Jane Addams and the Dream of American Democracy: A Life

By Jean Bethke Elshtain | Go to book overview

7
LIFE HAS MARKED US
WITH ITS SLOW STAIN

The War at Home

CONTROVERSY DOGGED JANE ADDAMS and Hull-House. The quest for cleaner streets put her on a collision course with Alderman Johnny Powers and his "boodling" operation. Although she won the garbage battle, she lost the war with Powers. It is worth taking a closer look at the campaign against Powers in order to understand why Addams and her colleagues failed in a number of important battles, including their concerted effort to unseat the entrenched alderman at the polls on two separate occasions.

Addams had a distinct advantage in most debates so long as she could cultivate the "extension of household duties" theme as a rationale for social action. But when her desire to mitigate the dire circumstances of the immigrant poor led her to intervene in matters that many thought were not her concern—were not, in general, "woman's business"—she opened herself and the other residents of Hull-House up to sometimes ferocious criticism. Demonstrating that piecework in sweatshops was contributing to higher rates of tuberculosis, or that the mingling of sewage removal and water drinking pipes caused typhoid epidemics, was a legitimate "housekeeping" concern. But to insist that one couldn't deal with such matters effectively unless certain officials were either removed from office or pressured into changing their views—that put Addams into the rough-and-tumble of politics reserved for men.

-181-

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Jane Addams and the Dream of American Democracy: A Life
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Also by Jean Bethke Elshtain *
  • Title Page *
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Credits xi
  • Chronology xiii
  • Books by Jane Addams xvii
  • Hull-House Firsts xix
  • Preface - Interpreting a Life xxi
  • Introduction - Looking for Jane Addams's America 1
  • 1 - The Snare of Preparation 15
  • 2 - One Pilgrim's Progress 33
  • 3 - Imagining Hull-House 65
  • 4 - The Family Claim and the Social Claim 89
  • 5 - Compassion without Condescension 119
  • 6 - Woman's Remembering Heart 149
  • 7 - Life Has Marked Us with Its Slow Stain 181
  • 8 - Solidarity Which Will Not Waver 211
  • Afterword 251
  • Notes 255
  • Index 319
  • About the Author 329
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