Dr. H. W. "Bill" Brands - Texas A & M University
Ph D - University of Texas Austin
SESSION I: THE RECKLESS DECADE - THE 1890'S
• End of Reconstruction/End of Century
• Removal of troops in South/ Home Rule returns
• Future is uncertain - but the past cannot be repeated (Civil War)
I. 1890's Issues:
A. Iron Triangle: Industrialization - Urbanization -Immigration
1. These three processes began much earlier.
2. Both event and individuals important - dates are key markers
A. Post Civil War - kicks into high gear
B. De-thrones Southern Aristocracy with Entrepreneurs of the North
C. Both the Civil War and California Gold Rush pump money into economy.
D. Immigration fuels economy - Post Reconstruction: jobs and immigrants came
F. Discovery of oil in 1859 in Ohio Valley
John D. Rockefeller dominated the oil industry in 1880's
1. Born poor
2. Very unassuming and shy
3. Devoutly religious - Baptist - believed in charity/philanthropy
4. Merciless in business deals - compartmentalization of values
G. Andrew Carnegie
1. Also born poor
2. Began in RR, moved into steel industry
3. Obsessed with making money and competition
4. Also a philanthropist: Gospel of Wealth
H. J.P. Morgan
1. Background - wealthy - father a financier
2. Helped shift the Industrial Process and economy after the Panic of
1893 - shift from "builders" to "financiers" to control the
3. Panic of 1893
• British investors lost confidence in America
• Inventories fell and businesses closed
• Overproduction and underconsumption
III. Urbanization -1850'a still Pre-Urban:
1850-1920 Transformation of urban transportation network
A. 1870-1920 Building cities
1. for immigrants
2. Tenements (1890's) make builders money - built up - close to work a necessity
due to lack of transportation
• people are generally willing to commute 1/2 hour to work
IV. Immigration 1890's
A. Government counting immigrants, not emigrants (so some of the movement
within the country is not recorded or analyzed.
B. Numbers are unreliable:
• Many who flocked to the Gold Rush "temporarily" ended up staying.
• Many immigrants who came to America returned to Europe.
V. Political response to the Iron Triangle( industrialization, urbanization, immigration)
A. City Political Machines
B. Business response: Trust, oligopolies, monopolies - economic advantages to
certain industries - anti Kerosene
VI. Anti-Trust Regulation
A. RR - farmers/Populists
B. Divorce between economy and polity
1. J. P Morgan most powerful in 1895: Grover Cleveland came hat in
hand to Morgan to bail out treasury in 1893 (Panic).
C. Election of 1896
1. McKinley "deputized" others to speak for him
2. Candidates went directly to the people - shaded the message to suit the
3. Politicians at mercy of technology available to them
D. Populism: produced Progressive response to Industrialization
E. Economic system shifts
1. Mercantile Capitalism: John Jacob Astor
2. Industrial Capitalism: John D. Rockefeller
3. Financial Capitalism: J. P. Morgan
4. Venture Capitalism: today
VII. Domination of Republican Party
A. Majority Party - received power from Grant's "hacks."
B. McKinley the candidate of the Industrialists, managed by Hanna.
C. Teddy Roosevelt out of step with the Party - too reform minded.
VII. Shift of Power from Congress to the President (TR's time) -
Presidency became a year-round job - TR takes charge
A. Spanish American War - US becomes a Global Power for the
B. End of 1890's - America Changes politically, socially, economically
C. Teddy Roosevelt - great "hero" of SPAM War - Dewey did not have the "image."
SESSION II: BULLY PULPIT & BIG STICK:
Theodore Roosevelt's Presidency
I. TR is America's First Strategic Thinker:
Up until 1901, Presidents were elected to deal with domestic affairs.
A. TR has command of world politics
1. Alfred Thayer Mahan: The Influence of American Sea Power on History
2. Intrigued with how countries fit together (balance of power)
B. His role in SPAM war helped to give him the World View
C. TR had written The Naval History of the War of 1812
D. Member of New York Assembly, Governor, Assist. Secretary of Navy
1. Took this opportunity to lay out his world view - with discretion of
• Annex Hawaii (Cleveland had denied it previously)
• Warned that Japan and US were on a collision course:
Japan was enlarging its fleet through British built
Ships. Troubles with Japan would be long-term
• Concerned about troubles in Cuba and how would affect
American business - not Cuban peasants
• Needs Caribbean and Pacific territory for strategic purposes
only - not imperialistic - worried about Germany in the
2. Gave his plan for War with Spain to McKinley unsolicited
• American troops in Cuba, Philippines (Manila Bay - Dewey)
• Professional class of Attaches - European observers on both
sides to help out.
• Aggressive speech to Naval War College
3. Went to SPAM War to prove himself
• Father has failed to serve in Civil War: he was a Yankee, but
his wife (TR's mother) was a Southern girl - wouldn't
let him join the Union army. He was also a failed businessman
4. After war, a hero - became Governor of New York in a close race
5. Republican leadership sought to curb his Reform impulses by
"embalming him" in the Vice Presidency.
E. Vice President
1. Mark Hanna reminded the Party about how close TR was too the Presidency
2. Roosevelt was the most popular Republican of his day
3. Parties were not ruled by "popular vote."
4. Old Guard politics ruled nominees for Presidency.
II. New Model for President - Foreign Policy
A. Cultivated people who could be advantageous for his career.
B. Alfred Thayer Mahan: a strategist
C. There will be no "last" war
1. American is a police power for the world
2. Couldn't convert from peace to war quickly
D. Need for large Navy: battleships, large budget
E. Permanent military establishment (not adopted until 1946)
F. Roosevelt launched Mahan's career at Naval War College
1. Assistance from Henry Cabot Lodge - Senate
G. Expanded America's role in World - take the initiative in influence
World foreign affairs.
1. Most Americans wanted to "use" the world economically for markets
and strategic defense but did not concern themselves with
2. American "ethnocentrism" - American foreign policy would influence
countries in the world, not vise versa.
H. Panama Canal - strategic necessity
I. Police the neighbors: Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine
• curb German influence
• control debts owed to European nations
J. "Speak softly and carry a big stick" - TR (Navy).
III. Large forces - Trends
A. Individuals don't change some events.
B. Sometimes they create the events: If TR had been killed at the Battle of
Santiago, the Presidency would have been very different
C. Historians have to decide how much weight to give a person/event:
TR was a great story - Ben Franklin a great man (except for his
treatment of his son.)