1. Briefly describe Hays’ take on the earliest days of Prohibition. Include points on religion, politics, and rural/urban life.
According to Hays, the Prohibition movement was in large part crusaded by rural Protestants who saw alcohol and ‘urban inebriates’ as a threat to their traditional values and morals. The Catholic and Jewish communities, which were often living in more developed areas, were less fond of the idea of Prohibition, and in many cases outwardly opposed it. Some urban politicians were in favor of Prohibition, but Hays suspects that a portion of this apparent interest stemmed from a desire to take a jab at one’s political opponents and redirect public attention away from other social reform issues.
- Our era includes these “lesser known” presidents—Grant, Hayes, Garfield, Arthur, Cleveland, B. Harrison—please select one and highlight their term and how it fits into the Second Industrial Revolution.
Grover Cleveland’s two, non-consecutive terms as president were impacted by issues and necessities which emerged from the Industrial Revolution. He created the Department of Labor in 1888, and the Department of Agriculture in 1989, in response to the demands of the industrial age and a growing country. He was not particularly socially progressive, especially when it came to immigration and labor rights. In 1888 he renewed the Chinese Exclusion Act, keeping immigrants of Chinese origin out of the country on the grounds that he did not believe Chinese traditions and American culture were compatible, and that the immigrants would not lend themselves well to assimilation. He also made a somewhat drastic move by bringing in federal troops to Chicago in response to the Pullman strike – a decision which caused urban workers to support the Republicans. Hays argues that this alienation of workers won the Republicans a majority in congress and McKinley the presidency in 1896.
- This era is noted for its technological innovation, sometimes referred to as a technological revolution in its own right. Based on your readings, briefly describe a technology and its impact on this era.
Hays states that the printing press, while somewhat overlooked in the conversation regarding technology with connections to the Industrial Revolution, was an important part of “coordinating the intricate functions of the new economy.” (Hays 11) The rotary printing press in particular made the production of newspapers and other publications cheaper and less difficult. Its enhanced ability to produce items in print helped to facilitate the boom of commercial advertising and created a more direct line of consumption for the public.
- Do you see any similarities in the American life of then and now?
I believe there are numerous connections between life during the Second Industrial Revolution and our modern experience. Where Americans living during the Industrial Revolution saw a wave of innovation in industrial technology, today we’re seeing a similar revolution in digital technology; in both instances, the way in which people communicate, businesses run, and our society functions is changed by these advancements.
Just as the Progressive movement and its reform efforts accompanied the Industrial Revolution, a comparable move towards more liberal thinking and increased concern regarding economic inequality has accompanied the digital revolution. Concern about ‘alliances’ between industrialists or corporations and politicians permeated On the other side of the social movement coin, too, a new sort of sociopolitical conservatism has also begun to affect modern political discourse in the United States, just as the temperance movement and advocates of Prohibition impacted the leanings of the nation on issues of ‘morality’. Additionally, though far less prominent than that of the Populist movement, grumblings about the dangers of a digitized society and resistance to the prominence of computers, smartphones, and even the internet in our daily lives certainly exist in the US today. The way in which young people now assess their futures and their potential as an individual has also broadened in a way similar to the youth of the Industrial Revolution; increased opportunities for education, travel, and greater social mobility characterize the younger generations’ experiences in both eras (though actual, practical access to these opportunities is obviously far greater now than it was at the turn of the 19th century.)