Women’s Movement and
The cultural meanings we give to gender and sexuality constitute a complex web
connecting male and female power, status, and identity; women's rights; birth control
and abortion; homosexuality; family policy; and population policy. All these elements
are bound up in the emergence of the women's movement, the related movement and
countermovement for reproductive rights including abortion, the gay and lesbian rights
movement, and the backlash on the Right which emphasizes traditional family values.
The Woman Suffrage Movement and its Heritage. Among the U.S. delegation to the
World Anti-Slavery Convention in London in 1840 were two women, Quaker minister
Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, wife of a prominent abolitionist. The
Convention refused to seat women as delegates, so Mott and Stanton had to watch
from the gallery. Resolving to improve the status of women, Mott and Stanton called a
Woman's Rights Convention at Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848. The meeting, attended
by some 300 women and men, produced a "Declaration of Principles" including a
resolution calling for the franchise for women. National woman's rights conventions
were held throughout the 1850s, drawing Susan B. Anthony with her exceptional
organizational skills into the leadership.
After the Civil War, abolitionists pushed at all costs to pass the 14th and 15th
Amendments granting rights and the vote to the slaves freed by the 13th Amendment.
The woman's rights movement split in 1869 into two groups: the American Woman
Suffrage Association (AWSA), led by Lucy Stone, which backed the 15th Amendment
giving black males the vote; and the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA), led
by "irreconcilables" Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, which opposed the
15th Amendment because it did not also grant women the vote. The two groups also
split on strategy, with the AWSA undertaking "realistic" efforts for state laws
enfranchising women, while the NWSA directed its activity toward a national
constitutional amendment. Victories in Western states -- women won the vote in
Wyoming in 1869 and Utah in 1870 -- paved the way for wider suffrage gains.
Women's organizations were beginning to flourish generally -- Young Women's Christian
Association (YWCA) groups were organized in several Eastern cities in the 1860s, and
the formidable Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), led by Frances Willard,
was founded in 1874. The forerunner of the American Association of University Women
(AAUW) was launched in 1882. The General Federation of Women's Clubs was
organized in 1890, and the National Association of Colored Women was founded in
1896 under the leadership of Mary Church Terrell. Unity between the AWSA and the
NWSA was finally forged with the encouragement of Alice Stone Blackwell, and the two
groups merged into the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) in
1890. Elizabeth Cady Stanton was chosen as its first president. Susan Anthony and the
first generation of feminist leaders were aging, and she arranged to pass the NAWSA
presidency on Carrie Chapman Catt in 1900. When Catt resigned to deal with family
matters and lecture internationally, Anna Howard Shaw -- another younger
representative of second generation feminists -- stepped in as NAWSA president.
Although there were additional state victories during the first decade of the century,
little was happening on the federal front -- no floor debate on woman suffrage had been
held in Congress since 1887. That began to change with the arrival of Alice Paul, a
young Quaker who had gone to study in England and became involved with Emmeline
Pankhurst's Women's Social and Political Union -- jailed for protest activity, she had
gone on a hunger strike and been force-fed. Paul chaired the Congressional Committee
of NAWSA and created fresh momentum for a federal suffrage amendment. In 1913 she
and Lucy Burns created a separate national organization, the Congressional Union, to
press an all-out campaign for the federal suffrage amendment -- a goal the NAWSA felt
was premature. Carrie Catt returned as NAWSA president in 1915, and began a
campaign to convince Woodrow Wilson to support the woman suffrage amendment.
Alice Paul and the Congressional Union, on the other hand, formed the National
Women's Party to contest the 1916 election in the twelve states where women could
vote for president.
Following the end of World War I, woman suffrage bills were passed in England and
most Canadian provinces. The NAWSA mounted an all-out campaign for the federal
woman suffrage amendment in 1918. Carrie Catt had been granted a bequest in 1914
of over $1 million to be used to further the cause of woman suffrage from Mrs. Frank
Leslie, publisher of Leslie's Weekly. After considerable litigation and a settlement, Catt
finally received the money in 1917, in time to employ some 200 women organizers for
the final campaign. The NAWSA had to fight opposition from political machines, the
brewing and liquor industries (who feared temperance), the Catholic hierarchy, and
corporate interests who were alarmed by the progressive implications of the new
federal income tax (authorized by the 16th Amendment in 1913) and direct popular
election of U.S. senators (as provided by the 17th Amendment in 1913). After the 1918
elections, the 19th Amendment granting women the vote finally received the required
two-thirds majority in the House and Senate in May 1919, and ratification by three-
fourths of the states (36 of 48) was completed in August 1920.
The NAWSA created the National League of Women Voters in 1920 to carry on the work
of educating women and the public on civic issues. Unsatisfied by the suffrage victory,
Alice Paul maintained the National Women's Party to promote an Equal Rights
Amendment (ERA), which she believed was essential to attaining equality for women.
Paul's small, elite, sectarian, and divisive organization sustained the idea of the ERA for
the several decades when feminism was in abeyance -- and when most influential
women and women's organizations opposed the ERA in favor of protective labor
legislation for women, and an alliance with the labor movement and, later, the civil
The absence of an explicitly feminist movement did not mean that women were not
making gains during the 1920s and 1930s. The Federation of Business and Professional
Women (BPW) was organized in 1919, grew into a powerful force for women's rights,
and became an early supporter of the ERA. Women worked on the unsuccessful
campaign for a child labor amendment, but did succeed in obtaining passage of the
Sheppard-Towner Act in 1921, providing matching federal funds for state maternal and
child health programs. The Children's Bureau was established in 1912, and the
Women's Bureau in 1920, both housed in the Department of Labor and providing
footholds for women in the federal bureaucracy (Mary Anderson was chief of the
Women's Bureau from 1920 to 1944; Julia Lathrop was chief of the Children's Bureau
from 1912 to 1921; Grace Abbott from 1921 to 1934, followed by Katherine Lenroot
from 1934 to 1949). During the New Deal administration of Franklin Roosevelt, over
two dozen women were appointed or elected to influential positions in Washington
agencies or the Democratic Party structure, and formed a loose network fostered by
Eleanor Roosevelt. Frances Perkins became the first woman in a president's cabinet as
Secretary of Labor from 1933 to 1945, and Mary Dewson became an important leader of
the Democratic National Committee's Women's Division. The women's network had
substantial influence over social welfare policy in the New Deal agencies -- Jane Hoey,
for example, served as director of the Bureau of Public Assistance from 1936 to 1953 --
and established an impressive record of government service.
The New Women's Movement. During World War II women were called upon to
replace men in factories, as "Rosie the Riveter" became the model of the patriotic
woman working a defense plant. As men were demobilized after the war, women were
expected to give up their jobs and take up homemaking -- as many did, raising the
children of the baby boom generation through the 1940s and 1950s. Women continued
to move into the workforce, but in traditional occupations: as secretaries in the
expanding “pink collar” office force, and in such helping professions as teaching,
nursing, and social work. At the same time women were achieving a higher level of
education that prepared them for positions beyond the traditional job roles. The
availability of "the pill" resulted in a decline in fertility after 1964, as women planned
children around education and work (it also opened up potential for greater sexual
freedom). In this context Betty Friedan's best-seller, The Feminine Mystique, caught fire
Not that there hadn't been progress for women in the early 1960s. In 1961 Esther
Peterson, a former lobbyist for the AFL-CIO and then director of the Women's Bureau,
successfully lobbied President Kennedy to set up the President's Commission on the
Status of Women, chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt. The Commission published American
Women in 1963, making mild recommendations to improve women's situation. With
support from the Department of Labor and the AFL-CIO, Congress passed the Equal Pay
Act of 1963, requiring equal pay for equal work. And in 1964 sex discrimination was
made an illegal practice under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Rep. Howard Smith (D-VA)
sponsored the amendment adding "sex" as a conservative tactic to reduce support for
the bill -- although as a long-time Alice Paul ally and supporter of the ERA, Smith didn't
want black men to have an advantage over white women if the civil rights bill were to
pass. The amendment was opposed by the Women's Bureau coalition but supported by
ERA backers, and the Civil Rights Act passed as amended. The Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission remained a strong supporter of protective legislation for
women, and made little effort to enforce the prohibition against sex discrimination.
Betty Friedan and women's rights supporters used the occasion of the Third National
Conference of the Commissions on the Status of Women in June 1966 to propose a new
civil rights group, the National Organization for Women (NOW) to fight for enforcement
of the sex provision of Title VII. NOW held its founding convention in October 1966,
electing Friedan as president and a board of directors including professionals who
worked in federal and state government, universities, business, and labor unions. With
encouragement from the National Women's Party, NOW endorsed the ERA in 1967 and
soon became its leading advocate (although that meant leaving an office provided by
the United Auto Workers). NOW also supported abortion rights and federally funded
child care, and divisions over these positions and priorities led to individuals leaving to
form the Women's Equity Action League (WEAL) to focus on economic issues, and the
National Women's Political Caucus (NWPC) to focus on electoral activity. While
remaining part of the progressive women's rights coalition, traditional women's groups -
- LWV, AAUW, and BPW -- were being overshadowed by the new wave of feminist
Much as the abolition movement helped inspire woman suffrage supporters in the
Nineteenth Century, the civil rights struggle of the late 1950s and 1960s helped inspire a
younger, more radical generation of women activists, many of whom were associated
with the emerging New Left. Women who were resisting the sexism of male leadership
in the civil rights work of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and
the community organizing projects of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) began
meeting in 1967 in small groups to discuss their experiences. Out of these
"consciousness-raising" groups emerged a decentralized women's liberation movement,
using the insight "the personal is political" to examine and explore the grounds of
oppression in their personal as well as organizational power relationships. Even as the
"sisterhood is powerful" message was taking hold, the movement was fragmenting into
a variety of competing perspectives, including radical feminism and socialist feminism.
After 1970, lesbian separatists helped foster the development of women's services and
cultural activities. Over the next decade feminists created a range of local women's
institutions which flourish to this date: rape crisis hotlines and counseling centers,
battered women's shelters, women's health clinics, and other women's projects --
newspapers, bookstores, coffeehouses, and entertainment.
THE EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT
1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or
by any State on account of sex.
2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions
of this article.
3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.
The ERA Battle. Support for the ERA had been growing with little controversy. The
Republican Party platform had endorsed ERA since 1940, and the Democratic Party since
1944, despite labor opposition. The ERA had been endorsed by Presidents Johnson and
Nixon, and the Presidential Task Force on the Status of Women. The Women's Bureau
and several unions reversed their opposition and supported ERA. Beginning in 1970
hearings were held in the Senate and House, and the ERA passed the House in 1971 and
the Senate in March 1972. Supporters of the ERA had seven years to persuade the
legislatures of 38 states to ratify, but little concerted effort was mounted at first
because it looked like clear sailing -- in 1972 alone 22 states ratified.
Then the opponents emerged, the most effective of which was Phyllis Schlafly's Stop
ERA, formed in 1972 (incorporated in 1975 as Eagle Forum). By the end of 1975, 34
states had ratified, but then none in 1976 and only one in 1977. Meanwhile three states
had voted to rescind ratification, an action with unclear constitutional impact. When it
was evident in 1978 that ERA supporters could not get 38 state ratifications by 1979,
they got Congress to pass a three-year extension to 1982. All the opponents had to do
was deny ratification in 13 states -- and Illinois and Utah proved decisive, with
opposition from Schlafly influential in Illinois, and the Mormon Church in Utah. The ERA
drive was defeated.
What went wrong? Schlafly and other opponents argued that the ERA would result in
drafting women for combat, require federal funds to be used for abortions, mandate
equal rights for homosexuals, remove powers from the states, and even establish unisex
toilets. Sympathetic analysts like Jane Mansbridge conclude that ERA would have little
direct impact on women's rights and economic position, given the liberal interpretations
the courts have given to the Equal Pay Act, Title VII, Title IX of the Education
Amendments of 1972, and state ERA laws. ERA's impact would be largely symbolic, and
would probably have some influence on court and legislative actions over time.
Consequently both ERA's backers and opponents had reason to exaggerate its effects to
mobilize their constituencies.
Mansbridge notes that ERA supporters emphasized its impact when they should have
minimized it to build a broad consensus. Public opinion supported protection of
women's equal rights, but not an upheaval in family life. Opponents simply had to raise
enough doubts about ERA's impact to doom support in a quarter of the states. Mary
Frances Berry emphasizes in her analysis that not enough groundwork was done in the
states to assure solid support for ERA.
>>>The Declaration of Sentiments
Seneca Falls Convention
When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one portion of the
family of man to assume among the people of the earth a position different from that
which they have hitherto occupied, but one to which the laws of nature and of nature's
God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should
declare the causes that impel them to such a course.
We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal; that
they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are
life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights governments are
instituted, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. Whenever any
form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of those who
suffer from it to refuse allegiance to it, and to insist upon the institution of a new
government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such
form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence,
indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light
and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more
disposed to suffer. while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the
forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations,
pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute
despotism, it is their duty to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for
their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of the women under this
government, and such is now the necessity which constrains them to demand the equal
station to which they are entitled. The history of mankind is a history of repeated
injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman, having in direct object the
establishment of an absolute tyranny over her. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a
The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of
man toward woman, having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny
over her. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has never permitted her to exercise her inalienable right to the elective franchise.
He has compelled her to submit to laws, in the formation of which she had no voice.
He has withheld from her rights which are given to the most ignorant and degraded
men--both natives and foreigners.
Having deprived her of this first right of a citizedn, the elective franchise, thereby
leaving her without representation in the halls of legislation, he has oppressed her on all
He has made her, if married, in the eye of the law, civilly dead.
He has taken from her all right in property, even to the wages she earns.
He has made her, morally, an irresponsible being, as she can commit many crimes with
impunity, provided they be done in the presence of her husband. In the covenant of
marriage, she is compelled to promise obedience to her husband, he becoming, to all
intents and purposes, her master--the law giving him power to deprive her of her
liberty, and to administer chastisement.
He has so framed the laws of divorce, as to what shall be the proper causes, and in case
of separation, to whom the guardianship of the children shall be given, as to be wholly
regardless of the happiness of women--the law, in all cases, going upon a false
supposition of the supremacy of man, and giving all power into his hands.
After depriving her of all rights as a married woman, if single, and the owner of
property, he has taxed her to support a government which recognizes her only when her
property can be made profitable to it.
He has monopolized nearly all the profitable employments, and from those she is
permitted to follow, she receives but a scanty remuneration. He closes against her all
the avenues to wealth and distinction which he considers most honorable to himself. As
a teacher of theology, medicine, or law, she is not known.
He has denied her the facilities for obtaining a thorough education, all colleges being
closed against her.
He allows her in church, as well as state, but a subordinate position, claiming apostolic
authority for her exclusion from the ministry, and, with some exceptions, from any
public participation in the affairs of the church.
He has created a false public sentiment by giving to the world a different code of morals
for men and women, by which moral delinquencies which exclude women from society,
are not only tolerated, but deemed of little account in man.
He has usurped the prerogative of Jehovah himself, claiming it as his right to assign for
her a sphere of action, when that belongs to her conscience and to her God.
He has endeavored, in every way that he could, to destroy her confidence in her own
powers, to lessen her self-respect, and to make her willing to lead a dependent and
Now, in view of this entire disfranchisement of one-half the people of this country, their
social and religious degradation--in view of the unjust laws above mentioned, and
because women do feel themselves aggrieved, oppressed, and fraudulently deprived of
their most sacred rights, we insist that they have immediate admission to all the rights
and privileges which belong to them as citizens of the United States.
>>>R.I.P. Women’s Movement
March 31, 2009
Breaking news: The women's movement died early Monday morning at the ripe old age
of 160. It is survived by innumerable offspring (including many estranged descendants
who took its existence for granted). Services have not been scheduled, as its loved ones
are still in total denial.
"There will be no singular feminist agenda. There will be no women's movement"
That political obituary comes by way of an article published Monday on the American
Prospect's Web site. The headline declares that this is officially "The End of the
Women's Movement." But before you shed a tear or, in the case of anti-feminists, begin
your joyous funeral song -- "Ding-dong, the women's movement is dead!" -- note that
the article is penned by none other than Courtney E. Martin, an avowed feminist. In
fact, she believes feminism is actually alive and well; it's the movement "as it was known
in the 1960s" that is pushing up daises.
At a recent feminist forum, Martin found that many older activists long for the good old
days, when they were "marching in the streets ... taking over offices ... riding around the
country in vans, falling in love." They have a "hankering for an unapologetic women's
movement that they can see, hear, and touch." But Martin has some news for them: "In
today's climate of shaky economics, smaller and smaller subcultures, and lightning-
speed information, a feminism based on picket lines and in-person consciousness-raising
groups is next to impossible." The final nail in the coffin: "There will be no singular
feminist agenda. There will be no women's movement."
But, like a bell clanging after a premature burial, Martin announces: "That's not a bad
thing"! She explains: "Many of us, myself included, believe that change is created
through strategic communication, alliance-building, and a million little grass-roots
movements all over the country that fight for justice and may or may not call
themselves feminist (I don't actually care much)." Feminist work is still being done, but
there is no longer a single political rallying point. We now have the luxury of strongly
disagreeing with each other and pursuing pet causes (or, as Martin says, pushing for a
culture of courage and creativity, rather than a "unified body"). As a result, we might be
less organized, our wins may be less dramatic -- but that's only because the monolithic
women's movement has been diffused. That's, more than anything, a sign of its success.
So, put the black formal wear back in your closet. Once again, reports of feminism's
death have been greatly exaggerated.
>>>The Women’s Liberation Movement: Its Origins, Structures and Ideas
Department of Political Science
University of Chicago
Sometime in the nineteen twenties, feminism died in the United States. It was a
premature death. Feminists had only recently obtained their long sought for tool, the
vote, with which they had hoped to make an equal place for women in this society But it
seemed like a final one. By the time the granddaughters of the women who had
sacrificed so much for suffrage had grown to maturity, not only had social mythology
firmly ensconced women in the home, but the very term "feminist" had become an
Social fact, however, did not always coincide with social mythology. During the era of
the "feminine mystique" when the percentage of degrees given to women was
dropping, their absolute numbers were rising astronomically. Their participation in the
labor force was also increasing even while their position within it was declining.
Opportunities to work, the trend toward smaller families, plus changes in statue
symbols from a leisured wife at home to a second car and TV, all contributed to a basic
alteration of the female labor force from one of primarily single women under 25 to one
of married women and mothers over 40. Added to these developments was an
increased segregation of the job market, a flooding of traditional female jobs (e.g.
teaching and social work) by men, a decrease of women 'e percentage of the
professional and technical jobs by a third and a commensurate decline in their relative
income. The result was the creation of a class of highly educated, under-employed
In the early sixties feminism was still an unmentionable, but its ghost was slowly
awakening from the dead. The first sign of new life came with the establishment of the
Commission on the Status of Women by President Kennedy in 1961. Created at the
urging of Esther Petersen of the Women's Bureau, in its short life the Commission came
out with several often radical reports thoroughly documenting women's second class
status. It was followed by the formation of a citizen's advisory council and fifty state
Many of the people involved in these commissions became the nucleus of women who,
dissatisfied with the lack of progress made on commission recommendations, joined
with Betty Friedan in 1966 to found the National Organization for Women.
NOW was the first new feminist organization in almost fifty years, but it was not the sole
beginning of the organized expression of the movement. The movement actually has
two origins, from two different stratas of society, with two different styles, orientations,
values, and forms of organization. In many ways there were two separate movements
which only in the last year have merged sufficiently for the rubric "women's liberation"
to be truly an umbrella term for the multiplicity of organizations and groups.
The first of these I call the older branch of the movement, partially because it began
first, and partially because the median age of its activists is higher. In addition to NOW it
contains such organizations as the PWC (Professional Women's Caucus), FEW (Federally
Employed Women) and the self-defined "right wing" of the movement, WEAL (Women's
Equity Action League).
The participants of both branches tend to be predominantly white, middle-class and
college educated, but the composition of the older is much more heterogenous than
that of the younger. In issues, however, this trend is reversed with those of the younger
being more diverse. While the written programs and aims of the older branch span a
wide spectrum, their activities tend to be concentrated on the legal and economic
difficulties women face. These groups are primarily made up of women who work and
are substantially concerned with the problems of working women. Their style of
organization has tended to be formal with numerous elected officers, boards of
directors, bylaws and the other trappings of democratic procedure. All started as top
down organizations lacking in a mass base. Some have subsequently developed a mass
base, some have not yet done so, and others don't want to.
In 1967 and 1968, unaware of and unknown to NOW or the state commissions, the
other branch of the movement was taking shape. Contrary to popular myth it did not
begin on the campus; nor was it started by SDS. However, its activators were, to be trite,
on the other side of the generation gap. While few were students, all were "under 30"
and had received their political education as participants or concerned observors of the
social action projects of the last decade. Many came direct from New Left and civil rights
organizations where they had been shunted into traditional roles and faced with the
self-evident contradition of working in a "freedom movement" but not being very free.
Others had attended various course on women in the multitude of free universities
springing up around the country during those years.
At least five groups in five different cities (Chicago, Toronto, Detroit, Seattle and
Gainesville, Fla.) formed spontaneously, independently of each other. They came at a
very auspicious moment. 1967 was the year in which the blacks kicked the whites out of
the civil rights movement, student power had been discredited by SDS and the New Left
was on the wane. Only draft resistance activities were on the increase, and this
movement more than any other exemplified the social inequities of the sexes. Men
could resist the draft. Women could only council resistance.
There had been individual temporary caucuses and conferences of women as early as
1964 when Stokeley Carmichael made his infamous remark that "the only position for
women in SNCC is prone." But it was not until 1967 that the groups developed a
determined, if cautious, continuity and began to consciously expand themselves. In
1968 they held their first, and so far only, national conference attended by over 200
women from around this country and Canada on less than a month's notice. They have
been expanding exponentially ever since.
This expansion has been more amoebic than organized because the younger branch of
the movement prides itself on its lack of organization. Eschewing structure and damning
the idea of leadership, it has carried the concept of "everyone doing their own thing"
almost to its logical extreme. m e thousands of sister chapters around the country are
virtually independent of each other, linked only by the numerous journals, newsletters
and cross country travelers. Some cities have a co-ordinating committee which attempts
to maintain communication between the local groups and channel newcomers into
appropriate ones but none have any power over group activities, let alone group ideas.
One result of this style is a very broad based, creative movement, which individuals can
relate to pretty much as they desire with no concern for orthodoxy or doctrine. Another
result is a kind of political impotency. It is virtually impossible to co-ordinate a national
action, assuming there could be any agreement on issues around which to co-ordinate
one. Fortunately, the older branch of the movement does have the structure necessary
to co-ordinate such actions, and is usually the one to initiate them as NOW did for the
August 26 national strike last year.
It is a common mistake to try to place the various feminist organizations on the
traditional left/right spectrum. The terms "reformist" and "radical" are convenient and
fit into our preconceived notions about the nature of political organization, but they tell
us nothing of relevance. As with most everything else, feminism cuts through the
normal categories and demands new perspectives in order to be understood. Some
groups often called "reformist" have a platform which would so completely change our
society it would be unrecognizable. Other groups called "radical" concentrate on the
traditional female concerns of love' sex, children and interpersonal relationships
(although with untraditional views). The activities of the organizations are similarly
incongruous. The moat typical division of labor, ironically, is that those groups labeled
"radical" engage primarily in educational work while the so-called "reformist" ones are
the activists. It is structure and style rather than ideology which more accurately
differentiates the various groups and even here there has been much borrowing on
10 | U S H i s t o r y
both sides. The older branch has used the traditional forma of political action often with
great skill, while the younger branch has been experimental.
The most prevalent innovation developed by the younger branch has been the "rap
group." Essentially an educational technique, it has spread tar beyond its origins and
become a mayor organizational unit of the whole movement, most frequently used by
suburban housewives. From a sociological perspective the rap group is probably the
moat valuable contribution So far by the women 'e liberation movement to the tools for
The rap group serves two main purposes. One is traditional; the other is unique. The
traditional role is the simple process of bringing women together in a situation of
structured interaction. It has long been known that people can be kept down as long as
they are kept divided from each other, relating more to those in a superior social
position than to those in a position similar to their own. It is when social development
creates natural structures in which people can interact with each other and compare
their common concerns that social movements take place. This is the function that the
factory served for the workers, the church for the Southern Civil Rights movement, the
campus for students and the Ghetto for urban blacks.
Women have been largely deprived of a means of structured interaction and been kept
isolated in their individual homes relating more to men than to each other. Natural
structures are still largely lacking, though they have begun to develop, but the rap group
has created an artificial structure which does much the same thing. This phenomenon la
d similar to the nineteenth century development of a multitude of women's clubs and
organizations around every conceivable social and political purpose. These organizations
taught women political skills and eventually served as the primary communications
network for the spread of the suffrage movement. Yet after the great crusade ended
most of them vanished or became moribund. The rap groups are taking their place and
will serve much the same function for the future development of this movement.
They do more than Just bring women together as radical an activity as that may be. The
rap groups have become mechanisms for social change in and of themselves. They are
structures created specifically for the purpose of altering the participants perceptions
and conceptions of themselves and society at large. m e means by which this is done is
called "consciousness raising." The process is very simple. Women come together in
groups of five to fifteen and talk to each other about their personal problems, personal
experiences personal feelings and personal concerns. From this public sharing of
experiences comes the realization that what was thought to be individual is in fact
common; that what was thought to be a personal problem has a social cause and
probably a political solution. Women learn to see how social structures and attitudes
have molded them from birth and limited their opportunities. They ascertain the extent
to which women have been denigrated in this society and how they have developed
prejudices against themselves and other women.
It is this process of deeply personal attitude change that makes the rap group such a
powerful tool. The need of a movement to develop "correct consciousness" has long
been known. But usually this consciousness is not developed by means intrinsic to the
structure of the movement and does not require such a profound resocialization of
one's concept of self This experience is both irreversible and contagious. Once one has
gone through such a "resocialization", one's view of oneself and the world is never the
same again, whether or not there is further active participation in the movement. Even
those who do "drop out" rarely do so without first spreading feminist ideas among their
own friends and colleagues. All who undergo "consciousness raising" virtually compel
themselves to seek out other women with whom to share the experience, and thus
begin new rap groups.
There are several personal results from this process. The initial one is a decrease of self
and group depreciation. Women come to see themselves as essentially pretty groovy
people. Along with this comes the explosion of the myth of individual solution. If women
are the way they are, because society has made them that way, they can only change
11 | U S H i s t o r y
their lives significantly by changing society. These feelings in turn create the
consciousness of oneself as a member of a group and the feeling of solidarity so
necessary to any social movement. From this comes the concept of sisterhood.
This need for group solidarity partially explains why men have been largely excluded
from the rap groups. It was not the initial reason, but it has been one of the more
beneficial by-products. Originally, the idea was borrowed from the Black Power
movement, much in the public consciousness when the women's liberation movement
began. It was reinforced by the unremitting hostility of most of the New Left men at the
prospect of an independent women's movement not tied to radical organizations. Even
when this hostility wee not present, women in virtually every group in the U.S., Canada
and Europe soon discovered that the traditional sex roles reasserted themselves in the
groups regardless of the good intentions of the participants. Men inevitably dominated
the discussions, and usually would talk only about how women's liberation related to
men, or how men were oppressed by the sex roles. In segregated groups women found
the discussions to be more open, honest and extensive. They could learn how to relate
to other women and not just to men.
Unlike the male exclusion policy, the rap groups did not develop spontaneously or
without a struggle. The political background of many of the early feminists of the
younger branch predisposed them against the rap group as "unpolitical" and they would
condemn discussion meetings which "degenerated" into "bitch sessions." This trend was
particularly strong in Chicago and Washington, D. C. which had been centers of New Left
activity. Meanwhile, other feminists, usually with a civil rights or a-political background,
saw that the "bitch session" obviously met a basic need. They seized upon it and created
the consciousness raising rap group. Developed initially in New York and Gainesville,
Fla., the idea soon spread throughout the country becoming the paradigm for most
To date, the mayor, though hardly exclusive, activity of the younger branch has been
organizing rap groups, putting on conferences, and putting out educational literature,
while that of the older branch has been using the "channels" and other forma of
political pressure to change specific situations in inequity. In general, the younger
branch has been organized to attack attitudes and the older branch to attack structures.
While the rap groups have been excellent techniques for changing individual attitudes
they have not been very successful in dealing with social institutions. Their loose
informal structure encourages participation in discussion and their supportive
atmosphere elicits personal insight; but neither is very efficient in handling specific
tasks. Thus, while they have been of fundamental value to the development of t he
movement it is the more structured groups which are the more visibly effective.
Individual rap groups tend to flounder when their members have exhausted the virtues
of consciousness raising and decide they want to do something more concrete. The
problem is that most groups are unwilling to change their structure when they change
their tasks. They have accepted the ideology of "structurelessness" without realizing the
limitations of its uses. This is currently causing an organizational crisis within the
movement because the formation of rap groups as a major movement function is
becoming obsolete. Due to the intense press publicity that began in the fall of 1969, as
well as the numerous "overground" books and articles now being circulated, women's
liberation has become practically a household word. Its issues are discussed and
informal rap groups formed by people who have-no explicit connection with any
movement group. Ironically, this subtle, silent and subversive spread of feminist
consciousness is causing a situation of political unemployment. With educational work
no longer such an overwhelming need women's liberation groups have to develop new
forma of organizations to deal with new tasks in a new stage of development. This is
necessitating A good deal of retrenchment and rethinking. Cities undergoing this
process often give the impression of inactivity and only time will tell what will be the
12 | U S H i s t o r y
Initially there was little ideology in the movement beyond a something feeling that
something was wrong. NOW wee formed under the slogan "full equality for women in a
truly equal partnership with men" and specified eight demands in a "Bill of Rights." It
and the other organizations of the older branch have continued to focus around
concrete issues feeling that attempts at a comprehensive ideology have little to offer
beyond internal conflict.
In the younger branch a basic difference of opinion developed quite early. It was
disguised as a philosophical difference, was articulated and acted on as a strategical
one, but actually was more of a political disagreement than anything else. The two sides
involved were essentially the same people who differed over the rap groups, but the
split endured long after the groups became ubiquitous. The original issue Was whether
the fledging women's liberation movement would remain a branch of the radical left
movement, or be an independent women's movement. Proponents became known as
"politicos" or "feminists" respectively and traded arguments about whether "capitalism
was the enemy", or the male-dominated social institutions and values. They also traded
a few epithets with politicos calling feminists politically unsophisticated and elitist, while
in turn being accused of subservience to the interests of left wing men.
With the influx of large numbers of previously apolitical women an independent,
autonomous women's liberation movement became a reality instead of an argument. m
e spectrum shifted to the feminist direction, but the basic difference in orientation still
remained. Politicos now also call themselves feminists, and many have left the left, but
most see women's issues within a broader political context while the original feminists
continue to focus almost exclusively on women's concerns. Although much of the
bitterness of the original dispute has subsided, politicos generated such distrust about
their motives that they prejudiced many women against all concerns of Left ideology.
This has led some feminists to the very narrow outlook that politicos most feared they
Meanwhile, faced with a female exodus, the radical left movement has forsaken the
rhetoric of its original opposition without relinquishing most of its sexist practices.
Embracing the position that women are a constituency to be organized, most New Left
(and some Old Left) organizations have created women's caucuses to recruit women to
"more important activities." These are very different from the women's caucuses of the
professional associations that have also mushroomed into existence. The latter are
concerned with raising feminist issues within their organizations. The New Left women's
groups serve much the same function as traditional ladies auxilliaries.
The widely differing backgrounds and perspectives of the women in the movement have
resulted in as many different interpretations of women's status. Some are more
developed than others, and some are more publicized, yet as of 1971 there is no
comprehensive set of beliefs which can accurately be labeled women 'e liberationist,
feminist, neofeminist or radical feminist ideology. At beat one can say there is general
agreement on two theoretical concerns. The first is the feminist critique of society, and
the second is the idea of oppression.
The feminist critique starts from entirely different premises than the traditional view
and therefore neither can really refute the other. The latter assumes that men and
women are essentially different and should serve different social functions. Their
diverse roles and statuses simply reflect these essential differences. The feminist
perspective starts from the premise that women and men are constitutionally equal and
share the same human capabilities. Observed d differences therefore demand a critical
analysis of the social institutions which cause then.
The concept of oppression brings into use a ten which has long been avoided out of a
feeling that it was too rhetorical. But there Was no convenient euphemism and
discrimination was inadequate to describe what happens to women and what they have
in common with other groups. As long as the word remained illegitimate, so did the idea
and it was too valuable not to use. It is still largely an undeveloped concept in which the
details have not been sketched, but there appear to be two aspects to oppression which
13 | U S H i s t o r y
relate much the same as two sides of a coin---distinct, yet inseparable. The social
structural manifestations are easily visible as they are reflected in the legal, economic,
social and political institutions. The social psychological ones are often intangible; hard
to grasp and hard to alter. Group just and distortion of perceptions to justify a
preconceived interpretation of reality are just some of the factors being teased out.
For women, sexism describes the specificity of female oppression. Starting from the
traditional belief of the difference between the sexes, sexism embodies two core
The first is that men are more important than women. Not necessarily superior--we are
far too sophisticated these days than to use those tainted terms--but more important,
more significant, more valuable, more worthwhile. m is value justifies the idea that it is
more important for a man, the "breadwinner", to have a Job or a promotion, than a
women, more important for a man to be paid well, more important for a man to have
an education and in general to have preference over a women. It is the basis of the
feeling by men that if women enter a particular occupation they will degrade it and that
men must leave or be themselves degraded, and the feeling by women that they can
raise the prestige of their professions by recruiting men, which they can only do by
giving them the better jobs. From this value comes the attitude that a husband must
earn more than his wife or suffer a loss of personal status and a wife must subsume her
interests to his or be socially castigated. From this value comes the practice of
rewarding men for serving in the armed forces and punishing women for having
children. m e first core concept of sexist thought is that men do the important work in
the world and the work done by men is what is important.
The second core concept is that women are here for the pleasure and assistance of
men. This is what is meant when women are told that their role is complementary to
that of men; that they should fulfill their natural "feminine" functions; that they are
"different" from men and should not compete with them. From this concept comes the
attitude that women are and should be dependent on men; for everything but especially
their identities, the social definition of who they are. It defines the few roles for which
women are socially rewarded--wife, mother and mistress--all of which are pleasing or
beneficial to men, and leads directly to the "pedestal" theory which extols women who
stay in their place as good help-mates to men.
It is this attitude which stigmatizes those women who do not marry or who do not
devote their primary energies to the care of men and their children. Association with a
man is the basic criterion for participation by women in this society and one who does
not seek her identity through a man is a threat to the social values. It is similarly this
attitude which causes women's liberation activists to be labeled as man haters for
exposing the nature of sexism. People feel that a woman not devoted to looking after
men must act this way because of hatred or inability to "catch" one. The second core
concept of sexist thought is that women's identities are defined by their relationship to
men and their social value by that of the men they are related to.
The sexism of our society is so pervasive that we are not even aware of all its inequities.
Unless one has developed a sensitivity to its workings, by adopting a self-consciously
contrary view, its activities are accepted as "normal" and justified with little question.
People are said to "choose" what in fact they never thought about. a goood example is
what happened during and after World War II. m e sudden onslaught of the war
radically changed the whole structure of social relationships as well as the economy.
Men were drafted into the army and women into the labor force. Now desperately
needed, women's wants were provided for as were those of the boys on the front.
Federal financing of day care centers in the form of the Landham Act passed Congress in
a record two weeks. Special crash training programs were provided for the new women
workers to give them skills they were not previously thought capable of exercising.
Women instantly assumed positions of authority and responsibility unavailable only the
14 | U S H i s t o r y
But what happened when the war ended? Both men and women had heeded their
country's call to duty to bring it to a successful conclusion. Yet men were rewarded for
their efforts and women punished for theirs. The returning soldiers were given the G.I.
Bill and other veterans benefits, as well as their jobs back and a disproportionate share
of the new ones crested by the war economy. Women, on the other hand, saw their
child care centers dismantled and their training programs cease. They were fired or
demoted in droves and often found it difficult to enter colleges flooded with
matriculating on government money. Is it any wonder that they heard the message that
their place was in the home? Where else could they go?
The eradication of sexism and the practices it supports, like those above, is obviously
one of the major goals of the women 'e liberation movement. But it is not enough to
destroy a set of values and leave a normative vacuum. They have to be replaced with
something. A movement can only begin by declaring its opposition to the status quo.
Eventually if it is to succeed, it has to propose an alternative.
I cannot pretend to be even partially definitive about the possible alternatives
contemplated by the numerous participants in the women's liberation movement. Yet
from the plethora of ideas and visions feminists have thought, discussed and written
about, I think there are two basic ideas emerging which express the bulk of their
concerns. I call these the Egalitarian Ethic and the Liberation Ethic, but they are not
independent of each other and together they mesh into what can only be described as a
The Egalitarian Ethic means exactly what it says. The sexes are equal; therefore sex roles
must go. Our history has proven that institutionalized difference inevitably means
inequity and sex role stereotypes have long since become anachronistic. Strongly
differentiated sex roles were rooted in the ancient division of labor; their basis has been
torn apart by modern technology. Their justification was rooted in the subjection of
women to the reproductive cycle. That has already been destroyed by modern
pharmacology. m e cramped little looses of personality and social function to which we
assign people from birth must be broken open so that all people can develop
independently, as individuals. This means that there will be an integration of social
functions and life styles of men and women as group until, ideally, one cannot tell
anything of relevance about a person's social role by knowing their sex. But this
increased similarity of the two groups also means increased options for individuals and
increased diversity in the human race. No longer will there be men's work and women's
work. No longer will humanity suffer a schizophrenic personality desperately trying to
reconcile its "masculine" and "feminine" parts. No longer will marriage be the institution
where two half-people come together in hopes of making a whole.
The Liberation Ethic says this is not enough. Not only must the limits of the roles be
changed, but their content as well. The Liberation Ethic looks at the kinds of lives
currently being led by men as well as women and concludes that both are deplorable
and neither are necessary. The social institutions which oppress women as women, also
oppress people as people and can be altered to make a more humane existence for all.
So much of our society is hung upon the framework of sex role stereotypes and their
reciprocal functions that the dismantling of this structure will provide the opportunity
for making a more viable life for everyone.
It is important to stres that these two Ethics must work together in tandem. If the first is
emphasized over the second, then we have a women's right movement, not one of
women's liberation. To seek for only equality, given the current male bias of the social
values, is to assume that women want to be like men or that men are worth emulating.
It is to demand that women be allowed to participate in society as we know it, to get
their piece of the pie, without questioning the extent to which that society is worth
participating in. This view is held by some, but most feminists today find it inadequate.
Those women who are more personally compatible in what is considered the once role
must realize that that role is made possible only by the existence of the female sex role;
in other words, only the subjection of women. Therefore women cannot become equal
to men without the destruction of those two interdependent mutably parasitic roles.
15 | U S H i s t o r y
The failure to realize that the integration of the sex roles and the equality of the sexes
will inevitably lead to basic structural change is to fail to seize the opportunity to decide
the direction of those changes.
It is just as dangerous to fall into the trap of seeking liberation without due concern for
equality. This is the mistake made by many of the left radicals. They find the general
human condition to be wretched that they feel everyone should devote their energies
to the Millennial Revolution in belief that the liberation of women will follow naturally
the liberation of people.
However women have yet to be defined as people, even among the radicals, and it is
erroneous to assume their interests are identical to those of men. For women to
subsume their concerns once again is to insure that the promise of liberation will be a
spurious one. There has yet to be created or conceived by any political or social theorist
a revolutionary society in which women were equal to men and their needs duly
considered. The sex role structure has never been comprehensively challenged by any
male philosopher and the systems they have proposed have all presumed the existence
of a sex-role structure to some degree.
Such undue emphasis on the Liberation Ethic has also often led to a sort of Radical
Paradox. This is a situation the politicos frequently found themselves in during the early
days of the movement. They found repugnant the possibility of pursuing "reformist"
issues which might be achieved without altering the basic nature of the system, and
thus, they felt, only strengthen the system. However, their search for a sufficiently
radical action and/or issue came to naught and they found themselves unable to do
anything out of fear that it might be counterrevolutionary. Inactive revolutionaries are a
good deal more innocuous than active "reformists."
But even among those who are not rendered impotent, the unilateral pursuit of
Liberation can take its toll. Some radical women have been so appalled at the condition
of most men, and the possibility of becoming even partially what they are, that they
have clung to the security of the role that they know, to wait complacently for the
Revolution to liberate everyone. Some men, fearing that role reversal was a goal of the
women's liberation movement, have taken a similar position. Both have failed to realize
that the abolition of sex roles must be continually incorporated into any radical
restructuring of society and thus have failed to explore the possible consequences of
such role integration. The goal they advocate may be one of liberation, but it dose not
involve women's liberation.
Separated from each other, the Egalitarian Ethic and the Liberation Ethic can be
crippling, but together they can be a very powerful force. Separately they speak to
limited interests; together they speak to all humanity. Separately, they are but
superficial solutions; together they recognize that while sexism oppresses women, it
also limits the potentiality of men. Separately, neither will be achieved because their
scope does not range far enough; together they provide a vision worthy of our devotion.
Separately, these two Ethics do not lead to the liberation of women; together, they also
lead to the liberation of men.
16 | U S H i s t o r y
>>>Prominent Orchard Park Man Charged with Beheading His Wife
The Buffalo News
February 13, 2009
Orchard Park police are investigating a particularly gruesome killing, the beheading of a
woman, after her husband — an influential member of the local Muslim community —
reported her death to police Thursday.
Police identified the victim as Aasiya Z. Hassan, 37. Detectives have charged her
husband, Muzzammil Hassan, 44, with second-degree murder.
"He came to the police station at 6:20 p.m. [Thursday] and told us that she was dead,"
Orchard Park Police Chief
Andrew Benz said late this
Muzzammil Hassan told
police that his wife was at
his business, Bridges TV, on
Thorn Avenue in the village.
Officers went to that
location and discovered her
Muzzammil Hassan is the
founder and chief executive
officer of Bridges TV, which
he launched in 2004, amid hopes that it would help portray Muslims in a more positive
The killing apparently occurred some time late Thursday afternoon. Detectives still are
looking for the murder weapon.
"Obviously, this is the worst form of domestic violence possible," Erie County District
Attorney Frank A. Sedita III said today.
Authorities say Aasiya Hassan recently had filed for divorce from her husband.
"She had an order of protection that had him out of the home as of Friday the 6th [of
February]," Benz said.
Muzzammil Hassan was arraigned before Village Justice Deborah Chimes and sent to the
Erie County Holding Center.
17 | U S H i s t o r y
>>>Quick Stats on Women Workers, 2008
United States Department of Labor
1. Of the 121 million women age 16 years and over in the U.S., 72 million, or 59.5
percent, were labor force participants—working or looking for work.
2. Women comprised 46.5 percent of the total U.S. labor force and are projected to
account for 47 percent of the labor force in 2016.
3. Women are projected to account for 49 percent of the increase in total labor force
growth between 2006 and 2016.
4. 68 million women were employed in the U.S.—75 percent of employed women
worked on full-time jobs, while 25 percent worked on a part-time basis.
5. The largest percentage of employed women (39 percent) worked in management,
professional, and related occupations; 33 percent worked in sales and office
occupations; 21 percent in service occupations; 6 percent in production,
transportation, and material moving occupations; and 1 percent in natural
resources, construction, and maintenance occupations.
6. The largest percentage of employed Asian and white women (46 and 41 percent,
respectively) worked in management, professional, and related occupations. For
both black and Hispanic women, it was sales and office occupations—32 and 33
7. The 10 most prevalent occupations for employed women in 2008 were—
1. Secretaries and administrative assistants, 3,168,000
2. Registered nurses, 2,548,000
3. Elementary and middle school teachers, 2,403,000
4. Cashiers, 2,287,000
5. Retail salespersons, 1,783,000
6. Nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides, 1,675,000
7. First-line supervisors/managers of retail sales workers, 1,505,000
8. Waiters and waitresses, 1,471,000
9. Receptionists and information clerks, 1,323,000
10. Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks, 1,311,0
8. The unemployment rate for women was 5.4 percent and for men it was 6.1 percent
in 2008. For Asian women, it was 3.7 percent; white women, 4.9 percent; Hispanic
women, 7.7 percent; and black women, 8.9 percent.
9. The median weekly earnings of women who were full-time wage and salary
workers was $638, or 80 percent of men’s $798. When comparing the median
weekly earnings of persons aged 16 to 24, young women earned 91 percent of
what young men earned ($420 and $461, respectively).
10. The ten occupations with the highest median weekly earnings among women who
were full-time wage and salary workers were--
1. Pharmacists, $1,647
2. Chief executives, $1,603
3. Lawyers, $1,509
4. Computer software engineers, $1,351
5. Computer and information systems managers, $1,260
6. Physicians and surgeons, $1,230
7. Management analysts, $1,139
8. Human resource managers, $1,137
18 | U S H i s t o r y
9. Speech-language pathologists, $1.124
10. Computer scientists and systems analysts, $1,082
11. Women accounted for 51 percent of all workers in the high-paying management,
professional, and related occupations. They outnumbered men in such occupations
as public relations managers; financial managers; human resource managers;
education administrators; medical and health services managers; accountants and
auditors; budget analysts; biological scientists; preschool, kindergarten,
elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers; physical therapists; writers
and authors; and registered nurses.
12. Of persons aged 25 years and older, 29 percent of women and 30 percent of men
had attained a bachelor’s degree or higher; 31 percent of women and men had
completed only high school, no college.
13. The higher a person’s educational attainment, the more likely they will be a labor
force participant (working or looking for work) and the less likely to be
14. For women age 25 and over with less than a high school diploma, 33 percent were
labor force participants; high school diploma, no college, 53 percent; some college,
but no degree, 63 percent; associate degree, 72 percent; and bachelor’s degree or
higher, 73 percent.
15. For women age 25 and over with less than a high school diploma, their
unemployment rate was 9.4 percent; high school diploma, no college, 5.3 percent;
some college, but no degree, 5.1 percent; associate degree, 3.7 percent; and
bachelor’s degree or higher, 2.7 percent.
19 | U S H i s t o r y
>>>Selection from Chapter Three of The Jungle
They passed down the busy street that led to the yards. It was still early morning, and
everything was at its high tide of activity. A steady stream of employees was pouring
through the gate--employees of the higher sort, at this hour, clerks and stenographers
and such. For the women there were waiting big two-horse wagons, which set off at a
gallop as fast as they were filled. In the distance there was heard again the lowing of the
cattle, a sound as of a far-off ocean calling. They followed it, this time, as eager as
children in sight of a circus menagerie--which, indeed, the scene a good deal resembled.
They crossed the railroad tracks, and then on each side of the street were the pens full
of cattle; they would have stopped to look, but Jokubas hurried them on, to where there
was a stairway and a raised gallery, from which everything could be seen. Here they
stood, staring, breathless with wonder.
There is over a square mile of space in the yards, and more than half of it is occupied by
cattle pens; north and south as far as the eye can reach there stretches a sea of pens.
And they were all filled--so many cattle no one had ever dreamed existed in the world.
Red cattle, black, white, and yellow cattle; old cattle and young cattle; great bellowing
bulls and little calves not an hour born; meek-eyed milch cows and fierce, long-horned
Texas steers. The sound of them here was as of all the barnyards of the universe; and as
for counting them--it would have taken all day simply to count the pens. Here and there
ran long alleys, blocked at intervals by gates; and Jokubas told them that the number of
these gates was twenty-five thousand. Jokubas had recently been reading a newspaper
article which was full of statistics such as that, and he was very proud as he repeated
them and made his guests cry out with wonder. Jurgis too had a little of this sense of
pride. Had he not just gotten a job, and become a sharer in all this activity, a cog in this
marvelous machine? Here and there about the alleys galloped men upon horseback,
booted, and carrying long whips; they were very busy, calling to each other, and to
those who were driving the cattle. They were drovers and stock raisers, who had come
from far states, and brokers and commission merchants, and buyers for all the big
Here and there they would stop to inspect a bunch of cattle, and there would be a
parley, brief and businesslike. The buyer would nod or drop his whip, and that would
mean a bargain; and he would note it in his little book, along with hundreds of others he
had made that morning. Then Jokubas pointed out the place where the cattle were
driven to be weighed, upon a great scale that would weigh a hundred thousand pounds
at once and record it automatically. It was near to the east entrance that they stood,
and all along this east side of the yards ran the railroad tracks, into which the cars were
run, loaded with cattle. All night long this had been going on, and now the pens were
full; by tonight they would all be empty, and the same thing would be done again.
"And what will become of all these creatures?" cried Teta Elzbieta.
"By tonight," Jokubas answered, "they will all be killed and cut up; and over there on the
other side of the packing houses are more railroad tracks, where the cars come to take
There were two hundred and fifty miles of track within the yards, their guide went on to
tell them. They brought about ten thousand head of cattle every day, and as many hogs,
and half as many sheep--which meant some eight or ten million live creatures turned
into food every year. One stood and watched, and little by little caught the drift of the
tide, as it set in the direction of the packing houses. There were groups of cattle being
driven to the chutes, which were roadways about fifteen feet wide, raised high above
the pens. In these chutes the stream of animals was continuous; it was quite uncanny to
watch them, pressing on to their fate, all unsuspicious a very river of death. Our friends
were not poetical, and the sight suggested to them no metaphors of human destiny;
they thought only of the wonderful efficiency of it all. The chutes into which the hogs
went climbed high up--to the very top of the distant buildings; and Jokubas explained
20 | U S H i s t o r y
that the hogs went up by the power of their own legs, and then their weight carried
them back through all the processes necessary to make them into pork.
"They don't waste anything here," said the guide, and then he laughed and added a
witticism, which he was pleased that his unsophisticated friends should take to be his
own: "They use everything about the hog except the squeal." In front of Brown's
General Office building there grows a tiny plot of grass, and this, you may learn, is the
only bit of green thing in Packingtown; likewise this jest about the hog and his squeal,
the stock in trade of all the guides, is the one gleam of humor that you will find there.
After they had seen enough of the pens, the party went up the street, to the mass of
buildings which occupy the center of the yards. These buildings, made of brick and
stained with innumerable layers of Packingtown smoke, were painted all over with
advertising signs, from which the visitor realized suddenly that he had come to the
home of many of the torments of his life. It was here that they made those products
with the wonders of which they pestered him so--by placards that defaced the
landscape when he traveled, and by staring advertisements in the newspapers and
magazines--by silly little jingles that he could not get out of his mind, and gaudy pictures
that lurked for him around every street corner. Here was where they made Brown's
Imperial Hams and Bacon, Brown's Dressed Beef, Brown's Excelsior Sausages! Here was
the headquarters of Durham's Pure Leaf Lard, of Durham's Breakfast Bacon, Durham's
Canned Beef, Potted Ham, Deviled Chicken, Peerless Fertilizer!
Entering one of the Durham buildings, they found a number of other visitors waiting;
and before long there came a guide, to escort them through the place. They make a
great feature of showing strangers through the packing plants, for it is a good
advertisement. But Ponas Jokubas whispered maliciously that the visitors did not see
any more than the packers wanted them to. They climbed a long series of stairways
outside of the building, to the top of its five or six stories. Here was the chute, with its
river of hogs, all patiently toiling upward; there was a place for them to rest to cool off,
and then through another passageway they went into a room from which there is no
returning for hogs.
It was a long, narrow room, with a gallery along it for visitors. At the head there was a
great iron wheel, about twenty feet in circumference, with rings here and there along its
edge. Upon both sides of this wheel there was a narrow space, into which came the
hogs at the end of their journey; in the midst of them stood a great burly Negro, bare-
armed and bare-chested. He was resting for the moment, for the wheel had stopped
while men were cleaning up. In a minute or two, however, it began slowly to revolve,
and then the men upon each side of it sprang to work. They had chains which they
fastened about the leg of the nearest hog, and the other end of the chain they hooked
into one of the rings upon the wheel. So, as the wheel turned, a hog was suddenly
jerked off his feet and borne aloft.
At the same instant the car was assailed by a most terrifying shriek; the visitors started
in alarm, the women turned pale and shrank back. The shriek was followed by another,
louder and yet more agonizing--for once started upon that journey, the hog never came
back; at the top of the wheel he was shunted off upon a trolley, and went sailing down
the room. And meantime another was swung up, and then another, and another, until
there was a double line of them, each dangling by a foot and kicking in frenzy--and
squealing. The uproar was appalling, perilous to the eardrums; one feared there was too
much sound for the room to hold--that the walls must give way or the ceiling crack.
There were high squeals and low squeals, grunts, and wails of agony; there would come
a momentary lull, and then a fresh outburst, louder than ever, surging up to a deafening
climax. It was too much for some of the visitors--the men would look at each other,
laughing nervously, and the women would stand with hands clenched, and the blood
rushing to their faces, and the tears starting in their eyes.
Meantime, heedless of all these things, the men upon the floor were going about their
work. Neither squeals of hogs nor tears of visitors made any difference to them; one by
one they hooked up the hogs, and one by one with a swift stroke they slit their throats.
21 | U S H i s t o r y
There was a long line of hogs, with squeals and lifeblood ebbing away together; until at
last each started again, and vanished with a splash into a huge vat of boiling water.
It was all so very businesslike that one watched it fascinated. It was porkmaking by
machinery, porkmaking by applied mathematics. And yet somehow the most matter-of-
fact person could not help thinking of the hogs; they were so innocent, they came so
very trustingly; and they were so very human in their protests--and so perfectly within
their rights! They had done nothing to deserve it; and it was adding insult to injury, as
the thing was done here, swinging them up in this cold-blooded, impersonal way,
without a pretense of apology, without the homage of a tear. Now and then a visitor
wept, to be sure; but this slaughtering machine ran on, visitors or no visitors. It was like
some horrible crime committed in a dungeon, all unseen and unheeded, buried out of
sight and of memory.
One could not stand and watch very long without becoming philosophical, without
beginning to deal in symbols and similes, and to hear the hog squeal of the universe.
Was it permitted to believe that there was nowhere upon the earth, or above the earth,
a heaven for hogs, where they were requited for all this suffering? Each one of these
hogs was a separate creature. Some were white hogs, some were black; some were
brown, some were spotted; some were old, some young; some were long and lean,
some were monstrous. And each of them had an individuality of his own, a will of his
own, a hope and a heart's desire; each was full of self-confidence, of self-importance,
and a sense of dignity. And trusting and strong in faith he had gone about his business,
the while a black shadow hung over him and a horrid Fate waited in his pathway. Now
suddenly it had swooped upon him, and had seized him by the leg. Relentless,
remorseless, it was; all his protests, his screams, were nothing to it--it did its cruel will
with him, as if his wishes, his feelings, had simply no existence at all; it cut his throat and
watched him gasp out his life. And now was one to believe that there was nowhere a
god of hogs, to whom this hog personality was precious, to whom these hog squeals and
agonies had a meaning? Who would take this hog into his arms and comfort him,
reward him for his work well done, and show him the meaning of his sacrifice? Perhaps
some glimpse of all this was in the thoughts of our humble-minded Jurgis, as he turned
to go on with the rest of the party, and muttered: "Dieve--but I'm glad I'm not a hog!"
The carcass hog was scooped out of the vat by machinery, and then it fell to the second
floor, passing on the way through a wonderful machine with numerous scrapers, which
adjusted themselves to the size and shape of the animal, and sent it out at the other
end with nearly all of its bristles removed. It was then again strung up by machinery, and
sent upon another trolley ride; this time passing between two lines of men, who sat
upon a raised platform, each doing a certain single thing to the carcass as it came to
him. One scraped the outside of a leg; another scraped the inside of the same leg. One
with a swift stroke cut the throat; another with two swift strokes severed the head,
which fell to the floor and vanished through a hole. Another made a slit down the body;
a second opened the body wider; a third with a saw cut the breastbone; a fourth
loosened the entrails; a fifth pulled them out--and they also slid through a hole in the
floor. There were men to scrape each side and men to scrape the back; there were men
to clean the carcass inside, to trim it and wash it. Looking down this room, one saw,
creeping slowly, a line of dangling hogs a hundred yards in length; and for every yard
there was a man, working as if a demon were after him. At the end of this hog's
progress every inch of the carcass had been gone over several times; and then it was
rolled into the chilling room, where it stayed for twenty-four hours, and where a
stranger might lose himself in a forest of freezing hogs.
Before the carcass was admitted here, however, it had to pass a government inspector,
who sat in the doorway and felt of the glands in the neck for tuberculosis. This
government inspector did not have the manner of a man who was worked to death; he
was apparently not haunted by a fear that the hog might get by him before he had
finished his testing. If you were a sociable person, he was quite willing to enter into
conversation with you, and to explain to you the deadly nature of the ptomaines which
are found in tubercular pork; and while he was talking with you you could hardly be so
ungrateful as to notice that a dozen carcasses were passing him untouched. This
22 | U S H i s t o r y
inspector wore a blue uniform, with brass buttons, and he gave an atmosphere of
authority to the scene, and, as it were, put the stamp of official approval upon the
things which were done in Durham's.
Jurgis went down the line with the rest of the visitors, staring openmouthed, lost in
wonder. He had dressed hogs himself in the forest of Lithuania; but he had never
expected to live to see one hog dressed by several hundred men. It was like a wonderful
poem to him, and he took it all in guilelessly--even to the conspicuous signs demanding
immaculate cleanliness of the employees. Jurgis was vexed when the cynical Jokubas
translated these signs with sarcastic comments, offering to take them to the secret
rooms where the spoiled meats went to be doctored.
The party descended to the next floor, where the various waste materials were treated.
Here came the entrails, to be scraped and washed clean for sausage casings; men and
women worked here in the midst of a sickening stench, which caused the visitors to
hasten by, gasping. To another room came all the scraps to be "tanked," which meant
boiling and pumping off the grease to make soap and lard; below they took out the
refuse, and this, too, was a region in which the visitors did not linger. In still other places
men were engaged in cutting up the carcasses that had been through the chilling rooms.
First there were the "splitters," the most expert workmen in the plant, who earned as
high as fifty cents an hour, and did not a thing all day except chop hogs down the
middle. Then there were "cleaver men," great giants with muscles of iron; each had two
men to attend him--to slide the half carcass in front of him on the table, and hold it
while he chopped it, and then turn each piece so that he might chop it once more. His
cleaver had a blade about two feet long, and he never made but one cut; he made it so
neatly, too, that his implement did not smite through and dull itself--there was just
enough force for a perfect cut, and no more. So through various yawning holes there
slipped to the floor below--to one room hams, to another forequarters, to another sides
of pork. One might go down to this floor and see the pickling rooms, where the hams
were put into vats, and the great smoke rooms, with their airtight iron doors. In other
rooms they prepared salt pork--there were whole cellars full of it, built up in great
towers to the ceiling. In yet other rooms they were putting up meats in boxes and
barrels, and wrapping hams and bacon in oiled paper, sealing and labeling and sewing
them. From the doors of these rooms went men with loaded trucks, to the platform
where freight cars were waiting to be filled; and one went out there and realized with a
start that he had come at last to the ground floor of this enormous building.
23 | U S H i s t o r y
>>>Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906
United States Statutes at Large (59th Cong., Sess. I, Chp. 3915, p. 768-772)
For preventing the manufacture, sale, or transportation of adulterated or misbranded or
poisonous or deleterious foods, drugs, medicines, and liquors, and for regulating traffic
therein, and for other purposes…
and any person who shall violate any of the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a
misdemeanor, and for each offense shall, upon conviction thereof, be fined not to
exceed five hundred dollars or shall be sentenced to one year's imprisonment, or both
such fine and imprisonment, in the discretion of the court, and for each subsequent
offense and conviction thereof shall be fined not less than one thousand dollars or
sentenced to one year's imprisonment, or both such fine and imprisonment, in the
discretion of the court.
Sec. 2. That the introduction into any State or Territory or the District of Columbia from
any other State or Territory or the District of Columbia, or from any foreign country, or
shipment to any foreign country of any article of food or drugs which is adulterated or
misbranded, within the meaning of this Act, is hereby prohibited; and any person who
shall ship or deliver for shipment from any State or Territory or the District of Columbia
to any other State or Territory or the District of Columbia, or to a foreign country, or
who shall receive in any State or Territory or the District of Columbia from any other
State or Territory or the District of Columbia, or foreign country, and having so received,
shall deliver, in original unbroken packages, for pay or otherwise, or offer to deliver to
any other person, any such article so adulterated or misbranded within the meaning of
this Act, or any person who shall sell or offer for sale in the District of Columbia or the
Territories of the United States any such adulterated or misbranded foods or drugs, or
export or offer to export the same to any foreign country, shall be guilty of a
misdemeanor, and for such offense be fined not exceeding two hundred dollars for the
first offense, and upon conviction for each subsequent offense not exceeding three
hundred dollars or be imprisoned not exceeding one year, or both, in the discretion of
the court: Provided, That no article shall be deemed misbranded or adulterated within
the provisions of this Act when intended for except to any foreign country and prepared
or packed according to the specifications or directions of the foreign purchaser when no
substance is used in the preparation or packing thereof in conflict with the laws of the
foreign country to which said article is intended to be shipped; but if said article shall be
in fact sold or offered for sale for domestic use or consumption, then this proviso shall
not exempt said article from the operation of any of the other provisions of this Act.
Sec. 4. That the examinations of specimens of foods and drugs shall be made in the
Bureau of Chemistry of the Department of Agriculture, or under the direction and
supervision of such Bureau, for the purpose of determining from such examinations
whether such articles are adulterated or misbranded within the meaning of this Act; and
if it shall appear from any such examination that any of such specimens is adulterated or
misbranded within the meaning of this Act, the Secretary of Agriculture shall cause
notice thereof to be given to the party from whom such sample was obtained. Any party
so notified shall be given an opportunity to be heard, under such rules and regulations
as may be prescribed as aforesaid, and if it appears that any of the provisions of this Act
have been violated by such party, then the Secretary of Agriculture shall at once certify
the facts to the proper United States district attorney, with a copy of the results of the
analysis or the examination of such article duly authenticated by the analyst or officer
making such examination, under the oath of such officer. After judgment of the court,
notice shall be given by publication in such manner as may be prescribed by the rules
and regulations aforesaid.
Sec. 6. That the term "drug," as used in this Act, shall include all medicines and
preparations recognized in the United States Pharmacopoeia or National Formulary for
internal or external use, and any substance or mixture of substances intended to be
24 | U S H i s t o r y
used for the cure, mitigation, or prevention of disease of either man or other animals.
The term "food," as used herein, shall include all articles used for food, drink,
confectionery, or condiment by man or other animals, whether simple, mixed, or
Sec. 7. That for the purposes of this Act an article shall be deemed to be adulterated:
In case of drugs:
First. If, when a drug is sold under or by a name recognized in the United States
Pharmacopoeia or National Formulary, it differs from the standard of strength, quality,
or purity, as determined by the test laid down in the United States Pharmacopoeia or
National Formulary official at the time of investigation: Provided, That no drug defined
in the United States Pharmacopoeia or National Formulary shall be deemed to be
adulterated under this provision if the standard of strength, quality, or purity be plainly
stated upon the bottle, box, or other container thereof although the standard may differ
from that determined by the test laid down in the United States Pharmacopoeia or
Second. If its strength or purity fall below the professed standard or quality under which
it is sold.
In the case of confectionery:
If it contain terra alba, barytes, talc, chrome yellow, or other mineral substance or
poisonous color or flavor, or other ingredient deleterious or detrimental to health, or
any vinous, malt or spirituous liquor or compound or narcotic drug.
In the case of food:
First. If any substance has been mixed and packed with it so as to reduce or lower or
injuriously affect its quality or strength.
Second. If any substance has been substituted wholly or in part for the article.
Third. If any valuable constituent of the article has been wholly or in part abstracted.
Fourth. If it be mixed, colored, powdered, coated, or stained in a manner whereby
damage or inferiority is concealed.
Fifth. If it contain any added poisonous or other added deleterious ingredient which may
render such article injurious to health: Provided, That when in the preparation of food
products for shipment they are preserved by any external application applied in such
manner that the preservative is necessarily removed mechanically, or by maceration in
water, or otherwise, and directions for the removal of said preservative shall be printed
on the covering or the package, the provisions of this Act shall be construed as applying
only when said products are ready for consumption.
Sixth. If it consists in whole or in part of a filthy, decomposed, or putrid animal or
vegetable substance, or any portion of an animal unfit for food, whether manufactured
or not, or if it is the product of a diseased animal, or one that has died otherwise than by
Sec. 8. That the term, "misbranded," as used herein, shall apply to all drugs, or articles
of food, or articles which enter into the composition of food, the package or label of
which shall bear any statement, design, or device regarding such article, or the
ingredients or substances contained therein which shall be false or misleading in any
particular, and to any food or drug product which is falsely branded as to the State,
Territory, or country in which it is manufactured or produced.
25 | U S H i s t o r y
That for the purposes of this Act an article shall also be deemed to be misbranded:
In case of drugs:
First. If it be an imitation of or offered for sale under the name of another article.
Second. If the contents of the package as originally put up shall have been removed, in
whole or in part, and other contents shall have been placed in such package, or if the
package fail to bear a statement on the label of the quantity or proportion of any
alcohol, morphine, opium, cocaine, heroin, alpha or beta eucaine, chloroform, cannabis
indica, chloral hydrate, or acetanilide, or any derivative or preparation of any such
substances contained therein.
In the case of food:
First. If it be an imitation of or offered for sale under the distinctive name of another
Second. If it be labeled or branded so as to deceive or mislead the purchaser, or purport
to be a foreign product when not so, or if the contents of the package as originally put
up shall have been removed in whole or in part and other contents shall have been
placed in such package, or if it fail to bear a statement on the label of the quantity or
proportion of any morphine, opium, cocaine, heroin, alpha or beta eucaine, chloroform,
cannabis indica, chloral hydrate, or acetanilide, or any derivative or preparation of any
such substances contained therein.
Third. If in package form, and the contents are stated in terms of weight or measure,
they are not plainly and correctly stated on the outside of the package.
Fourth. If the package containing it or its label shall bear any statement, design, or
device regarding the ingredients or the substances contained therein, which statement,
design, or device shall be false or misleading in any particular: Provided , That an article
of food which does not contain any added poisonous or deleterious ingredients shall not
be deemed to be adulterated or misbranded in the following cases:
First. In the case of mixtures or compounds which may be now or from time to time
hereafter known as articles of food, under their own distinctive names, and not an
imitation of or offered for sale under the distinctive name of another article, if the name
be accompanied on the same label or brand with a statement of the place where said
article has been manufactured or produced.
Second. In the case of articles labeled, branded, or tagged so as to plainly indicate that
they are compounds, imitations, or blends, and the word "compound," "imitation," or
"blend," as the case may be, is plainly stated on the package in which it is offered for
sale: Provided , That the term blend as used herein shall be construed to mean a
mixture of like substances, not excluding harmless coloring or flavoring ingredients used
for the purpose of coloring and flavoring only: And provided further , That nothing in
this Act shall be construed as requiring or compelling proprietors or manufacturers of
proprietary foods which contain no unwholesome added ingredient to disclose their
trade formulas, except in so far as the provisions of this Act may require to secure
freedom from adulteration or misbranding.
Sec. 9. That no dealer shall be prosecuted under the provisions of this Act when he can
establish a guaranty signed by the wholesaler, jobber, manufacturer, or other party
residing in the United States, from whom he purchases such articles, to the effect that
the same is not adulterated or misbranded within the meaning of this Act, designating
it. Said guaranty, to afford protection, shall contain the name and address of the party
or parties making the sale of such articles to such dealer, and in such case said party or
26 | U S H i s t o r y
parties shall be amenable to the prosecutions, fines, and other penalties which would
attach, in due course, to the dealer under the provisions of this Act.
27 | U S H i s t o r y
>>>The Conservation of Natural Resources
Seventh Annual Message to Congress
December 3, 1907
To the Senate and House of Representatives:
. . .The conservation of our natural resources and their proper use constitute the
fundamental problem which underlies almost every other problem of our national life. .
..As a nation we not only enjoy a wonderful measure of present prosperity but if this
prosperity is used aright it is an earnest of future success such as no other nation will
have. The reward of foresight for this nation is great and easily foretold. But there must
be the look ahead, there must be a realization of the fact that to waste, to destroy, our
natural resources, to skin and exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase its
usefulness, will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity
which we ought by right to hand down to them amplified and developed. For the last
few years, through several agencies, the government has been endeavoring to get our
people to look ahead and to substitute a planned and orderly development of our
resources in place of a haphazard striving for immediate profit. Our great river systems
should be developed as national water highways, the Mississippi, with its tributaries,
standing first in importance, and the Columbia second, although there are many others
of importance on the Pacific, the Atlantic, and the Gulf slopes. The National Government
should undertake this work, and I hope a beginning will be made in the present
Congress; and the greatest of all our rivers, the Mississippi, should receive special
attention. From the Great Lakes to the mouth of the Mississippi there should be a deep
waterway, with deep waterways leading from it to the East and the West. Such a
waterway would practically mean the extension of our coastline into the very heart of
our country. It would be of incalculable benefit to our people. If begun at once it can be
carried through in time appreciably to relieve the congestion of our great freight-
carrying lines of railroads. The work should be systematically and continuously carried
forward in accordance with some well-conceived plan. The main streams should be
improved to the highest point of efficiency before the improvement of the branches is
attempted; and the work should be kept free from every taint of recklessness or
jobbery. The inland waterways which lie just back of the whole Eastern and Southern
coasts should likewise be developed. Moreover, the development of our waterways
involves many other important water problems, all of which should be considered as
part of the same general scheme. The government dams should be used to produce
hundreds of thousands of horse-power as an incident to improving navigation; for the
annual value of the unused water-powered of the Untied States perhaps exceeds the
annual value of the products of all our mines. As an incident to creating the deep
waterways down the Mississippi, the government should build along its whole lower
length levees which, taken together with the control of the headwaters, will at once and
forever put a complete stop to all threat of floods in the immensely fertile delta region.
The territory lying adjacent to the Mississippi along its lower course will thereby become
one of the most prosperous and populous, as it already is one of the most fertile,
farming regions in all the world. I have appointed an inland waterways commission to
study and outline a comprehensive scheme of development along all the lines indicated.
Later I shall lay its report before the Congress.
Irrigation should be far more extensively developed than at present, not only in the
States of the great plains and the Rocky Mountains, but in many others, as, for instance,
in large portions of the South Atlantic and Gulf States, where it should go hand in hand
with the reclamation of swampland. The Federal Government should seriously devote
itself to this task, realizing that utilization of waterways and water-power, forestry,
irrigation, and the reclamation of lands threatened with overflow, are all
interdependent parts of the same problem. The work of the Reclamation Service in
developing the larger opportunities of the Western half of our country for irrigation is
more important than almost any other movement. The constant purpose of the
government in connection with the Reclamation Service has been to use the water
resources of the public lands for the ultimate greatest good of the greatest number; in
28 | U S H i s t o r y
other words, to put upon the land permanent home-makers, to use and develop it for
themselves and for their children and children's children. . . .
29 | U S H i s t o r y
>>>How the Other Half Lives
THE MIXED CROWD.
1. When once I asked the agent of a notorious Fourth Ward alley how many people
might be living in it I was told: One hundred and forty families, one hundred Irish, thirty-
eight Italian, and two that spoke the German tongue. Barring th e agent herself, there
was not a native-born individual in the court. The answer was characteristic of the
cosmopolitan character of lower New York, very nearly so of the whole of it, wherever it
runs to alleys and courts. One may find for the asking an I talian, a German, a French,
African, Spanish, Bohemian, Russian, Scandinavian, Jewish, and Chinese colony. Even the
Arab, who peddles "holy earth" from the Battery as a direct importation from
Jerusalem, has his exclusive preserves at the lower end of Was hington Street. The one
thing you shall vainly ask for in the chief city of America is a distinctively American
community. There is none; certainly not among the tenements. Where have they gone
to, the old inhabitants? I put the question to one who might fairly be presumed to be of
the number, since I had found him sighing for the "good old days" when the legend "no
Irish need apply" was familiar in the advertising columns of the newspapers. He looked
at me with a puzzled air. "I don't know," he said. "I wish I did. Some went to California in
'49, some to the war and never came back. The rest, I expect, have gone to heaven, or
somewhere. I don't see them 'round here."
2. Whatever the merit of the good man's conjectures, his eyes did not deceive him. They
are not here. In their place has come this queer conglomerate mass of heterogeneous
elements, ever striving and working like whiskey and water in o ne glass, and with the
like result: final union and a prevailing taint of whiskey. The once unwelcome Irishman
has been followed in his turn by the Italian, the Russian Jew, and the Chinaman, and has
himself taken a hand at opposition, quite as bitter and quite as ineffectual, against these
later hordes. Wherever these have gone they have crowded him out, possessing the
block, the street, the ward with their denser swarms. But the Irishman's revenge is
complete. Victorious in defeat over his recent as ove r his more ancient foe, the one
who opposed his coming no less than the one who drove him out, he dictates to both
their politics, and, secure in possession of the offices, returns the native his greeting
with interest, while collecting the rents of the I talian whose house he has bought with
the profits of his saloon. As a landlord he is picturesquely autocratic. An amusing
instance of his methods came under my notice while writing these lines. An inspector of
the Health Department found an Italian family paying a man with a Celtic name twenty-
five dollars a month for three small rooms in a ramshackle rear tenement--more than
twice what they were worth--and expressed his astonishment to the tenant, an ignorant
Sicilian laborer. He replied that he had once asked the landlord to reduce the rent, but
he would not do it.
3. "Well! What did he say?" asked the inspector.
4. "'Damma, man!' he said; 'if you speaka thata way to me, I fira you and your things in
the streeta.'" And the frightened Italian paid the rent.
5. In justice to the Irish landlord it must be said that like an apt pupil he was merely
showing forth the result of the schooling he had received, re-enacting, in his own way,
the scheme of the tenements. It is only his frankness that shocks. The Irishman does not
naturally take kindly to tenement life, though with characteristic versatility he adapts
himself to its conditions at once. It does violence, nevertheless, to the best that is in
him, and for that very reason of all who come within its sphere soonest corrupts him.
The result is a sediment, the product of more than a generation in the city's slums, that,
as distinguished from the larger body of his class, justly ranks at the foot of tenement
dwellers, the so-called "low Irish ."
30 | U S H i s t o r y
6. It is not to be assumed, of course, that the whole body of the population living in the
tenements, of which New Yorkers are in the habit of speaking vaguely as "the poor," or
even the larger part of it, is to be classed as vicious o r as poor in the sense of verging on
7. New York's wage-earners have no other place to live, more is the pity. They are truly
poor for having no better homes; waxing poorer in purse as the exorbitant rents to
which they are tied, as ever was serf to soil, keep rising. The wonder is that they are not
all corrupted, and speedily, by their surroundings. If, on the contrary, there be a steady
working up, if not out of the slough, the fact is a powerful argument for the optimist's
belief that the world is, after all, growing b etter, not worse, and would go far toward
disarming apprehension, were it not for the steadier growth of the sediment of the
slums and its constant menace. Such an impulse toward better things there certainly is.
The German rag-picker of thirty years ago, quite as low in the scale as his Italian
successor, is the thrifty tradesman or prosperous farmer of to-day.
8. The Italian scavenger of our time is fast graduating into exclusive control of the corner
fruit-stands, while his black-eyed boy monopolizes the boot-blacking industry in which a
few years ago he was an intruder. The Irish hod-carri er in the second generation has
become a bricklayer, if not the Alderman of his ward, while the Chinese coolie is in
almost exclusive possession of the laundry business. The reason is obvious. The poorest
immigrant comes here with the purpose and ambition to better himself and, given half a
chance, might be reasonably expected to make the most of it. To the false plea that he
prefers the squalid houses in which his kind are housed there could be no better
answer. The truth is, his half chance has too long been wanting, and for the bad result
he has been unjustly blamed.
9. As emigration from east to west follows the latitude, so does the foreign influx in New
York distribute itself along certain well-defined lines that waver and break only under
the stronger pressure of a more gregarious race or the e ncroachments of inexorable
business. A feeling of dependence upon mutual effort, natural to strangers in a strange
land, unacquainted with its language and customs, sufficiently accounts for this.
10. The Irishman is the true cosmopolitan immigrant. All-pervading, he shares his
lodging with perfect impartiality with the Italian, the Greek, and the "Dutchman,"
yielding only to sheer force of numbers, and objects equally to them all. A map of the
city, colored to designate nationalities, would show more stripes than on the skin of a
zebra, and more colors than any rainbow. The city on such a map would fall into two
great halves, green for the Irish prevailing in the West Side ten ement districts, and blue
for the Germans on the East Side. But intermingled with these ground colors would be
an odd variety of tints that would give the whole the appearance of an extraordinary
crazy-quilt. From down in the Sixth Ward, upon the site of the old Collect Pond that in
the days of the fathers drained the hills which are no more, the red of the Italian would
be seen forcing, its way northward along the line of Mulberry Street to the quarter of
the French purple on Bleecker Street and South Fi fth Avenue, to lose itself and
reappear, after a lapse of miles, in the "Little Italy" of Harlem, east of Second Avenue.
Dashes of red, sharply defined, would be seen strung through the Annexed District,
northward to the city line. On the West Side the re d would be seen overrunning the old
Africa of Thompson Street, pushing the black of the negro rapidly uptown, against
querulous but unavailing protests, occupying his home, his church, his trade and all,
with merciless impartiality. There is a church in M ulberry Street that has stood for two
generations as a sort of milestone of these migrations. Built originally for the worship of
staid New Yorkers of the "old stock," it was engulfed by the colored tide, when the
draft-riots drove the negroes out of reac h of Cherry Street and the Five Points. Within
the past decade the advance wave of the Italian onset reached it, and to-day the arms
of United Italy adorn its front. The negroes have made a stand at several points along
Seventh and Eighth Avenues; but the ir main body, still pursued by the Italian foe, is on
the march yet, and the black mark will be found overshadowing to-day many blocks on
the East Side, with One Hundredth Street as the centre, where colonies of them have
31 | U S H i s t o r y
11. Hardly less aggressive than the Italian, the Russian and Polish Jew, having over run
the district between Rivington and Division Streets, east of the Bowery, to the point of
suffocation, is filling, the tenements of the old Sevent h Ward to the river front, and
disputing with the Italian every foot of available space in the back alleys of Mulberry
Street. The two races, differing hopelessly in much, have this in common: they carry
their slums with them wherever they go, if allowed to do it. Little Italy already rivals its
parent, the "Bend," in foulness. Other nationalities that begin at the bottom make a
fresh start when crowded up the ladder. Happily both are manageable, the one by
rabbinical, the other by the civil law. Between the dull gray of the Jew, his favorite color,
and the Italian red, would be seen squeezed in on the map a sharp streak of yellow,
marking the narrow boundaries of Chinatown. Dovetailed in with the German
population, the poor but thrifty Bohemian might be picked out by the sombre hue of his
life as of his philosophy, struggling against heavy odds in the big human bee-hives of the
East Side. Colonies of his people extend northward, with long lapses of space, from
below the Cooper Institute more than three m iles. The Bohemian is the only foreigner
with any considerable representation in the city who counts no wealthy man of his race,
none who has not to work hard for a living, or has got beyond the reach of the
12. Down near the Battery the West Side emerald would be soiled by a dirty stain,
spreading rapidly like a splash of ink on a sheet of blotting paper, headquarters of the
Arab tribe, that in a single year has swelled from the original dozen to twelve hundred,
intent, every mother's son, on trade and barter. Dots and dashes of color here and there
would show where the Finnish sailors worship their djumala (God), the Greek pedlars
the ancient name of their race, and the Swiss the goddes s of thrift. And so on to the
end of the long register, all toiling together in the galling fetters of the tenement. Were
the question raised who makes the most of life thus mortgaged, who resists most
stubbornly its levelling tendency--knows how to drag even the barracks upward a part of
the way at least toward the ideal plane of the home--the palm must be unhesitatingly
awarded the Teuton. The Italian and the poor Jew rise only by compulsion. The
Chinaman does not rise at all; here, as at home, he simpl y remains stationary. The
Irishman's genius runs to public affairs rather than domestic life; wherever he is
mustered in force the saloon is the gorgeous centre of political activity. The German
struggles vainly to learn his trick; his Teutonic wit is too heavy, and the political ladder
he raises from his saloon usually too short or too clumsy to reach the desired goal. The
best part of his life is lived at home, and he makes himself a home independent of the
surroundings, giving the lie to the saying, un happily become a maxim of social truth,
that pauperism and drunkenness naturally grow in the tenements. He makes the most
of his tenement, and it should be added that whenever and as soon as he can save up
money enough, he gets out and never crosses the t hreshold of one again.
32 | U S H i s t o r y