Politics, Reform, and Expansion, 1890-1900

By Harold U. Faulkner | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 8
1894

MORE than two and a half million men walked the streets in search of work in the terrible winter of 1893-94.1 The countryside was suddenly filled with tramps, wandering aimlessly from one town to the next, shabby and forlorn. On city street corners, little knots of hungry, sad-faced men appeared; passers-by averted their eyes to avoid the reproachful stare of poverty. In Chicago there were 100,000 such men. At night every precinct station in the city was crowded with anywhere from sixty to a hundred men who had no place else to sleep. Others sprawled in the corridors and on the stairways of City Hall. A reporter estimated that the city's saloon keepers furnished 60,000 free meals a day.2 Ray Stannard Baker, a cub reporter for the Record, exclaimed with a curious mixture of enthusiasm and despair, "What a spectacle! What a human downfall after the magnificence and prodigality of the World's Fair which has so recently closed its doors! Heights of splendor, pride, exaltation in one month; depths of wretchedness, suffering, hunger, cold, in the next."3

Unemployment in such numbers revolutionized the problem of poverty. Americans had always believed that any man who did not have a job was either too lazy to get one or in some way disabled. Private charity housed and fed the latter; society condemned and ignored the former. Both classes, however, represented only a tiny minority. Now in 1894 men who were neither unable nor unwilling to work prowled the streets in vast numbers. Private charity could not possibly provide for them. City governments tried to fill the gap, but

____________________
1
See above, p. 142, n. 3.
2
Ray Ginger, The Bending Cross ( New Brunswick, N.J., 1949), p. 99.
3
Ray Stannard Baker, American Chronicle ( New York, 1945), p. 2.

-163-

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Politics, Reform, and Expansion, 1890-1900
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Editors' Introduction ix
  • Preface xiii
  • Chapter 1 - The Restless Decade 1
  • Chapter 2 - The Revolt of the Cities 23
  • Chapter 3 - The Decline of Agriculture 48
  • Chapter 4 - Progress and Poverty 72
  • Chapter 5 - Billion-Dollar Politics 94
  • Chapter 6 - The Election of 1892 119
  • Chapter 7 - Depression, Bonds, and Tariffs 141
  • Chapter 8 - 1894 163
  • Chapter 9 - The Bryan Campaign 187
  • Chapter 10 - The Drums of War 212
  • Chapter II - The War with Spain 235
  • Chapter 12 - End of a Decade 260
  • Bibliography 281
  • Index 305
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