Political Manhood: Red Bloods, Mollycoddles, and the Politics of Progressive Era Reform

Political Manhood: Red Bloods, Mollycoddles, and the Politics of Progressive Era Reform

by Kevin P. Murphy
     
 

In a 1907 lecture to Harvard undergraduates, Theodore Roosevelt claimed that colleges should never "turn out mollycoddles instead of vigorous men," warning that "the weakling and the coward are out of place in a strong and free community." A paradigm of ineffectuality and weakness, the mollycoddle was "all inner life," whereas his opposite, the "red blood," was a

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Overview

In a 1907 lecture to Harvard undergraduates, Theodore Roosevelt claimed that colleges should never "turn out mollycoddles instead of vigorous men," warning that "the weakling and the coward are out of place in a strong and free community." A paradigm of ineffectuality and weakness, the mollycoddle was "all inner life," whereas his opposite, the "red blood," was a man of action. Kevin P. Murphy reveals how the popular ideals of American masculinity coalesced around these two distinct categories. Because of its similarity to the emergent "homosexual" type, the mollycoddle became a powerful rhetorical figure, often used to marginalize and stigmatize certain political actors.

Murphy's history follows the redefinition of manhood across a variety of classes, especially in the work of late nineteenth-century reformers who trumpeted the virility of the laboring classes. Challenging the characterization of the relationship between political "machines" and social and municipal reformers at the turn of the twentieth century, he revolutionizes our understanding of the gendered and sexual meanings attached to political and ideological positions of the Progressive Era.

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Editorial Reviews

Historian

In shifting the examination of Progressive reform back from the terrain of voting and office-holding to that of gender and sexuality, Political Manhood makes a major contribution to our understanding of American political history.

— Ruth Crocker

Journal of American History

An engaging historical investigation into the negative application of homophobic rhetoric against those deemed political enemies.... A must read.

— Jay Hatheway

Men & Masculinities

To understand fully the political shifts in the early twentieth century, or to flesh our gender and sexual identity in this time, this book will serve all of these purposes, and more.

H-Histsex
This clearly written and cleanly argued gem of a gendered political history examines the 'historical connections between categories of gender and sexuality and American political culture'

— Thomas A. Foster

Historian - Ruth Crocker
In shifting the examination of Progressive reform back from the terrain of voting and office-holding to that of gender and sexuality, Political Manhood makes a major contribution to our understanding of American political history.

Journal of American History - Jay Hatheway
An engaging historical investigation into the negative application of homophobic rhetoric against those deemed political enemies.... A must read.

H-Histsex - Thomas A. Foster
This clearly written and cleanly argued gem of a gendered political history examines the 'historical connections between categories of gender and sexuality and American political culture'

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231129961
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
06/25/2008
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Kevin P. Murphy is associate professor of history at the University of Minnesota.

Columbia University Press

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