This chapter covers the conflicts between the Populist movements and those groups that held most of the nation’s wealth and power. Mass political movements of farmers and workers were organized. These movements were also actively supported and shaped by women who were struggling to gain their own civil and voting rights. There was a moment of democratic promise when Americans might have established a commonwealth based on agreement of the people for the common good. Instead, a national governing class and a growing bureaucratic state emerged. While debating their domestic future, most Americans seemed united in pursuing an empire. Anti-imperialists could do little more than criticize from the sidelines as the United States acquired numerous territories and took an interventionist stance toward others.
After reading this chapter you should be able to:
Explain the meaning of “a moment of democratic promise” as envisioned by Edward Bellamy and his followers in Point Loma, California, as well as other reformers and populist organizers.
Compare to what extent government at all levels kept pace with the rapid growth of the economy in the late nineteenth century.
Describe the alternative governmental system as viewed by the Populist movement.
Discuss the depression of the 1890s and other crises of that decade, particularly the effects they had on people’s views of the political system.
Explain why the election of 1896 was a turning point in American politics.
Summarize the interests and issues that persuaded many Americans of the need for an overseas empire.
Outline the steps by which the United States gained an empire and developed a foreign policy for that empire.
Summarize the arguments of the Anti-Imperialists.
Compare the “Gospel of Wealth” to the “Social Gospel.” (Review Chapter 19.)