Course Reflection

This course definitely broadened my perspective on the dynamics of class, race, and gender within America and crucial to developing my understanding of how to identify agendas authors have in their writings. I found our analysis of the structures of inequality within American society particularly interesting. The course opened my eyes to many aspects of our society that I had been ignorant of, something so simple as colored band-aids to the more complex such as hiring practices within our bureaucracy.

Mixing primary source analysis with the many authors that coincided with them, and attempted to break them down, was useful. My favorite text had to be Terkel’s Hard Times by far, complimented by the audio clips. Very neat to see the ways Terkel sculpted the raw interviews into his own agenda in his text. Taught me to be more cautious reading secondary sources, but I still thought Terkel pulled it off successfully.

Though I know that the course is specifically designed to focus on the dynamics “in between peoples” circa the turn of the 20th century, it would have been nice to put it into a contemporary perspective more often, or at least refer to it in a modern context occasionally. The wide variety of source types that we analyzed was definitely geared to the final inquiry module project, which I really enjoyed putting together. The freedom to pick our topic was a nice luxury. Omeka and Zotero were, at the beginning, a hassle. However the more I experimented with Omeka and got the hang of putting different pieces of the puzzle together, the more I feel like the final product was an achievement which allowed me to put my own spin on American culture. This class was probably more difficult for me because I haven’t really done any of this sort of analysis before, but I learned a lot, which is what counts I guess right?

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Unit III: Power Shift

Dating back to yeoman farmer ideal of seventeenth century England, Anglo-American men had enjoyed a sense of manliness that hinged on self-rule and a sense of individualism. As Neil Foley explains in The White Scourge, this control over their own lives became compromised at the turn of the century. Why when white men refused to work beneath what their white manhood would allow, Blacks and Mexicans increasingly gained favor? Studs Terkel illustrates the complete transformation in Hard Times, where the coming of the Great Depression forced white Americans to relinquish their traditional claims to white manhood, their inherent white superiority, a mindset not conducive to the new structure. Ultimately, this would change the power dynamic of a social system based upon racial hierarchy to a class struggle as corporatism placed power in the hands of those who could accrue profit against those who could not.

Texas Socialism in Foley’s White Scourge was one of the first signs of this transition. Tom Hickey, a Union leader originally an opponent of minority inclusivity, began to see the importance of incorporating other races in the Land League in order to achieve desired results. John Sayles’ motion picture, Matewan, echoed similar sentiments, as Union organizer Joe Kenehan advocated the importance of the United Mine Workers’ inclusivity of Black and Italian miners so as to achieve desired working conditions. Foley highlights Historian David Roediger’s belief that white laborers exhibited a double consciousness that “constantly pulled them toward urgent insistence on their whiteness and toward a questioning of whether their class grievances did not outweigh their racial privileges.” (Foley, 101) Hickey and other white laborers had to decide which was more important, as Foley showed through Hickey’s indecision and ultimate failure, class unity was required for an effective union; racist whites could not have it both ways. Further complicating the race dynamic was the shakiness of the white laborer’s claim to superior manhood in defending their innate racial superiority, previously their main justification. The corporate structure had caused whites to failure in exhibiting the characteristics associated with white manhood, including resolution in fighting for their rights, too afraid to stand up to their supervisors. Mexicans on the other hand would “live on boiled corn to fight for one’s rights.” (Foley, 110) Minority workers were shown glimpses of acceptance into what had meant to be “white” or “white hearted,” acknowledgements that a decade earlier would have been difficult or nonexistent. (Foley, 96) Racial privileges of whites fell victim to higher classes seeking the supreme motive of profit as corporatism gave rise to mechanization and “scientific management.” The increasing occurrence of poor whites losing their claims to their farms, due to industrial farming, marked the inevitable shift from the traditional yeoman ideal. (Foley, 139) The reality was, relative to industrial farming, tenant farming was inefficient. Thus, corporate capitalism had effectively broken down the color barrier by placing emphasis on class struggle.

Any state of limbo that white laborers came to an end with the Great Depression. Capital, or the lack thereof, incited newfound fear relatable to all Americans, serving as a catalyst to standardization and a full circle change. This notion of standardization marked a major step toward racial equality. In particular, innate claims of racial superiority had been replaced by natural skill and mastery of craft. Americans were judged solely on the quality of the product created or service provided. Jimmy McPartland, a white jazz musician, claimed that “it didn’t make a difference if you were colored or white. If you were a good musician, that’s all that counted.” (Terkel, 71) Previous notions of racial superiority where cast aside as every man was under the same pressures. As a result, with catastrophe felt on such a large scale, unionism proved easier to achieve. Emil Loriks, in detailing her experience with unionized farmers in Huron, South Dakota, details the class cohesion achieved by the effectiveness of labor Unions, comparing them “close in spirit to the American Revolution.” (Terkel, 227) Common struggle for the dollar united a class of Americans that could all share in the same condition, regardless of race. According to Oscar Heline, in detailing the upper class “they were mostly the ones who gained at the expense of the poor. They had the money to buy when things were cheap. There are always a few who make money out of other people’s poverty. This was a struggle between the haves and the have-nots.” (Terkel, 219) Notions of individualism that had formerly been characterized by land-owning yeoman were replaced by skill and craft that could yield a profit, for themselves or for their employers. Whereas formerly one derived his manliness from his ability to provide for himself on his own land, secluded, the capitalist corporate structure instituted a zero-sum game. As a result, the “haves” were those who took what they wanted, profiting at another’s expense. Those who had power were those who were innovative. William Benton, a successful young businessman, noted how the old order asked themselves, “Who are these new young men that have new ideals that appeal to these new young people?” (Terkel, 62) Innovation did not discriminate.

The power structure based upon racial superiority we saw prior to the 20th century had been effectively morphed by the 1930s. The almighty power of the dollar crossed cleavages, when the property which had originally signified a person’s source of power and self-worth had been stripped.


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Reflection on Terkel’s “Hard Times”

Terkel’s Hard Times reading offers insight into the structural evolution the Great Depression achieved by emphasizing the mass affects it had on Americans through the viewpoint of every faction in America, rich, poor, children, union workers, jazz musicians etc. The main thing I took away from the reading is the cleavage spanning affects that large scale catastrophes have. The first couple sections impart on the reader the changing value Americans had on the dollar, defining the type of fear that most Americans, in some form or another, had to deal with. This shock factor of what had previously been viewed as stable and immovable had now been compromised. Terkel makes the point that increasingly Americans found themselves realizing that they would have to learn how to adapt to their inescapable new condition they all were bound to. He highlights, for instance, how it is those who are most willing to take risks that have the greatest chance at success, challenging the traditional conservative approach. One particular example was the portrayal of the new, risk-taking environment that had been afforded to young mean in the business world. Previously, “when things are prosperous, big clients are not likely to listen to young men.” (61) Illustrating William Benton’s rise through marketing prowess and “playing” the system, Terkel purposely parallels this experience to the failure of the old regime’s approach, specifically that of the bank, in fiscal conservatism. It seemed to me like Terkel marks the Great Depression as the catalyst toward the necessity of comprising a self-interest driven philosophy in the big business arena, where gains are zero-sum. This dog-eat-dog free-for-all is in stark contrast to that of the middle to lower classes. Terkel evidences the uniting affect that the Depression had, as these classes being victimized by the system. The audio segment of Yip Harburg (20) conveying betrayal at the hands of the country they had contributed to: “I built the railroads. I built that tower. I fought your wars. […] What happened to all this wealth I created?” “Whole neighborhoods would cooperate” in order to subsist. In the process, some traditional conceptions of racial inequality would be questioned, highlighted by music industry where “There was more camaraderie. It didn’t make any difference if you were colored or white.” (71) Like in big business, Terkel points to the influx of youth “in character and ideas” (106) as the mechanism for change, those who were “not hidebound.”


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Inquiry Module Thoughts

I feel like my inquiry module plan is, in theory, well structured so far however not yet developed to fully explain my inquiry module question. Part of this is due to my lack of diverse primary sources that I feel fit together so as to complement one another. I fear that my case study approach, incorporating a single particular athlete from each featured sport, may leave out important aspects of the sport-class dynamic to which I am trying to make my audience aware. I was originally going to have a section devoted to my Tony Johnson case study within the “Crew” page as its own separate page, however the upper-class dynamic is very much similar to that of golf, and I fear some redundancy. I may end up lumping it into the golf page and make it more representative of all upper-class sports. Ultimately for the baseball and football pages, I think I will be focusing on explaining the sport-class dynamic first and bring in the case study to supplement the section rather than make it the focus of the page, similar to what I have done so far in my “golf” section.


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Dogmas Incompatible with Exclusion

Throughout our readings, we have examined the structures within legislature, bureaucracy, and regimes in their “manufacturing” of inequality onto American society. Structures intended to preserve racial inequality in American workforce sought to preserve the dogmatic beliefs of upward mobility. Framers such as Benjamin Franklin exemplify American ambition, stressing self-cultivation and advancement. French aristocrat Alexis de Tocqueville stressed that “without such common belief no society can prosper.” (Tocqueville, Ch. 2) It is the influx of those who do not honor these American institutions, immigrants that Americans saw as endangering this essential American dogma, the byproduct being the formation of structures imposing racial inequality onto the American workforce. The hiring and appointment of like-minded individuals to fill bureau and judicial positions within the exclusionist era were a structure those in power, the regime, used to help keep these dogmas intact. The coexistence of American exclusionism with these dogmas, however, would ultimately be was destined to fail.

Referencing Japanese journalist Kiyoshi Kawakami, Ian Lopez points to the Japanese immigrants as this dynamic in motion. He points to how only the Japanese elite would “naturalize,” or adapt to American culture and, “‘that only a small number of Japanese will be recruited from among the best classes [and] that ignorant and undesirable laborers care to remain in this country no longer than is necessary to save a modest sum of money.” (Lopez, 151) This echoes Americans’ concern that a majority of the Japanese immigrants, those who are not of the elite class, seek not to naturalize or adopt American institutions, rather are “ignorant and undesirable” as they choose to be complacent in lower wage jobs. Erica Lee refers to the 1881 Massachusetts state agency’s report of Chinese immigrants, “not coming to make a home among us, to dwell with us as citizens….Their purpose is merely to sojourn a few years as aliens,” thus, “they care nothing for our institutions.” (Lee, 35) Probably the most direct reference to this dogma as inherently American is Mae Ngai’s illustration of census superintendent Francis Walker. He viewed the United States as a “nation which possessed a natural character and teleology, to which immigration was external and unnatural,” that of “America’s providential mission and the general should never change.” Immigration structures serve as the avenue to thwarting the perceived unnatural, foreign threat to these natural, inherent American values. Dealing with an external threat, racial structures would have to be in place to regulate America internally.

Hiring practices are the most applicable structure of inequality that seeks to preserve this American dogma. In referencing United States commissioner-general of immigration Terence Powderly, Erica Lee describes the common practice of regime heads surrounding themselves with like-minded employees, including those with sentiments of hostility towards the Chinese and allegiance to American labor. (Lee, 66) Powderly’s primary goal of excluding Chinese and Japanese immigrants on the grounds of “self-preservation” of a nation, highlights Americans’ fear that their way of life was in jeopardy. Hiring those who are loyal to the regime make it more likely that decisions requiring judgment partiality would favor the regime and that the orders of the employee’s superior would more likely be carried out. Powderly emphasized that “if an official had any doubt whatsoever regarding an applicant’s right of entry, he was told to ‘relieve yourself…by rejecting the applicant, leaving him to his own recourse by appeal to the Department.’” (Lee, 66) Once doing so, finding Chinese citizens became increasingly rare, as seeing the case through appeals process proved expensive, under the assumption that those Chinese immigrants seeking citizenship are financially incapable of doing so.

Same is to be said for judicial appointments. Ian Lopez notes that, “the power exerted by a legal regime consists less in the force that it can bring to bear against violators of its rules than in its capacity to persuade people that the world described in its images and categories is the only attainable world in which a sane person would want to live.” (Lopez, 123) In other words, those in power own the ability to shape the ideology of their subjects. The presidency of Theodore Roosevelt, a strong proponent to immigration restriction, saw the appointment of seventy-five federal justices in the exclusion era, the most in our nation’s history. Among the three Supreme Court Justice appointments included Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., a supporter of the Buck vs. Bell case, upholding the forced sterilization of women labeled “potential parents of socially inadequate offspring, likewise afflicted.” Regimes appointing those that support their beliefs, or are sympathetic to their cause, further tightens their hold over public policy, propagating structural inequality.

Finally, having employees of homogeneous opinion allows for the high levels of executive control required to be flexible enough to avoid potential roadblocks. One such roadblock was the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo which, “stipulated that all inhabitants in the ceded territory who did not either announce their intention to remain Mexican citizens or leave the territory in one year would automatically become citizens of the United States.” (Ngai) Thus, Congress chose not to tackle the problem of Mexican immigration through racial policymaking, rather through administrative procedure. Stricter enforcement of the literacy test, the banning of contract labor became alternatives to legislature advancing racial inequality. This particular case lay on the grounds that Mexican immigrants had infiltrated the American workforce at a time when commercial agriculture was on the rise, consequently the dogma was at risk: perceived complacent non-whites competed with upwardly mobile whites.

Keeping the structures of inequality within the labor force were seen by many as the only viable option to preserve an American way of life. However, Ngai defines the native structure of upward mobility as “race suicide,” where American’s refusal to take lower wages created the need for immigrants. She is correct; Americans who saw the influx of immigrants as a threat to their structure failed to understand that their structure was doomed from the start: the American dogma of upward mobility and the exclusionist era ideology were incompatible. Upward mobility necessitates rising in relation to lower classes. Exclusion for the sake of cultivating superior American stock does not allow for lower classes.


Lopez, Ian F. Haney, White By Law: The Legal Construction of Race. New York: New York University Press, 1996.

Lee, Erika. At America’s Gates: Chinese Immigration during the Exclusion Era, 1882-1943. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 2003.

Ngai, Mae. The Architecture of Race in American Immigration Law: A Reexamination of the Immigration Act of 1924.

Tocqueville, Alexis De, and Arthur Goldhammer. Democracy in America. New York: Library of America, 2004.

Holmes, Oliver W.  Opinion of the Court: Buck v. Bell. 11/8/11.


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Thoughts on Law Readings

Ian Lopez’s “Legal Construction of Race,” highlights the ways in which law acts as a system of coercion and control, as well as an ideological system in itself, “keeping in mind that such neat distinctions are not real but merely intellectually convenient” to regimes, lawmakers, and white society as a whole. I found it well structured, including plenty of relevant examples to explicate each of his points. What struck me the most profoundly was his claim that law was used to make racial laws an “illusion of necessity.” The claim that law shapes and “constrains how people think about the world they inhabit, more than in its coercive potential, that law may most powerfully affect the construction of races.” (123) It alludes to a quasi tyranny of the majority fear, a real threat of regimes using law to influence the ideology of its citizenry, eliminating individual rationale and replacing it with a top-down ideological command. Essentially, if a ruler says it is important to our society, it must be so. Ultimately, however, I wish that Lopez had delved into deeper what exactly the “naturalness” was which he alluded to so frequently. He mentions the “naturalization” of race (118), which makes me wonder what exactly it is that naturally compels people to think on racial terms, or what prompted lawmakers to institute racially charged laws.

Henry Goddard’s assessment of Deborah Kallikak demonstrates to be a great case study for the illustration of Lopez’s analysis. From the beginning of the first chapter of “The Kallikak Family,” we are offered insight into the values of both the society and the institutions role within it through their assessment of Deborah’s feeble-mindedness. By citing that she has had trouble raising her kids, bearing children that she could not afford to raise, Goddard illustrates the values of American society, through their insistence that she seek help, or be removed from the society entirely. It would seem that society is more concerned with her ability to fit the mold of a responsible mother, the common belief in American society that it is the woman’s gender specific role to raise her children. Maybe more concerning is the composition of the admission form filled out at her entrance into the institution. By including physical features in the initial assessment, such as head size, bodily deformity, and even her walking performance, it is clear that either society or the American regime, as Lopez would allude to, values one’s physical disposition in categorizing a person’s feeble-mindedness, clearly disturbing. Generally, I found the report very incoherent, attempting to provide a practical, tangible explanation for a person’s feeblemindedness. However, after reading Lopez, one would attribute this simply to society’s attempt to “construct racial differences on several levels through the promulgation and enforcement of rules that determine permissible behavior.” (121) Goddard is a prime example of Lopez’s belief that society attempts to assign tangible characteristics, i.e. skin color, facial features, etc. to a “stable referent,” (121) rather than the previously accepted “defects on the basis of viciousness, environment, or ignorance.” (Goddard, 11) The trend of making this a demographic study is in play here as well, as we saw in Laughlin’s analysis last week. He makes the case that, by looking at records spanning multiple generations, regardless of location and environment, one can justify the “defectiveness” of the family. According to Goddard, the “good family” of Martin Kallikak Sr.’s contact with the feeble-minded mother caused the trait to be passed to the son. The only citable evidence he provides is that the mother had an apparent illegitimate child, or half-brother Frederick, which Goddard points to as the instant where there was a genetic transfer. I found this report very disturbing, though it paralleled Lopez’s analysis.


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“Replies to a Questionnaire on College Athletic Administration”

The document, “Replies to a Questionnaire on College Athletic Administration” tabulated in 1912 by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, or the N.C.A.A., offers insight into the state of collegiate athletics in the early twentieth century. By 1912, the NCAA was in its infancy stage, as it had recently been renamed to the NCAA from the IAAUS, or the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States, in 1910. The questionnaire is divided up into four parts, focusing on issues of student-athlete “eligibility, training, physical condition, and finances.” NCAA affiliated schools are divvied up into eight regional districts, District 1 including the most northeastern colleges in states such as Massachusetts and Connecticut, while District 8 includes states of western United States, California among others. This is a similar format to regional athletic conferences seen in today’s NCAA. Secretary of the NCAA Frank Nicolson utilizes tables to present the colleges’ feedback very straightforwardly, without bias, allowing for inferences to be made that have relevance to the path collegiate athletics and the NCAA take post-1912.

The “Eligibility” section makes apparent the lack of universal standards for all schools. In District 1, Harvard’s high eligibility standards, including its strict “probation disqualification,” where students need only be on probation to forfeit their eligibility, is contrasted to the Connecticut Agricultural College, or modern day University of Connecticut, where there are “no (academic) requirements” necessary for participation. (1) Generally, most colleges hold that students must hold a seventy percent, the current “C” average consistent with contemporary academic qualifications the NCAA adopts. Not surprisingly, District 4, including states Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, and South Carolina, that make up the modern-day South-Eastern Conference, or SEC, have the lowest academic standards, including the state schools of University of Mississippi which asserts that students must hold a “passing grade in 60% of (their) work.” (3)

The article delves into the dynamic of prestige in student-athletes representing one’s college, and the differing degrees to which each college places upon it value. In District 1, we can infer that colleges that do not permit one-year transfer students to participate on their athletic teams, including Harvard, Dartmouth, Brown, and Yale among others, have vested interest in keeping their school’s academic and social reputation intact, less so than their athletic reputation. (5) Southern, liberal-arts colleges seem to have less concern for enforcing the “one-year rule,” whereas Ivy League schools and large state-schools tend to be associated with keeping their student bodies loyal to the school, possibly to dissuade transferring.

A similar eligibility topic reinforces this notion. The questionnaire illustrates how, what now are considered Ivy-League colleges had elected to “debar” freshmen from athletic participation. (8) This can be linked to a current facet of men’s collegiate rowing, a non-NCAA affiliated sport, predominantly Ivy-League affiliated, where freshmen are forbidden to participate with upperclassmen. Since this questionnaire, NCAA affiliated sports grant all freshmen full participation, unless they elect to “redshirt” or voluntarily delay their participation and thus extend their eligibility. What now constitute the NCAA-affiliated SEC schools, i.e. Universities of Georgia, Mississippi, and South Carolina, who today generate large revenues from their television contracts and ticket sales, not surprisingly allowed freshmen to fully participate.

In regards to graduate student athletic participation, the NCAA cites three, District 1 colleges that permit graduate students to compete on their athletic teams. (11) Though the questionnaire omits the specified names of those colleges, I would hazard a guess that of the three District 1 schools that debar freshmen from full participation, including Dartmouth, Yale, and Harvard, those three would permit graduate student participation. Especially in men’s collegiate rowing today, graduate student participation is especially common, particularly from foreigners. The responses from the questionnaire also highlight the values each school places on particular sports over others. Of the “forty-two colleges out of 155 (about 27 per cent) that enforce the freshmen rule,” excluding the “11 that enforce the rule for half year only, one for 9 weeks, the one for one month, and the two in the case of conditioned freshmen,” seven of the remaining twenty-seven freshmen prohibiting schools are contemporary rowing schools, that is 7 of 155 schools. Of the six total schools cited for offering “training tables,” or structured meal plans, for rowing teams, all lie in Districts 1 through 3, five of the six in Districts 1 and 2. (12) In other words, the statistics allow us to infer that rowing is relevant only in a small number of schools in the New England region, and is supported by Ivy League institutions, all consistent with the status of rowing in contemporary collegiate athletics.

What is interesting, however, is the importance placed upon college football and collegiate athletics in 1912, especially in the modern day Ivy League and NESCAC institutions. Districts 1 and 2 offer roughly half of their total training tables to their football teams. Both offer thirty-one and thirty training tables respectively, compared to roughly ten in each other district. (12) Of those other districts, the majority of the training tables go toward their football teams, highlighting the popularity of football in 1912, a trend that resonates today. Harvard is cited to have accumulated “$10,000-$20,000” in revenue, with Williams finishing in second with a reported $10,000, which is surprising considering the status of Ivy League athletics today in comparison to Division I college football.


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Thoughts on Erika Lee’s “At America’s Gates”

My first impression from Erika Lee’s “At America’s Gates” was the sense of repetitiveness. Lee definitely made a point to emphasize the extent of the discrimination, and succeeds, but I felt she beat her point to death in the first couple chapters. Though, the Tom Cox example was surprising in showing how even white Americans were affected by the anti-Chinese hysteria, supposedly “found ineligible because of his “affiliations with the Chinese.’” (61) The assigning of race-specific characteristics to even half-Chinese interpreters as rationale for unfit service were a bit surprising as well: “’There are racial characteristics in Inspector Gardner’s temperament (he being himself half Chinese, and having been born in China) that seriously impair his efficiency as an impartial and unbiased interpreter.’” (63) The extent to which the federal government would go in identification, specifically in regards to the Bertillon examination system, was shocking as well.

I found it interesting that one of the first results of the transfer of power from the Customs Service to the federal Bureau of Immigration was the affect of capitalism on American immigration policy. Especially under the presidency of Roosevelt of all people, the policy change came because of the external pressure from China, the threat of the Chinese boycott of American goods (69) which Lee points to as the impetus to American compliance. I feel it goes to show how American ideology is particularly fragile if it can be significantly affected by the fiscal self-interest of individual Americans, surprising especially when the policy change came under a president who was known to have strong opinions on preserving an Anglo-American identity.  She showed how time and again the cost-benefit analysis would prove the catalyst to change: “processing Chinese immigrants cost fifty to sixty times more than the processing of non-Chinese,” from 1903 to 1906. (87) Lee also cited pressures on lawmakers from labor employers and contractors to change laws with the coming of labor shortages. (113)

A couple other thoughts, I found myself searching for why immigrants were so persistent in coming to America even with all this trouble, with all the perceived anti-Chinese sentiments. Lee does not adequately address this in depth which I thought was unfortunate. I also thought it was at least a little ironic that after the initial protests that Chinamen were taking American jobs, “blaming Chinese workers for low wages and the scarcity of jobs,” (26) it would be the American’s unwillingness to take those same jobs that they viewed were beneath them that would end up working against those anti-Chinese/nationalist leaders. (112)


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Inquiry Module Proposal

Similar to Gail Bederman’s approach, I intend to incorporate a range of case studies chosen from various scope-appropriate athletes to navigate the discourse of class, gender, and socio-economics in sport. How could these dynamics of the late-nineteenth century provide insights into their evolutional paths of each sport into the mid-twentieth century? Why did sports such as American football evolve from amateur games to professional spectacles? Why haven’t sports like crew?

My primary focus will be to establish a base from which the reader can draw their own conclusions. Defining class, gender roles, and culture in the late-nineteenth century will allow me to segue to evolutions of different sports towards amateurism and professional sports. Steven A. Reiss’s Sport in Industrial America; 1850-1920, should allow me to cover my bases here. He maintains that, in industrial America in the 1850s, a city fostered social organizations including, “political and governmental structures, social institutions, social classes, and ethnic and racial groups” which sport became inherently knotted. (Reiss, 5) He points to immigrant cultures of Britain, Germany, and Ireland having specific sports to which they were drawn, pointing to differences in class as a principle factor. “The rise of industrial capitalism” heavily influenced the popularity of sport and the direction it would follow, either amateur or professional.

The discourse for my argument for American capitalism shaping the mores of gender, class, and ethnicity will be highlighted by the case studies of particular athletes who I feel are representative of the sport’s trend. Assigning each case study its own section will allow the reader to explore his or her particular interest. College athletics will be my primary avenue here. The father of American football, the Yale graduate Walter Camp will be my first case study on American football in its amateur, collegiate stage. An integral part to not only the rules of the game, Camp helped discover the profitability of football. By impeding Camp’s venture, collegiate institutions, the guards of the Victorian intellectual icon, showed the incompatibility and divide between Victorian ideals and virile American football. Red Grange, the University of Illinois product turned Chicago Bear, will be my passageway to the professional era; why the large state-school, lower-middle class may be attracted to professional play.

The crew related case study is to be linked to the experiences of Tony Johnson, the current head coach of Georgetown University’s Heavyweight crew team, silver medalist in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, and ironically an American Studies major at Syracuse University. Though Tony’s era does not fall in our turn-of-the-century scope, I aim to use him specifically to guide the reader towards my conclusion: that dogmas associated with crew remained relatively unchanged. Victorian conceptions of refined manliness are intrinsic to crew, particularly in the collegiate arena. Cultural and class roots can be derived from English aristocrats, as seen in the rivalry between America’s Harvard and England’s Oxford. Well-known sportswriter David Halberstam features Tony prominently in his novel, The Amateurs.

American, amateur golfer Bobby Jones will be my final case study, which will link the virtues of golf: the professional element of American football with the amateurism of crew. Bobby Jones played competitively with professional golfers, yet refrained from reaping the economic incentives of professional play. He prided himself by playing the game “properly,” adhering strictly to the rules of play, invoking the elements of honor in completion. Golf’s association with Victorian manliness, derived from Anglo-Saxon roots should be compared to the virile masculinity inherent to American football. From what I have gathered so far in my exploration, these themes are covered by Dick Miller’s Triumphant Journey; the Saga of Bobby Jones and the Grand Slam of Golf.


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Reflection on Theodore Roosevelt

Reading Gail Bedermen’s case study of Teddy Roosevelt left me thinking of John Winthrop’s “city on a hill.” Americans would be the beacon of light for the rest of the world, the model civilization which had taken the superior traits of all races for themselves. Seemingly contradictory at times, Roosevelt would assert that Americans would be alike one race, but then again completely removed. Americans withheld the civility of the English, Anglo-Saxon race, yet insisted that “Americans were a new and separate race.” (179) He condemned the importers of slaves as “the worst foes, not only of humanity and civilization, but especially of the white race in America,” yet he goes on to praise the intertwining of other European, “immigrant additions” to American “stock.” (179)

Roosevelt believed that Americans were “naturally” superior to other races. He bases much of his theory on the Darwinian model of evolution. The success of the white race would hinge on American’s reverting to their “natural,” primal beings in order to show the superiority of their race, particularly in their dealing with the Native Americans. (182) Similarly, men and women inherited their “natural” sex roles, the father as the protector and mother as the child-bearer. As a frontiersman, Roosevelt saw that competition between races as the formula for cultivating a stronger white race. TR’s manhood was defined by the masculine abilities of the “virile” Indian, with the discretion of the Victorian Englishmen, validated through “natural” competition or Darwinian natural selection. He references the savageness of the Indians, like that of the “Negro rapist,” as lacking the prudence of the millennial project that is the white American man. Bederman claims American men are “like the Indians, but superior toward them,” (182) echoing Roosevelt’s sentiments of the European ancestors.

Though at the turn of the century, the Roosevelt’s ideal of superior white manhood strikes me as acting more as a political ploy to stimulate the Anglo-American spirit for his imperialistic aspirations than anything else. I am a little cynical of Roosevelt’s white manhood, as politically, it is seemingly in reaction to the sentiments of the imminent Harlem Renaissance. As Bedermen pointed out, “the entire nation was being swamped by an influx of ‘inferior’ races, and no one cared.” (169) She states Roosevelt’s belief of African Americans clearly, as “racial inferiors whose presence in America could damage the real (that is, white) American race.” (179) Thus, it seems like Roosevelt adapts. As Bederman explains, Roosevelt acknowledges how primitive, virile masculinity is a staple of white manhood, but it is unlike the virility of the black man, in that the white man had built upon or “evolved” from it. Also, Roosevelt himself had political incentives to alter his widely perceived delicate image early on in his career. His own life-story was reactionary, as was his time spent on the Western Frontier, so too it seems was his political philosophy which was accommodating to the rise of African American virility.

In retrospect, Roosevelts’ conception of manhood strikes me as more of a parasitic than self-sufficient entity. Leaching off of one’s ancestors and contemporaries for millennial superiority debases American hegemony in my eyes rather than reinforces it, painting it as artificial.


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