Friday, March 30, 2012
Monday, March 26, 2012
At the outset of conflict of in Europe, America was determined to remain isolated. Their plan was flawed from the beginning, as something that effects Europe will ultimately effect America. We are tied socially, culturally, and economically. By the time we were pulled into conflict, America was ready to change. American society was dramatically altered socially and economically by World War I.
The place of women in America was permanently altered thanks to World War I. Since the early 1800's american women had been fighting for their right to the vote. The women's suffrage movement gained momentum, but World War I proved the tipping point in the struggle for equality. A dependence on women in the workforce to fuel the war effort convinced many anti-suffragists of the legitimacy to the suffragists claims. In 1919 the 19th amendment was passed, and in 1920 it became law. World War I allowed women to step into the workplace like never before, and finally start on the road to becoming political equals with men.
Today we think of Uncle Sam ads and army advertisements as part of every day life, but the propaganda of World War I is nothing compared to what we have today. Something that developed during World War I and, thankfully, has not carried on today is the governments use of massive propaganda. Wilson recognized that in order to go to war, America had to be unified behind the war effort. The Committee on Public Information was created, and headed by George Creel, to build up a backing for the war. The Committee's tactics worked. Through pamphlets, posters, and leaflets George Creel inspired the entire nation to back the war effort. Without the backing of the American people, the outcome of the war may have been very different.
Overall, World War I was a powerhouse of change. It helped industry, women, and strengthened the federal government. World War I allowed for propaganda to be widely used, and gave Americans a banner to rally under. Without World War I, American landscape would be terribly different than it is today.
Monday, March 19, 2012
What surprised you most about the book?
What surprised me most about the book was the inefficiency of municipality government at the turn of the century. Not only was Patrick Eugene Joseph Prendergast not identified as a mentally-unstable individual, but Holmes was never caught for many of his crimes while he committed them. The book shows a ineffective Chicago government that could not cope with the explosion of urban sprawl and development in the late 1800’s. Streets were dirty, murderers thrived, and crimes were barely prosecuted. It is shocking because of how effective municipal government is today.
Could this many murders and/or disappearances have gone undetected in a different city?
Absolutely, though the city would have to be large. Boston, New York, Pittsburgh, it would take a major city to hide the crimes of Holmes. While Chicago was notorious for the inefficacy of its police department, Holmes was a very slick murderer. Many of his victims did not have families in the city, and so the police in any large city would be forced to communicate with victim’s families via the mail or telegraph. Holmes was a people person, and at the turn of the century good-speaking individuals could still gain a lot of trust. In short, Holmes could have managed to pull off his act as long as it was at the turn of the century, targeted the same victims, and in a large city.
Why is there such animosity among the architects?
There was a lot of animosity among the architects because they were competitors. Architects were all competing for larger deals, and new innovations. It is a fairly straightforward question, why is there animosity among students or among businessmen? Because only one can be the best, and only a few can be in the elite. Humans innately want the best, and in order to have the best you must be the best, and beat others in the process.
Why didn't anyone go to the police with their suspicions despite some people being convinced of his wrongdoing? -page 189
People did not believe in the efficiency and power of the police to evoke any change. The police, in Chicago, at the time were extremely unprepared. They had a high number of cases, and few forensic tools to investigate them. Most of the murder cases in Chicago, in fact the majority, were unsolved. So anyone bringing suspicions to the police was not helping murderers get caught, simply alerting murderers that someone knew of their actions.
How successful would the fair have been without Burnham at the helm?
The fair would have been unsuccessful if someone less dedicated than Burnham had been at the helm. Originally, Burnham wasn't the only person in charge, but through dedication and hard-work he was able to ensure that everything got completed. Despite obstacles from different commissions, funding, and the weather Burnham fought for the fair, and ensured it's success. Few men would be able to ensure the success of the fair, and Burnahm did.
What did Holmes look for in women and why?
Holmes looked for attractive women that he could easily dupe. He needed women that were unfamiliar with city life, and the dangers of unfamiliar men. The book often mentions how the women would not have let men touch them in ways that Holmes touched them if they were in their home towns, but in Chicago they assumed it was okay. The atmosphere of Chicago, combined with women who were out of their natural environment and unaccustomed to courting men in an urban setting ultimately led to Holmes' success.
Why do you think Erik Larson chose to write this book as two stories in tandem instead of two separate books? (difference between good and evil?)
Erik Larson chose to write this book in tandem, I think, because the contrast between the stories of Burnham and Holmes allows the reader to see more depth in each story. Burnham is a good person, who builds something beautiful, something magnificent: The Fair. Holmes is evil, despicable, and builds an empire of lies, deceit, and murder. The contrast of beauty of horror, exemplifies the beauty of the fair, and the hideousness behind Holmes' actions.
On page 62, Holmes suggests that "women as a class were so wonderfully vulnerable". To what extent, if any, does this hold true today?
Women are not nearly so vulnerable as they were in Holmes' day. At the turn of the century, urban environments were still developing, and were largely unknown to the majority of the population. Everyone, not just women, were unaccustomed to the evils of the city. Now, evils are publicized, and piped in to every home. Women, and men, are no longer vulnerable, because knowledge of evil has been made known to them.
How successful would the fair have been in New York, Washington or St. Louis?
The fair would have been successful in other large cities, but it would not have been as robust. At the turn of the century Chicago was growing, more than any other American city. What it lacked it art or culture, it made up for with cold-knuckled determination. Chicago was renowned for it's industry, its ingenuity, and its ability to make a profit. While other cities would have had the ability to produce a fair, would it have had the ferris wheel, the immaculate design, or the beautiful grounds? Things that made the fair famous would not have been present if another city had taken on the job. Without Burnham as inspiration, Ferris would never have thought of his wheel and Olmsted may never have been brought on board. The people of Chicago formed a powerful force that created a marvel, only seen once or twice in human history.
Why was it so important to have the fair in Chicago? Do you think anyone considered the negative impact it could have?
It was important to have the fair in Chicago to prove that Chicago could amass enough culture to be equal to New York. No one doubted the economic strength of Chicago, but many saw it a meat-packer without refinement. Citizens of Chicago, especially big business men, wanted to prove to the nation that Chicao was not only an economic powerhouse, but a cultural center as well. Chicago had just become the second-largest city in America, and it was time to prove that it deserved the position.
People absolutely considered the negative impact it could have, but the overwhelming outburst of support was too strong to be stopped by insignificant drawbacks. All great things have a dark side, and so did the fair. It allowed for more crime, and drew more victims into Holmes' mansion of horror.
Thursday, March 15, 2012
Monday, January 30, 2012
Five years ago, in April, the bloodiest war in American history ended, but have the moral grounds for which the Union fought really been achieved?
The South has remained nearly as rebellious as it was during the Civil War. As early as November 1865, Mississippi passed the first Black Code. Black Codes are nothing more but a legal slavery now. In 1866 one Georgian said, “The blacks eat, sleep, move, live, only by the tolerance of the whites, who hate them. The blacks own absolutely nothing but their bodies; their former masters own everything, and will sell them nothing. If a black man draws even a bucket of water from a well, he must first get the permission of a white man, his enemy… If he asks for work to earn his living, he must ask it of a white man; and the whites are determined to give him no work, except on such terms as will make him a serf and impair his liberty.” As a result of the South’s extreme opposition to reform the Union Congress passed the Reconstruction Act on March 2, 1867. The legislation split up the South into five military districts, each commanded by a Union general and supported by Union soldiers, almost twenty-thousand. Congress, in rebellion of Johnson’s wishes, passed stricter conditions for the readmission of the Southern States. States that had been in rebellion were required to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment, and guarantee that their state constitutions gave full suffrage for their former adult male slaves. The Fourteenth Amendment gave former slaves their rights as citizens. Outraged Southerners eventually complied with the orders and just recently all of the state governments have been reorganized. The Southerners themselves are vehemently opposed to these reforms; in 1866 the Ku Klux Klan was founded in Tennessee. The Ku Klux Klan represented all of the rebellion still in the hearts of Confederates wearing Union colors. The Ku Klux Klan now enforces its own law in the night, but Congress is working on legislation to stop it, where the state governments will not.
For the first time in history black statesmen are taking their place in state governments and legislatures. At state conventions, required by the Reconstruction Act, blacks sat down with whites to work out new state constitutions. No black governors have yet been elected; many other prominent positions have been filled by newly freed blacks. However whites resent these new political powers granted to the blacks. The Ku Klux Klan does everything it can to prevent blacks from voting and holding office. A popular southern song reflects the spirit of rebellion in the South:
And I don’t want no pardon for what I was or am,
I won’t be reconstructed and I don’t give a damn.
Some white northerners have tried to help in the modernization of the south, but their efforts are hated by northern southerners. Dubbed “carpet baggers” for the bags that they carry their belongings with, these northern businessmen seek to industrialize the south. Native Southerners resent the hand of the North interfering with their own affairs, even if it is from the private sector.
Reconstruction in the South has made both great bounds and recessions. While blacks are free, and some rights are protected by amendment to the constitution and newly written state constitutions, they are still little more than slaves. Southerners will do everything in their power to oppress people they once owned, and the end of bigotry in the south will be a long time in the coming.
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Jacksonian Economic Policy, Changes in Electoral Politics, and the extent to which they influenced the development of democracy between 1820 & 1840
Compromise between the President and Congress, political canvassing, and debates are things that define American democracy in the 21st century. America's political landscape would seem foreign without the bickering of the party not in power, or the role that every person plays in electing public officials. As odd as it may seem, our democracy did not always pursue the vote of the common man, or even have two warring political parties. These aspects of American democracy can be traced back to changes that occurred between 1820 and 1840. Jacksonian Economic Policy and Changes in Electoral Politics advanced the development of democracy between 1820 and 1840.
Jacksonian Economic Policy advanced the power of the presidency in ways that the framers of the constitution could have never imagined. George Washington, the first president under the Constitution, set precedents for how the constitution should be interpreted for the job of the presidency. He only served for two terms, He didn’t believe in permanent political parties, and he only vetoed a bill when it questioned constitutionality. Jackson’s Economic Policy broke one of those precedents and advanced the development of American democracy for generations to come. Jackson believed, as did many of his supporters, that the bank was far too powerful. The bank answered to private investors, and not the common people. In 1832 when Henry Clay, one of Jackson's political enemies, proposed an early recharter of the Bank of the United Sates he hoped to alienate Jackson's wealthy supporters if Jackson vetoed the recharter, and if he passed it then the common man that Old Hickory championed would feel betrayed. Andrew Jackson, a war-hardened general, immediately vetoed the recharter once it passed through congress. His veto of the recharter bill marked the first time in American history that a president vetoed a bill simply out of dislike, and not out of the possibility of constitutional infringement. That single veto evolved American democracy in a stupendous way; it made the president's power equivalent to two thirds of congress. Democracy was still a long way from ever becoming a monarchy, but the will of one man mattered a lot. The will of one man could even conflict with the third branch of the federal government, the Supreme Court. In the landmark case McCulloch v. Maryland the Supreme Court had ruled that the Bank of the United States was constitutional, and Andrew Jackson denied that constitutionality. Andrew Jackson's economic policy between 1820 and 1840 developed American democracy by expanding the power of the presidency.
Changes in electoral politics between 1820 and 1840 altered American democracy by establishing the two party system. The Era of Good Feelings, which began around the end of The War of 1812, lasted until the mid 1820's. The end of one party rule was marked by opposition to Andrew Jackson. Andrew Jackson's political opponents came to be known as the Whigs; the name was a reference to colonial politics. At first the Whig party had little holding it together, except for hatred of Andrew Jackson. Then the group developed some unified themes. The Whigs believed in internal improvements like: canals, railroads, telegraph lines, prisons, asylums, and public schools. Soon The Whigs and The Democrats established the two party system we see around us today. The two parties realized how much the common man's vote counted. Soon political canvasing ensued, and both the Whigs and Democrats sought the "common man's" vote. The two party system is quintessential to American democracy. The system provides the much needed watch-dog role, which ensures that the party in power is kept in-check. Changes in Electoral Politics between 1820 and 1840 established two parties that fought for the common man's vote, almost exactly like we see today.
Between 1820 and 1840 American democracy changed in unforgettable ways. The two-party system developed, courtesy of changes in the electoral politics of the time. The President's job was changed forever as a result of Jacksonian economic policy. These political changes were felt strongly in their own time, and even stronger today. American democracy has constantly been changing since the founding fathers framed the Articles of Confederation, and between 1820 and 1840 the time was ripe for beneficial evolution.