Skip to main content

tv   Lectures in History Rural America after the Civil War  CSPAN  November 4, 2022 2:12pm-3:36pm EDT

2:12 pm
collection of c-span products, apparel, books, home decor, and accessories. there's something for every c-span fans. and every purchase helps support our nonprofit operations. shop now, or anytime, at c-span shop dot org. >> weekends on c-span two are an inteectual feast. every saturday, american history tv documents america story, and on sundays, book tv brings you the latest in nonfiction books and authors. funding for c-span two comes from these television companies and more, including mediacom. >> but world changed in an instant the medium calm was ready. internet traffic soared, and we never slowed down. schools and businesses went virtual, and we powered a new reality. because media come, we are built to keep you ahead. >> media come, as well as these
2:13 pm
television companies, support c-span 2 as a public service. today is small town maine and the >> good afternoon. welcome to class. the topic today it's, small town maine and the world. the year is 1872. the little town of moncton, in central maine, has a big problem. the town has bounced back from the fire that swept to its downtown, destroying many of the buildings, in 1860. it's recovering from the trauma of the american civil war. the civil war ended just seven years early, in 1865. more than 10% of towns people served in the civil war, and at
2:14 pm
least six of them died. the problem, even as the town of monsoon celebrates its 50th anniversary of its founding, is that so many of its young people are moving away. in the census of 1870, monson was listed as having 604 residents. 604. out of curiosity, how many of you are from places with more than 604 residents? show of hands. virtually everyone. how many of you went to high school with more than 604 people? again, virtually everyone. monson was a tiny place. that meant every departure, every person who moved away from home hurt. they are absent was noted. in 1872, when townspeople gathered to celebrate turning 50, the speaker at the event
2:15 pm
tried to put a good spin on things. but he admitted, quote, this constant emigration of our citizens, and especially of the young, seems discouraging. it's worth noting that this problem was not new. in new england, young people have been moving away from home for centuries. in subtle parts of new england, often, if you were not a child who inherited the family farm, you had to move away, to find land. the frontier of maine was becoming one of the places that people moved to. this map is from about 1820. i've marked the location of monson, maine, with a star.
2:16 pm
i love this map because in part, it shows just how little was known about the interior of maine in 1920. monson would be founded there two years after this map was created. there's plenty of information about coastal maine, but virtually nothing about the interior of the state. this was truly the nation's northern frontier in 1820. monson founders were part of a tidal wave of movement. in the first half of the 18 hundreds. during the first half of the 18 hundreds, almost half of all americans crossed state boundaries to change residents. almost half of all americans crossed state boundaries to change residents. this was one of, if not the, most mobile period in american history.
2:17 pm
in previous classes, we've talked about the majority of settlers who headed west. but a smaller group moved on to the northern frontier. monson was founded in 1822 by settlers from massachusetts and southern maine who came pushing north into the ancestral homelands of the one unlucky people. and this map shows you the division of that land, -- land, into townships. so, i'll point out a couple of things. you can see monsoon circled on the left. it's been divided into two educational institutions, he burnt academy, and montana cannery. he burned academy was located in hebrew, in maine, southern maine, and montana academy in montana, massachusetts. and perhaps you'll note some of
2:18 pm
the other educational institutions who have been given, granted by the legislature, townships. bowdoin college. williams college. the massachusetts medical society. this was a common practice. the legislature would grant townships, with grant lands, on the frontier. the educational institutions or philanthropic societies. they could then sell off that land to individual settlers and use the proceeds to pay their expenses. also note how close mountain is to the center of the state of maine. and you could see at the very top of the map, the efforts of the state of maine to fix the warnock-y people in place. on land reserved for indians. now, let's fast forward 50 years, to 1872, where we
2:19 pm
started. monson existed because people have been willing to pick up roots and relocate. now, in 1872, but town was concerned because so many of its residents or leaving home. and monsoon was not alone. many rural places throughout the united states we are confronting the same problem. some rural people were moving west into the far west or midwest, in search of better farmlands. so, rural people moving to new rural areas. but others were leaving rural life entirely. this was a trend that gained steam in the 18 40s and never stopped. your looking here at census data from the u.s. census bureau.
2:20 pm
this data shows us some important things about american life in the 19th and early 20th century. i want to get your thoughts about what stands out in this census information. what's noteworthy? who has some comments about what this shows us about american life? you have, let's? please? >> there is a very direct linear trend, as more people move from rural to urban, every ten years, it seems to be twofold? >> excellent. thank you. yes, is he. >> so, the trend i noticed is it starts to show the industrial revolution in the united states, so it kind of
2:21 pm
shows the increase of the middle class because when you become a middle class citizen, they typically move towards more urban areas? so, you can see that as rural decreases, urban increases. that kind of shows the rise of jobs increasing in those urban areas, and lack of need to work on farms? >> excellent, thank you. let me just highlight a couple of things, for those few comments. one, until 1920, most americans were rural people. they lived in the countryside. so, if you want to understand the 19th century american experience, you have to understand the rural experience. but, as was just pointed out, a big part of that experience is the steady movement of people into the city. now, actually, in hard numbers,
2:22 pm
rural population was increasing. but you can see that rural people, as a percentage of overall american population, is declining. it's declining decade by decade by decade. we also know that many rural people, especially ambitious young people, were moving to the cities. historians of the midwest have described a pipeline from the farms to the cities by the end of the 18 hundreds. i should note that rural was defined by the u.s. census bureau during this time as any place with fewer than 2500 residents. so, these were truly small places. places like monson, maine. this could be terribly hard for the people who remained behind. just think about it. it's hard enough living in a college town like harrison
2:23 pm
berke, where every year, people that you care about graduates and leave and don't come back. how rude! how thoughtless. but at least here, thousands of new people show up every year to replace them. not that they can, but here they come, every year. imagine what it would be like if the seniors graduated and went away every year, and no freshman ever came to take your place? one historian has argued that population loss, especially the loss of young people to cities or to the west, raised fears among some rural eastern or is that not just their town, but their way of life, was fading. it was clear that cities were increasingly culturally powerful in shaping tastes and fashions and values.
2:24 pm
additionally, over the previous few decades, the differences between the city and the country, and the differences between city people and country people, had been increasing. so, let me just give you one way in which this takes place. urban historians have shown that during the years before the civil war, there were many animals and significant agriculture in major american cities. for example, in 1820, there were an estimated, by one estimate, 20,000 hogs living in the settled portions of manhattan. 20,000 hogs! roaming the streets of manhattan. that's one hog for every five people. this was the case, hogs roaming
2:25 pm
through the streets of the city, moving freely, until the middle decades of 19th century, middle class gentrifiers began to restrict urban agriculture in the name of public health. last week, we studied the rising wealth and the growing inequalities of the gilded age, the last few decades of the 18 hundreds. as the united states industrialized on a grand scale after the civil war, cities amassed more power and more economic clout. they became economic hubs. for example, rural people could now buy urban goods through the mail. last week, on sunday afternoon, i ordered two books on amazon,
2:26 pm
and they showed up at my doorstep but next they. it was almost as if jeff bezos was standing outside my house, just ready to give me whatever i asked. that's impressive, but it's worth noting that sears got their first. h the chicago, you can order by mail an incredible variety of merchandise from the city that made its way into the country. some urban people, struck by the economic clout of chicago and new york, compare that relationship with rural areas to the relationship between an imperial capital and it's calling these. city people, many of them, by the way, born and raised in the countryside, began to popularize negative stereotypes of country people. some stereotypes that we still recognize today.
2:27 pm
here's a cartoon that was published in a new york city magazine in 1890. it imagines what would be the case if rural people elected he country person as president of the united states. we talk last week about the growing political activity of people in the countryside, the farmers alliance, the populist party, what negative stereotypes of country people do you see in this image? what do you notice? tiffany? >> i mean, they don't look really refined. on the top, you can see a guy would -- his feet are up on the table. we don't exactly picture that is professional now, so i can't
2:28 pm
imagine they would have thought it was professional back then. >> these people are not fit to wield political power, yet, here they are. the caption reads, the great political future of the farmer. a glance ahead to the time when the casey runs the government. has anyone ever heard the slur hayseed used for a rural person? this was an insult for a country person, was coined, as far as we know, in 1851 in the novel, moby dick. who is the author of the novel, moby dick? does anyone know? >> herman melville. thank you. and where is he from? [laughs] >> i don't know. >> thank you. new york city. herman melville, new york city, hayseed. a provincial, a rustic.
2:29 pm
urban people had so many putdowns they could use to mock rural people. so, we know a couple others have been used for centuries. bump can. pick. urban americans began to use hick, a noun, as an adjective as well. asked and, that guy is from a hick town. and they invented a new insult for country people. rudy, during the 18 hundreds. but it went both ways. last week, when we talked about the populist movement, i show you this cartoon. country people fought back with their own stereotypes about city people. you can see it's happening in this cartoon, where the populist movement warned that urban fat cats were exploiting hardworking country people. country people also came up
2:30 pm
with insulting nicknames for city people, and we still use some of them today. if i were to ask you, what's more name of someone from the city who goes out into the countryside and sticks out like a sore thumb? doesn't have the knowledge or the skills to survive in the country? what would you call that kind of person? >> cities like? or >> a city slicker. that is exactly right. that's, about insult for urban focus, i use, as we know, in indiana in the early 1900s. many americans of this time faults of urban rural as a dichotomy. fundamentally different and even competing things. and we still do, often. that we?
2:31 pm
here's a cartoon from just a few years ago. that is quite similar to the populist cartoon. i just showed you. urban california is depicted as elitist, demanding, grab the, give unto us your water, you are bountiful harvests, exploiting the hard work of farmers. and other rural people. our political conflicts in the united states and they often seem to map onto the urban rural divide. this is familiar, right? red state, republican, associated with its own
2:32 pm
distinctive rural way of life in some culture. opposing blue state, democratic american, with its own distinctive urban culture. we know from recent survey data that many americans, whether in the country or the city, feel misunderstood. or disliked by people from other kinds of places. so, here's survey data from the pew research center. it says that 63% of urban americans feel that their communities are looked down on and misunderstood by people in other types of communities. the same is true for 56% of rural people. and suburbanites don't feel as looked down upon or misunderstood.
2:33 pm
70% of rural people say that most people who don't live in the same type of community as them don't understand the problems that they face. in light of all this, you might think that rural people always responded negatively and defensively to the growing power of cities. differences were multiplying. there was resentment and distrust, but in the rest of today's class, i want to show you a another aspect of the relationship between city and countryside in the late 19th century. historians have shown that it is misleading to only focus on the tensions and the conflict. there was also a symbiotic relationship between city and
2:34 pm
countryside. we see that, for example, in this book by the historian william cronin, which explains how chicago and many western rural places remade themselves by working together to produce globally desirable commodities like grain, lumber, and meet. so, as cities group, sparking concerns about rural the population, and the decline of the rural way of life, many rural people realized that cities might help them solve their problems. looking at all of those senses numbers that i showed you earlier, might seem to suggest that decline in the countryside was inevitable. decade by decade, cities rise,
2:35 pm
rural places fade. >> but, as you know, in this course, we are trying throughout american history to read history forward. in hindsight, most developments seem inevitable, right? because they happened. but when we step back into the shoes of rural people, in 1870, or 1900, when we read what they wrote and tried to see the world through their eyes, we often find a surprising degree of optimism about their ability to use urban resources for their own purposes. and this actually moved beyond the rural urban division, to work across other supposed
2:36 pm
oppositions. such as local and global. rural people often drew creatively on outside resources of all kind to strengthen local rural places. they learned how to weave the fabric of locality from imported as well as indigenous materials. now, we could look in many places to see this happening. but i want to focus on how it all played out in the small town where we began today, of monson, maine. why monson? good question. a few more people lived in chicago then in monson. but until 1920, more people
2:37 pm
lived in places like monson then in places like chicago. still, there were thousands of small towns across the united states. why this particular small town? but short answer is that i care, personally, much more about this particular small town than i do about those thousands of other small towns. there's nothing very special about monson, maine from an academic point of view. which is actually helpful for studying broader developments in american rural life. this was not an unusual place. so, it can open a window into changes in other, similar, small, rural places. for me, there's a lot of special about monson, from a personal point of view, because this is the place or i spent the first 18 years of my life. this is my hometown.
2:38 pm
included in this 1889 lithograph is a bird's-eye view of munson, or, the house where i grew up. the church on main street that my father pastured. the lake, where i learned how to swim. not very well. i failed swim lessons, that's another story. the shop where my brothers and i bought candy, and a mill or i went camping with my parents, and where they now live. i know the main streets of monson from firsthand experience. >> [inaudible] >> yes. that's me in the center, on the bike that i got for my birthday know you. , are not seeing double. on the right is my identical twin brother. on his identical bike, dressed
2:39 pm
identically, and also badly in need of a haircut. this is the view from the house where my parents now live. on homer hill, where we used to cut down christmas trees and go camping in the summer. and this is the view of my parents thermometer one cold winter morning, which maybe helps to explain why so few people live in monson. it's very cold in the winter. has anyone ever heard of monson? nope? [laughs] didn't think so. once in a great awhile, i'll mention my hometown, and someone will say, i know it's! i've been there. and it's almost always because of this. monson it's on the appalachian
2:40 pm
trail. it's at the beginning or the end, depending on whether your hiking north or south of the hundred mile wilderness, which is the last hundred miles of the trail before you get to mount -- and many, many hikers come through monson, people sent them packages that they pick up the post office, or they stop up, take a much needed shower, and prepare for the final put after hiking the hundred mile wilderness. just this summer, a friend spent a summer to in bronson as he hiked the trail. i love this town. i love monson, but like all those young people who were leaving monson and other rural places in 1872, i moved away when i turned 18, and i never moved back. many of my friends also left town.
2:41 pm
like other rural places in central maine, and throughout the entire -- united states, monson has faced hard times. the furniture mill shut down. that was the backbone of the town's economy. many jobs were lost. the elementary school where i attended kindergarten through fifth grade closed. in 2000, the census bureau reported the official population of months and was 666 president. 666 residents, 666, that is not an auspicious number one! at that point, i think someone really needs to take one for the team and just move away from town, or, persuade a friend to come move in with them so you have 665 or 667,
2:42 pm
but not 666. for a long time, as i studied history in graduate school, and then began teaching and writing history here at jay and you. i enjoyed visiting monson in the summer, but i didn't think much about the history of the place that i was from. and then, a few years ago, i began to realize that many of the things i studied as a historian, for example, the relationship between the united states and the wider world, and that way that's places and identities are formed through global interactions, many of those things i studied as a historian played out here in this place that i was from. so, i began to dream of writing
2:43 pm
a history of my hometown, that would explore how rural places like monson often forged locality, not by isolating themselves from the wider world, but by creatively engaging it. long story short, that's the book that i'm currently writing. fortunately for me, the town has always had people who cared about its history and worked hard to preserve it. here's the monson historical society, which has allowed me to work with this wonderful collections. i was there giving research a couple of years ago in the summer and they literally gave me the key to the historical society so i could come and go as i wish. local historians like glenn poole and -- bennett, have worked for years to preserve the town's history,
2:44 pm
and they've been incredibly generous to me in sharing documents and photographs, including many of the photographs that i'll show you in just a bit. in offering research advice and guidance, and support. i want to draw on that research nafta examined for ways that the people of this rural place responded to the problem that i talked about in the very beginning of class. their town was declining. and they rejuvenated it in the late 1800s by tapping urban and even global resources. so, over the next few minutes, we are going to look together at monson's creation of an industrial landscape, a tourist landscape. the creation of a new local newspaper called weekly -- and at rural immigration.
2:45 pm
first of all, an industrial landscape, we talked about industrialization last week when we explore the gilded age. between 1870 and 1900, as the united states industrialized on a grand scale, the value of manufactured products quadrupled. the united states passed a significant milestone in late 1890, because in 1890, for the first time in american history, the value of manufactured goods passed the value of agricultural products. we spent sometime last week in discussion section exploring some of the industrial activity that took place in cities like chicago. think of your agus and other immigrants working at the meatpacking factories of
2:46 pm
chicago. rural places sometimes industrialized as well. for example, small towns in the midwest opened canning factories, usually staffed by local farm men that can local produce. to come to terms with sweetcorn, that, we're still appease, trying to do tomatoes. that's that a form of, or rural industrialization. trying to correct for what are continuing injustices that african these americans. >> images from president bollinger, monson reveal some go back to the case, of the ways this is when you are the that president of the university of michigan. 's was the altering as the nation industrialized. plaintiff in that case here is some economic activity. can you see it? can you tell what it is? upper left, if you look at the upper part on that left image, you can see the existence of logging. this was always an important
2:47 pm
source of additional income for people in munson, farmers and others. they would cut trees. they would float them across the lake through the canal. i don't know if you can make it out. there is a lumber mill where they can saw them into boards. there is a railroad, i will talk in just a moment about why monson gets a railroad in the 18 80s. and then there is some big big activity going on in that bottom image. this is really the heart of the creation of monson the's industrial landscape. it has to do with the discovery that monsoon had something that the rest of the nation, even other parts of the world, desired. and here it is. here's the thing that we monson had that other places wanted.
2:48 pm
can you tell what that is? what material was used to create this cut out of the state of maine? any idea? >> something hard. >> something hard. excellent. very good! how about you? can you tell what that is? it's a kind of stone. perfect. slate. you can pass that around. that is monson slate that was cut into the shape of maine. monson found that it had something very valuable. it was willing to work hard to dig it out of the ground and ship it out on this new railroad to the rest of the world. running through monson our two veins of very high quality black slate, blue black slate. the vein pictured on the bottom image runs straight through town from lake hebron two
2:49 pm
monson pond, literally crossing under main street. townspeople in monson have often talked about slate being discovered in 1870. the towns weak media page talks about the discovery of slate in 1870. i was surprised to learn in my research that townspeople actually knew, long before 1870, about the existence of slate in their area. for example, in 1820, two years before the town was officially incorporated, a few settlers built a slate chimney with slate they found lying around on the ground. they said it worked about as well as a roof chimney. from early on, some townspeople buried their dead beneath slate markers in the town's first churchyard cemetery. you can see a couple of those
2:50 pm
markers close to the foreground of this photograph. in 18 60s, surveyors from the state of maine passed through monson. they reported in their official report that there was high quality sleet that could be profitably -- so what happened in 1870 was not the result of that discovery of sleet. the creation of monson's rural industrial landscape was not the result of the discovery of slate. many people knew it was there. it didn't have much value to them until national and global developments made it possible to quarry slate profitably in rural, central maine. if you are buying slate in the late 19th century, what were you going to do with it? any guesses?
2:51 pm
what do you use slate for in the late 1800s? you guys aren't in the slate market? no one is trying to isolate? mia? yeah, if you would. >> possibly blackboards in schools. >> yes. that's one of the main uses. later in the 18 hundreds, early 1900s, black boards in schools. but the main use was roofing. if you are buying slate in the late 1800s, you probably intended to use it to shingle a building. your home or a church or a courthouse or some other public building. why? because slate shingles were fire resistant and they lasted longer than wood shingles. but they were also expensive. and therefore they were quite
2:52 pm
rare in the united states. before the civil war, most people who could afford to buy slate shingles bought it from quarries in wales or in england. it was often shipped as -- balanced in the -- from england to wales. three changes during the middle decades of the 19th century created demand for monsoon slate. here, very quickly, are three changes in the middle decades of the 18 hundreds that created demand and led monson people to begin digging up slight and shipping it out of town. first of all, development of the railroad network in the united states. this made it off possible to profitably ship heavy stone over long distances. development of the railroad network, as part of this, conversion to steel rails,
2:53 pm
thank you andrew carnegie, conversion to steel rails allowed people to use larger locomotives that could haul heavier loads. that's the first factor in the development of the rail network. second factor was new building styles. the new styles that caught on across the united states featured steeper roofs. and they worked better with slight shingles. they were also more visible from the street. and so, because they were visible from the street, design experts began to praise slate as a roofing material. they liked how it looked. some builders, like the builder of this vermont house constructed in 1885, began to arrange slate shingles into multi colored ornate patterns.
2:54 pm
the third factor was wells immigration. wells immigrants from slate quarrying regions of whales began to move in large numbers to the united states. dozens of them moved too monson. and wells immigrants dramatically improved american quarries. the growth of monson's quarries was part of a much larger development. a larger development in which americans fought their way into an established market, and established industry, and grabbed control from english and wells quarries of the american slave market. monson had a crazy first decade with slate. the quarries opened in 1870. there was something that sounds to me, reading the documents, like a slate rush for the first
2:55 pm
decade. local people were buying and selling land. fortunes were won and lost. and then in 1880, after it was clear that there was a lot of slate here and a very high quality, and there was demand for, outside investors from massachusetts came to town. and they bought at the quarries. they began to operate the quarries. these investors opened new markets for slate in the west from monson. they connected the town to the nearest railroad line with a narrow gauge railroad. i showed it to you earlier. it opened in 1883. the quarries brought hundreds of new jobs to this small town in central maine. and those jobs attracted many new people. here are some of the workers in
2:56 pm
monson's slate quarries. the work they were doing was quite dangerous. the quarries descended hundreds of feet into the ground. this is the same photograph i zoomed in on the right so that you can glimpse the men at the bottom of this vast pit. you can hardly see them in the photograph on the left. here are images of men ascending and descending into the bottom of the slate quarries. note how they get up and down into these little rickety looking wooden boxes. this is dangerous work. the local newspaper is filled with accounts of people injured in blasts of massive chunks of
2:57 pm
sleet falling onto men. injuring them or crushing them. the blasting method used in monson's slate quarries produced a massive amount of waste. must -- still visible to this day in mountains have jagged slate that rise around the rims of old abandon slate quarries. with permission from the state of maine, inquiries also dumped some of their waste into lake he brynn, helping to form this peninsula where i played where i was a kid, we used to call it slate point. i have skipped slate on lake hebron with my grandfather out at the end of a slight point. more recently, i have skipped slate on lake hebron with my own children. this photograph shows you how large the quarries got.
2:58 pm
this is the old cory. i know this place as well because, on saturdays, when i was growing up, we would get into the car, drive down to the edge of this quarry, which by that time was long abandoned, take our trash out of the trunk of the car, and throw it over the edge. i was growing up, this was the town dump, believe it or not. it continued to be until i left for college and someone realized, probably not a good idea. i began to haul monsoons trash away. as the pits deepened, monson light began to appear on the roofs of harvard law school, new england prisons and cathedrals, a new york courthouse and countless other buildings across the country. slate quarries were soon
2:59 pm
monson's largest employer. the town was reinventing itself by drawing on outside capital to profit from an industry that had recently been dominated by british quarries. that's the creation of a rural industrial landscape. but even as the quarries blasted and burrowed deeper and deeper, shipping of slate to the city's, urban people themselves began to arrive in munson. usually during the summer months. those people were looking for a very different kind of rule landscape, one that, in many ways, was at odds with the industrial landscape. for most americans, taking a vacation was still a relatively
3:00 pm
new experience. the middle class, we've talked about them, had begun to in place the practice of taking a vacation just during the 1850s. soon, businesses were giving there, -- one week of paid vacation during the summer. city people often saw rule vacations as a chance to get away from the heat and the congestion, the noise, the stress of the city, and to reconnect with nature. so, every summer, crowds of urban middle class vacationers left on the railroads for rural destinations. places like white sulphur springs, in the south of west virginia. or lake tahoe, in the west. or the hudson valley, in new
3:01 pm
york. as the nations railroad network quadrupled in size, between 1865 and 1890, vacationers could travel further and further afield. you had a week. but if you could travel by railroad, you could make it to a more distant location and enjoy your time away. this was part of the process by which coastal maine became a tourist mecca. and gradually, people began to find their way even into the center of the state of maine, to a place called mousses like. moose head lake is one of the largest lakes within the balance of one state in the country and it is located just 15 to 20 minutes north of monson. it was actually on the map that i showed you, the one without
3:02 pm
any detail in the center of maine, all they said was something like a large lake has been discovered here. well, that was moosehead lake. it became a major tourist destination when big city tourists from prices like boston making their way during the summertime. railroad companies realized that more urban vacationers meant more paying passengers. railroad companies became some of the big vacation promoters. they released eye catching travel guides and brochures. there was lots of money to be made. one person called big city vacationers the crop from the city. every year, the crop from the city. with the right approach, even quiet and out of the way places, like monson, might be able to get in on the rural tourism boom. there were requirements, though.
3:03 pm
one was, easy transportation. people had to be able to get there easily and quickly. massachusetts investors helped with that by connecting the town to the railroad network. monson people got into the act as well. they voted, in a town meeting, to use town funds to improve the roads for bicyclists, like these people. and for carriage rioters hoping to move through the countryside and enjoy the scenery. outside investors also constructed a place to stay. this was another requirement. in 1882, investors built monson's beautiful new lake hotel. there needs to be easy travel, you need good lodging, and good roads. but the most important requirement was what we might call place making.
3:04 pm
place making. defining and marketing your rural place as the kind of place where urban vacationers might enjoy visiting. for that crucial task, monson people turned to a railroad publicist. his name was george haynes. he had already mastered the form. george haynes was a publicist for the railroad and over just five years or so, he cranked out nearly 20 promotional guides touting small places as good vacation destinations. here is the brochure that he created for monson. this was published in 1889. it was designed to lore city people onto railroad cars and into the middle of maine to spend their week of vacation in
3:05 pm
monson. now, how do you do that? let's think about it. if you are a railroad publicist in 1889, what do you say about monson her? or any other isolated rural place to make it seem appealing to city people? i would like to get your thoughts. what do you think? if you were a publicist in the late 18 80s, what do you emphasize about a quiet, rural place? tiffany? >> i would emphasize something really unique to the place they are visiting. like this late. also, just emphasize that it's beautiful, and you connect back to nature. the fact you can get to it easier, which is what they did with that train. >> excellent. good. they are saying, you can get
3:06 pm
here quickly. you've got a week you. don't need to take all of it out on traveling. there is something to see once you get here, the slate quarries. and it is beautiful. what else? what kind of adjectives would you want to use? >> i was going to say you could emphasize the lake. because water is pretty cool. being in the city there's a lake around. i also thought what was interesting out there at the top, it says the -- is that because of the temperature? >> i think it's because of the beauty of the landscape. excellent. thank you. so the lake, the water, what would you do? you could swim. you could fish. it's beautiful. it's the switzerland of maine. this is a place where you can breathe mountain air. you can be rejuvenated. you are escaping the city, industrialized, polluted environment of the cities.
3:07 pm
it's health giving. all right, we are going to play a little bit of small town bingo. these are very good adjectives you can help me come up with. i want you to listen and see how many of the qualities that were just mentioned by karen and tiffany are used in george haynes's actual pamphlet, advertising monson. i'm going to read a couple slides. monson, the beautiful, is a charming locality nestled between high hills. it has, within its borders, 25 like let's with picturesque surroundings. the scenery, as viewed from this lake, it is very beautiful. as a place for summary creation, for writing, walking, boating, bathing, or swimming, fishing and hunting sports, monson how storms which, those who know best most left.
3:08 pm
it is fast becoming a famous fame or -- who desires arrest from business and society cares and the oppressive heat of the city. here the invalid are overworked on business or letters can walk their god given pure mineral waters and breathe the mountain air mingled with the -- have braces them up like no other tonic can. and have the opportunity of enjoying a quiet country life, where farm and forests or mountains and lakes. here, the language of rest. relaxation. step out of the rat race. slow down. it's like a step out of the modern world. what about the people who live there? what about the town itself? haynes wrote, flower gardens are numerous. ornamental grounds are often
3:09 pm
seen. fine cottage gnomes and villas just such as one would expect love and happiness to dwell in it are found upon every street. it sounds like a kincade painting, doesn't it? it sounds almost too good to be true. this is a small town depicted as the opposite of the ills of the city. again, it's like stepping out of modern life, with all its problems, and being able to recharge your batteries for a week in the countryside. as monson created and marketed its tourist landscape, it joined the widespread romanticization a rule life. the very qualities, quietness, relative isolation, that had
3:10 pm
led many of its young people to leave for the cities good now be emphasized in order to draw city people to the country, even if for only a week. local people were absolutely involved in this kind of place making. the stewards of family of monson artists sold images of the tourist landscape that they painted on canvas, on canoe paddles and on slate, in the bottom left. this is the monson of the lake hebron hotel, pictured in the upper left, of moose and fish, a quiet, peaceful lake without that noise and din and pollution of the city. and there was absolutely some truth in the monson created by
3:11 pm
george haynes and painted by seth stewart. but the qualities you see here we're clearly not the whole truth about monson, or other rural places. picturing the country as the opposite of the city, as a place to get away from the problems and difficulties of modern life, ignored the fact that brutal places were complex and changing. and they were part of modern life. we can see that simply by noting the existence of the industrial landscape. this image, from 1889, features both the tourist landscape -- you can see the lake hebron hotel circled near the left and the voters out on the lake -- but it exists alongside the
3:12 pm
monson f chugging railroad cars and the slate quarries and a lumber mill. and there is some tension between the rural tourist landscape and the rural industrial landscape. because people from chicago or boston or new york, they all sent summer vacationers to monson. when they come to the lake hebron hotel, they probably are not very keen on the sound of explosions from the slate quarries, the industrial landscape. there is tension between these two. even though they coexist. all right. let's move on to the third point. yes, mia? >> i was going to say, this reminds me a lot of noble savages from a few weeks ago. the noble savages as being --
3:13 pm
native americans being painted as being part of nature forever, not caught up with the modern world. >> that's a very insightful comment. mia is reminding us of edward curtis and the myth of the vanishing indian. and the way many americans romanticize native americans, right? they picture native american way of life as beautiful, the opposite of all the problems of modern life, but doomed to fade away when it confronts modern life. we could add to that, mia, and point that the same thing was done with the pre-civil war south, which, after the civil war, was falsely remembered as beautiful, antiquated, and modern, and doomed to be gone with the wind when it confronted the modern world.
3:14 pm
that's a very -- you can see it with native americans. you can see it with the pre-civil war south. and you can see it with rural places in small towns, as the nation industrialize is, as it confronts the problems of modernization, people are looking for something that they can use to imagine an alternative. often, they romanticize these other groups. and often, even as they are saying that's beautiful and admirable, there is some condescension involved. thank you for that comment. now, let's talk about the third point, the weekly slate. in june 1885, a stranger walked into this building on main street. it was called the rabbit hole. it was a tiny little law office of john francis spurring.
3:15 pm
summer of 1885, the stranger was visiting from banger. bangalore was a regionally significant city. just about 50 miles from -- 50 miles southeast. that stranger represented a printing firm there that was establishing a line of locally edited small town newspapers. john francis jumped at the chance to serve as the first editor of first monson's and only newspaper. the town was so small that it could never have supported a newspaper on its own. but it was appealing to join a syndicate run by a big city printer. soon, the first issue of the weekly slate -- great name --
3:16 pm
rolled off the press in bangor, and went on sale in monson the and five neighboring towns. i found the first years run of the weekly slate at the main historical society in portland, maine. this is issue number one. it was definitely a local paper. it advertised itself that way. a local newspaper devoted to the interests of the people of northern just got a's, the county in the vicinity. it doesn't get much more local than the breaking news at the very top of the fourth column. and that the other day, one of hathaway's hands laid an enormous eric. that's a local newspaper, right? the slate promoted understandings of progress and locality that embraced outside influences.
3:17 pm
this is one of the key things i found as i studied the first years run of this local newspaper. it actually shows us local people and debating the meeting of local. what is local? well, for the slate, for john francis, local meant welcoming in outside influences. this was a local newspaper owned and printed in a city, bangor. every issue combined ads and news about monson and nearby towns with material drawn from outside sources. news from the cities or literature serialized from european sources and rioters. we get to glimpse the slights view of local and very clearly in a war of words between
3:18 pm
monson's newspaper and dover's newspaper, called the observer. dover was the county seat of the county where munson is located. for a long time, the observer based in dover was the only newspaper in the county. it did not look kindly on the larger city of bangor starting a small town newspaper within the county in monson. the observer published in dover complained that the slate, its new arrival, quote, can hardly be called a local institution in as much as it is owned by foreign capital and is wholly printed outside of the county. when i first read that, i thought how interesting. something published 50 miles away is called foreign because
3:19 pm
it's owned by people who live outside the county. here's a very close and understanding of local if it's outside of the county it does not qualify as local. it's actually foreign. the controversy that continued over the following months showed that john francis also saw himself as a champion of the local and that he had a very different conception of local. a newspaper published in bangor was not for him a foreign threat but actually a powerful resource for building and promoting his town. drawn francis clearly saw the place making power of print. like many others who measured there small towns not primarily against cities but in
3:20 pm
comparison to nearby small towns, he sought closer ties to bangor, not as undermining local independents but as a way of bolstering monson's position within its county. and over, which was the county seat and the home of the piscataquis observer, dover was the key rival. he wanted to use his city published newspaper to bypass dover and to make monson an economic and cultural hub for towns in its vicinity. so, here you have an urban printer as a resource for a small town editor who wants to strengthen his position against other small towns. you see something similar happening a few years later, when a boston artist and entrepreneur comes to monson selling birds eye view.
3:21 pm
i've been showing you vignettes from this 1889 birds eye view of monson. these were very popular. more than 2400 communities had birds eye view's made. local people look at pay to have their business numbered on the image and listed in the legend at the bottom. you could then share this lithograph. you could send it to possible customers. you could hang it in your home or in your shop. this was often done. this was advertising. and it was a way of announcing the significance of your place, of your community. bangor had one. dover had a bird's-eye view. and 60 other main places have
3:22 pm
birds eye views. if you had one, it was a way of announcing you had arrived. you were significant. who is creating them? well, marine li urban loudest who travel from the countryside offering to sell them, collaborating with local business people who helped to fund them. monson worked with an outsider, a boston artist and entrepreneur, to produce locality. it was paying to be a place in 1889. so, here, again, as with this late, was a conception of local that did not require isolation or self sufficiency. but rather the ability to channel outside flows of capital and culture. once color has called this an extroverted sense of place. i like that. how do you make a place? well, this is an extroverted
3:23 pm
sense of place. you make a place by weaving together a unique arrangement of outside flows, of capital and culture. this is opposed to an introverted sense of place, where you put up walls and emphasize what is unique to your place, trying to keep out other influences. we see something similar in the last development i want to examine today. and that fourth and final development is rural immigration. think about and immigrants. if i ask you to imagine an immigrant to the united states in the late 1800s, where is that person? if you imagine an immigrant, where is that immigrant located? let's collab places. >> new york city. >> new york city! nick? sorry. >> any factory.
3:24 pm
>> any factory, probably based in the city. most of us, i think, associate immigrants with urban areas. is that fair? so it's worth noting that in 1900, one third of foreign born american -- in 1900, one third of foreign born americans lived in places with fewer than 2500 residents. a third of foreign born americans lived in rural places. the areas with the highest percentages of foreign born residents were often rural. millions of immigrants moved to the countryside. the slate quarries drew waves of immigrants too monson. the welsh arrived, started arriving in the 1870s. swedes, like john and nellie
3:25 pm
johnson, settled in large numbers, starting in the 18 80s. fins showed up in the first decade of the 20th century. rural immigration was distinctive in certain ways. it presented distinctive challenges to newcomers. one was how to keep up ties with distant family and friends and other parts of the country. monson immigrants responded to this challenge by using urban print. i will give you a couple of examples. these grieving parents announced the death of their little girl. and this widow announced the death of her husband in a log driving accident, with a bit you areas in a chicago published swedish language newspaper. monson immigrants also wrote into this new piece of paper to complain about poor working conditions and low pay in the
3:26 pm
slate quarries. even as they cultivated these ties with family and friends and fellow swedish immigrants in other parts of the country, monson people transformed their own town. swedish language advertisements began to appear in the weekly slate. swedish immigrants constructed a new church building, a lutheran church in monson, in 1890. it was beautified with gothic ornamentation that made it looked like churches back in sweden. slates reshaped monson's social landscape as well as its physical landscape. of the 604 residents in 1870, one was born outside the united states. by 1900, there were 248 foreign born residents in monson. a drop in the bucket in the big
3:27 pm
city, right? 248, not very impressive. but this was a big deal in such a small town. this is another distinctive feature of rural immigration. and that is the validity of relatively small groups of immigrants too quickly and dramatically alter the texture of local life. by 1900, immigrants formed 22.2 percent of the monson's population. more than one fifth of a town was composed of immigrants. that was a higher proportion, and important, in maine's largest city. it was just under the proportion of foreign born population in philadelphia. if you factor in the children of immigrants, one quarter of monson's population was at most a generation removed from sweden. now, such dramatic changes
3:28 pm
might have been expected to create an ease and even backlash. that was in fact the case in some other small towns near monson. we will talk about the rebirth of the ku klux klan next week. you will see that the klan was strong in maine, including in towns like we milo and dexter, very close to monson. the key reason that monson immigrants were better treated than many immigrants in other parts of maine is that, unlike franco americans and irish americans, monson immigrants were from northern europe. they were protestant. they were building lutheran and met it methodist churches. they were eager to assimilate. the klan in maine wasn't mainly an anti catholic, anti immigrant group. this beautiful church building, lutheran church constructed in 1890, still stands in monson. the legacy of immigration
3:29 pm
continues to shape the town. i grew up around people with last names like burke and sue me and ericsson. let me wrap it up. we've seen that monson, like other american rural places during the late 19th century, was well aware of the challenges posed by the growth of cities. and that it was quite ingenious in drawing upon urban and even global resources to respond to those challenges. monson and did this by creating new industrial and tourist landscapes, by working with an urban printer to create the town's first local newspaper, and by weaving rural immigrants into the life of the town. a few weeks ago, tyranny and visited during my office hours we, i have this image hanging on the walls of my office. we were looking at it, talking about monson.
3:30 pm
he asked a very reasonable question. he asked, does everyone in we monson know everyone else? my answer to that question is, monson is a small enough place that you could no everyone else. i say that because, even in a small town, community and local identity and local loyalty do not emerge spontaneously or automatically. they have to be created and recreated continuously. the thing that has struck me, as i've examined monson's history, is that locality is often created by weaving in outside influences. not monson's continue to be wrapped up with global developments into the 20th century. the slight industry declined, and jobs disappeared. later in the 19 hundreds, the town entered a period of steep decline, again losing many of
3:31 pm
its young people, including me. this is a common story, a tragic story in americas rural areas. but this story, monson's story, ends with a twist. that's where i want to end today. just a few years ago, three years ago, the philanthropic foundation based in southern maine began working with local people to revive monson. over the years, monson has attracted some very talented even globally famous artists. some of them came as summer vacationers. some became longtime residents. the foundation based in southern maine is building on that history and spending millions of dollars to renovate buildings in monson, to create lofts and studios, to establish ties with art schools and set up residency programs and
3:32 pm
attract artists and art lovers too monson. this experiment and what is called creative placemaking has even been discussed in the boston globe and the new york times. during all those hard years as the town really struggled, i could never have imagined that this would happen to my hometown and that it would attract interest from big city newspapers. we started today with monson celebrating the 50th anniversary of its founding, in 1872. monson is now preparing to celebrate its bicentennial, its 200th anniversary. and once again, local people find themselves debating, discussing, how to weave outside influences, the outside world, into their place. that's it for today.
3:33 pm
thanks, everyone. have a good afternoon. i will see you on thursday. [applause] if you're enjoying american history tv, then sign up for our newsletter using the qr code on the screen. to receive the weekly schedule upcoming programs like lectures in history, the presidency, and more. sign up for the american history tv newsletter today and be sure to watch american history tv every saturday or anytime online at slash history. american history tv saturdays on c-span two exploring the people and events that tell the american story. at 8 pm eastern on lectures of history, a look at when polls go bad with american university professor joseph campbell, who talks about public opinion,
3:34 pm
election forecasting, and some of the most significant polling misses in american politics. at 9:30 pm eastern on the presidency, a look at president nixon's record on nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons with scholars, including the author of doomsday, arms control during the nixon presidency. exploring the american story. watch american history tv saturdays on c-span two and find a full schedule on your program guide or watch online anytime at slash history. ♪ ♪ ♪ >> middle and high school students, it's your time to shine. you are invited to participate in this year's c-span student cam documentary competition. in light of the upcoming midterm elections, picture yourself as a newly elected member of congress. we ask this year's competitors, what is your top priority and why? make a 5 to 6 minute video that shows the importance of your
3:35 pm
issue from opposing and supporting perspectives. don't be afraid to take risks with your documentary. be bold. amongst the $100,000 in cash prizes is a 5000-dollar grand prize. videos must be submitted by january 20th, .23 visit our website at student for competition rules, tips, resources, and a step-by-step guide. weekends on cpan two are an intellecal feast. every saturday, american history tv documents america story. and on sundays, book tv brings you the latest in nonfiction books and authors. funding for c-span two comes from these television companies and more, including comcast. >> you think this is a community center? no, it's way more than that. >> comcast is partnering with 1000 community centers to create wi-fi enabled lift services so students from low
3:36 pm


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on