“Union Made: Working People and the Rise of the Social Gospel in Turn of the Century Chicago”
Heath Carter, University of Notre Dame
This paper argues that, at the turn of the century, wage earners who had been hammering away at the religious foundations of anti-unionism for nearly a generation did so to startlingly new effect. With both the Protestant and Catholic churches suddenly embroiled in a constructed crisis of working-class attrition, religious leaders turned to respectable workingmen in search of answers. Authorized by this cultural moment, trade unionists and their scattered clerical allies exacted unprecedented concessions from the religious establishment. Building upon the success of local and national AFL leaders, they played a pivotal role in changing influential Protestant and Catholic minds on the “labor question.” In early twentieth century Chicago, then, the social gospel was quite literally ascendant – from below.
Commentator: David Burns, Independent Scholar and Christopher Cantwell, Newberry Library
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