The Great Migration: Blacks in White America #20 Lynchings, Jim Crow laws, and economic hardship made southern blacks feel as if very little had improved since emancipation. Beginning in the 1890s and lasting well into the 1970s, a "Great Migration" of southern blacks to the West and North changed the demographic structure of the nation. Blacks turned to the "Promised Land" of the North in search of jobs and greater racial toleration. However, such basic demands fueled increasing debate over the place of blacks in predominantly white America in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Questions to keep in mind: 1. 2. Why did so many African-Americans migrate to the North during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries? Who were some of the most significant African-American leaders during this period? How did their visions for American society differ? "In a poll by Book Week, [Invisible Man] was judged 'the most distinguished single work' published in America between 1945 and 1965. Its complex time structure, spacious setting, nameless ethnic protagonist, allegorical and legendary characters, rites of passage, ironic theme, and ritualistic use of music and language suggest that Ellison drew on African-American folklore and the Western epic tradition to render his vision of the historical odyssey of blacks in America to define themselves." (Source: The Reader's Companion to American History, edited by E. Foner and J. A. Garraty. Published in Boston by Houghton Mifflin. ©1991.) Ralph Ellison's novel, Invisible Man, examines the painful inability of many African-Americans to understand their identity in a largely white world. Ridiculed, rejected, and often left without a clear sense of self, black Americans have often had to exist to a world where the rules are made by white Americans. This point became increasingly clearer during the late-nineteenth century, when blacks began moving from the rural South to Northern cities. As early as the 1870s, large numbers of blacks had migrated to states like Texas, Kansas, and other predominantly rural areas to escape the negative aspects of life in the Deep South. By the 1890s, an increasing number of blacks were moving farther and farther from the land that had been their home since before the Civil War. Almost a quarter of a million blacks moved to the North between 1890 and 1910, while about 35,000 blacks moved to the Far West during this same period. The "Great Migration" increased dramatically in the years between about 1910 and the early 1920s. Between 300,000 and 1,000,000 African-Americans moved north during this period, largely in response to an increased number of unskilled factory job openings as northern manufacturers boosted production for World War I. Black migration between 1916 and the 1960s remained strong, except during the Great Depression. More than 6 million southern blacks made the move to the North during this period. Black Population Trends 1890s 1960s Southern 90.3% 10% Rural 90% 5% Northern 9.7% 90% Urban 10% 95% A Great Debate: What Should Be the Place of Blacks in White America? Booker T. Washington "Born a slave on April 5, 1856, in Franklin County, Virginia, Washington, whose father is believed to have been white, was taken by his mother, with her two other children, to Malden, near Charleston, West Virginia, after the emancipation. Having always been eager to acquire an education, he went to the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute in Virginia in 1872, and there studied for three years, working as a janitor to pay his expenses....The founding of Tuskegee Institute, a Negro normal and agricultural school in Tuskegee, Alabama, in 1881, and the choice of Washington as its first principal, began his major career....A staunch believer in industrial training for Negroes rather than liberal-arts education, he was shunned by many black intellectuals, notably W. E. B. Du Bois, who saw in his philosophy the guarantee of continued Negro servility...." Source: Webster's American Bio., G&C Merriam Co., 1975. Booker T. Washington (1856-1915) and family "The wisest among my race understand that agitation for social equality is an extremist folly. It is important and right that all privileges of the law be ours but it is vastly more important that we be prepared for the exercise of those privileges."-Booker T. Washington, speech at the Atlanta Exposition, 1895 W. E. B. Du Bois "Born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, on February 23, 1868, W. E. B. Du Bois was of African, French, and Dutch ancestry. He was educated at Fisk and Harvard universities and soon after obtaining his Ph.D. at Harvard in 1895 joined the faculty of Atlanta University, where he taught economics and history from 1897 to 1910 and edited the Atlanta University Studies, 1897-1911. With his Souls of Black Folk in 1903 he announced the intellectual revolt against the accomodationist principles of Booker T. Washington that crystallized two years later in the founding, under Du Bois's leadership, of the Niagara Movement. When this group was merged with the newly founded National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909, Du Bois became editor of the association's journal, Crisis, holding the post until 1932....A thorough scholar and an eloquent public speaker, Du Bois became and remained an influential and profoundly inspiring figure among blacks in the United States and abroad....During the 1940s Du Bois began a move from non-ideological radicalism toward a Marxist and pro-Soviet viewpoint; this change culminated in his joining the Communist party in 1961...." Source: Webster's American Biographies, G&C Merriam Co., 1975. "By every civilized and peaceful method we must strive for the rights which the world accords to men."--W. E. B. Du Bois Marcus Garvey "Born on August 17, 1887, in St. Ann's Bay, Jamaica, Garvey was largely self-educated and began working as a printer's apprentice at fourteen. He moved to Kingston three years later and became foreman of a large printing company. Blacklisted after leading the employees in a strike for higher wages, he worked briefly for the government printing office, founded two nationalistic publications and a political club, and then sought more lucrative employment in South America. He returned to Jamaica in 1914 and founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association (U. N. I. A.) and the African Communities League. In 1916 he moved to New York City, establishing the headquarters of U. N. I. A. there and founding branches during 1919-1920 in nearly every urban area of the country where there was a substantial black population. He also founded the Negro World, the weekly U. N. I. A. newspaper, which continued from 1919 to 1933....[He urged] that black men accept a black Deity, exalting African beauty, expounding on the lives and notable achievements of Negroes throughout history, and projecting plans for Negroes to resettle in Liberia in a "back to Africa" movement. He began several enterprises, including the Black Star Steamship Line and the Negro Factories Corporation, financed by the sale of stock to U. N. I. A. members. Much of his traveling became promotional; he declared that black-owned, black-operated ventures would rebuild the confidence of Negroes in their own people and prepare them for economic independence. Throughout this time he was harassed by both white and black members of middle-class society....In 1925 he was convicted of fraud in connection with his handling of the funds of the Black Star Line, which had gone bankrupt. He was sentenced to five years' imprisonment, but his sentence was commuted by President Calvin Coolidge and in 1927 he was released and immediately deported to Jamaica...." Source: Webster's American Biographies, G&C Merriam Co., 1975. "Up you mighty race! You can accomplish what you will! The negro of yesterday has disappeared from the scene, and his place is taken by a new negro who stands erect, conscious of his manhood rights, fully determined to preserve them at all costs."--Marcus Garvey White Attitudes and "Scientific Racism" All but the most staunchly racist whites were willing to accept Booker T. Washington's plans to uplift African-Americans. Washington, after all, was essentially arguing that blacks should work jobs that most white Americans did not really want. Du Bois's assertiveness and Garvey's veiled threats of racial violence, however, frightened many Northern whites. Many whites, in fact, turned to late-nineteenth-century "science" to justify segregation and racism. Evolutionary "Science" Ethnology and anthropology, along with many other "-ologies," first gained popularity in the United States during the late nineteenth century. Many ethnologists and anthropologists accepted the idea that all humans had evolved from a common ancestor, but had branched off into different races: Caucasian, Mongolian, Negroid, and Indian. Some ethnologists and anthropologists maintained that the Negroid race had emerged after the other three. These scientists argued that the Negro race had not had time to develop and was therefore inferior to the other races. Other ethnologists and anthropologists contended that Negroes were the first offshoot of the human tree. As such, they were the most primitive and backward race. These scientists pointed to evolutionary "proof" that showed the first life forms on the planet were the simplest and least developed. T. T. Waterman, a prominent ethnologist of the day, stated that Negroes were by far the most primitive race on Earth; so primitive, in fact, that they faced danger of extinction due to their inability to adapt to modern society. As such, Waterman urged his fellow Caucasians to "save out a few good Negro types." Hereditary "Science" The work of Charles Darwin sparked an interest in the means by which an organism's traits are passed to the next generation. Eugenics and genetics both emerged when scientists attempted to explain such phenomena. Early eugenicists and geneticists used scientific "proof" to strike fear in the white population when they predicted that that racial interbreeding would destroy the purity of the Caucasian race and undermine civil society. Such scientists, like W. E. D. Stokes, felt that they could selectively breed the best human traits into the next generation and improve human stock. Stokes was an experienced horse breeder who argued, in The Right to be Well-Born, or Horse Breeding in its Relation to Eugenics, that scientists should apply the principles of fine racehorse breeding to humanity. Psychology One of the lasting legacies of early psychology was the invention of I. Q. testing. Many psychologists believed that they could discover just how smart people were and rank their intelligence level on a comparative scale. Early psychologists relied on I. Q. tests to assert that blacks were, on average, less intelligent than whites. George O. Ferguson, in The Psychology of the Negro, claimed that the average I. Q. of a white American was 100, while the average score of an African-American was just 75. He went on to argue that lighter-skinned African-Americans scored higher on intelligence tests. Life in America was changing dramatically in the years following the Civil War. Large cities emerged across the continent, railroads made transportation cheaper and more reliable, businessmen and laborers struggled to shape American capitalism, and immigration and migration forced Americans to reconsider their definition of who exactly was an "American." This turmoil, however, was not simply confined to the East or North, or even to urban centers. Rural America, in fact, increasingly became a political and economic battleground at the end of the century. As technological, political, religious, and economic changes transformed rural life, many small farmers began to fear that society was "going to hell in a hand basket." The Rise of Populism #21 Beginning in the 1870s, worsening conditions in rural America caused many people to abandon their farms. At the same time, changes in farming practices and the agricultural marketplace made farmers more dependent on commercial decisions made by big-city businessmen. In reaction to these trends, farmers began to take political action that led to the emergence of the national Populist movement in the 1890s. This lecture investigates changing agricultural conditions in the United States during the nineteenth century and explores how many rural Americans mobilized to deal with their crushing economic and political problems. Some questions to keep in mind: 1. 2. 3. How did agriculture change in the United States between 1870 and 1900? How did farmers try and protect their economic interests and way of life during this period? Were they successful? Why or why not? Who were the Populists? Why were they so appealing to farmers? Did they change American politics? If so, how? Changes in Agriculture 1. Mechanization of agriculture The mechanization of agriculture led to huge improvements in efficiency, but caused problems for the yeoman (independent) farmer. Problems Presented by Machines o o o More capital needed Machines demanded upkeep and repair Added to the financial risks that independent farmers had to take Mechanization of agriculture The "Little Giant" thresher, like other farm machinery, reduces farm labor needs, but increases capital costs Copyright 1997 State Historical Society of Wisconsin 2. Opening of new agricultural lands As land prices went up and crop prices fell, farmers began mortgaging their property in order to put more land in cultivation. Unusually high levels of rainfall also fueled a drive for land acquisition during the 1870s and the early 1880s. By cultivating more land, farmers hoped to pay off their growing debts. Many urban businessmen, however, charged farmers extraordinarily high interest rates on their mortgages. When drought struck the Midwest in 1886, the combination of unwatered crops and high interest rates was disastrous for many farmers. By the mid-1880s, Midwestern farmers had the highest per capita debt in the United States. Wisconsin threshing scene, September Copyright 1997 State Historical Society of Wisconsin 3. Growth of specialization in farm products Although American farmers experimented with new plants and methods on a regular basis throughout the nineteenth century, most preferred to grow familiar crops. As a result, while urban businessmen were diversifying their holdings, farmers continued to invest all of their capital in a single crop and increased their chances of sliding into financial ruin. 4. Changing character of markets for agricultural goods Prior to the Civil War, only a handful of American farmers sold their crops abroad. After the War, however, international markets for United States agricultural goods expanded dramatically. In the years from 1860 to 1900, agricultural products comprised 75% of the United States' total export trade. Many farmers, however, did not understand fully the financial complexities of commodity markets or foreign trade. Middlemen, especially railroad agents and owners, profited from the ignorance of the farmers. Thus, even as markets for farm products expanded, farmers often did not benefit from that expansion.. Loading a grain steamer at Milwaukee--linking Midwestern farmers with the world economy Copyright 1997 State Historical Society of Wisconsin Farmers remained largely ignorant of basic business practices after the Civil War. They had none of the power that had made other businessmen prosperous. Farmers had no control over the marketplace. Their prosperity, in fact, depended on six factors which they could not regulate: Business Cycles Credit Transportation Labor Supply Price Structure Government policies In reaction to these problems, farmers began to take political action. "Agrarian Myth" This is the concept, popularized by Thomas Jefferson, that the self-reliant yeoman farmer was the bedrock of American society. The gulf between this ideal and the reality of farming--falling income, and loss of profits to the railroads, exasperated farmers. For this reason, many tried to form organizations that would make the Agrarian myth a reality at the end of the nineteenth century. The Grange The full name of the Grange was "The National Grange of the Patrons of Husbandry." The word "grange" comes from an archaic word for "granary," but, in the context of American history, the word refers to an association of farmers founded in the United States in 1867. The Grange worked to pass pro-farmer legislation and instituted the cooperative movement to allow farmers to pool capital and purchase machinery, supplies, and insurance. "At first most of the [Granges] were in Minnesota, the home of the founder, Oliver Kelley. During the 1870s, however, the movement spread rapidly, fed by agrarian desperation over hard times, high railroad shipping rates, and tight money. By 1875, the membership had passed 850,000. During these years, the Grangers placed growing emphasis on the extent to which farmers were being victimized by railroads, merchants, and banks. The Patrons of Husbandry stood at the head of a nationwide agrarian movement[...] that created hundreds of cooperatives, founded banks, pushed through legislation regulating railroads and grain elevators, and campaigned for political candidates.[...] Because of opposition from local businesses as well as the Grangers' own inexperience, few of their economic initiatives succeeded. Nevertheless, they set important precedents with their legislation, particularly those regulating railroads (as affirmed by the Supreme Court in Munn v. Illinois, 1877). More important, the Granger movement marked the beginning of an aggressive and self-conscious effort by the nation's farmers to define their problems in economic terms and to address those problems through economic and political action." Eric Foner and John A. Garraty, eds., The Reader's Companion to American History (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1991) 464-65. Munn v. Illinois The United States Supreme Court decided Munn v. Illinois in 1877. In its ruling, the court upheld the right of state legislatures to regulate railroad rates. "Chief Justice Morrison R. Waite wrote the majority opinion. In it he stated that private property becomes subject to regulation by the government through its 'police powers' when the property is devoted to the public interest" Eric Foner and John A. Garraty, eds., The Reader's Companion to American History (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1991) 759. "Common carriers exercise a sort of public office, and have duties to perform in which the public is interested.... Their business is, therefore, 'affected with a public interest.'"— (From the majority opinion of Chief Justice Waite.) After this legal victory, the Grange backed away from political activism. In addition, improved agricultural conditions in the Midwest caused membership to drop. Three new organizations eventually succeeded the Grange in the 1880s. 1. 2. 3. Farmers and Laborers' Union of America was a regional association in the Southwest. By 1890, it had 3 million members. Northwest Farmers' Alliance began in Chicago and spread throughout the Midwest. By 1890, it had 2 million members. Colored Farmers National Alliance addressed the needs of African-American farmers in the South and in the Midwest. By 1890, it had between 1 and 1.5 million members. The last meeting of the First Farmers Alliance at their First House Copyright 1997 State Historical Society of Wisconsin These three groups held a convention in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1889, but they were unable to overcome regional differences and form a national organization. In the elections of 1890, however, southern farmers allied with local Democrats, while Midwestern farmers formed their own local parties which became known as "People's Parties." Mary Elizabeth Lease, a Kansas farmwoman, was one of the Populist orators who traveled throughout rural America trying to whip up support for pro-farm candidates in the election of 1890. Main critiques made by Populists: The American legal system placed too much emphasis on property rights Monopolies were an economic and social evil Social Darwinism & laissez-faire were bankrupt ideologies Industrial society had turned individuals into economic commodities Wealth was unevenly distributed Populism and Presidential Elections William Jennings Bryan was nominated for president by both the Democrats and the Populists in 1896. ((WHAT??)) At the 1896 Democratic national convention, Bryan delivered the "Cross of Gold" speech, which called for unlimited coinage of silver. He held that government should protect individuals and the democratic process against the growing power of monopolies. Bryan lost to the Republican candidate, William McKinley, who ran on a platform of "prosperity for all." In 1900, Bryan ran again for president and hoped to make the election a referendum on American imperialism, but lost to McKinley a second time. His final campaign for president was in 1908, when he lost to William Howard Taft. William Jennings Bryan (18601925), Populist leader Copyright 1997 State Historical Society of Wisconsin William McKinley (1843-1901) © 1997 State Historical Society of Wisconsin Transformation: Rural America underwent massive transformations in the late-nineteenth century. In response, farmers began a nationwide movement demanding a new kind of politics. More and more people began to view the federal government as a possible source of protection against the ravages of industrial society. Farmers, however, were not the only Americans who championed government power as a means to financially assist with the problems that they were subject to in society. As conditions in cities worsened in the late-nineteenth century, more and more city folks began to make similar calls for government action.