American History and American Historians: A Review of Recent Contributions to the Interpretation of the History of the United States

By Hugh H. L. Bellot | Go to book overview

VII
New Complexities

'I T was national integration', it has been said, 'which triumphed at Appomattox. It was national integration which marked every important development in the years that followed.'1 But the apparent simplicity of the history of national integration and reform is deceptive. J. F. Rhodes, much praised for the tolerance shown in his History of the United States from the Compromise of 1850 (7 vv., 1893- 1906), betrayed a new bitterness in the supplementary volume dealing with the years 1877 to 1898. It had become possible to write without prejudice of the conflict between North and South; but new fissures were opening, and an ironmaster found it difficult to write without prejudice about the relations of capital and labour. The trust and the trade union, if not also the party machine, each showed a tendency towards self-sufficiency, each becoming increasingly a law to itself, obedient only to the dictates of its own necessity, calling for the undivided and unlimited allegiance of its members, placing itself in a relation of mere power to the other and to the community, so that there unconsciously emerged a conception of 'total' business 2 and 'total' unionism, corresponding to total war in the political state, that knew no rule of behaviour but success and offered as flat a challenge to the new patriotism as any sectional division with its roots in geography.

Of this development the history has as yet been very imperfectly examined. In the business world, the change had its roots in the differentiation of the private from the public corp

____________________
1
P. H. Buck, The Road to Reunion, 1865-1900 ( Boston, 1937), p. vii.
2
Cf. T. C. Cochran & W. Miller, The Age of Enterprise ( New York, 1943), pp. 75-6, 88-9.

-250-

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