front cover of Counterfeiting Labor's Voice
Counterfeiting Labor's Voice
William A. A. Carsey and the Shaping of American Reform Politics
Mark A. Lause
University of Illinois Press, 2024
Confidence man and canny operative, charlatan and manipulator--William A. A. Carsey emerged from the shadow of Tammany Hall to build a career undermining working-class political organizations on behalf of the Democratic Party. Mark A. Lause’s biography of Carsey takes readers inside the bare-knuckle era of Gilded Age politics. An astroturfing trailblazer and master of dirty tricks, Carsey fit perfectly into a Democratic Party that based much of its post-Civil War revival on shattering third parties and gathering up the pieces. Lause provides an in-depth look at Carsey’s tactics and successes against the backdrop of enormous changes in political life. As Carsey used a carefully crafted public persona to burrow into unsuspecting organizations, the forces he represented worked to create a political system that turned voters into disengaged civic consumers and cemented America’s ever-fractious two-party system.

front cover of Defender of the Faith
Defender of the Faith
William Jennings Bryan: The Last Decade, 1915–1925
Lawrence W. Levine
Harvard University Press, 1987
Defender of the Faith offers a reinterpretation of William Jennings Bryan in his last years as an unchanging Progressive whose roots were deeply embedded in agrarian populism. It changes the standard picture of Bryan in his final years as that of a crusader for social and economic reform sadly transformed into a reactionary champion of anachronistic rural evangelism, cheap moralistic panaceas, and Florida real estate. He pleaded for for progressive labor laws, liberal taxes, government aid to farmers, public ownership of railroads, telegraphs, and telephones, federal development of water resources, minimum wages for labor, and other advanced causes.

front cover of Democracy and Imperialism
Democracy and Imperialism
Irving Babbitt and Warlike Democracies
William S. Smith
University of Michigan Press, 2019

Following costly U.S. engagement in two wars in the Middle East, questions about the appropriateness of American military interventions dominate foreign policy debates. Is an interventionist foreign policy compatible with the American constitutional tradition?

This book examines critic Irving Babbitt’s (1865–1933) unique contribution to understanding the quality of foreign policy leadership in a democracy. Babbitt explored how a democratic nation’s foreign policy is a product of the moral and cultural tendencies of the nation’s leaders, arguing that the substitution of expansive, sentimental Romanticism for the religious and ethical traditions of the West would lead to imperialism.

The United States’ move away from the restraint and order of sound constitutionalism to involve itself in the affairs of other nations will inevitably cause a clash with the “civilizational” regions that have emerged in recent decades. Democracy and Imperialism uses the question of soul types to address issues of foreign policy leadership, and discusses the leadership qualities that are necessary for sound foreign policy.


front cover of Fighting Bob La Follette
Fighting Bob La Follette
The Righteous Reformer
Nancy C Unger
Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2008
Now in paperback with a new preface, this comprehensive biography weaves the triumph and the tragedy of the public and private lives of the most famous of Wisconsin leaders, Robert "Fighting Bob" La Follette. As a U.S. representative, governor of Wisconsin, and U.S. Senator, La Follette's political legacies have been long lasting; among them are the election of senators by constituents, creation of the Department of Labor and the Federal Trade Commission, women's suffrage, and workers' compensation.
Through the personal letters, diaries, and documents of the La Follette family, Unger uses the private life of La Follette as a means for understanding the public figure. Thoroughly researched and documented, Fighting Bob La Follette: The Righteous Reformer is a testament to the progressive tradition in Wisconsin and its premier leader.

front cover of Giant in the Shadows
Giant in the Shadows
The Life of Robert T. Lincoln
Jason Emerson
Southern Illinois University Press, 2012

University Press Books for Public and Secondary Schools, 2013 edition

Book of the Year by the Illinois State historical Society, 2013

Although he was Abraham and Mary Lincoln’s oldest and last surviving son, the details of Robert T. Lincoln’s life are misunderstood by some and unknown to many others. Nearly half a century after the last biography about Abraham Lincoln’s son was published, historian and author Jason Emerson illuminates the life of this remarkable man and his achievements in Giant in the Shadows: The Life of Robert T. Lincoln. Emerson, after nearly ten years of research, draws upon previously unavailable materials to offer the first truly definitive biography of the famous lawyer, businessman, and statesman who, much more than merely the son of America’s most famous president, made his own indelible mark on one of the most progressive and dynamic eras in United States history.

Born in a boardinghouse but passing his last days at ease on a lavish country estate, Robert Lincoln played many roles during his lifetime. As a president’s son, a Union soldier, an ambassador to Great Britain, and a U.S. secretary of war, Lincoln was indisputably a titan of his age. Much like his father, he became one of the nation’s most respected and influential men, building a successful law practice in the city of Chicago, serving shrewdly as president of the Pullman Car Company, and at one time even being considered as a candidate for the U.S. presidency.

Along the way he bore witness to some of the most dramatic moments in America’s history, including Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Courthouse; the advent of the railroad, telephone, electrical, and automobile industries; the circumstances surrounding the assassinations of three presidents of the United States; and the momentous presidential election of 1912. Giant in the Shadows also reveals Robert T. Lincoln’s complex relationships with his famous parents and includes previously unpublished insights into their personalities. Emerson reveals new details about Robert’s role as his father’s confidant during the brutal years of the Civil War and his reaction to his father’s murder; his prosecution of the thieves who attempted to steal his father’s body in 1876 and the extraordinary measures he took to ensure it would never happen again; as well as details about the painful decision to have his mother committed to a mental facility. In addition Emerson explores the relationship between Robert and his children, and exposes the actual story of his stewardship of the Lincoln legacy—including what he and his wife really destroyed and what was preserved. Emerson also delves into the true reason Robert is not buried in the Lincoln tomb in Springfield but instead was interred at Arlington National Cemetery.

Meticulously researched, full of never-before-seen photographs and new insight into historical events, Giant in the Shadows is the missing chapter of the Lincoln family story. Emerson’s riveting work is more than simply a biography; it is a tale of American achievement in the Gilded Age and the endurance of the Lincoln legacy.


front cover of Hannis Taylor
Hannis Taylor
The New Southerner as an American
Tennant McWilliams
University of Alabama Press, 1978
How a proponent of the New South creed could move easily to advocate the nationalistic foreign and domestic policies often associated with Theodore Roosevelt
During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, American life took on contradictions that were later to surface with considerable poignancy. While many publicists and politicians foresaw an America of harmony and great opportunity, they also clung tenaciously to such doctrines as Anglo-Saxon racial superiority and the righteousness of liberal capitalism-notions that worked to defeat the progress they espoused. Here is a study of one of those persons, Hannis Taylor.
For a number of reasons Taylor’s life is uniquely useful for the historian interested in the paradoxes of American life at the turn of the century. Unlike many others of the era who have been examined through biography, Taylor pursued the multifaceted career of prac­ticing attorney, constitutional historian, journalist, diplomat, and ever-aspiring politician. Hence he had occasion to write and speak on almost every intellectual and popular issue of the period. His record serves as a microcosm of many of the contradictions spanning American thought during that time. Further, Taylor was a Southerner. Before moving to Washington, D.C. in 1902, Taylor had grown up in a North Carolina torn by the Civil War and had taken an active role in Alabama affairs during the three decades following Reconstruction. His life shows how a proponent of the New South creed could move easily to advocate the nationalistic foreign and domestic policies often associated with Theodore Roosevelt. Finally, from a humanistic standpoint Taylor's life permits a study in human strivings for achievement. American historiography gravitates to the successful; here is an account of a more common stereotype, the man who worked relentlessly at becoming a noted American by supporting popular causes and who failed tragically.

front cover of Humanistic Letters
Humanistic Letters
The Irving Babbitt-Paul Elmer More Correspondence
Eric Adler
University of Missouri Press, 2023
Irving Babbitt (1865–1933) and Paul Elmer More (1864–1937) were the leading lights of the New Humanism, a consequential movement of literary and social criticism in America. Through their writings on literary, educational, cultural, religious, and political topics, they influenced countless important thinkers, such as T.S. Eliot, C.S. Lewis, Russell Kirk, Benedetto Croce, Werner Jaeger, and George Will. Their work became the source of heated public debates in the 1920s and early 1930s. The belligerent criticisms of Babbitt and More—composed by such famous intellectuals as Ernest Hemmingway and H.L. Mencken—have ensured that the New Humanism has seldom been properly appreciated. Humanistic Letters helps remedy this problem, by providing for the first time the extant correspondence of Babbitt and More, which gets to the heart of their intellectual project.


front cover of La Follette Insurgent Spirit
La Follette Insurgent Spirit
David P. Thelen
University of Wisconsin Press, 1986
Robert M. La Follette and the Insurgent Spirit is a closely argued, lively, and readable biography of the central figure in the American Progressive movement. Wisconsin's “Fighting Bob” La Follette embodied the heart of Progressive sentiment and principle. He was a powerful force in shaping national political events between the eras of Populism and the New Deal

front cover of La Follette’s Autobiography
La Follette’s Autobiography
A Personal Narrative of Political Experiences
Robert M. La Follette; Foreword by Matthew Rothschild
University of Wisconsin Press, 2013
Written in lucid, vigorous prose, La Follette's Autobiography is the famous Wisconsin senator's own account of his political life and philosophy. Both memoir and a history of the Progressive cause in the United States, it charts La Follette's formative years in politics, his attempts to abolish entrenched, ruthless state and corporate influences, and his embattled efforts to advance Progressive policies as Wisconsin governor and U.S. senator. With a new foreword by Matthew Rothschild, editor of The Progressive—the magazine that La Follette himself founded—the Autobiography remains a powerful reminder of the legacies of Progressivism and reform and the enduring voice of the man who fought for them.

front cover of The La Follettes of Wisconsin
The La Follettes of Wisconsin
Love and Politics in Progressive America
Bernard A. Weisberger
University of Wisconsin Press, 2013
The La Follettes of Wisconsin—Robert, Belle, and their children, Bob Jr., Phil, Fola, and Mary—are vividly brought to life in this collective biography of an American political family. As governor of Wisconsin (1901–06) and U.S. Senator (1906–25), "Fighting Bob" battled relentlessly for his Progressive vision of democracy—an idealistic mixture of informed citizenry and enlightened egalitarianism.
            By contrast, the private man suffered from intense, isolated periods of depression and relied heavily on his family for survival. Together, "Old Bob" and his beloved wife, Belle Case La Follette—a lawyer, journalist, and Progressive leader in her own right—raised their children in the distinctly uncompromising La Follette tradition of challenging social and political ills. Fola became a campaigner for women's suffrage, Phil was governor of Wisconsin, and "Young Bob" became a U.S. senator.

front cover of The Lost Promise of Patriotism
The Lost Promise of Patriotism
Debating American Identity, 1890-1920
Jonathan M. Hansen
University of Chicago Press, 2003
During the years leading up to World War I, America experienced a crisis of civic identity. How could a country founded on liberal principles and composed of increasingly diverse cultures unite to safeguard individuals and promote social justice? In this book, Jonathan Hansen tells the story of a group of American intellectuals who believed the solution to this crisis lay in rethinking the meaning of liberalism.

Intellectuals such as William James, John Dewey, Jane Addams, Eugene V. Debs, and W. E. B. Du Bois repudiated liberalism's association with acquisitive individualism and laissez-faire economics, advocating a model of liberal citizenship whose virtues and commitments amount to what Hansen calls cosmopolitan patriotism. Rooted not in war but in dedication to social equity, cosmopolitan patriotism favored the fight against sexism, racism, and political corruption in the United States over battles against foreign foes. Its adherents held the domestic and foreign policy of the United States to its own democratic ideals and maintained that promoting democracy universally constituted the ultimate form of self-defense. Perhaps most important, the cosmopolitan patriots regarded critical engagement with one's country as the essence of patriotism, thereby justifying scrutiny of American militarism in wartime.

front cover of Oscar W. Underwood
Oscar W. Underwood
A Political Biography
Evans C. Johnson
University of Alabama Press, 2006

Although Oscar W. Underwood was considered a titan of his age, few American political figures have suffered such neglect as he. Except for his candidacy for the Democratic nomination in 1924, his political career is largely forgotten even in Alabama. The one place in which Underwood is well remembered is in the folklore of Congress, where he is widely regarded as a great party leader who had mastered the rules perhaps as thoroughly as any member of Congress. This mastery, together with steady work, personal magnetism, and a willingness to compromise, made him effective as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee in formulating a majority program after the Democrats seized control of the House in 1910. Pat Harrison, Underwood's lieutenant as minority leader, referred to Underwood as the "greatest natural parliamentarian, the greatest leader of a law-making body that I ever saw."

--from the Preface to Oscar W. Underwood: A Political Biography


front cover of The People's Lobby
The People's Lobby
Organizational Innovation and the Rise of Interest Group Politics in the United States, 1890-1925
Elisabeth S. Clemens
University of Chicago Press, 1997
In this pathbreaking work, Elisabeth S. Clemens recovers the social origins of interest group politics in the United States. Between 1890 and 1925, a system centered on elections and party organizations was partially transformed by increasingly prominent legislative and administrative policy-making as well as the insistent participation of non-partisan organizations.

Clemens sheds new light on how farmers, workers, and women invented strategies to circumvent the parties. Voters learned to monitor legislative processes, to hold their representatives accountable at the polls, and to institutionalize their ongoing participation in shaping policy. Closely analyzing the organizational politics in three states—California, Washington, and Wisconsin—she demonstrates how the political opportunity structure of federalism allowed regional innovations to exert leverage on national political institutions.

An authoritative statement on the changes in American politics during the Progressive Era, this book will interest political scientists, sociologists, and American historians.

logo for Southern Illinois University Press
Poindexter of Washington
A Study in Progressive Politics
Howard W Allen
Southern Illinois University Press, 1981

In this study of Miles Poindexter, Insurgent Republican turned conservative, Howard W. Allen reaches beyond the traditional bounds of biography to present a history of the United States Congress during the Progressive era and the early years after World War I.

A congressman (1909–13)and a senator (1913–23), Miles Poindexter of Washington State was an outspoken, progressive reformer before World War I. He struggled to protect “the people” from “special interests,” particularly defending the in­terest of his section against eastern “colonialism.” A man with a penchant for absolute positions, Poindexter became caught up in the emotionalism of the Insurgent Republican revolt. At one time or another he championed Socialists, the IWW, the strik­ing textile workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts—all unlikely causes for a middle-class lawyer from Spokane.

Regarding foreign policy, Poindexter was an uncompromis­ing nationalist who, with Theodore Roosevelt, declared himself a member of the Progressive party in 1912.

After 1917 Poindexter actively tried to suppress opponents of the war. Following the war his targets were “Bolshevists” and other radicals. He also developed intense hostility toward So­cialists, the IWW, and organized labor, fearing radicalism and labor. Reversing his former position, he allied himself with the eastern businessmen and regular Republicans in the Senate. Campaigning for the presidency in 1920, he appealed without success to the most conservative members of the party. He was defeated b a progressive Democrat in his 1922 bid for reelection to the Senate.

Allen examines the traditional sources—archival collections, newspaper files, and congressional reports. When he combines this material with a quantitative analysis of roll-call votes throughout Senator Poindexter’s years in Congress, he creates a remarkably useful method never before attempted in political biography.


front cover of Roots of Reform
Roots of Reform
Farmers, Workers, and the American State, 1877-1917
Elizabeth Sanders
University of Chicago Press, 1999
Roots of Reform offers a sweeping revision of our understanding of the rise of the regulatory state in the late nineteenth century. Sanders argues that politically mobilized farmers were the driving force behind most of the legislation that increased national control over private economic power. She demonstrates that farmers from the South, Midwest, and West reached out to the urban laborers who shared their class position and their principal antagonist—northeastern monopolistic industrial and financial capital—despite weak electoral support from organized labor.

Based on new evidence from legislative records and other sources, Sanders shows that this tenuous alliance of "producers versus plutocrats" shaped early regulatory legislation, remained powerful through the populist and progressive eras, and developed a characteristic method of democratic state expansion with continued relevance for subsequent reform movements.

Roots of Reform is essential reading for anyone interested in this crucial period of American political development.

logo for University of Illinois Press
Senator Thomas J. Walsh of Montana
Law and Public Affairs, from TR to FDR
J. Leonard Bates
University of Illinois Press, 1999
This is the first comprehensive biography of Thomas J. Walsh, the Democratic senator from Montana from 1913 to 1933 who was best known for his role in uncovering the Teapot Dome scandal. J. Leonard Bates places Walsh in his colorful and tumultuous times, illuminating Montana history and politics as well as national movements including Progressivism, internationalism, Prohibition, war, and so-called normalcy.
Walsh fought throughout his long career against corruption and monopoly power. During his early years as a lawyer-politician in Helena, he was often in conflict with the "Copper Kings" and other powerful figures. As a senator, he became an internationalist, working throughout the 1920s for naval disarmament, the World Court, the St. Lawrence Seaway, and the Kellogg-Briand Pact for the "outlawry" of war.
In his most celebrated coup, breaking open the Teapot Dome scandal of 1923-24, Walsh revealed that the secretary of the interior had accepted "loans" from oil men in return for leases of U.S. naval oil reserves. Working through the Public Lands Committee of the Senate, Walsh enjoyed support for his investigation from members of both parties, and the Supreme Court endorsed his interpretation of the scandal in 1927. Shortly before his death, he presided over the Democratic National Convention that nominated Franklin Roosevelt and served for a brief time as a key figure in the new leader's circle.
Drawing on archival sources of unprecedented depth, including personal letters between Walsh and his first wife, Elinor McClements Walsh, Bates's expansive study paints a richly detailed portrait of an influential and principled figure whose political career spanned world war, depression, and the administrations of six presidents.

logo for Harvard University Press
Struggles for Justice
Social Responsibility and the Liberal State
Alan Dawley
Harvard University Press, 1991
In this new interpretation of the making of modern America, prize-winning historian Alan Dawley traces the group struggles involved in the nation’s rise to power. Probing the dynamics of social change, he explores tensions between industrial workers and corporate capitalists, Victorian moralists and New Women, native Protestants and Catholic immigrants. Thoughtful analysis and sparkling narrative combine to make this book a major challenge to earlier interpretations of the period.

Send via email Share on Facebook Share on Twitter