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Race and the Making of American Liberalism$
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Carol A. Horton

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780195143485

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195143485.001.0001

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Inequality and White Supremacy

Inequality and White Supremacy

(p.95) 4 Inequality and White Supremacy
Race and the Making of American Liberalism

Carol A. Horton

Oxford University Press

The successive collapses of the Knights of Labor and Populism during the 1880s–90s officially ended producer republicanism in the United States. In particular, the presidential election of 1896 supported the development of three institutional arrangements that played a primary role in creating a more unequal society and a more constricted political universe: the dominance of the highly conservative American Federation of Labor within the labor movement, the establishment of Jim Crow segregation and the “solid South”, and the contraction of the popular bases of electoral politics. Through these primary mechanisms, the scope and aspirations of American liberalism were dramatically contracted. Although the ensuing Progressive Era would achieve some important reforms, this triumph of Darwinian liberalism reinforced the cultural and political dominance of a newly differentiated form of racial hierarchy, a broad endorsement of social and economic inequality, and a narrow and exclusionary conception of citizenship.

Keywords:   Knights of Labor, Populism, producer republicanism, United States, liberalism, American Federation of Labor, labor movement, Jim Crow segregation, electoral politics, racial hierarchy

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