The Forging of American Socialism: Origins of the Modern Movement

By Howard H. Quint | Go to book overview

IV. The Christian Socialist Crusade

IN THE decades immediately prior to the Civil War, the Protestant pulpit was a bulwark of social stability. Northern Protestant clergymen were among the most active Abolitionists, but only rarely did they see fit to protest against the obvious injustices that resulted from the prevailing economic order. Rumblings of discontent during the Jacksonian period annoyed rather than frightened the clergy, particularly those members reared in the Calvinistic tradition of thrift, hard work, and stewardship. To confront the grumblers and to prove the heresy of their demands, Francis Wayland and other academic doctors of divinity confidently resorted to the Manchester School's laissez faire doctrines, distilling and redistilling them in lectures on political economy in American colleges. The clergy's faith in "natural economic laws," and in the men of affairs who operated under their assumptions, was coupled with a thoroughgoing condemnation of any misguided persons who might question them. Ricardo's "iron law of wages" answered with an indisputable finality those radicals who would obtain more money for workers through strikes. The existence of misery was unfortunate but inevitable since it stemmed from the weaknesses of human nature; it did not inhere in the economic system.1

Post Civil War years witnessed the rapid and dramatic inclination of the American economy toward industrial capitalism. The attendant social problems were brought starkly to attention by the unprecedented violence of the railroad strike of 1877, by the Eight-Hour Day strikes and the Haymarket Square incident of 1886, and by the swelling labor unrest during the first half of the 1890's. Likewise, the sprawling urban slum areas, created in large part by the new industrialism, became an

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1
For an account of the Protestant church's attitude toward social and economic problems in preindustrial America, see Henry F. May, Protestant Churches and Industrial America ( New York, 1949), pp. 3-87.

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The Forging of American Socialism: Origins of the Modern Movement
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Note on the Second Edition x
  • Contents xi
  • I. Marxism Comes to America 3
  • Ii. Failure of Boring from Within 37
  • Iii. Bellamy Makes Socialism Respectable 72
  • Iv. the Christian Socialist Crusade 103
  • V. Deleon Molds the Socialist Labor Party 142
  • Vi. Wayland Plants Grass Roots Socialism 175
  • Vii. Socialism Faces Populism 210
  • Viii. Non-Partisan Socialism 247
  • Ix. the Communitarians' Last Stand 280
  • X. American Socialism Comes of Age 319
  • Xi. Socialist Unity Achieved 350
  • Bibliographical Essay 389
  • Index 395
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