The Great Tradition: An Interpretation of American Literature since the Civil War

The Great Tradition: An Interpretation of American Literature since the Civil War

The Great Tradition: An Interpretation of American Literature since the Civil War

The Great Tradition: An Interpretation of American Literature since the Civil War

Excerpt

When Lee surrendered at Appomattox, more was settled than the preservation of the Union or the abolition of slavery. Even while the war was going on, capitalistic industry demonstrated that it was the ruler of the nation. Congress, at the command of business enterprise, voted higher tariffs than ever before, created a national banking system, granted generous assistance to railway corporations, and encouraged immigration. At the same time a shrewd Ohio lawyer wrote into the text of the Fourteenth Amendment the notable "due process" clause that was to protect business from state interference. Once the war was over the victors hastened to enjoy the fruits of their victory. Industrialism had been advancing, but slowly; now it strode forward in its conquest of the continent. John Sherman wrote in 1865, "The truth is, the close of the war with our resources unimpaired gives an elevation, a scope to the ideas of leading capitalists, far higher than anything ever undertaken in this country before. They talk of millions as confidently as formerly of thousands." Rockefeller was just making his first independent venture in oil. Experiments were going on with the Bessemer process. Chicago had opened its union stockyards and was ready for Armour and Swift. Collis Huntington was building the Central Pacific Railroad to meet the Union Pacific, and Cornelius Vanderbilt had just got his hands on the first unit of his Great Lakes-to-ocean railway system. Within a few years the num-

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