Third Essay Assignment
The Triangle Fire and Reform
There are two parts to the third assignment. For part A, please write a four page essay on the topic given below. Cite at least three of the readings in your essay. For Part B, pleas write a two page report on one of the figures listed below.
“If it is said that there are some persons in our time who have become rapidly and in a great degree rich, it is true; it if is said that large aggregations of wealth in the control of individuals is a social danger, it is not true. . . “.(William Graham Sumner)
“Wall Street owns the country. It is no longer a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, but a government of Wall Street, by Wall Street, and for Wall Street. The great common people of this country are slaves, and monopoly is the master. The West and South are bound and prostrate before the manufacturing East. Money rules, and our Vice-President is a London banker. Our laws are the output of a system which clothes rascals in robes and honesty in rags. The [political] parties lie to us and the political speakers mislead us. We were told two years ago to go to work and raise a big crop, that was all we needed. We went to work and plowed and planted; the rains fell, the sun shone, nature smiled, and we raised the big crop that they told us to; and what came of it? Eight-cent corn, ten-cent oats, two-cent beef and no price at all for butter and eggs-that’s what came of it. The politicians said we suffered from overproduction. Overproduction, when 10,000 little children, so statistics tell us, starve to death every year in the United States, and over 100,000 shopgirls in New York are forced to sell their virtue for the bread.”(Mary Ellen Lease, qtd. In Zinn)
“The price which society pays for the law of competition, like the price it pays for cheap comforts and luxuries, is great; but the advantages of this law are also greater still than its cost — for it is to this law that we owe our wonderful material development, which brings improved conditions in its train. But, whether the law be benign or not, we must say of it: It is here; we cannot evade it; no substitutes for it have been found; and while the law may be sometimes hard for the individual, it is best for the race, because it ensures the survival of the fittest in every department.”(Andrew Carnegie)
“Do you ever stop to think that nearly everything else you wear is the product of some poor girl’s hard work, who at least should be entitled to equal consideration with the birds?”(Rose Schneiderman)
There was a clear conflict between the thinking represented by Sumner and Carnegie and that represented by many of the working people and farmers of time. It was a battle of sorts between more traditional conservative defender of limited government and laissez faire capitalism against progressive reformers, working class organizations, and farmers’ organizations over the direction American society would go. I want you to discuss this conflict, trying to be fair to all sides, and take critical stand on the issue. Of course you own thoughts are important and most welcome, but be sure to ground your discussion in the texts and support your thinking as fully as possible. The essay, that is, is an argument and not a report.
Pick one of the figures below and write a two page report on that figure.
Clara Lemlich, Rose Schneiderma, Pauline Newman, Frances Perkins, Alfred E. Smith, Senator Robert Wagner, Ida Tarbell, Henry Demarest Lloyd, Ignatius Donnolly, Mary Ellen Lease, Tom Watson, Eugene Debs, Robert LaFollette, Albert and Lucy Parson, Upton Sinclair, Emma Goldman, Jacob Rills, Henry George, Helen Keller