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16.10: Primary Sources

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    William Graham Sumner on Social Darwnism (ca.1880s)

    William Graham Sumner, a sociologist at Yale University, penned several pieces associated with the philosophy of Social Darwinism. In the following, Sumner explains his vision of nature and liberty in a just society.

    Henry George, Progress and Poverty, Selections (1879)

    In 1879, the economist Henry George penned a massive bestseller exploring the contradictory rise of both rapid economic growth and crippling poverty.

    Andrew Carnegie’s Gospel of Wealth (1889)

    Andrew Carnegie, the American steel titan, explains his vision for the proper role of wealth in American society.

    Grover Cleveland’s Veto of the Texas Seed Bill (1887)

    Amid a crushing drought that devastated many Texas farmers, Grover Cleveland vetoed a bill designed to help farmers recover by supplying them with seed. In his veto message, Cleveland explained his vision of proper government.

    The “Omaha Platform” of the People’s Party (1892)

    In 1892, the People’s, or Populist, Party crafted a platform that indicted the corruptions of the Gilded Age and promised government policies to aid “the people.”

    “The Tournament of Today” (1883)

    “Print shows a jousting tournament between an oversized knight riding horse-shaped armor labeled “Monopoly” over a locomotive, with a long plume labeled “Arrogance”, and carrying a shield labeled “Corruption of the Legislature” and a lance labeled “Subsidized Press”, and a barefoot man labeled “Labor” riding an emaciated horse labeled “Poverty”, and carrying a sledgehammer labeled “Strike”. On the left is seating “Reserved for Capitalists” where Cyrus W. Field, William H. Vanderbilt, John Roach, Jay Gould, and Russell Sage are sitting. On the right, behind the labor section, are telegraph lines flying monopoly banners that are labeled “Wall St., W.U.T. Co., [and] N.Y.C. RR”.”

    Lawrence Textile Strike (1912)

    In 1912, The International Workers of the World (the IWW, or the “Wobblies”) organized textile workers in Lawrence and Lowell, Massachusetts. This photo shows strikers, carrying American flags, confronting strikebreakers and militia bayonets.

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