Compare and Contrast the lives of the wealthy “10” and the
lives of those who made up the working and farming classes of
America. How do the ideas of “individualism” and “mutualism” help
to define the differences between the various classes? Were farm
families more like the wealthy “10” of the urban working families?
A Fierce Discontent:
The Rise and Fall of the Progressive Movement in America; 1870 ?
By Michael McGerr, Ph.D. Indiana University
Chapter One: Signs of Friction; Portrait of America at Century?s End
In one of Chicago?s elite clubs on election night in November 1896, a group of rich men were
euphoric. After a tense, uncertain campaign, their presidential candidate, the Republican William
McKinley, had clearly defeated the Democratic and Populist nominee, William Jennings Bryan. As
the celebration continued past midnight, a wealthy merchant, recalling his younger days, began a
game of Follow the Leader. The other tycoons joined in and the growing procession tromped across
sofas and chairs and up onto tables. Snaking upstairs and down, the line finally broke up as the men
danced joyfully in one another?s arms.
Their euphoria was understandable. McKinley?s victory climaxed not only a difficult election but
an intense, generation-long struggle for control of industrializing America. For Chicago?s elite, the
triumph of McKinley, the sober former governor of Ohio, meant that the federal government was in
reliable, Republican hands. The disturbing changes that Bryan had promised-the reform of the
monetary system, the dismantling of the protective tariff-would not pass. The frightening prospect of
a radical alliance of farmers and workers had collapsed. The emerging industrial order, the source of
their wealth and power, seemed safe.2
McKinley?s victory certainly was a critical moment, but the election did not settle the question of
control as fully as those rich men in Chicago would have liked. The wealthy could play Follow the
Leader, but it was not at all clear that the rest of the nation was ready to follow along. Driven by the
industrial revolution, America had grown enormously in territory, population, and wealth in the
nineteenth century. The United States was not one nation but several; it was a land divided by
region, race, and ethnicity. And it was a land still deeply split by class conflict. The upper class
remained a controversial group engineering a wrenching economic transformation, accumulating
staggering fortunes, and pursuing notorious private lives. Just three months later another party, this
one in New York City, highlighted the precariousness of upper-class authority at the close of the
The post Compare and Contrast the lives of the wealthy “10” and the lives of those who made up the working and farming classes of America. How do the ideas of “individualism” and “mutualism” help to define the differences between the various classes? Were farm families more like the wealthy “10” of the urban working families? appeared first on Owl Essays.
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