Claiming the City: Politics, Faith, and the Power of Place in St. Paul / Edition 1

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Overview

Are Minneapolis and St. Paul "Twin Cities" in proximity only? How can two cities, spoken of so often in one breath, differ so greatly in their histories and characteristics? Claiming the City traces the contours of St. Paul's "civic identity" to show how personal identities and political structures of power are fundamentally informed by the social geography of place. St. Paul proves a particularly fruitful site for such analysis because it has developed along a divergent path from that of Minneapolis, its sister city just across the Mississippi river. While Minneapolis in the last part of the nineteenth century bore the stamp of Scandinavians, Protestants, and Republican Yankee progressives, St. Paul emerged as an Irish, Catholic, Democratic stronghold. Increasingly overshadowed by the economic might of Minneapolis, out of necessity St. Paul evolved complex alliances among business, labor, and the Catholic Church that cut across class and ethnic lines—a culture of compromise that sharply contrasted with Minneapolis' more strident labor politics.Mary Lethert Wingerd brings together the voices of citizens and workers and the power dynamics of civic leaders including James J. Hill and Archbishop John Ireland. She crafts a portrait of St. Paul remarkable for its specificity as well as its relevance to broader interpretations of place-based culture and politics. Wingerd's rich and lively history of St. Paul is a clear demonstration that place—the lived experience and memory located in a specific spatial context—is a constitutive element of all other aspects of identity.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This is an important book not only for its valuable reading of local history but also because of the intellectual foundation that sustains it. Wingerd believes in—and embodies powerfully"The importance of local history not as a limited exercise in local edification but as an essential aspect of cultural history. . . . This first book launches a wonderful writer as well as an exemplary historian."—Patricial Hampl, Minnesota History

"Claiming the City offers a complex and subtle account of how culture and power interacted with locality to generate St. Paul Minnesota's characteristic identity and distinguish it from its purported twin, Minneapolis. Historian Mary Lethert Wingerd shows how the geographical and social boundaries of place provide a context for actions, and, when understood reflexively by residents, direct action as well. In St. Paul, a tradition developed of solving problems internally, relying on a civic compact that acknowledged the contributions of a diverse population and that shared rewards in a relatively egalitarian manner"—Krista E. Paulsen, University of North Florida. American Journal of Sociology, 108:3, November 2002.

"Mary Lethert Wingerd's history of St. Paul, Minnesota, in the period 1838-1934 focuses on the interplay of sociological categories such as ethnicity, religion, and class in the formation of local culture over time. . . . Claiming the City shows how fruitful the place-based approach can be . . . .Wingerd reveals the extraordinary skill of St. Paul's nineteenth- and early twentieth-century civic leaders in maintaining a balance among various ethnic, religious, and class interests."—Bill Silag, Annals of Iowa 61:4, Fall 2002.

"An important book that bridges the fields of labor, ethnic, religious, and urban history. . . . Wingerd tell this. . .story with consummate skill. . . . Claiming the City will endure as an impressive study of the dynamics of ethnic identity as well as an elaboration of class and an evocation of peace."—Bruce Nelson, Dartmouth College. Labor History, Vol. 44, No. 1, 2003.

"Offers a compelling case for including place and religion as key categories for understanding political developments."—Choice October 2002.

"Claiming the City is both an engrossing account of the making of St. Paul, told from the perspectives of community leaders and common folk alike, and a thought-provoking meditation on change, persistence, and the power of place in American culture. Synthesizing the perspectives of labor, urban, and religious history, Mary Lethert Wingerd has given us a book of astonishing wisdom and sensitivity: a pathbreaking community study."—Joseph A. McCartin, Georgetown University

"A new Catholic history and an old urban history come together beautifully in Mary Wingerd's scintillating study of St. Paul, Minnesota. This richly textured book is a capital addition to our knowledge of locality and culture, of place and politics, of the secular intertwined with the religious. Claiming the City is required reading for students of modern America."—Richard Fox, University of Southern California

" All politics, it has been said , is local. Well, so is all history, and in this brilliantly conceived and perfectly executed book Mary Wingerd has given that important truth the attention it deserves. St. Paul, in Wingerd's words, 'delivered the goods' (both material and non), and St. Paulites negotiated their worlds on the basis of the civic identity their city gave them. There is a lesson in that that no historian of American labor or American cities can ignore."—David M. Emmons, University of Montana

"I've been looking for this book without knowing it since I got here in 1962. . . From the standpoint of really understanding people of St. Paul moving together in associations, mediating solutions between classes, I don't think there is anything like this book."—George Latimer, Mayor of St. Paul, 1976–1990

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Product Details

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
I Starting from Scratch: The Construction of Civic Identity
1 The Economy of Culture: City Building on the Frontier 13
2 Money, Status, and Power: The Making of an Irish-Catholic Town 33
3 Delivering the Goods: The Social Geography of a Declining Economy 68
II The Great War: Conflict Abroad and Casualties at Home
4 Raising the Flag: The Struggle to Reshape Civic Identity 117
5 Taking Aim: Enemies of the State 137
6 The First Volley: Policing the Social Order 152
7 The War of St. Paul and the End of the Civic Compact 175
III From Battle Zone to "Holy City": New Alliances, Old Loyalties, and the Power of Place
8 Vying for Power: The Showdown between Business and Labor 215
9 Hard Times in the "Holy City": Old Alliances and New Deals 233
Epilogue: Political Change and the Power of Place 263
Abbreviations 275
Notes 277
Index 317
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