion, and respectability into the image of a Confederate nationalist. He helped found the revolutionary States’ Rights Party and relentlessly pursued his vision of an idealized Southern society even after the collapse of the Confederacy. In the first biography of this complicated figure, Rodney Steward opens a window into the heart and soul of the Confederate South’s burgeoning professional middle class and reveals the complex set of desires, aspirations, and motivations that inspired men like Schenck to cast for themselves a Confederate identity that would endure the trials of war, the hardship of Reconstruction, and the birth of a New South.
After secession, Schenck remained on the home front as a receiver under the Act of Sequestration, enriching himself on the confiscated property of those he accused of disloyalty. After the war, his position as a leader in the Ku Klux Klan and his resistance to Radical Reconstruction policies won him a seat on the superior court bench, but scathing newspaper articles about his past upended a bid for chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, a compelling fall from grace that reveals much about the shifting currents in North Carolina society and politics in the years after Reconstruction. During the last twenty years of his life, spent in Greensboro, Schenck created the Guilford Battleground Company in an effort to redeem the honor of the Tar Heels who fought there and his own honor as well.
Schenck’s life story provides a powerful new lens to examine and challenge widely held interpretations of secessionists, Confederate identity, Civil War economics, and home-front policies. Far more than a standard biography, this compelling volume challenges the historiography of the Confederacy at many levels and offers a sophisticated analysis of the evolution of a Confederate identity over a half century.
Rodney Steward is an assistant professor of history at the University of South Carolina, Salkehatchie. His works have appeared in the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Encyclopedia of North Carolina, and North Carolina Historical Review.
Winner, ISHS Annual Award for a Scholarly Publication, 2017
Many people are unaware that from 1945 to 1975, downstate lawmakers dominated the Illinois political arena. In TheDealmakers of Downstate Illinois, Robert E. Hartley details the lives and contributions of three influential southern Illinois politicians, Paul Powell, Clyde Choate, and John Stelle. He describes how these “dealmakers” were able to work with Democrats and Republicans throughout the state to bring jobs and facilities to their region. Using a variety of coalitions, they maintained downstate political strength in the face of growing Chicago influence.
Hartley traces the personal histories of Powell, Choate, and Stelle, shows how they teamed up to advance a downstate political agenda, and reviews their challenges and successes. Beginning with an account of early experiences, including the battlefield courage that earned Choate the Medal of Honor as well as Stelle’s World War I experience and later entrepreneurship, the book continues with an exploration of the groundwork for their collaborative legislative agenda and their roles in the growth of Southern Illinois University and the passage of income tax legislation. Hartley reviews the importance of Powell’s relationship with Governor Stratton, Choate’s leadership of the 1972 Democratic National Convention and his relationships with Governor Walker and with Chicago interests.
The Dealmakers of Downstate Illinois is a vivid, straightforward tale of fighting in the legislative chambers, backstabbing behind the scenes, and trading special favors for votes in pursuit of not only personal gain but also the advancement of a regional agenda.
The sweeping story of an ambitious and once-powerful southern family
From Reconstruction through the end of World War II, the Bankheads served as the principal architects of the political, economic, and cultural framework of Alabama and the greater South. As a family, they were instrumental in fashioning the New South and the twentieth century American political economy, but now the Bankhead name is largely associated only with place names.
Deep South Dynasty: The Bankheads of Alabama is a deeply researched epic family biography that reflects the complicated and evolving world inhabited by three generations of the extremely accomplished—if problematic—Bankhead family of northwest Alabama. Kari Frederickson’s expertly crafted account traces the careers of five members of the family—John Hollis Bankhead; his sons, John Hollis Bankhead Jr. and William Brockman Bankhead; his daughter, Marie Bankhead Owen; and his granddaughter, Tallulah Brockman Bankhead.
A Confederate veteran and son of a slaveholder, John Hollis Bankhead held political office almost continuously from 1865 until his death in 1920, first in state-level positions and ultimately in Congress–in the House then in the Senate–for thirty-three years. Two of his three sons, John Jr. and William, followed in their father’s political footsteps. John Jr., a successful corporate attorney, was elected to the state legislature and then to the US Senate in 1930; William was elected to the House of Representatives in 1916 and chosen Speaker of the House in 1936. Together, father and sons played key roles in crafting and maintaining a conservative political culture, legal code, and economic system that facilitated economic opportunities for cotton farmers, coal barons, and emerging industries in Alabama and across the South while perpetuating White supremacy. Daughter Marie Bankhead Owen extended the family’s cultural power during her thirty-five-year tenure as director of the Alabama Department of Archives and History. From this position and through her work with groups like the United Daughters of the Confederacy, she embraced and disseminated a historical narrative steeped in Lost Cause mythology that validated the power and privilege of White elites and naturalized the second-class status of African Americans. William’s daughter, actress Tallulah Bankhead, benefited from her family’s rich political bloodlines and in turn lent them a touch of glamour and made the Bankheads modern. Frederickson’s meticulously researched examination of this once-powerful but now largely forgotten southern family is a sweeping and complex story of the region and its relationship with the wider world over the course of eight decades, from the wreckage of the Civil War to the dawn of the nuclear age.
The death of David Leo Lawrence in 1966 ended a fifty-year career of major influence in American politics. In a front-page obituary, the New York Times noted that Lawrence, the longtime mayor of Pittsburgh, governor of Pennsylvania, and power in Democratic national politics, disliked being called Boss. But, the Times noted, “he was one anyway.”
Certainly Lawrence was a consumate politician. Born in a poor, working-class neighborhood, in the present-day Golden Triange of Pittsburgh, he was from boyhood an astute student of politics and a devoted Democrat. Paying minute attention to every detail at the ward and precinct level, he revived the moribund Democratic party of Pittsburgh and fashioned a machine that upset the long-entrenched Republican organization in 1932.
When “Davy” Lawrence, as he was affectionately known, won the gubernatorial election in 1958, he became the first Roman Catholic governor of Pennsylvania and the oldest. But he achieved his greatest public recognition as mayor of Pittsburgh. Taking office in 1945, at the close of World War II, this stalwart Democrat formed an alliance with the predominantly Republican business community to bring about the much acclaimed Pittsburgh Renaissance, transforming the downtown business district and persuading many large corporations to retain their national headquarters in Pittsburgh. In 1958 the editors of Fortune magazine name Pittsburgh as one of the eight best administered cities in America.
Don’t Call Me Boss examines the lengthy career of this remarkable politician. Using over one hundred interviews, as well as extensive archival material, Michael Weber demonstrates how Lawrence was able to balance his intense political drive and devotion to the Democratic party with the larger needs of his city and state. Although his administration was not free of controversy, as indicated by the city’s police and free work scandals. Lawrence showed that it was possible to make the transition from nineteenth-century political boss to modern municipal manager. He was one of the few politicians of the century to do so. When the undisputed bosses of other American cities - the Curleys, Pendergasts, and Hagues - were out of power and disgraced, Lawrence was elected governor of Pennsylvania.
More than twenty years after his death, David L. Lawrence and his success in rebuilding the city of Pittsburgh continue to serve as an example of effective urban leadership.
"This is a book that anyone interested in South Carolina history, the emergence of the New South, and the southern press, so important to the regional culture, will find valuable. Clark has researched all the important manuscript collections and a wide variety of other sources. He also writes in a style that is lucid and imaginative." —Journal of Southern History
Known for his fearlessness in both the political arena and the battlefield, Frank Blair is a Missouri legend. As a member of one of the most prominent and powerful political families in America during the nineteenth century, possibly the equivalent of the twentieth-century Kennedys, Frank was steeped in politics at an early age. The youngest son of Francis Preston Blair, editor of Andrew Jackson's Washington Globe and adviser to Presidents Andrew Jackson through Andrew Johnson, Frank Blair was greatly influenced by his father, who had high political expectations of him.
Volatile and combative, Blair was either strongly admired or hated by the public figures of his day. He held adamantly to his opinions and fought hard for his political causes. He was an ardent supporter of Abraham Lincoln and championed the president's program in Congress and in Missouri against the frequent assaults of the Radicals. Credited with being the principal leader in saving Missouri for the Union in 1861, Blair later served with great distinction at Vicksburg, Chattanooga, and in the Sherman campaigns throughout Georgia and the Carolinas. He is one of only two Missourians ever honored by his state in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol.
Frank Blair: Lincoln's Conservative reveals the full extent of Blair's importance as a national political figure. Specialists in nineteenth-century America, students of Missouri history, and Civil War buffs will welcome this study, which will long stand as the definitive work on this influential and colorful character.
As the first African American elected to the Illinois general assembly, John W. E. Thomas was the recognized leader of the state’s African American community for nearly twenty years and laid the groundwork for the success of future black leaders in Chicago politics. Despite his key role in the passage of Illinois’ first civil rights act and his commitment to improving his community against steep personal and political barriers, Thomas’s life and career have been long forgotten by historians and the public alike. This fascinating full-length biography—the first to address the full influence of Thomas or any black politician from Illinois during the Reconstruction Era—is also a pioneering effort to explain the dynamics of African American politics and divisions within the black community in post–Civil War Chicago.In From Slave to State Legislator, David A. Joens traces Thomas’s trajectory from a slave owned by a doctor’s family in Alabama to a prominent attorney believed to be the wealthiest African American man in Chicago at the time of his death in 1899. Providing one of the few comprehensive looks at African Americans in Chicago during this period, Joens reveals how Thomas’s career represents both the opportunities available to African Americans in the postwar period and the limits still placed on them. When Thomas moved to Chicago in 1869, he started a grocery store, invested in real estate, and founded the first private school for African Americans before becoming involved in politics. From Slave to State Legislator provides detailed coverage of Thomas’s three terms in the legislature during the 1870s and 1880s, his multiple failures to be nominated for reelection, and his loyalty to the Republican Party at great political cost, calling attention to the political differences within a black community often considered small and homogenous. Even after achieving his legislative legacy—the passage of the first state civil rights law—Thomas was plagued by patronage issues and an increasingly bitter split with the African American community frustrated with slow progress toward true equality. Drawing on newspapers and an array of government documents, Joens provides the most thorough review to date of the first civil rights legislation and the two controversial “colored conventions” chaired by Thomas. Joens cements Thomas’s legacy as a committed and conscientious lawmaker amid political and personal struggles. In revealing the complicated rivalries and competing ambitions that shaped black northern politics during the Reconstruction Era, Joens shows the long-term impact of Thomas’s friendship with other burgeoning African American political stars and his work to get more black representatives elected. The volume is enhanced by short biographies of other key Chicago African American politicians of the era.
Superior Achievement from the Illinois State Historical Society, 2013
Recounts the history of the Good Roads Movement that arose in progressive-era Alabama, how it used the power of the state to achieve its objectives of improving market roads for farmers and highways for automobiles
Getting Out of the Mud: The Alabama Good Roads Movement and Highway Administration, 1898–1928 explores the history of the Good Roads Movement and investigates the nature of early twentieth-century progressivism in the state. Martin T. Olliff reveals how middle-class reformers secured political, economic, and social power not only by fighting against corporate domination and labor recalcitrance but also by proposing alternative projects like road improvement and identifying the interests of the rising middle class as being the most important to public interest.
With the development of national markets in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Americans began to regard the nation as a whole, rather than their state or region, as the most important political entity. Many Alabamians wished to travel beyond their local communities in all seasons without getting stuck in the mud of rudimentary rutted dirt roads. The onset of the automobile age bolstered the need for roadmaking, alerting both automobilists and good roads advocates to the possibility of a new transportation infrastructure. The Good Roads Movement began promoting farm-to-market roads, then highways that linked cities, then those that connected states. Federal matching funds for road construction after 1916 led state and federal governments to supplant the Good Roads Movement, building and administering the highway system that emerged by the late 1920s.
Olliff’s study of how Alabamians dealt with strained resources and overcame serious political obstacles in order to construct a road system that would accommodate economic growth in the twentieth century may offer clues to the resurrection of a similar strategy in our modern era. Many problems are unchanged over the hundred years between crises: Alabamians demand good roads and a government that has the capacity to build and maintain such an infrastructure while, at the same time, citizens are voting into office men and women who promise lower taxes and smaller government.
Many have never heard of Governor Henry Horner of Illinois, yet his story is remarkable. Governor Henry Horner, Chicago Politics, and the Great Depression focuses on Horner’s career in law and politics from 1915 to 1940, while examining the economic and political dynamics of Illinois during the darkest period in American history. This principled governor managed to maintain his political integrity in a climate where honesty was a liability, says author Charles J. Masters, but the few historians who include Horner in their narratives offer contradictory and dismissive characterizations of him. Masters corrects the public record and reintroduces Horner to political lore as a man who brazenly fought both the Chicago Democratic machine that worked to plot his downfall and Roosevelt’s White House to steadfastly do right by the people of Illinois.
In this first book-length treatment of Horner in over thirty-five years, Masters traces the politician’s career, the history and politics of Chicago, and the effects of the Great Depression in Illinois. The volume details Horner’s life as a lawyer, probate judge, and two-term Democratic governor of Illinois. Horner’s relationships with President Franklin D. Roosevelt and such political players as Michael “Hinky Dink” Kenna, “Bathhouse” John Coughlin, and Chicago mayors Carter Harrison, Anton Cermak, and Ed Kelly are set against a backdrop of assassination, political sniping, court-packing schemes, Prohibition, and the New Deal.
Governor Henry Horner, Chicago Politics, and the Great Depression examines the governor’s management of the political and economic challenges of the state when millions of Americans were jobless, homeless, and hungry. The severely divergent economic and political positions of the state’s northern industrial and southern agrarian interests made the period even darker. Masters shows how Horner stemmed foreclosures, dealt with bank closings, placated unpaid teachers, soothed massive labor unrest, fed the hungry, and confronted the ever-present threat of revolution. While Hitler’s Germany was spreading Nazism throughout Europe, some Americans were questioning the fundamental order of their own political system, suggesting that socialism, communism, or Nazism could offer a better way. Masters addresses how Horner, Illinois’ first Jewish governor, dealt with these challenges to the U.S. political system.
A story long absent from the historical record, GovernorHenry Horner, Chicago Politics, and the Great Depression offers a portrait of the man, his style of governance, his successes, and his failures. The volume, with eight illustrations, effectively reevaluates Horner’s historical reputation and role in Illinois politics in the midst of the worst economic depression in our nation’s history.
Audacious in its scope, subtle in its analysis, and persuasive in its arguments, The Great Melding is the second book in Glenn Feldman’s magisterial recounting of the South’s transformation from a Reconstruction-era citadel of Democratic Party inertia to a cauldron of GOP agitation. In this pioneering study, Feldman shows how the transitional years after World War II, the Dixiecrat episode, and the early 1950s formed a pivotal sequence of events that altered America’s political landscape in profound, fundamental, and unexpected ways.
Feldman’s landmark work The Irony of the Solid South dismantled the myth of the New Deal consensus, proving it to be only a fleeting alliance of fissiparous factions; The Great Melding further examines how the South broke away from that consensus. Exploring issues of race and white supremacy, Feldman documents and explains the roles of economics, religion, and emotive appeals to patriotism in southern voting patterns. His probing and original analysis includes a discussion of the limits of southern liberalism and a fresh examination of the Dixiecrat Revolt of 1948.
Feldman convincingly argues that the Dixiecrats—often dismissed as a transitory footnote in American politics—served as a template for the modern conservative movement. Now a predictable Republican stronghold, Alabama at the time was viewed by national political strategists as a battleground and bellwether. Masterfully synthesizing a vast range of sources, Feldman shows that Alabama was then one of the few states where voters made unpredictable choices between the competing ideologies of the Democrats, Republicans, and Dixiecrats.
Writing in his lively and provocative style, Feldman demonstrates that the events he recounts in Alabama between 1942 and Dwight Eisenhower’s 1952 election encapsulate a rare moment of fluidity in American politics, one in which the New Deal consensus shattered and the Democratic and Republican parties fought off a third-party revolt only to find themselves irrevocably altered by their success. The Great Melding will fascinate historians, political scientists, political strategists, and readers of political nonfiction.
The popular image of Henry W. Grady is that of a champion of the postbellum South, a region that would forgive the North for defeating it and would mobilize its own many resources for hones business and agricultural competition. Biographies and collections of Grady’s essays and speeches that appeared shortly after his death enhanced this image, and for a half-century, Grady was considered the personification of the New South Movement, a movement which promised industrialization for the South, an improved Southern agriculture, and justice and opportunity for black Southerners. As managing editor of the Atlanta Constitution, he espoused the New South throughout the nation and was in demand as a speaker for audiences in New York and Boston.
Through extensive research, focusing on the decade of the 1880s in Georgia, Davis demonstrates that although Grady said all the right things to show that he wished to industrialize the South and that he was committed to the improvement of agriculture and fairness in racial matters, in fact he spent most of his efforts on behalf of Atlanta. His major interest was in making a difference for that city, leaving the rest of the South to enjoy whatever Atlanta could not garner for itself.
One of Missouri's best-known leaders of the Progressive Era, Joseph W. Folk epitomized the moral reformer in politics. As a crusading district attorney in St. Louis, Folk won national acclaim for his investigations of wrongdoing in municipal government. With the help of muckraking journalist Lincoln Steffens, Folk revealed for the first time the extent of political corruption then plaguing America's cities and helped bring about a popular demand for the regeneration of municipal government nationwide.
A firm believer that the law was a weapon with which to check political corruption and restrain powerful special interests, Folk popularized the "Missouri Idea," the doctrine that public office is a public trust, not merely an opportunity for private gain. Elected as governor of Missouri in 1904, Folk orchestrated a remarkable record of legislative accomplishment. He established himself as one of Missouri's outstanding governors and one of the nation's leading progressive reformers.
In asserting that traditional moral values could be applied to politics, Folk became known among friends and enemies as Holy Joe. His refusal to make any distinction between public and private morality, however, alienated some Missourians, while his disregard for party organization angered politicians. His idealism cost him political advancement and ultimately a place in national politics.
Whereas some studies of the Progressive Era have minimized the moral dimension of Progressivism and downplayed the importance of reformers like Joseph W. Folk, Holy Joe establishes him as a major leader of the Progressive movement. This biography will be a welcome addition to the literature on the subject.
The O’Shaughnessy brothers’ story takes place between 1860 and 1950 in Illinois, Missouri, New York, and Ireland. They were the children of an impoverished immigrant who fled the famine in Ireland and his Irish-American wife.An Irish-American Odysseyis the tale of this first-generation immigrant family’s struggle to assimilate into American society, highlighting their perseverance and determination to seize opportunities and surmount obstacles, all the while establishing a legacy for their own descendants in American art, advertising, journalism, and public service.
TIME magazine called James O’Shaughnessy “the best in the business” of advertising, and he became the first chief executive of the American Association of Advertising Agencies. Earlier, he was a “star” reporter at the Chicago Tribune, and James and Francis were centrally involved in founding and maintaining the Irish Fellowship Club. Francis was also the first graduate of the University of Notre Dame to be invited to deliver its annual commencement address, while Martin was the first captain of Notre Dame’s official basketball team. An attorney, John represented the alleged victim in a notorious “white slavery” case. Thomas (“Gus”) became the leading Gaelic Revival artist in America as well as a promoter of Italian-American heritage, campaigning successfully to have Columbus Day enacted a public holiday.
The remarkable rise of the O’Shaughnessy brothers proves the American dream is attainable.
The Irony of the Solid South examines how the south became the “Solid South” for the Democratic Party and how that solidarity began to crack with the advent of American involvement in World War II.
Relying on a sophisticated analysis of secondary research—as well as a wealth of deep research in primary sources such as letters, diaries, interviews, court cases, newspapers, and other archival materials—Glenn Feldman argues in The Irony of the Solid South that the history of the solid Democratic south is actually marked by several ironies that involve a concern with the fundamental nature of southern society and culture and the central place that race and allied types of cultural conservatism have played in ensuring regional distinctiveness and continuity across time and various partisan labels. Along the way, this account has much to say about the quality and nature of the New Deal in Dixie, southern liberalism, and its fatal shortcomings.
Feldman focuses primarily on Alabama and race but also considers at length circumstances in the other southern states as well as insights into the uses of emotional issues other than race that have been used time and again to distract whites from their economic and material interests. Feldman explains how conservative political forces (Bourbon Democrats, Dixiecrats, Wallace, independents, and eventually the modern GOP) ingeniously fused white supremacy with economic conservatism based on the common glue of animus to the federal government. A second great melding is exposed, one that joined economic fundamentalism to the religious kind along the shared axis of antidemocratic impulses.
Feldman’s study has much to say about southern and American conservatism, the enduring power of cultural and emotional issues, and the modern south’s path to becoming solidly Republican.
James Milton Turner, Missouri's most prominent nineteenth-century African American political figure, possessed a deep faith in America. The Civil War, he believed, had purged the land of its sins and allowed the country to realize what had always been its promise: the creation of a social and political environment in which merit, not race, mattered.
Born a slave, Turner gained freedom when he was a child and received his education in clandestine St. Louis schools, later briefly attending Oberlin College. A self-taught lawyer, Turner earned a statewide reputation and wielded power far out of proportion to Missouri's relatively small black population.
After working nearly a decade in Liberia, Turner never regained the prominence he had enjoyed during Reconstruction.
Joe Bolton studied universal connections—the tension between the transitory beauty of the physical world and a yearning for the eternal. He turned his eye to the world, to the cultures and the people around him, and saw reflections of himself. In this collection, he works in both free verse and traditional forms, rendering scenes of exquisite detail that pry into the hearts of his characters and reveal the contradictions that bind father to son, lover to lover, and person to person. From the broken hills and drowsy river valleys around Paducah, Kentucky, to Houston diners and Gulf Coast shrimp boats, to the tropical cityscape of Miami, Bolton creates vivid scenes in which his characters confront the loneliness and the "little music" of their lives. With a richly musical voice and an ear for the cadences of everyday speech, Bolton gives his readers not the trappings of love and grief, but the very things themselves, rendered in lines that reverberate with the authority of sincerity and truth.
Richard James Oglesby is best known for introducing the rail-splitter image into Abraham Lincoln's successful presidential campaign of 1860, and in many ways his career ran parallel to Honest Abe's. This biography of the three-time governor of Illinois offers the first detailed view of a key figure in the great changes that swept Illinois and the country from the Jacksonian era through the Gilded Age.
Like Lincoln, Oglesby was born in Kentucky and spent most of his youth in central Illinois, apprenticing as a lawyer in Springfield and standing for election to the Illinois legislature, Congress, and U.S. Senate. Oglesby participated in the battles of Cerro Gordo and Vera Cruz during the Mexican-American War and made a small fortune in the gold rush of 1849. A superlative speaker, he ran unsuccessfully for Congress in a campaign that featured the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858, then was elected to the Illinois senate as Lincoln was being elected president.
When the Civil War came, Oglesby resigned his senate seat to lead a regiment of the Union Army. Critically wounded at the Battle of Corinth, he was promoted to major general before resigning his commission to run successfully for governor of Illinois. Oglesby was at Lincoln's deathbed and led the effort to build the sixteenth president's tomb in Springfield, delivering the major oration at its dedication. In the postwar years, Oglesby drew on his popularity, his association with the martyred Lincoln, and his extraordinary stump-speaking skills to rescue the Illinois Republican Party in a time of political crisis. In his third term as governor, Oglesby faced massive labor unrest in the aftermath of the Haymarket affair.
A mature and thoughtful biography, Lincoln's Rail-Splitter chronicles Oglesby's pivotal contribution to American political life while also providing a sensitive portrait of this able, energetic man.
"Hamilton makes clear in this intelligent and sensitive biography [that] Hill, whose 45 years in Congress spanned the presidents from Calvin Coolidge to Lyndon Johnson, deserves to be remembered, both for the impressive legislative record he compiled and for the light he shed on southern liberalism in the 20th century."
-- Journal of Southern History
"Hamilton's fine book is based on extensive research [and] it will be of interest to a general audience as well as to scholars."
-- Journal of American History
"This is an important work about a highly influential lawmaker."
Virginia Van der Veer Hamilton is Professor Emerita of History at The University of Alabama at Birmingham and author of Hugo Black: The Alabama Years.
Examines the political career of Alabama’s “Big Jim” Folsom
At the end of World War II changing economic and social forces transformed the lives of Alabamians, whose political leaders had built careers on localistic politics shaped by established economic and governmental interests. Into this context strolled “Big Jim”—six feet eight inches tall—with his corn-shuck mop, wooden suds bucket, and a promise to scrub out the Capitol. Ridiculed by his opponents, Folsom advertised his progressive program in every crossroads community.
As governor, Folsom faced a legislature dominated by local politicians whom he had bypassed during the campaign, and although he won approval of some bills, legislative opposition made his administration a four-year filibuster.
Not until 1955, after his election to a second term, did Folsom become an effective leader. Tying programs for expanded services to the local interests of the legislators, he won approval for road construction, “old-age pensions,” industrial development, and reorganization of the state docks. But the lawmakers balked at constitutional reform.
As his reform efforts met defeat during 1956, Folsom was losing his ability to lead. He refused to exploit racial tensions, and the rise of the civil rights movement undermined his popularity among whites. Unwilling to discipline his aides and supporters, his administration became notorious for petty graft. By 1958 aspiring candidates kept their distance from Folsom. “Big Jim” attempted a comeback in the 1962 campaign, but he was never again to hold public office.
Winner of the Bancroft Prize, the Lillian Smith Book Award, the Mississippi Historical Society McLemore Prize, the Herbert G. Gutman Prize and the Gustavus Myers Center for Study of Human Rights Outstanding Book Prize.
Publication of this book was supported by a grant from DePauw University, Greencastle, Indiana.
In this groundbreaking study, Kent Redding examines the fluid political landscape of the nineteenth-century South, revealing the complex interplay between the elite’s manipulation of political and racial identity and the innovative mobilizing strategies marginalized groups adopted in order to combat disfranchisement.
Far from being a low-level, localized trend, the struggle for power in North Carolina would be felt across the entire country as race-and class-based organizing challenged the dominant models of making and holding power.
Redding reveals how the ruling class operates with motivations and methods very similar to those of the black voters and Populist farmers they fought against. He tracks how the elites co-opted the innovative mobilizing strategies of the subaltern groups to effectively use their own weapons against them.
At the core of Making Race, Making Power is an insightful dissection of the concrete connections between political strategies of solidarity and exclusion and underlying patterns of race relations.
This richly illustrated collection of essays, reissued in paperback with a new foreword by Karen L. Cox, examines Confederate memorials from Monument Avenue to Stone Mountain and explores how each monument, with its associated public rituals, testifies to the romanticized narrative of the American Civil War known as the Lost Cause. Several of the fourteen essays highlight the creative leading role played by women’s groups in memorialization, while others explore the alternative ways in which people outside white southern culture wrote their very different histories on the southern landscape. The contributors – who include Karen L. Cox, Richard Guy Wilson, Catherine W. Bishir, W. Fitzhugh Brundage, and William M.S. Ramussen – trace the origins, objectives, and changing consequences of Confederate monuments over time and the dynamics of individuals and organizations that sponsored them. Thus these essays extend the growing literature on the rhetoric of the Lost Cause by shifting the focus to the realm of the visual. They are especially relevant in the present day when Confederate symbols and monuments continue to play a central role in a public – and often emotionally charged – debate about how the South’s past should be remembered.
Mr. Democrat tells the story of Jim Farley, Franklin D. Roosevelt's campaign manager. As party boss, Farley experienced unprecedented success in the New Deal years. And like his modern counterpart Karl Rove, Farley enjoyed unparalleled access and power. Unlike Rove, however, Farley was instrumental in the creation of an overwhelming new majority in American politics, as the emergence of the New Deal transformed the political landscape of its time.
Mr. Democrat is timely and indispensable not just because Farley was a fascinating and unduly neglected figure, but also because an understanding of his career advances our knowledge of how and why he revolutionized the Democratic Party and American politics in the age of the New Deal.
Daniel Scroop is Lecturer in American History, University of Liverpool School of History.
This is the epic story of how African-Americans, in the six decades following slavery, transformed themselves into a political people—an embryonic black nation. As Steven Hahn demonstrates, rural African-Americans were central political actors in the great events of disunion, emancipation, and nation-building. At the same time, Hahn asks us to think in more expansive ways about the nature and boundaries of politics and political practice.
Emphasizing the importance of kinship, labor, and networks of communication, A Nation under Our Feet explores the political relations and sensibilities that developed under slavery and shows how they set the stage for grassroots mobilization. Hahn introduces us to local leaders, and shows how political communities were built, defended, and rebuilt. He also identifies the quest for self-governance as an essential goal of black politics across the rural South, from contests for local power during Reconstruction, to emigrationism, biracial electoral alliances, social separatism, and, eventually, migration.
Hahn suggests that Garveyism and other popular forms of black nationalism absorbed and elaborated these earlier struggles, thus linking the first generation of migrants to the urban North with those who remained in the South. He offers a new framework—looking out from slavery—to understand twentieth-century forms of black political consciousness as well as emerging battles for civil rights. It is a powerful story, told here for the first time, and one that presents both an inspiring and a troubling perspective on American democracy.
No Votes for Women explores the complicated history of the suffrage movement in New York State by delving into the stories of women who opposed the expansion of voting rights to women. Susan Goodier finds that conservative women who fought against suffrage encouraged women to retain their distinctive feminine identities as protectors of their homes and families, a role they felt was threatened by the imposition of masculine political responsibilities. She details the victories and defeats on both sides of the movement from its start in the 1890s to its end in the 1930s, acknowledging the powerful activism of this often overlooked and misunderstood political force in the history of women's equality.
Paul Powell emerged from the hill country of southern Illinois to serve in state government from 1935 until his death in 1970. His political tenure included three terms as Speaker of the Illinois House, four terms as minority leader, and two terms as secretary of state. The sponsor of hundreds of bills, he worked tirelessly for his constituents in southern Illinois. He also worked tirelessly to promote his own interests.
In this first political biography of Powell, Robert E. Hartley follows the money. He tells how this man of humble origins and meager means amassed a world-class political and financial base. Part of that story is the disclosure of a personal fortune that boggled minds, including the unbelievable yarn of the $800,000 cash found in the hotel room following Powell's death.
Powell never earned a state salary of more than $30,000 per year, yet in the last year of his life, his federal income tax return showed an income of more than $200,000. At his death his estate totaled $3.2 million, and, when settled in 1978, was worth $4.6 million, including nearly $1 million in racetrack stock.
Following Powell's story, Hartley takes us deep into the Illinois political world of the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, a time when politicians were on an "honor system" regarding their financial holdings. This was before disclosure of political contributions, before computer records, and before public meetings laws.
This first book-length examination of the Klan in Alabama represents
exhaustive research that challenges traditional interpretations.
The Ku Klux Klan has wielded considerable power both as
a terrorist group and as a political force. Usually viewed as appearing
in distinct incarnations, the Klans of the 20th century are now shown by
Glenn Feldman to have a greater degree of continuity than has been previously
suspected. Victims of Klan terrorism continued to be aliens, foreigners,
or outsiders in Alabama: the freed slave during Reconstruction, the 1920s
Catholic or Jew, the 1930s labor organizer or Communist, and the returning
black veteran of World War II were all considered a threat to the dominant
Feldman offers new insights into this "qualified continuity"
among Klans of different eras, showing that the group remained active during
the 1930s and 1940s when it was presumed dormant, with elements of the
"Reconstruction syndrome" carrying over to the smaller Klan of the civil
In addition, Feldman takes a critical look at opposition to
Klan activities by southern elites. He particularly shows how opponents
during the Great Depression and war years saw the Klan as an impediment
to attracting outside capital and federal relief or as a magnet for federal
action that would jeopardize traditional forms of racial and social control.
Other critics voiced concerns about negative national publicity, and others
deplored the violence and terrorism.
This in-depth examination of the Klan
in a single state, which features rare photographs, provides a means of
understanding the order's development throughout the South. Feldman's book
represents definitive research into the history of the Klan and makes a
major contribution to our understanding of both that organization and the
history of Alabama.
Winner of the Albert J. Beveridge Award of the American Historical Association
“In this excellent study of Alabama politics, Hackney deftly analyzes the leadership, following, and essential character of Populism and Progressivism during the period from 1890 to 1910. The work is exceptionally well written; it deals with the personal, social, and political intricacies involved; and it combines traditional and quantitative techniques with a clarity and imagination that should serve as a spur and a model for many future studies.” – Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
“Whatever the ultimate judgment on its conclusions may be, this is an important study and one that should stimulate additional research.
“Hackney has very skillfully integrated his quantitative findings and the results of more traditional research. In this respect the book should for some time be a prime exhibit of the utility of the ‘new political history’ [and] we should receive Hackney’s contribution with both gratitude and admiration.” – Journal of Interdisciplinary History
Sheldon Hackney is a native Alabamian, and -- perhaps aptly -- the son-in-law of courageous Alabama progressives Virginia and Clifford Durr. A student of C. Vann Woodward at Yale, Hackney taught at Princeton University, served as president of Tulane University (1975-80) and the University of Pennsylvania (1981-1993). In 1993 he was appointed by President Clinton as chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, where he served until 1997. After his NEH service he returned to the University of Pennsylvania as Boies Professor of United States History.
Recounts in detail the volatile political period in Alabama following the end of the Civil War
Following the end of the Civil War, white Southerners were forced to concede equal rights to those who had been enslaved, ushering in a new and ruthless brand of politics. Suddenly, the status and place of some four million former slaves dominated the national and regional political dialogue. In Alabama, the Republican Party established itself quickly and powerfully with the participation of a newly freed constituency, firmly aligned against the Democratic Party that had long dictated the governance of the state. Well-heeled planters, merchants, and bankers, joined by yeoman farmers, staged a counterrevolution by gravitating strongly to the Democratic Party and its unabashedly white supremacist measures. The ensuing power struggle in the birthplace of the Confederacy is at the heart of Reconstruction Politics in a Deep South State: Alabama, 1865–1874.
What emerges in William Warren Rogers Jr.’s comprehensive study of the era is a detailed examination of Reconstruction politics, particularly in Alabama. This book explores an explosive and unpredictable political environment that a few years earlier would have been inconceivable. A vivid picture emerges of courthouse rallies and bitter infighting in legislative circles. Rogers’s narrative ventures into darker places as well: to the Tennessee Valley and the Black Belt regions of Alabama, where Klan nightriders used violence against an enemy and ideology they could not abide.
The attempt to capture and account for the unforgiving political landscape created by the extraordinary circumstances of Reconstruction constitutes this study’s most central contribution. Rogers often quotes black and white citizens, Democrats and Republicans. Drawn from newspapers, correspondence, and various federal investigations, these firsthand voices are passionate, unvarnished, and filled with conviction. They offer a startling immediacy and illustrate the temper—or distemper—of the times. Readers are treated to a panoramic unveiling of Reconstruction Alabama politics that provides a sense of what was truly at stake: the values by which a region and the nation as a whole would chart its future for the century to come.
In the late 1800s an unprecedented coalition of American farmers rose to challenge the course of national politics. Aspiring to a society in which justice and equality were the norm, the farmers galvanized thousands of voters, causing two dominant political parties to reshape their agendas. Yet by 1900, the movement was virtually dead. Scott G. McNall analyzes why America's largest mass-democratic movement failed. He focuses his inquiry on Kansas, the center of the agrarian rebellion that led to the creation of the Farmer's Alliance and, later, to the founding of the People's party. Integrating new historical accounts with original analyses of census data, Alliance membership records, and speech transcripts, McNall restores these Kansas voices, revealing their struggle against an entrenched class system, indifferent political parties, and economic hardship.
McNall rejects the traditional view that blames the failure of the Alliance on a turn to mass-based electoral politics, but rather sees the move into national politics by the Farmer's Alliance as part of a rational strategy to better wage their fight for economic justice. The Kansas populists failed, he argues, because of their inability to embrace a broad, working-class base, to provide an effective alternative vision, and ultimately to create a distinct class organization. Debates about how classes come into being, or how democracy is to be realized, cannot be settled in the abstract. McNall's recreation of this heroic struggle is a model in the analysis of class formation. At the same time, The Road to Rebellion is dynamic social history, which holds vital lessons for structuring and realizing alternative political agendas today.
Who was this scalawag? Simply a native, white, Alabama Republican! Scorned by his fellow white Southerners, he suffered, in his desire for socioeconomic reform and political power, more than mere verbal abuse and social ostracism; he lived constantly under the threat of physical violence. When first published in 1977, Wiggin’s treatment of the scalawag was the first book-length study of scalawags in any state, and it remains the most thorough treatment. According to The Journal of American History, this is the “most effective challenge to the scalawag stereotype yet to appear.”
Using thorough and stark statistics, Kennedy describes a South emerging from World War II, coming to grips with the racism and feudalism that had held it back for generations. He includes an all-out Who’s Who, based on his own undercover investigations, of the "hate-mongers, race-racketeers, and terrorists who swore that apartheid must go on forever." The first paperback edition brings to a new generation of readers Kennedy’s searing profile of Dixie before the civil rights movement.
More than thirty years after its original publication, V. O. Key's classic remains the most influential book on its subject. Its author, one of the nation's most astute observers, drew on more than five hundred interviews with Southerners to illuminate the political process in the South and in the nation.
Key's book explains party alignments within states, internal factional competition, and the influence of the South upon Washington. It also probes the nature of the electorate, voting restrictions, and political operating procedures. This reprint of the original edition includes a new introduction by Alexander Heard and a profile of the author by William C. Havard.
"A monumental accomplishment in the field of political investigation."
—Hodding Carter, New York Times
"The raw truth of southern political behavior."
—C. Vann Woodward, Yale Review
"[This book] should be on the 'must' list of any student of American politics."
—Ralph J. Bunche
V.O. Key (1908-1963) taught political science at the University of California, Los Angeles, and at Johns Hopkins, Yale, and Harvard universities. He was president of the American Political Science Association and author of numerous books, including American State Politics: An Introduction (1956); Public Opinion and American Democracy (1961); and The Responsible Electorate (1966).
Stuart Symington: A Life
James C. Olson University of Missouri Press, 2003 Library of Congress E748.S95O47 2003 | Dewey Decimal 328.73092
Stuart Symington is the first full-length biography of one of Missouri’s most influential and effective twentieth-century political leaders. It tells the story of a remarkable man whose adult life was spent at or near the center of power in America, a man who was talented and ambitious, yet maintained a realistic touch that enabled him to connect with ordinary people.
Symington was the first secretary of the air force and a four-term senator from Missouri. Prior to his long governmental career, he was a successful businessman in New York and St. Louis, developing a national reputation as a genius who could convert failing businesses to profitability. His most notable success was with Emerson Electric Company of St. Louis, which during World War II he turned into a large manufacturer of movable gun turrets for bombers.
Known as “Harry Truman’s Trouble Shooter,” Symington was unanimously confirmed by the Senate for six major presidential appointments—a record. As assistant secretary of war for air, he represented the War Department in negotiations leading to the National Security Act of 1947, which unified the armed services into a single national military establishment under the secretary of defense. During his tenure as secretary of the air force, he steered that organization through a series of crises, including racial integration, as it developed into an independent entity within the Defense Department. Among his other administrative positions, he served as surplus property administrator, breaking up the aluminum monopoly; director of the National Security Resources Board, where he helped develop mobilization strategy for the Korean War; and director of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, where he reformed a badly managed operation.
Highlights of his long Senate career include his confrontation with Joseph McCarthy during the Army-McCarthy hearings in 1954; his conflict with President Eisenhower over the defense budget; his long, agonizing struggle over Vietnam as he changed from a leading hawk to a leading dove; and his role in uncovering information leading to congressional articles of impeachment against President Nixon. He was a serious candidate for the Democratic nomination for president in 1960, and for a time appeared to be Kennedy’s choice for vice president.
Well written and exhaustively researched, Stuart Symington: A Life provides a comprehensive portrait of Symington and his exceptional career, shedding new light on presidential administrations from Truman to Nixon, the Department of Defense, the Korean War, and Vietnam. The book also contributes to an understanding of the U. S. Senate, the political history of Missouri, and the relationship between business and government during and immediately after World War II.
A political movement rallies against underregulated banks, widening gaps in wealth, and gridlocked governments. Sound familiar? More than a century before Occupy Wall Street, the People’s Party of the 1890s was organizing for change. They were the original source of the term “populism,” and a catalyst for the later Progressive Era and New Deal.
Historians wrote approvingly of the Populists up into the 1950s. But with time and new voices, led by historian Richard Hofstadter, the Populists were denigrated, depicted as demagogic, conspiratorial, and even anti-Semitic.
In a landmark study, Walter Nugent set out to uncover the truth of populism, focusing on the most prominent Populist state, Kansas. He focused on primary sources, looking at the small towns and farmers that were the foundation of the movement. The result, The Tolerant Populists, was the first book-length, source-based analysis of the Populists. Nugent’s work sparked a movement to undo the historical revisionism and ultimately found itself at the center of a controversy that has been called “one of the bloodiest episodes in American historiography.”
This timely re-release of The Tolerant Populists comes as the term finds new currency—and new scorn—in modern politics. A definitive work on populism, it serves as a vivid example of the potential that political movements and popular opinion can have to change history and affect our future.
A challenge to the long-held view that the only important and influential politicians in post-Reconstruction Deep South states were Democrats.
In this insightful and exhaustively researched volume, Samuel L. Webb presents new evidence that, contrary to popular belief, voters in at least one Deep South state did not flee en masse from the Republican party after Reconstruction. As Webb demonstrates conclusively, the party gained strength among white voters in Upcountry areas of northern Alabama between 1896 and 1920. Not only did GOP presidential candidates win more than a dozen area counties but Republican congressional candidates made progress in Democratic strongholds, and local GOP officials gained control of several county courthouses.
Nor were these new Republicans simply the descendants of anti-Confederate families, as some historians have claimed. Rather, they were former independents, Greenbackers, and Populists, who, in keeping with the 1890s Populist movement, were reacting against what they perceived as the control of the Democratic party by "moneyed elites" and planter landlords. Webb also breaks with previous historical opinion by showing that ex-Populists in the Hill Country, who had been radical reformers during the 1890s, remained reform minded after 1900.
Webb's ground-breaking reassessment of Alabama state politics from Reconstruction to the 1920s describes a people whose political culture had strong roots in the democratic and egalitarian Jacksonian ideology that dominated north Alabama in the antebellum period. These people carried forward elements of Jacksonianism into the late 19th century, with its tenets continuing to influence them well into the early 20th century.
In 1888 a group of armed and masked Democrats stole a ballot box from a small town in Conway County, Arkansas. The box contained most of the county’s black Republican votes, thereby assuring defeat for candidate John Clayton in a close race for the U.S. Congress. Days after he announced he would contest the election, a volley of buckshot ripped through Clayton’s hotel window, killing him instantly. Thus began a yet-to-be-solved, century-old mystery.
More than a description of this particular event, however, Who Killed John Clayton? traces patterns of political violence in this section of the South over a three-decade period. Using vivid courtroom-type detail, Barnes describes how violence was used to define and control the political system in the post-Reconstruction South and how this system in turn produced Jim Crow. Although white Unionists and freed blacks had joined under the banner of the Republican Party and gained the upper hand during Reconstruction, during these last decades of the nineteenth century conservative elites, first organized as the Ku Klux Klan and then as the revived Democratic Party, regained power—via such tactics as murdering political opponents, lynching blacks, and defrauding elections.
This important recounting of the struggle over political power will engage those interested in Southern and American history.