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

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 ...

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

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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.

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'

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231129961
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 6/25/2008
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

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

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Introduction 1

1 Of Mugwumps and Mollycoddles: Patronage and the Political Discourse of the "Third Sex" 11

2 The Tammany Within: Good Government Reform and Political Manhood 38

3 White Army in the White City: Civic Militarism, Urban Space, and the Urban Populace 68

4 Socrates in the Slums: "Social Brotherhood" and Settlement House Reform 104

5 Daddy George and Tom Brown: Sexual Scandal, Political Manhood, and Self-Government Reform 125

6 The Problem of the Impracticables: Sentimentality, Idealism, and Homosexuality 171

Epilogue: Red Bloods and Mollycoddles in the Twentieth Century and Beyond 201

Notes 211

Bibliography 275

Index 293

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