Organize or Perish: America's Independent Progressives, 1913-1933

By Eugene M. Tobin | Go to book overview

III
Liberal-Labor Relations before the War

The years from 1914 to 1916 were notable for much more than the demise of the Progressive party. Preparedness advocates and their pacifist opponents vigorously competed for public attention, but most Americans seemed more concerned with the rising incidence of labor violence and lawlessness at home than with events in Europe. All across the nation, workers and employers engaged in pitched battles, exchanged mutual threats, and contributed to a tension-filled atmosphere in which neutrality ceased to have meaning.

From labor's standpoint, the problems were unambiguous: an increasingly unequal distribution of wealth had left between one-third and one- fourth of those families engaged in industrial labor barely above the subsistence level. The separation of management from ownership made industrial work impersonal, rendered the individual worker powerless against the corporation, and necessitated unionization and collective bargaining. Yet employers harassed union workers, insisted on yellow- dog contracts, hired strikebreakers and industrial spies, and received judicial and legislative support from the public sector. Management, on the other hand, pointed fearfully at the increased amount of labor radicalism, property destruction, and violence.

Concern over these developments, as well as a fundamental anxiety over America's future, prompted a variety of groups to pressure the Taft administration into establishing a federal investigatory commission. The most prominent of the lobbyists was the awkwardly but appropriately named Committee on Industrial Relations to Secure the Appointment of a Federal Commission on Industrial Relations. Its letterhead read like a who's who of progressivism and contained the names of settlement leaders such as Jane Addams, Lillian Wald, and Mary K. Simkhovitch; leading social gospelers including Washington Gladden, Rabbi Stephen

-43-

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Organize or Perish: America's Independent Progressives, 1913-1933
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contributions in American History ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Copyright Acknowledgments v
  • Contents ix
  • I- Introduction 3
  • Notes 11
  • II- Amos R. E. Pinchot And George L. Record: The Radical Progressive Alternative, 1912-1916 13
  • Notes 37
  • III- Liberal-Labor Relations Before the War 43
  • Notes 61
  • IV- The Road From Henry Street To Wall Street 67
  • Notes 89
  • V- Liberals And The Postwar Reconstruction, 1919-1920 97
  • Notes 124
  • VI- Independent Progressives, 1921-1924 131
  • Notes 160
  • VII- The Wilderness Years, 1925-1928 167
  • Notes 197
  • VIII- Rehearsal for Reform 203
  • Notes 237
  • IX- Conclusion 245
  • Note 250
  • Bibliographic Essay 251
  • Index 261
  • About the Author 281
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