Chapter 2: 1901-1910 2:1 Background Information, useful for understanding developments in woodworking

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Impact of Immigration

Between 1901 and 1910, 8,795,386 immigrants were admitted to the United States; 70 percent were from Southern and Eastern Eu­rope, principally Catholics and Jews. Between 1911 and 1920, another 5,735,811 people were admitted from abroad, 59 percent of whom came from Southern and Eastern Europe. By 1910, 40 percent of the population of New York City was foreign-born. At a time when nationality was defined racially, and when race was con­ceived hierarchically, the anxiety that Louis Agassiz had expressed at the time of the Civil War reasserted itself: among the nativists, the question was asked, "Would the presence of large numbers of non-Anglo-Saxon peoples lead to national degeneration?"

Sources: Samuel Eliot Morison et al, The Growth of the American Republic, 7th edition, New York: Oxford University Press, 1980, vol. 2, page 108, as adapted from Louis Menand, The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001, pages 381-382 n.

Income Distribution at the Turn of the Century

By 1910 the top 1 percent of the United States popu­lation received more than a third of all personal income, while the bottom fifth got less than one-eighth.

This level of inequality, basically, was similar to conditions in both Germany and Britain.

Some historians argue that wealth in colonial society was more equally distributed than it is today and that economic inequality increased during the presidency of Andrew Jackson's period known, ironically, as the age of the common man. Others believe that the flowering of the large corporation in the late nineteenth century made the class structure more rigid. Walter Dean Burnham argues that the Republican presidential victory in 1896 -- McKinley over Bryan -- resulted in political realignment that changed "a fairly democratic regime into a rather broadly based oligarchy," so by the 1920s business controlled public policy.

The Progressive era began around 1890 and ended around 1920. During that era, the gap between rich and poor, like the distance between blacks and whites, was greater at the end of the Progressive Erathan at its beginning.The story is not all one of increasing stratification, for between the depression and the end of World War II income and wealth in America gradually became more equal. Read more here. Distributions of income then remained reasonably constant until President Reagan took office in 1981, when inequality began to grow.

Sources: Adapted from, James W Loewen Lies My Teacher Told Me New York The New Press 1995, pages 204-205, sources for this information on the shifts in income distribution among the Amereican population include Seymour Martin Lipset, The First New Nation New York: Basic Books, 1963, pages 324-26; Walter Dean Burnham, "The Changing Shape of the American Political University," American Political Science Review 59 (1965): 23-25; Robert E. Gallman, "Trends in the Size Distribution of Wealth in the Nineteenth Century," in Lee Soltow, ed., Six Papers on the Size Distribution of Wealth and Income New York: National Bureau of Eco­nomic Research, 1969, pages 6-7.Williamson and Lindert, American Inequality: A Macroeconomic History New York: Academic Press, 1980, chapter 3; Jeffrey G. Williamson and Peter H. Lindert, American inequality: a macroeconomic history 1980 , pages 41-42, 49-51;David Tyack and Elisabeth Hansot, "Con­flict and Consensus in American Public Educa­tion," Daedalus 110, no. 2 Summer 1981, pages 11-12; 34 [34. Barry Schwartz, "The Reconstruction of Abraham Lincoln," in David Middleton and Derek Edwards, eds., Collective Remembering London: Sage, 1991), 94

America Felt the Impact of the Industrial Revolution in More Ways Than Technology

"The color of life in America changed .. . Electricity affected an improvement in our mechanical civilization: the neotechnic period dawned. New devices of spatial liberation, the automobile and the airplane and the radio, were invented; the atom revealed unsuspected complexities and psychology brought to light hitherto untouched depths in the mind. Alongside these vivid impulses to reflection and action were darker elements, as dark as anything generated by the Civil War: with the day of the industrial pioneer over, an aggres­sive imperialism started the search for new markets, and, by a steady centralization of power and wealth, monstrous cities came into existence; and regimentation of men and the culture of things followed. "

Source: Lewis Mumford The Brown Decades New York: Dover, page 247. See Sources

The New Kid on the Block

As the nineteenth century closed America had emerged as the world's foremost industrial nation, in world trade, a power­ful rival to England and Germany. For evidence of this condition, one need only note the seeming ubiquitousness of the phrases, "Amer­ican peril" and "American menace," employed by Europeans to describe "the new kid on the block":

... the oratorical prophecy of an American conquest of coveted markets abroad, have alarmed the whole of Europe. The American peril has startled all the trading nations of Europe. The need of a Zollverein to resist our fancied commercial invasion has been made an anxious issue in Old-World nations. The president of the Chamber of Commerce of Lower Austria, a member of the House of Peers of Austria- Hungary, exclaimed in addressing that body: "Unless Europe hastens to protect herself, she will be crushed by the United States. That country has recently pursued a policy which is intended to reduce Europe to a condition of economic dependency, and to make the United States the center of the whole manufacturing world." A member of the French Chamber of Deputies shouted to that body: "The American peril is advancing with irresistible force upon unhappy Europe. The Napoleons of American finance contemplate nothing less than the economic conquest of Europe, and unless steps are taken, the nations of the Old World sooner or later will be subject to the financial mandates of the United States."

Source: Appleton's Magazine 9 1907, page 375

There is a school of thinkers in Europe which professes to see an American menace ever active towards Mexico and South America, and who look for territorial expansion by the United States; but this school is probably misinformed. The straightforward behaviour of the United States towards Cuba is an evidence of good faith, which even their machinations regarding Panama cannot set aside. The Mexican need not, in normal conditions, fear an American invasion. The Americans, like the British, are not fond of rattling the sabre, and the occasional exhibition of the "big stick" comes under quite another category. As regards the possibilities of American menace to Canada, the United States has shown no predatory instincts ....

Sources: C. Reginald Enock, "The Great Pacific Coast" The Geographical Journal 35, No. 2, 191. Feb., 1910; Sol Cohen, "The Industrial Education Movement", American Quarterly 20, No. 1 (Spring, 1968), pages pp. 95-110. Additional sources given by Cohen: Edward C. Kirkland, Industry Comes Of Age: Business, Labor, and Public Policy, 1860-1897 New York, 1961, chap. xiv, "The American Menace Abroad"; Richard H. Heindel, The American Impact On Great Britain, 1898-1914 Philadelphia, 1940, chapter 7; "The American Peril"; Harry Cranbrook Allen, The Anglo-Saxon Relation­ship Since 1783 London, 1959, pages beginning 110.

America -- coming into her own, through a growing consensus, recognized a two-fold ideal: -- "industrial supremacy and per­fected democracy-- Industrial supremacy is America's rightful ideal

Sources: Alvin E. Dodd, "Better Grammar Grade Provision For The Vocational Needs of Those Likely to Enter Industrial Pursuits," Manual Training Magazine, 11 December 1909, page98; Andrew S. Draper, Our Children, Our Schools, And Our Industries (Syra­cuse, N. Y., 1907), p. 88; Frank T. Carlton, Education and Industrial Evolution (New York, 1908), p. 136; Ellwood P. Cubberley, Changing Conceptions of Education (Bos­ton, 1909), pp. 49-50; "Industrial Education Necessary to the Economic Development of the United States," National Society for the Promotion of Industrial Education, Bulletin, No. 15, page 1911.

How to Recruit for an Industrial Army"

Recruiting for the Officer Class": "No Problem!"

Now the question of the recruitment and proper training of a new-style army, an industrial army, assumed in the United States the same urgency it was assuming in England, and had assumed a generation earlier in Germany. The officers for this new army would be recruited and trained in the engineering and scientific and business schools. Here was no problem.

Recruiting for the "Grunts": "We Need a New Program!"

But industry desperately needed privates (it was esti­mated that the country's labor force required at least 1,000,000 additions annually) What the new industrial order needed was "the training of recruits for our leading mechanical industries"; the services of an army of semiskilled workers who would "adjust nicely [to] the industrial ma­chine"; "high privates who can adequately meet unexpected situations and an industrial rank and file who shall rise to the possibilities of the less skilled type of work"; an army of privates, obeying orders, "keeping step, as it were, to the tap of the drum."

Sources: Paul H. Hanus, "Industrial Education," Atlantic Monthly, CI (Jan. 1908), 60; Woods, Charities and the Commons, XIX, 854-55; Frank T. Carlton, The Industrial Situation: Its Effects upon the Home, the School, the Wage Earner and the Employer (New York, 1914), p. 69; David E. Wells, Recent Economic Changes (New York, 1888), p. 93. See the discussion of the problem of recruiting and training of workers in Kirk­land, Industry Comes of Age, chap. Xvi.]

An Education With a Vocational Bias

What the schools had to pro­vide, therefore, was an education with a vocational bias"one which would predispose the children to enter the factories and manual trades, impress them with the "dignity of labor," and equip them with "indus­trial intelligence"; some facility with handling tools and machines, basic literacy to enable them to read and understand directions, and discipline enough to enable them better to conform to the requirements of large- scale, rationalized factory routine.

Sources: Paul H. Douglas, American Apprenticeship and Industrial Education (New York, 1921), p. 76; Kirkland, Industry Comes Of Age, chap. Viii.]

The privates, the rank and file, would have to be recruited and drilled in the public schools. Here was the problem. The American boy, many pointed out, was uninterested in manual occupations. To the American boy, mechanical labor was just a little bit servile. And worse yet, the American public school did little or nothing to make such work more enticing. Indeed, the schools positively tended to unfit youth for such work. In the course of his Annual Message to Congress in 1907, Theodore Roosevelt declared:

"Our school system is gravely defective in so far as it puts a premium upon mere literacy training and tends therefore to train the boy away from the farm and the workshop."

American public schools were too literary in their spirit, scope and methods


In an address to the NEA, Andrew S. Draper, Com­missioner of Education for New York State, complained:

Our elementary schools train for no industrial employments. They lead to nothing but the secondary school, which in turn leads to the college, the university, and the professional school, and so very ex­clusively to the professional and managerial occupations

Sources: Andrew S. Draper, "The Adaptation of the Schools to Industry and Efficiency," NEA, Journal, 1908, p. 70; James E. Russell, "The School and Industrial Life," Edu­cational Review, XXXVIII (Dec. 1909), 439; Paul H Hanus, "Industrial Education" Atlantic Monthly, 101 January 1908, pages 60-68.

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