Archive for January, 2013

Bad Romance parody on Woman Suffrage

This is VERY well done!

I Want My Suffrage!

Excerpt from The Jungle

Upton Sinclair was a muckraker who hoped that his novel would outrage readers about the way the workers (mostly immigrants from Eastern and Southern Europe) in the meat-processing plants around Chicago were treated. Instead, most people reacted most strongly to the details he provided here—especially if they were eating their breakfast sausage at the time…..

As he said,”I aimed at the public’s heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach.”

Excerpt: The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair

With one member trimming beef in a cannery, and another working in a sausage factory, the family had a first-hand knowledge of the great majority of Packingtown swindles. For it was the custom, as they found, whenever meat was so spoiled that it could not be used for anything else, either to can it or else to chop it up into sausage. With what had been told them by Jonas, who had worked in the pickle rooms, they could now study the whole of the spoiled-meat industry on the inside, and read a new and grim meaning into that old Packingtown jest–that they use everything of the pig except the squeal.

Jonas had told them how the meat that was taken out of pickle [out of a saltwater solution used as a preservative] would often be found sour [beginning to spoil], and how they would rub it up with [baking] soda to take away the smell, and sell it to be eaten on free-lunch counters; also of all the miracles of chemistry which they performed, giving to any sort of meat, fresh or salted, whole or chopped, any color and any flavor and any odor they chose. In the pickling of hams they had an ingenious apparatus, by which they saved time and increased the capacity of the plant–a machine consisting of a hollow needle attached to a pump; by plunging this needle into the meat and working with his foot, a man could fill a ham with pickle in a few seconds. And yet, in spite of this, there would be hams found spoiled, some of them with an odor so bad that a man could hardly bear to be in the room with them. To pump into these the packers had a second and much stronger pickle which destroyed the odor–a process known to the workers as “giving them thirty per cent.” Also, after the hams had been smoked, there would be found some that had gone to the bad. Formerly these had been sold as “Number Three Grade,” but later on some ingenious person had hit upon a new device, and now they would extract the bone, about which the bad part generally lay, and insert in the hole a white-hot iron. After this invention there was no longer Number One, Two, and Three Grade–there was only Number One Grade. The packers were always originating such schemes–they had what they called “boneless hams,” which were all the odds and ends of pork stuffed into casings; and “California hams,” which were the shoulders, with big knuckle joints, and nearly all the meat cut out; and fancy “skinned hams,” which were made of the oldest hogs, whose skins were so heavy and coarse that no one would buy them–that is, until they had been cooked and chopped fine and labeled “head cheese!”

It was only when the whole ham was spoiled that it came into the department of Elzbieta. Cut up by the two-thousand-revolutions-a-minute flyers, and mixed with half a ton of other meat, no odor that ever was in a ham could make any difference. There was never the least attention paid to what was cut up for sausage; there would come all the way back from Europe old sausage that had been rejected, and that was moldy and white–it would be dosed with borax and glycerine, and dumped into the hoppers, and made over again for home consumption. There would be meat that had tumbled out on the floor, in the dirt and sawdust, where the workers had tramped and spit uncounted billions of consumption germs. There would be meat stored in great piles in rooms; and the water from leaky roofs would drip over it, and thousands of rats would race about on it. It was too dark in these storage places to see well, but a man could run his hand over these piles of meat and sweep off handfuls of the dried dung of rats. These rats were nuisances, and the packers would put poisoned bread out for them; they would die, and then rats, bread, and meat would go into the hoppers together. This is no fairy story and no joke; the meat would be shoveled into carts, and the man who did the shoveling would not trouble to lift out a rat even when he saw one–there were things that went into the sausage in comparison with which a poisoned rat was a tidbit. There was no place for the men to wash their hands before they ate their dinner, and so they made a practice of washing them in the water that was to be ladled into the sausage. There were the butt-ends of smoked meat, and the scraps of corned beef, and all the odds and ends of the waste of the plants, that would be dumped into old barrels in the cellar and left there. Under the system of rigid economy which the packers enforced, there were some jobs that it only paid to do once in a long time, and among these was the cleaning out of the waste barrels. Every spring they did it; and in the barrels would be dirt and rust and old nails and stale water–and cartload after cartload of it would be taken up and dumped into the hoppers with fresh meat, and sent out to the public’s breakfast. Some of it they would make into “smoked” sausage–but as the smoking took time, and was therefore expensive, they would call upon their chemistry department, and preserve it with borax and color it with gelatine to make it brown. All of their sausage came out of the same bowl, but when they came to wrap it they would stamp some of it “special,” and for this they would charge two cents more a pound.

The first president to win the Nobel Peace Prize

Who was it, and why?

To find out, see these pages:,

and this one:

The “White Man’s Burden” as Prophecy

Senator Benjamin Tillman was a former South Carolina governor who served as senator representing South Carolina. His nickname was “Pitchfork Ben” Tillman because he was a farmer and emphasized his links with the common farmer. He was known for his fiery rhetoric especially as a proponent of white supremacy. Please read the short biographical info found here at

“The White Man’s Burden” as Prophecy
By Benjamin R. Tillman

Extract from a speech delivered in the U.S. Senate, Feb. 7, 1899.

As though coming at the most opportune time possible, you might say just before the treaty reached the Senate, or about the time it was sent to us, there appeared in one of our magazines a poem by Rudyard Kipling, the greatest poet of England at this time. This poem, unique, and in some places too deep for me, is a prophecy. I do not imagine that in the history of human events any poet has ever felt inspired so clearly to portray our danger and our duty. It is called “The White Man’s Burden.” With the permission of Senators I will read a stanza, and I beg Senators to listen to it, for it is well worth their attention. This man has lived in the Indies. In fact, he is a citizen of the world, and has been all over it, and knows whereof he speaks.

“Take up the White Man’s burden–
Send forth the best ye breed– Go, bind your sons to exile,
To serve your captive’s need; To wait, in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild– Your new-caught sullen peoples,
Half devil and half child.”

I will pause here. I intend to read more, but I wish to call attention to a fact which may have escaped the attention of Senators thus far, that with five exceptions every man in this chamber who has had to do with the colored race in this country voted against the ratification of the treaty[the Treaty of Paris which was ratified Feb. 6, 1899 and ended the Spanish-American War]. It was not because we are Democrats, but because we understand and realize what it is to have two races side by side that can not mix or mingle without deterioration and injury to both and the ultimate destruction of the civilization of the higher. We of the South have borne this white man’s burden of a colored race in our midst since their emancipation and before.

It was a burden upon our manhood and our ideas of liberty before they were emancipated. It is still a burden, although they have been granted the franchise. It clings to us like the shirt of Nessus, and we are not responsible, because we inherited it, and your fathers as well as ours are responsible for the presence amongst us of that people. Why do we as a people want to incorporate into our citizenship ten millions more of different or of differing races, three or four of them?

But we have not incorporated them yet, and let us see what this English poet has to say about it, and what he thinks.

“Take up the White Man’s burden–
No iron rule of kings, But toil of serf and sweeper–
The tale of common things. The ports ye shall not enter,
The roads ye shall not tread, Go, make them with your living
And mark them with your dead.”

Ah, if we have no other consideration, if no feeling of humanity, no love of our fellows, no regard for others’ rights, if nothing but our self-interest shall actuate us in this crisis, let me say to you that if we go madly on in the direction of crushing these people into subjection and submission we will do so at the cost of many, many thousands of the flower of American youth. There are 10,000,000 of these people, some of them fairly well civilized, and running to the extreme of naked savages, who are reported in our press dispatches as having stood out in the open and fired their bows and arrows, not flinching from the storm of shot and shell thrown into their midst by the American soldiers there.

The report of the battle claims that we lost only seventy-five killed and a hundred and odd wounded; but the first skirmish has carried with it what anguish, what desolation, to homes in a dozen states! How many more victims are we to offer up on this altar of Mammon or national greed? When those regiments march back, if they return with decimated ranks, as they are bound to come, if we have to send thousands and tens of thousands of re-enforcements there to press onward until we have subdued those ten millions, at whose door will lie these lives — their blood shed for what? An idea. If a man fires upon the American flag, shoot the last man and kill him, no matter how many Americans have to be shot to do it.

The city of Manila is surrounded by swamps and marshes, I am told. A few miles back lie the woods and jungles and mountains. These people are used to the climate. They know how to get about, and if they mean to have their liberties, as they appear to do, at what sacrifice will the American domination be placed over them? There is another verse of Kipling. I have fallen in love with this man. He tells us what we will reap:

“Take up the White Man’s burden,
And reap his old reward– The blame of those ye better
The hate of those ye guard– The cry of those ye humor
(Ah, slowly!) toward the light:– ‘Why brought ye us from bondage,
Our loved Egyptian night?'”

Those peoples are not suited to our institutions. They are not ready for liberty as we understand it. They do not want it. Why are we bent on forcing upon them a civilization not suited to them and which only means in their view degradation and a loss of self-respect, which is worse than the loss of life itself?

I am nearly done. Nobody answers and nobody can. The commercial instinct which seeks to furnish a market and places for the growth of commerce or the investment of capital for the money making of the few is pressing this country madly to the final and ultimate annexation of these people regardless of their own wishes.

Preliminary Links for the Spanish-American War



A really cool primary source graphic

US Indian Policy from the Dawes Act to the New Deal

This is the introduction to a paper I wrote in graduate school. It sums up the effects of the Dawes Act rather succinctly.

At the turn of the 20th century, the United States government had decided upon the policy of allotment as a solution to the “Indian problem.” Allotment had become the law of the land with the passage of the Dawes General Allotment Act in 1887 and the Curtis Act, which covered Indian Territory, in 1898. These Acts allowed the President to have reservations surveyed and apportioned into individual allotments suitable for a small farmer. Individual Indians received parcels of roughly one quarter section (160 acres) each or less, depending upon the size of the reservation and the age and marital status of the Indian. Most Indians received much less than 80 acres. Two outcomes were desired. First, it was held that humanitarian impulses (as well as notions of cultural superiority) dictated assistance to our “backward brethren.” But far more importantly, Indians who were converted to farming and ranching would not need as much land to support their families as did hunters; thus, these Indians could be persuaded to sell their “excess” holdings to the government for white settlement. Allotted Indians would be subject to taxes and all the other burdens of citizenship.

The allotment policy also included programs to extinguish original Indian cultures, including languages and religion. Schools enforced the use of English only and emphasized vocational skills needed by a farmer or housewife. The policy of allotment and its educational programs ignored one insuperable flaw: many Indians did not want to farm. The cultivation of plants was not considered an honorable occupation for men in many Indian societies, especially in the northern and central Great Plains. Other native religions forbade cutting into the Earth with a sharp instrument such as a plow. Policymakers either ignored or were unaware of these obstacles. It was believed that so long as Indians held the land in common, there would be no individual incentive to bring it fully into production.

Much of the appeal of assimilation was also financial in nature. Some congressmen, particularly from Western areas, were critical of the amount of money spent on Indian affairs. They believed that by force of arms whites had taken over the continent and that therefore, nothing was owed the Indians. They decried the endless financial obligations that were required so long as Indians maintained their tribal status. They sought to abolish the Indian Bureau and terminate the federal recognition of tribes. Once tribes passed away, Indians would have no special privileges granted to them. These westerners were also frustrated that Indian land was protected from white economic exploitation. Assimilated Indians would have no federal protections to keep their lands forever beyond the reach of development. All lands would be in the public domain or be private property, and use would be unrestricted. The result would be economic growth for the nation.

To protect the Indians, the Dawes Act provided that the title to each allotment would be held in trust by the government for a period of 25 years. During this time of adjustment, the Federal government — specifically, the secretary of the interior and the bureaucrats in the Bureau of Indian Affairs –- would serve as trustee to each Indian and control all individual financial affairs. At the end of the twenty-five year period, an Indian could petition for a patent in fee simple, which would transfer title from trust status through the Federal government to the individual. At that time, the Indian had to prove competence to handle his or her property. If competent, the Indian would own the land outright, and would be subject to taxation by the state and local governments. Once an Indian received his land in fee simple, free from government control, he would be granted United States citizenship. The acceptance of an allotment implied a willingness to sever tribal ties. The concept of dual citizenship in both tribe and greater nation was not entertained. An assimilated Indian would no longer need the protection of the tribe when he or she had the protections of American culture, education, and citizenship. Once tribes no longer existed, treaty obligations would die as well. In 1905, the Supreme Court ruled that Indians who accepted citizenship could not receive federal Indian services, although this decision was overturned eleven years later.

Allotment perfected the drive to dispossess the Indians that had begun with the first treaties. The Burke Act of 1906 allowed the secretary of the interior to allow some Indians to petition for their patents before the twenty-five year period had elapsed. Some agents colluded with white neighbors to pressure Indians into receiving their patent and immediately selling their allotment, often for a fraction of its value. Further, the government operated a “competency commission” from 1915 to 1920 which forced twenty thousand Indians of less than half “Indian blood” to accept their patents without consent. When they could not pay the state taxes on the land, they were forced to sell. An estimate by the National Resources Board in 1935 revealed that about 50% of all allotments had been released from government oversight from 1900 to 1934. Most of these allotments had been alienated from Indian ownership due to the inability to pay the taxes assessed by the states and local communities. Therefore, the mixed blood Indians, who were often more acculturated than their full-blooded brethren, were more apt to lose their allotments. Full bloods actually were more likely to retain their land during the allotment period, since they were granted a longer period of government protection.

Those who managed to retain their lands were usually unable to successfully farm them. The climate of most reservations was too arid for such small plots of land to be profitable. Much of the land that remained in Indian hands by the 1930s was submarginal in quality. Population pressures further eroded the usefulness of allotments. In 1900, the Indian population of the US was numbered at 237,196. By 1930, the Indian population had increased to 343,352. This meant that there were far fewer allotments than there were Indians, a development that had not been anticipated by the framers of the Dawes Act. As the original allottees died, the laws of inheritance exacerbated this problem. Allotments became fractionated into useless parcels as their estates were divided among heirs. With the lower life expectancy of Indians, a single piece of land could pass through several estates within a few decades. Because most Indians had no wills, each successive inheritance was usually divided among several heirs. Some Indians had inherited plots only a few feet square. In areas in which Indian reservations were comprised of submarginal land, only large tracts could be utilized successfully; therefore, these allotments became even less valuable each time they changed hands. A 1934-35 survey of inherited lands that had originally been allotments found just 7 percent being used by Indians, with the remainder being sold to whites or left unused. Furthermore, allotted land benefited only one-half of reservation Indians through rent or ownership: 49 percent of Indians on allotted reservations in 1933 were landless.

Many Indians and non-Indians alike decried the conditions prevalent on reservations and boarding schools. Even before the Depression struck the United States unemployment and poverty were rules rather than exceptions. Reservations were isolated from business centers and employment opportunities. The Indian Bureau also failed to provide vocational training, expertise to help Indians create their own businesses, or plans to draw employers to the reservation. Fifty-five percent of reservation Indians in 1928 had a per capita income of less than two hundred dollars annually; the top two percent of reservation inhabitants had yearly incomes above five hundred dollars, and wages generally made up no more than two hundred dollars per annum. Schools operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs often did not have enough room for all the children living on a reservation, and many of the buildings were in poor repair. The lack of health care was evident in the astronomical rates of infection of tuberculosis and trachoma, an eye disease that could result in blindness. Benjamin Reifel, a Sioux who served as Commissioner of Indian Affairs under Gerald Ford, remembered, “While I was a boy growing up on the Rosebud Indian Reservation we had the most sickening poverty that one could imagine. Tuberculosis was a killer of Indians. The people on the Pine Ridge Reservation and at Oglala were eating their horses to survive. Impoverishment was everywhere.”

Children in boarding schools faced the same conditions due to chronic underfunding of educational programs by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Congress. As historian Floyd O’Neil has stated,

The word assimilation was not an abstract, remote concept. Rather, it was an active philosophy, with tremendous power to break up families and even to take the lives of children. For the death rate of Indian children was much higher than that of the general population.
Indian children were not welcomed in public schools, since their parents paid no taxes and lived on land outside state jurisdiction, not to mention the barrier of racism that discouraged enrollment.

How did assimilation last so long as official policy? Assimilation had been supported by many of the reformers of Indian affairs prior to the 1930s. The Indian Rights Association had been particularly influential during the 1920s and was the oldest Indian reform group then active. Founded in 1882, its stated mission was to promote Christianity and the private ownership of property for Indians. The IRA supported government policies which sup-pressed native religions. Ironically, other reformers argued that the IRA actively campaigned against Indian rights, since it sought to deny Indians their constitutional right to freedom of worship.

Because Indians had not begun to organize themselves until the 1940s, the debate on Indian policy took place with little Indian input. The reforming spirit that would overtake American social policy in the early decades of the twentieth century impacted Indian affairs as well. By the 1930s several organizations were active in the debate over federal Indian policy. Among these were the American Indian Defense Association, the Indian Rights Association, the National Council of American Indians, the National Association of Indian Affairs, and the General Federation of Women’s Clubs’ Indian Welfare Committee. Several members of these groups would receive federal appointments during the 1930s and 1940s and attempt to put their reform ideas into action. The result would be an attempt to reverse the course of federal Indian affairs.


The next part of this story can be found here and will be published in February:

Was the Homestead Act a success?

Before the passage of the Homestead Act, the Great Plains had often been referred to by geographers as “The Great American Desert” due to its common pattern of drought and generally arid conditions. However, once the Homestead Act was passed, the area along the 1ooth Meridian was often advertised, especially by the railroads and their land agents, as a veritable paradise. In reality, this was a place of long droughts and sudden downpours, although the snowstorm and thunderstorms never managed to counterbalance the drought.

What were the problems with the Homestead Act? Was 160 acres enough land to support a family in the “desert” of the Great Plains? That number had been chosen because it was more than adequate for the support of a family in the Ohio Valley. But the Great Plains had entirely different soil, topography, and climate, with very little surface water available, fewer trees, and limited technology at the time to do anything about it.

First, go here:

Of course, some scientists tried to warn about the ecological disaster that could ensue. One of these was John Wesley Powell, a fascinating character in his own right who explored much of the Desert Southwest, including the Colorado River, even though he only had one arm. Powell warned that large settlements dependent upon agriculture would not really be possible west of the 100th Meridian— the western boundary of Oklahoma and Texas.


Unfortunately, more people believed a discredited theory of climatology that “the rain follows the plow.” The general idea was that, once the plows of the settlers turned over the original sod, moisture would be released into the air, priming the water cycle and increasing rainfall. I know– crazy! However, just by chance, the 1870s and 1880s were unusually wet, and so many people, including some who called themselves scientists, considered this fluke of weather to be proof of man-made climate change.

Read this:

Of course, eventually, encouraging thousands of small farms on the Great Plains would have devastating ecological consequences: The Dust Bowl of the 1930s: