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Muckrakes

Essay by   •  March 6, 2011  •  1,454 Words (6 Pages)  •  998 Views

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During the late 19th century, corruption spread throughout the lands of America. Investigative journalists ventured into the crooked cities and fraudulent companies where corruption was taking place. These journalists became known as muckrakers, who were named by Theodore Roosevelt because the journalists reminded him of the muckraker in the book "Pilgrim's Progress" by John Bunyan. The January 1903 issue of McClure's Magazine was credited for introducing muckraking. In the magazine, Lincoln Steffens writes an essay on political corruption that took place in Minneapolis. With the impact of industrialism and the magazine revolution, the McClure magazine and muckrakers became famous in America.

The rise of big businesses after the civil war gave way to corruption in society. Large corporations dominated key industries, and they started to form trusts and holding companies. In Minneapolis, the mayor practices this by owning or receiving money from businesses in his city. The mayor, Doctor Albert Alonzo Ames, takes this malpractice to an even more heightened corruption by having and appointing police on his payroll.

The magazine revolution made magazines more available to the American people. Before the mid 1880's, magazines of good quality were expensive. The price of paper dropped because of paper manufacturing and a bad economy. The introduction of halftone photoengraving replaced time-consuming and expensive woodcuts that provided magazines with illustration. Magazines began to circulate all over America and became very popular. Muckraker's capitalized on this by having their essays published in magazines so that America could see a detailed report on the corruption in their own country.

Lincoln Steffens wrote the article "The Shame of Minneapolis", which was published in the January issue of McClue's Magazine in 1903. The magazine also includes two other muckraking articles on the topics of labor and the oil war. This magazine was important because it exposed the corruption and malpractice that is happening in America. In the rest of this essay, I will describe the corruption and "The Shame in Minneapolis".

The people in Minneapolis didn't want strict laws to govern their town. They elected Doctor Albert Alonzo Ames, also known as Doc Ames, as their mayor. They thought Doc Ames was a good fellow, who won them over with his smiles. The town of Minneapolis became soberer and richer. Doc Ames became more generous when his town was doing well. He was a skillful surgeon, which made him liked by all the patients that he had helped in his town. He even offered his professional service as charity.

Doc Ames changed his political party several times. He was elected as a Republican mayor, then he had two intervals of being a Democratic mayor. The laws didn't specify that Republican voters should only vote for Republican candidates, and Democratic voters should only vote for Democratic candidates. Any voter can vote for any candidate they want including those who were of a different party. When Ames was elected into office it was a Presidential year and a republican president, McKinley, won. The citizens of Minneapolis voted for Ames who was the Republican candidate for Mayor.

When he was elected, he organized a cabinet and made plans so that he regulated the business that went on in his town. His plan was to hire criminals and police to work for him to profit his administration. He appointed his brother, Colonel Fred W, Ames, as the chief of police. Doc saw that Fred wasn't the perfect man for the job, so he hired Norman W. King, a former gambler, to handle difficult operations. King knew the criminals that were needed to fulfill their future business plans. King was to recruit thieves, confidence men, pickpockets, and gamblers to Minneapolis. He even released criminals out of jail to aid him in his malpractice. Doc Ames made Irwin A. Gardner the collector for women of the town. He was made into a police officer for this special purpose. These were the main people of the Doc Ames cabinet, and they were to look over the force and appoint men who could be trusted to aid them. They dismissed 107 policemen in the town, who supposed to be the best police in the department. John Fitchette, better known as "Coffee John" because of a notorious coffee shop he owned, was hired as the captain of police with his only job of selling places on the police force.

Corruption began in Minneapolis, and criminals who wanted to aid the mayor were released from jail. The under world quickly received note that criminal business was going on in Minneapolis. The incoming criminals reported to King or his staff for instructions. The thieves went to work turning in their money to the officials in charge of their duty. Gambling and prostitution became decriminalized under the watch of Gardner. Disorderly houses where prostitutes did business were licensed by the city. Prostitutes had to pay

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