Reconciliation & Growth
T he tragic Civil War left a nation and a city divided. On June 6, 1865, Baltimore soldiers who had served in the Union Army paraded through town, then marched to the new Druid Hill Park where they stacked their weapons and heard Governor Augustus Bradford thank them and welcome them home. A month and a half earlier, in the wake of Lincoln's assassination, the City Council had passed a resolution against allowing ex Confederates to return to the city. Despite the resolution, Confederate veterans slowly came home, too, and soon violent clashes broke out between the two groups of former soldiers. Some Baltimoreans formed societies to aid the devastated South, among them the Baltimore Agricultural Aid Society, the Southern Relief Association and the Ladies' Depository.
Ultra-Unionist John Lee Chapman was mayor and was reelected in 1866. Thomas Swann, the former mayor of Baltimore and also a Unionist, was governor. A required oath of past loyalty limited the franchise to Marylanders who had remained loyal to the Union. But change was brewing. The conservative Unionists were moving closer to a coalition with the Democrats, many of whom had been pro-Southern. This new coalition opposed the voter registry law and its required oath, Negro suffrage, and the Radical Republicans in Congress. The Democrats accused the Unionists of supporting Negro equality. The Unionists countered by calling the Democrats traitors, because so many had favored the Confederacy.
In 1866 Baltimore, along with Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, returned the Democratic Party to power in Annapolis. In April, 1867 the Unionists became Republican Unionists, and in May they held the first racially integrated political convention in Maryland. They adopted a position in favor of universal manhood suffrage, which meant enfranchising
black men. The Democrats' popularity had returned so quickly that the Republicans needed all the votes they could get. Also in May, 1867 a convention controlled by Democrats produced a new state constitution to replace that of 1864. When it was adopted in September, the test oaths disappeared and control of the state returned completely into the hands of the Democratic Party. Reconstruction had ended in Maryland. In October 1867 Democrat Robert T. Banks was elected Mayor of Baltimore. In November Democrat Oden Bowie replaced Thomas Swann as governor. Swann and Montgomery Blair, both former Unionist leaders, joined the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party acknowledged Maryland's return to the fold when it held the 1872 convention here. Horace Greeley won the nomination but lost the general election to Ulysses S. Grant.
The one irony of Maryland's Reconstruction is that, although it ended a decade before Northern troops withdrew from the last Southern states, Negroes began to vote three years after the Democrats regained power and, unlike what happened further South, they never lost that right. The Democratic Maryland legislature itself revised the registration laws after it became obvious that the 15th Amendment which enfranchised Negroes, would pass. On April 8, 1870, Elijah Quigley of Towson voted in an election for county commissioners. Blacks in Baltimore City voted in the municipal elections in October. Reconstruc tion had ended quickly, but not as finally as it did in the former Confederacy.
All the accommodations to political realities did not mean that the wartime bitterness had passed. Indeed, as long as the men who fought in the armies and their contemporaries remained politically active they were always associated with the side they had served. The
Baltimoreans lay the cornerstone for the new city
Hall in 1867. In the aftermath of the war, the city
began to look to its future
immediate hostilities did disappear though, and reminiscences of local writers who grew up in Baltimore in the 1880s and 90s show a very different city than the suspicious, war-torn, town of the 1860s.
Henry L. Mencken spent his childhood, as well as most of his adult years, in a house on Hollins Street, one of the newer squares that had been built following the success of Mt. Vernon Square. Looking back many years later, he wrote:
The city into which I was born in 1880 had a reputation all over for what the English, in their real-estate advertising, are fond of calling the amenities. So far as I have been able to discover by a labored search of contemporary travel-books, no literary tourist, however waspish he may have been about Washington, Niagara Falls, the prairies of the West, or even Boston and New York, ever gave Baltimore a bad notice. They all agreed, often with lubricious gloats and gurgles, (a) that its indigenous victualry was unsurpassed in the Republic, (b) that its native . . . females of all ages up to thirty-five we-re of incomparable pulchritude, and as amiable as they were lovely, and (c) that its home-life was spacious, charming, full of creature comforts, and highly conducive to the facile and orderly propagation of the species.
There was some truth in all these articles, but not, I regret to have to add, too much. Perhaps the one that came closest to meeting scientific tests was the first. Baltimore lay very near the immense protein factory of Ches apeake Bay, and out of the bay it ate divinely.
Mencken proceeds to wax eloquent on the subject of crabs, terrapin, and luncheons at the Rennert Hotel. Truthful to the core, he also
In the Baltimore of Mencken's childhood, wagons still banged over cobblestone streets. Here Franklin Street has been torn up and the cobblestones have been laid along the sidewalks
This circus parade was clearly a grand event, drawing a large and varied crowd
Public parks enjoyed great popularity and wide use in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The boat lake in Druid Hill Park was a Sunday afternoon favorite
described the summertime stench around Back Basin and the Inner Harbor where the sewage drained, the noisy streets where delivery wagons still banged over cobblestones, and the epidemics of typhoid, malaria and smallpox which killed many, especially children living in overcrowded slum neighborhoods.
On the lighter side, he wrote of grass growing to such heights in the cobblestone streets that carters allowed their horses to graze there. He also recorded that:
On the steep hill making eastward from the Washington Monument, in the very heart of Baltimore, some comedian once sowed wheat, and it kept on coming up for years thereafter. Every spring the Baltimore newspapers would report on the prospects of the crop, and visitors to the city were taken to see it.
Another local newspaperman, Meredith Janvier, wrote of attending Barnum's Greatest Show on Earth in the mid-1880s when circuses showed out on Belair Road, of riding for three cents the horse-drawn phaetons in Druid Hill Park, and of minstrel shows that played at the Academy of Music and at Ford's, Holliday Street and Front Street theaters. Janvier remembered seeing Blind Tom, a Negro musician, at Ford's Theater, and the composer and performer James Bland at the Holliday Street Theater. He remembered the opening in 1890 of the New Lyceum Theater where Edwin Booth, Otis Skinner and William S. Hart all performed. Helena Modjeska played Camille and Lady MacBeth there. Janvier saw Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show at the baseball park in the middle 1880s. Annie Oakley, who grew up in Cambridge, Maryland, was travelling with the show. When the show arrived, Druid Hill Park had recently acquired its first sea lion. The seal conveniently escaped just in time to be
Sheep grazed in Druid Hill Park until the mid-twentieth century
Spectators in their own carriages lined the edge of the Pimlico Race Track where the first running of the Preakness took place in 1873
Bicycles built for one and for two gained wide popularity at the end of the nineteenth century
recaptured by cowboy Buck Taylor and his lasso. Janvier, like Mencken, wrote about what he ate and drank:
On the corner of Charles and Mulberry Streets, opposite Reese's grocery, was the apothecary shop of Dr. Adam Gosman, a fine old character with a long grey beard. He invented a gingerale and manufactured it for years in a small way in the rear of his store. His men could be seen at work through a doorway in the wall. Just here on Mulberry Street was Carrington's Dairy, where milk and ice-cream were sold. Delicious claret and port ices I got here on hot summer days. Dr. Gosman also had a small "single-cylinder" soda fountain, where the knowing one could get a glass of his famous "tonic" flavor. It must have consisted for the most part of a fine old rum and the uninitiated fellow who drank it on an empty stomach walked off sideways. This "tonic," I understand, was always a great favorite with the clergy and the few drys who existed in those days.
A wide variety of sporting activities gained in popularity in the latter days of the nineteenth century. Pimlico Race Course opened in 1870 and drew large crowds from Baltimore and out of town. The first running of the Preakness took place during the spring meeting of 1873. The new sport of lacrosse was acquiring fans, and in 1879 the first interclub lacrosse game was played in Baltimore. New York's Ravenswood Lacrosse Club defeated the Baltimore Athletic Club 3 to
1. By the 1890s, the newest craze was cycling, and several thousand cyclists belonged to at least eight bicycling clubs in town.
Major league baseball came to Baltimore in
1872 when the billboard firm A. T. Houck and
Brother bought a franchise in the National
Association and built a new club, the Lord
Baltimores (known simply as the Lords), and a new stadium, Newington Park. Both the team and the league disappeared in 1875. A variety of Baltimore teams played non-league games until 1883, when the American Association Brooklyn Athletics moved here and became the Baltimore Orioles. Since that time a team called the Orioles has almost always played ball in this city. They belonged to the American Association, the Eastern League, the International League and finally the American League. In the days of segregated sports, Baltimore fielded teams in a Negro league beginning in 1887, when a new Lord Baltimores team began to play in Oriole Park. After 1920 the famous Black Sox played for a decade followed by the Elites just before World War II.
One grand event of the period signaled a new civic spirit and enthusiasm which had been lacking for many years before the Civil War. Baltimore's Sesquicentennial celebration in 1880 evoked sentiment and enthusiasm of an enormous magnitude and served as a focal point around which the city's diverse population could unite. Two thousand vehicles and thirty thousand persons marched in the parade. The city raised ten elaborately decorated arches. Virtually all public and private buildings were decorated. By the year of this sesquicentennial outburst the scars of division and warfare were healing and Baltimore began to prepare to enter the twentieth century.
Turn of the century Baltimore was a city of contrasts. While wealthy merchants donated fortunes to build civic and cultural institutions, many people lived in filthy, over-crowded, disease-ridden slums and worked twelve or fourteen hours a day. Political machines organized the city's voters and drew wide support. Reformers fought them for control of both offices and policy-making. The happy memories of Mencken and janvier show only
Apothecaries and other shopkeepers were selling nationally
merchandised products by the late nineteenth century
A group of women posed in 1893 by the pagoda in Patterson Park
George Peabody's gift establishing the Peabody Institute provided for "a library, a course of lectures, an academy of music, a gallery of art, and prizes to encourage private and public school students"
one part of the very complex new urban world that grew at the end of the nineteenth century.
One very important facet of late nineteenth century urban life was the establishment of many major cultural, educational, and civic institutions that have benefitted the city ever since. Throughout the nation, before and primarily after the Civil War, men who had accumulated fortunes in business and industry gave large portions of their wealth, not to charity, but rather to create schools, museums, libraries and hospitals which would serve all who came to them. The creations of these philanthropists still provide the cultural base in many American cities. Baltimore's philanthropists included George Peabody, William Walters and his son Henry, Enoch Pratt, and Johns Hopkins.
George Peabody, whose gift of $1,240,000 established the Peabody Institute, was born in Danvers, Massachusetts in 1795. Because his parents were poor, he was apprenticed to a storekeeper at age eleven. In his middle teens, he journeyed to Georgetown to work with a merchant uncle there. At nineteen, Peabody formed a partnership with Elisha Riggs in a wholesale dry-goods business which they moved to Baltimore in 1815. The firm occupied "Old Congress Hall" at Baltimore and Liberty Streets. By 1830, when Peabody became the senior partner, it was one of the largest mercantile establishments in the nation. Peabody, like so many nineteenth century magnates, maintained a frugal existence. He lived in rented quarters, would not hire a cab, and carried a lunch of bread and cheese in his briefcase. Although several stories of shattered romances are told, Peabody never married.
While living in Baltimore, he mastered the principles of banking, and later he formed George Peabody and Company in London. In 1836 he moved to England. By 1850 he was beginning to distribute his fortune. Peabody sponsored a pioneering slum clearance project in London and later an educational fund designed to help rebuild the shattered South and extend educational opportunities to ex-slaves and their children.
To Baltimore, Peabody gave the Institute, providing for "a library, a course of lectures, an academy of music, a gallery of art, and prizes to encourage private and public school pupils." Although the cornerstone was laid in 1859 and the original white marble wing completed in 1861, the dedication had to wait until 1866 when Peabody returned to attend the ceremonies in a city once again at peace.
William Thompson Walters was born in 1820 in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, studied civil and mining engineering in Philadelphia, and came to Baltimore in 1841. He entered the produce commission business and became a controlling director of the Baltimore and Susquehanna Railroad. In partnership with Charles Harvey he sold foreign and domestic liquors. As his business shifted southward to Virginia and the Carolinas, Walters discovered the need for a fast freight line to carry perishable southern produce to the northern urban markets. He began consolidating small railroad lines, a process which led eventually to the building of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad and Walters' fortune.
Because he sympathized with the South, Walters chose to leave occupied Baltimore in 1861. For the duration of the war he lived in Paris where he got to know contemporary French artists like Corot, Millet, Delacroix, Daumier, and the sculptor Antoine Louis Barye. He purchased many of their works as well as a collection of Oriental ceramics. On returning home, he displayed his collection in a gallery in his house on Mt. Vernon Place. Walters opened it to the public on selected days.
Henry Walters, William's son, shared his
William Walters began collecting paintings and sculpture
when he was living in exile in Paris during the civil War
William Walters'son, Henry, added to the painting and sculpture collection, built the original museum, and bequeathed both to the city of Baltimore
For the city's sesquicentennial celebration in 1880 Baltimore raised ten of these elaborate arches, decorated virtually all the buildings, and held a parade in which 30,000 persons marched
father's business acumen and his love of art. He doubled the fortune he inherited and was reputed to have been the wealthiest man south of the Mason-Dixon line. He is said to have spent $1,000,000 a year on art works from 1891, when William Walters died, until his own death forty years later. He built the original museum which still stands at the corner of Mt. Vernon Place and Center Street. Henry bequeathed his entire collection, the gallery, and a maintenance fund of $2,000,000 to the city of Baltimore.
Enoch Pratt was born in North Midde borough, Massachusetts in 1808. His father, Isaac Pratt, originally a farmer, moved into the wholesale hardware business. Enoch attended the local academy and then worked as a clerk in a wholesale hardware store in Boston. In 1831, at 22 years of age, Pratt arrived in Baltimore and organized a company which sold nails, horse shoes and mule shoes. Pratt abandoned the Puritanism of his ancestors and joined the Unitarian Church which some New Englanders living in Baltimore had built. For many years he served as treasurer of that church, often paying its debts out of his own pocket. In 1848 he erected his home at Park Avenue and Monument Street, the building which is now owned by the Maryland Historical Society. Pratt supported the Union cause in the Civil War and rejoiced publicly when General Butler occupied Federal Hill.
As Pratt's profits from the hardware business grew, he diversified, gained control of the Maryland Steamship Company, became a vice-president of the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad, and invested in banking and fire insurance. Pratt, like Peabody, was reputed to be something of a miser. Baltimor eans jested about his habit of picking up nails from the street. One legend has it that a tramp, seeing the poorly dressed Pratt walking towards his own house, called out, "There's no use going in there, Brother. You'll not get a damned crust." Pratt's good works around Baltimore belied his reputation. He provided financial support for the Maryland School for the Deaf and Dumb in Frederick and for Cheltenham, a reform school for young Negro boys. He bestowed $2,000,000 on his friend Dr. Moses Sheppard for a hospital for the mentally handicapped. Pratt kept his best known gift, the Free Library, a secret until excavation for the main building had already begun. Then he offered the city the library plus $833,333 provided the city give $50,000 annually to support and maintain the library. Pratt himself selected the nine original trustees and stated in a letter to them that the books were "for all, rich and poor, without distinction of race or color, who, when properly accredited, can take out the books, if they will handle them carefully and return them." On January 5, 1886 the central library opened its doors and 28,000 books to the public. Four branches opened the same year.
The founder of Baltimore's internationally best known institution, Johns Hopkins, was the only native Marylander of the four major philanthropists. Born in 1795, Johns Hopkins grew up on a large farm in Anne Arundel County where the family performed all their own labor after his Quaker father freed their slaves. It is said that Hopkins always valued education especially highly, since he had had so little time for it. At age 18, he came to Baltimore to work with his Uncle Gerard, a commission merchant and grocer. Johns Hopkins got in trouble with both his uncle and the Quaker community during the 1819 depression when he began allowing customers to pay their bills in whiskey. He left his uncle, opened his own wholesale provision company, and bottled whiskey sold under the label "Hopkins Best."
Hopkins later invested in the development of the port and the B&O Railroad, of which he was the largest single stockholder at the time of
Enoch Pratt kept his library gift a secret until the excavation for the main building began
The original main building of the
Enoch Pratt Free Library opened
at the corner of Cathedral and
Mulberry Streets in 1886
Johns Hopkins made detailed plans before his death for the hospital and university which f endowed
Johns Hopkins left his estate Clifton to be the site of the university he endowed. The trustees chose to build downtown, and Clifton later became a park
death. Hopkins supported B&O president John Garrett during the Civil War and even contributed $50,000 to furnish transportation facilities to the Union. As Hopkins accumulated his fortune, he moved into banking and became the leading financier in town.
his death. Hopkins supported B&O president John Garrett during the Civil War and even contributed $50,000 to furnish transporation facilities to the Union. As Hopkins accumulated his fortune, he moved into banking and became the leading financier in town.
Johns Hopkins, like his friend George Peabody, never married. The traditional explanation is that he was in love with his cousin Elizabeth and that his Uncle Gerard forbade the marriage. When Hopkins made his will he left one million dollars to various relatives and local charities. He divided the rest of his eight million dollar estate to provide for the founding of the hospital and university which bear his name. Before his death, he made detailed plans and chose his trustees. He bequeathed his Clifton estate to the university. He purchased the grounds of the Old Maryland Hospital on Broadway and oversaw the early planning of the hospital. His will specified that the hospital should constitute part of the university's medical school and that there should be full cooperation between the two institutions. The will also specified that only the interest should be used to pay for the buildings. The capital itself was not to be touched.
Hopkins died in his sleep on December 24, 1873. The university trustees convened. After consulting the presidents of Harvard, Yale, Michigan and Cornell, they invited Daniel Coit Gilman to become president. Gilman accepted and began to recruit a faculty. Proven scholars such as English mathematician James Joseph Sylvester and classicist Basil L. Gildersleeve committed themselves to teach at the new university, where studies were to follow the German practice.
Johns Hopkins became the first American institution to grant a Ph.D. for accomplishment in research work. The university, situated near Mt. Vernon Square, not at Clifton, grew by 1900
to nine buildings. By 1901 when Gilman retired, 143 faculty members and 651 students constituted the community. In that same year William H. Buckler, Francis M. Jencks, R. Brent Keyser, Samuel Keyser, J. LeRoy White and William Wyman gave to the university the 176 acres of land on Charles Street where "Homewood", built by Charles Carroll, stood. Clifton was sold to the city and the money from the sale used to erect the new buildings. Dr. Ira Remsen, the university's first professor of chemistry and known for his work on saccharin, succeeded Gilman and presided over the move to Homewood.
The hospital opened in 1889 in fourteen buildings on the East Baltimore site that Johns Hopkins had selected. As the hospital neared completion, financial difficulties of the B&O Railroad led to a shrinkage in the university's income from that stock. The university had already attracted prominent professors for the future medical school with promises that it would be modelled after the best European ones. By 1890, other institutions were beginning to try to lure these professors elsewhere.
A group of local women came to the rescue. Mary Garrett, who had inherited a large fortune from her father John, the president of the B&O, joined Martha Carey Thomas, who had earned a Ph.D. at the University of Zurich, and several other girlhood friends, and women's activists Mary Gwinn and Elizabeth King. In 1890 they established the Women's Fund Committee and by 1892 had raised the necessary $500,000, much of it coming from the gifts of Mary Garrett. They offered the money to the university on the conditions that women be admitted to the medical school on the same terms as men, that it be a graduate school, and that prospective students be required to have a knowledge of physics, chemistry, biology, French and German.
The medical school finally opened in 1893.
In 1885, fut ore president Woodrow Wilson sang in the
Hopkins Glee Club pictured here Wilson is second from the left in the back
The original biological laboratory of Hopkins'downtown campus stood at Eutaw and Little Ross Streets
In Hopkins Hall on Little Ross Street, the seminary of History and Politics looked like this around the year 1890
Its high standards and stringent admission criteria made it a model for the nation. Dr. William Osler, the hospital's first Physician- in-Chief, is reported to have joked to Dr. William Welch, first dean of the medical school, "Welch, we were lucky to get in as professors, for I am sure that neither you nor I could ever get in as students."
The magnitude of the growth of educational institutions at the turn-of-the-century period is quite remarkable. Not only did the four philanthropists give to Baltimore the nationally renowned facilities of the Peabody Institute, the Walters Gallery, the Pratt Library and the Johns Hopkins University and Hospital, but many other colleges and schools first opened their doors in these decades. In fact, most of the city's centers of higher learning originated late in the 19th century.
In 1865 when the General Assembly in Annapolis authorized a statewide public school system, it also established the Maryland State Normal School. At the time of its formal opening in the old Red Man's Hall on North Paca Street in January 1866, eleven women students had enrolled. H. A. Newell was principal. By the end of the first year 48 students attended. In 1872 the Normal School moved to larger quarters at Charles and Franklin Streets. By 1876 when the school moved to its third location at Carrollton and Lafayette Streets, the student body had grown to 206. In 1915 the State Normal School moved to its current location on York Road north of the city where it now exists as Towson State University.
The first normal school to train black teachers formally opened in December 1867 in a renovated Friends' Meeting House at Saratoga and Courtland Streets. Privately supported, this school received added funds in 1871 when the trustees of Nelson Wells' estate contributed the entire remaining capital to the school after the opening of the Negro public schools.
The The normal school eventually evolved into present-day Bowie State College located in Anne Arundel County. It was not until 1900 that the Baltimore Board of School Commissioners established a Colored Training School to prepare Negro teachers. This public institution was renamed the Fannie Jackson Coppin Normal School in 1926 in honor of a former slave who bought her freedom and became the first American black woman to earn a college degree. The institution became the Coppin State Teachers' College in 1950 and, when it broadened its curriculum, the Coppin State College in 1963.
In 1867 a second Negro college was chartered: the Centenary Biblical Institute, which is now Morgan State University. Centenary was established by the Methodist Conferences of Baltimore, Washington, Wilmington and Delaware. The school held classes at the Sharp Street Church until the building on East Saratoga Street was completed in 1872. The Rev. J. Emory Round served as first president of the school, whose primary function was to train young men as Methodist ministers.
By 1880, the student body of 125 had outgrown the Saratoga Street building. When this was discussed at the Methodist Conference Dr. and Mrs. John F. Goucher offered to donate a lot at Fulton and Edmondson Avenues along with $5000 towards a building on the condition that Negro Methodists raise the additional money needed. In this way the building would open free of any mortgage. Hundreds of small donations from the black Methodist churches poured in, and in 1881 an $18,000 building was dedicated.
In 1890, Dr. Lyttleton F. Morgan, former chairman of the Board of Trustees, donated a large sum of money which enabled the school to offer general collegiate courses, and the
In the 1880s, Dr John F. Goucher, shown here, and his
wife Mary donated land and funds to Methodist colleges that were established
in Baltimore for both black and female students
A group of local women founded a college preparatory school, Bryn Mawr, for girls in 1885. The same group raised money for the Hopkins Medical School and donated it on the condition that women students be admitted on the same terms as men. This group included (left to right) Martha carey Thomas, Mary Mackall Gwinn, Mary Elizabeth Garrett (seated), Julia Rebecca Rogers (on floOr), and Elizabeth Tabor King
Nurses working at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in the late eighteen hundreds practiced one of the few respectable women's occupations of the day
The first campus of Goucher college on St. Paul Street remained in use until the move to Towson was completed in the 1950s
institution became Morgan College. At the end of World War I, Morgan purchased its current property on Hillen Road. In 1939 the school affiliated with the state college system.
The Methodist Conference of Baltimore sponsored another local college, one for female students. The Women's College of Baltimore, incorporated in 1885, opened three years later under the leadership of its first president, William H. Hopkins. In 1890, the Rev. John F. Goucher, donor for a second time of a site and main building for a Baltimore college, became president. In a period when women were forbidden admission to most major men's universities, including Johns Hopkins' under graduate school, Goucher College, as the school became known in 1910, offered an academic program in an urban location to young women from Baltimore and out of town. Goucher was one of a number of women's colleges established throughout the country which played an enormously important role in offering professional and academic training and creating a large and significant group of educated women.
A Roman Catholic college for women, Mount Saint Agnes, increased the availability of education for women in Baltimore. It opened in 1890 in conjunction with St. Mary's School, which had been established in 1867 by the Sisters of Mercy. The Mount Washington Seminary, later the Mount Washington Country School for Boys, opened on the same campus in 1899. A different sort of school, St. Mary's Industrial School, was established in 1866 by Archbishop Martin John Spalding for boys without homes and boys who were sent there by the courts. Babe Ruth was surely the most famous alumnus of that Catholic institution which served the community until 1950.
Most of Baltimore's leading private schools also opened during this period. They met a variety of needs not served by the city's public school system which, following the Civil War, provided a less than excellent education. The schools were overcrowded and understaffed. Teachers got jobs because of political connec tions, not ability or training. All the private schools benefitted from the philanthropy typical of the era.
McDonogh School, originally a "farm school for worthy boys" which was to provide sound academic offerings as well, opened in 1873, the gift of John McDonogh. In 1884 the group of women who later raised the money for the Hopkins Medical School pushed for the establishment of an institution to prepare girls to attend good universities. Bryn Mawr School was the result. Previously, only the Quakers offered high level academic subjects to girls in Baltimore. Now, Martha Carey Thomas, who served as the first dean of Bryn Mawr College outside Philadelphia, Mary Garrett and the others led the way and the new school opened in 1885. Less than a decade later, in 1894, another girls' institution, the Roland Park Country School, began offering instruction. Until 1908, it benefitted from the sponsorship of the Roland Park Company, then in the process of developing the new suburb.
Another Baltimore woman activist, Mrs. Francis Carey King, led in the founding of the Country School for Boys of Baltimore City in 1897. It was located at Homewood until it moved to Roland Park in 1911. The purpose of the school, which received strong support from Daniel Coit Gilman, for whom the school was renamed in 1910, was to provide the educational offerings and activities of boarding schools which most of Baltimore's upper class boys had attended previously. In the same year that Gilman opened, a small school, later called the Calvert School, began teaching fifteen pupils in a room over a drugstore at Madison Street and
This picture of Morgan's fourth year class in 1923 shows a formality characteristic in all schools during the pre-World War II period
In the late nineteenth century, only a small percentage of the students in the city's public school system managed to graduate from the elite high schools such as Baltimore city college (below) and Eastern Female High School (right)
Park Avenue. Its goal was to provide excellence in primary education. The school, now located on Tuscany Road, pioneered in home instruc tion courses used both for bedridden children and Americans living abroad. The last of Baltimore's leading private schools established during this period, the Park School, opened in 1912 in a house near Druid Hill Park. Like the other schools, Park moved away from the center city, first to Liberty Heights Avenue and then in 1959 to its current location on Old Court Road.
The establishment of the new schools, although some offered a free education to a small number of select students, benefitted primarily the well-to-do residents of Baltimore. In this period of great contrasts, people of fairly substantial means were not only acquiring wide opportunities for entertainment and education but were engaged in the process of moving into newly burgeoning suburbs with their open spaces and new homes.
First horse car lines and then electrified trolleys allowed people to commute downtown from even more distant locations. Fashionable town houses were built north of the business district along streets like Madison Avenue and McCulloch Street, on Eutaw Place, in Bolton Hill. East, south and west of town, smaller row houses soon lined the streets and boulevards. The development of these moderately priced homes and the growth of neighborhood building and loan associations allowed many middle and working class residents to become home owners. Baltimore consistently has enjoyed one of the highest rates of home ownership among major American cities.
More rapid public transportation led to the development of suburbs as urban residents sought to combine the benefits of spaciousness with the conveniences of city living. During the 1870s and 1880s such diverse areas as Arlington, Catonsville, Highlandtown, Huntingdon, Mt. Washington, Peabody Heights, and Pimlico began to grow. Old mill towns like Hampden and Woodberry along the Jones Falls were connected to central Baltimore by the street railway lines.
The suburban belt, located in the county, grew rapidly during the latter part of the nineteenth century. As more and more belt residents became commuters, annexation once again became an issue. Under Maryland's constitution of 1867, residents of the area to be annexed had to vote their approval. Several times the belt's populace chose to remain in the county with its inferior services and lower taxes. The eastern segment of the belt, Canton and Highlandtown, strongly opposed the city's regulations of slaughterhouses, many of which were located there, and also the blue laws which would close the beer gardens and other drinking establishments on Sundays.
By 1888, however, the belt's problems were becoming unmanageable. The population was increasing rapidly. The county failed to provide adequate water and sewer facilities and this lack threatened the public health. Police and fire protection were meager. The county govern ment reaped large revenues from the suburban ites of the belt but favored the rural areas when money had to be spent. When the annexation question was put on the ballot in 1888, the western, northern, and eastern districts of the belt voted separately. The northern and western districts chose to join with the city, while Highlandtown and Canton opted for continued freedom from urban restrictions. Baltimore City thus gained about 23 square miles of land and 38,000 people.
The acquisition of so much new land apparently inspired schemes both for develop ment and for protection of open spaces. The city purchased additional land for public parks. In the southwest, Baltimore bought the land of a
The construction of moderately priced row houses and the
growth of neighborhood building and loan associations created a high rate
of home ownership among Baltimoreans
Baltimore gained twenty-three square miles of land in 1888 and more than fifty additional square miles in 1918
German Schuetzen (shooting) park and landscaped Carroll Park there. Mount Clare, the home of Charles Carroll, the Barrister, which was located in the new park, was renovated. At the same time, the city purchased Johns Hopkins' estate, Clifton, to be converted into a park for residents of the northeast.
A major suburban innovation came in the 1890s in the form of Roland Park, which was privately developed and planned first by George E. Kessler and then Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. and John C. Olmsted. One goal of the planners was to preserve the natural beauty of the landscape. The streets curved with the contours of the land. Large and comfortable family houses were built and a trolley car line opened. Restrictive covenants designed to preserve the residential nature of the area prohibited stables and other unhealthy use of the land. Business development was limited. The restrictions went much further, however, and effectively prevented both Jews and blacks from buying property in Roland Park for many years.
Once Roland Park was completed, Freder ick Law Olmsted, Jr., whose father had planned Central Park in New York, formulated a plan for a system of parks throughout the city. At the behest of reformers like Theodore Marburg of the Municipal Art Society, whose primary interest lay in beautifying the city and making it a healthful place to live, Olmsted introduced a scheme for maintaining as green areas all the valleys along Jones Falls, Herring Run, Gwynn's Falls, and parts of the shoreline of the Patapsco.
Parks and suburbs were only part of the expansion that permeated Baltimore's life during the end of the nineteenth century. The real basis of the prosperity that allowed beautification ar"d pleasant living was the income produced by commerce and industry.
Baltimore's commerce had been hurt when the Civil War ended much of the trade between the city and the South. Once peace returned, however, Baltimore investors began to pour capital into the rebuilding of the devastated region. By 1900 an estimated $100,000,000 had been invested by Baltimoreans in southern railroads, street cars, cotton mills, coal, iron and phosphate mines, lumber tracts and municipali ties. Prominent firms like Alex Brown and Company, Wilson, Colston and Company, and Middendorf, Oliver and Company profited in these undertakings. While bringing raw materials out of the South, Baltimore gained further by selling many manufactured goods there, among them dry goods, notions, provisions and groceries, liquors, clothing, boots and shoes, hats, toys, and articles of the jobbing trade. The city was frequently called the "gateway to the South."
Baltimore was also nicknamed "The Liverpool of America," reflecting the size of its foreign trade. In 1870, Baltimore's $33,000,000 worth of foreign trade ranked fifth in the nation. By 1900, the city ranked third nationally with $130,000,000 in foreign trade. Baltimore was one of the chief outlets for raw materials: grain and grain products, cotton, and leaf tobacco. Imports from Latin America were especially important and included coffee, sugar, tropical fruits, copper and other metals, and Peruvian guano. The inauguration of direct steamship service between Baltimore and Bremen in 1868 augmented the already strong connections between the two cities.
Baltimore possessed all the prerequisites for the large-scale industrial development that had begun before the Civil War. The city was served by excellent rail and shipping facilities, had a supply of raw materials available at a low cost, potential markets, a supply of capital, and a ready labor force. Furthermore, the city's government actively supported industrialization. For example, in 1877 the City Council appointed a
Top Left: Top Right:
Baltimore's industries expanded Bromo Seltzer had its home office
rapidly at the end of the and laboratories in Baltimore
nineteenth century. Hats,
clothing, boots, and shoes were
among the city's major exports.
Shown here is an advertisement
of Armstrong, Ca tor and
The port was a major factor in the city's economic success. In 1870, the approximate date of this picture, Baltimore's foreign trade ranked fifth in the nation. By 1900 the city ranked third
commission to consider ways and means to encourage industrial development. Ferdinand C. Latrobe, who was mayor at that time, gave enthusiastic support.
Between 1870 and 1900, the number of industries established in Baltimore trebled and the capital invested increased six-fold. This was typical of the national pattern. Locally, growth came in widely diversified areas such as men's clothing, foundries and machine shops, straw hats, copper, and steel, especially steel rails made at Sparrows Point by the Maryland Steel Company. Boot and shoe making were important as was the manufacture of fertilizers. Slaughtering and meatpacking increased on the outskirts of town. Canning of fruits and vegetables and especially oysters benefitted from new techniques. By 1870 over one hundred packing houses were located in Baltimore. Cotton mills along the Jones Falls in towns like Woodberry became part of the city in 1888. Nationally-known rye whiskey was distilled here.
Baltimore's industries expanded to the south and east, along the waterfront and the tracks of the B&O and what was to become the Pennsylvania Railroad. The industrial center shifted from the Jones Falls Valley to new areas like Canton, Highlandtown, Locust Point and Curtis Bay. A subsidiary of the Maryland Steel Company built Sparrows Point, complete with housing for everyone from executives to unskilled workers, with a separate village for black workers on the other side of Humphrey's Creek.
Near the end of the nineteenth century, industries began to consolidate, both to acquire capital for mechanization and to end the competitive price wars that bankrupted many firms. In some cases the consolidation was a local affair as it was when sixteen breweries formed the Maryland Brewing Company and the street car lines joined in the United Railways and Electric Company. In other cases, local companies were absorbed by national conglom erates, as were many local canneries by the American Can Company and the Maryland Steel Company by Bethlehem Steel.
The increased use of ever more highly sophisticated machinery led to the replacement of skilled by unskilled workers. While mechani zation meant lower prices for consumers, it also meant lower wages for workers. Many of the unskilled positions were held by women and children who might earn as little as $.40 a day. In 1885 the average male unskilled worker earned $1.25 a day, and skilled workers $1.75 to $3.00 a day. An average-sized row house rented for about $78 a year. The average work day lasted 10 to 12 hours. Many women and children worked in East Baltimore's sweatshops which produced over half the men's clothing manufactured here. The canneries also employed large numbers of women and children. Workers employed in hazardous jobs often were fired if faulty machinery injured them severely enough to prevent them from doing their work.
Various labor unions organized to press for better wages and hours, an end to blacklisting union members, abolition of child labor, and laws requiring compulsory education and workmen's compensation. The Knights of Labor formed their first local assembly in Baltimore in 1878. Eight years later, 16 local assemblies claimed twenty-five thousand members. On Labor Day, 1886, seventeen thousand marched in the parade. Locally and throughout the nation, the Knights of Labor was superseded by the craft-oriented unions that formed the American Federation of Labor. Members tended to be in the skilled trades. Because their skills were not easily replaced and because their relatively high wages allowed the accumulation of a strike fund, the strike became an important
Labor unions worked hard to improve wages and working conditions. But in 1890, the year of the Labor Day parade, their impact remained limited
Better lit than many, this garment factory shows the crowded conditions in which the women worked, often earning less than a dollar a day
Children often worked at hazardous jobs such as this one in a local cannery
Top: This postcard picture of a parade in 1914, reviewed by Mayor James Preston, shows the growth in the influence of organized labor. Note the popularity of straw hats worn by almost all the spectators in the foreground.
It was not until the turn of the century that laws were established to ban children from working in food processing establishments such as this one and requiring them to attend school.
weapon in the hands of these craft unions. The Baltimore Federation of Labor, which affiliated with the AFL in 1889, consisted of a wide variety of craft unions. Despite a setback during the depression years 1893 to 1897 when almost half the industrial workers in the city were unemployed, approximately twenty thousand members belonged to 65 or 70 different trade unions in Baltimore in 1900.
Nearly two hundred strikes involving thirty thousand workers occurred between 1881 and 1900. Many were violent affairs. Sometimes workers lost their jobs. Other times they achieved limited gains. Before World War I, the few concrete gains were limited to strong unions or to measures supported by middle-class Progressive reformers. For example, the Federation of Labor won for municipal employees a 9-hour work day in 1892 and an 8-hour day six years later. But this was rare. In 1886, the building trades union achieved a reduction of their working hours from 10 to 9 per day. In 1892, clothing workers won a 10-hour day, reduced from 15 or more, but did not succeed in improving conditions in the overcrowded, unsafe sweatshops. The first law requiring city inspection and licensing of sweatshops was passed in 1902 and strengthened in 1914. The first workmen's compensation law was passed in 1902. By 1914, only a third of the labor force worked more than 60 hours a week.
An interesting sidelight on local labor developments were the policies developed by John Garrett of the B&O. After defeating the worst strike in the railroad's history in 1877, he offered several benefits to his workers: pension plan, a burial society, accident insurance paid for by the employees, and payments to widows. The company established savings accounts and a system of home loans for its workers. The whole plan served as a model for companies trying to rationalize some progressive scheme of
Baltimore and Ohio workers bene fitted from welfare policies
developed by railroad president John Garrett after a strike in 1877
Child labor laws were supported strongly by many segments of society not involved in the labor movement as a whole. A series of laws culminated in the 1902 enactment of a compulsory education law for children 8 to 12 and a 1906 law which forbade children under 12 from being employed in any gainful occupation. Ten years later, children under 16 were prohibited from working except in the canning industry and domestic service.
World War I strengthened the status of labor organizations when the government agreed to grant unions the right to organize and bargain collectively in exchange for a promise not to strike. Wartime demands led to higher wages. Many of the gains were not permanent, however. Peacetime brought renewed resis tance to labor organization that was halted only by the Wagner Act of 1935.
In Baltimore, industrial development, working conditions and labor organization followed the national pattern. The depression of 1893, however, ended the boom in Baltimore. At the time many local companies were bought up by larger corporations headquartered else where, many of the new owners began to purchase in other cities things once supplied by
local manufacturers. Consequently Baltimore's industrial position relative to other cities declined. Baltimore ranked 8th nationally in total manufacturing in 1880 and 11th in 1914. Despite this decline, however, the city's absolute production grew as did its income and its population.
Immigration into Baltimore after the Civil War brought a wide variety of newcomers to live and work in the city. Ex-Confederates from Virginia arrived, as did farmers from Lancaster County. Black farm workers from Southern Maryland came seeking better opportunities in the urban economy. Europeans came from an increasing number of countries.
In 1860 and 1870, most of the immigrants still came from Germany or Ireland. Diversifica tion began slowly as Bohemians, Scandinavians, Italians and Poles began to arrive. By 1880 more than one thousand Bohemians lived in Baltimore. Ten years later, more than four thousand Russians, mostly Jews, had settled on the eastern side of the city. By 1900, over ten thousand Russians outnumbered the more than two thousand people born in Poland and Italy and the country now called Czechoslovakia. In the early part of the twentieth century, Lithuanians, Greeks, and smaller numbers from other countries moved to Baltimore. From 1920 until 1960 foreign immigrants came only in small numbers. Changes in the immigration laws resulted in the increases seen in the census reports of 1960 and 1970.
Until 1920 Germans continued to be the largest foreign-born group in Baltimore. Over thirty thousand German-born residents were counted in each census from 1860 through 1910. They maintained and augmented the wide range of institutions they had established earlier. German-English public schools, the Turnverein, social and musical clubs, and churches all flourished. As many Germans began to move
Delivering newspapers was popular work for children because they could earn money and attend school at the same time. This substation stood on Bank Street around the year 1910
Despite the gains by organized labor and reformers, enormous gaps in life-style remained between the upper class and the working class. Evergreen House (opposite page) on North Charles Street, was purchased by the Garrett family in 1878. Alley houses such as these (left) provided homes for a large segment of Baltimore workers
Mt. Vernon Place and Charles Street, one of Baltimore's elite
neighborhoods, shown here during the blizzard of 1899
outward from the center city, their institutions followed them. A Schuetzen park was opened on Harford Road. The Redemptorists built churches on Belair and Hillen Roads. German Jews tended to move westward across town in the 1880s to the area west of Greene Street around Lexington and Lombard Streets, and then after 1895 turned northward. By 1910, all the German-Jewish synagogues were located in an area bounded by North Avenue, Bolton, Lanvale and McCulloch Streets. Many Germans, both Christians and Jews, participated in early labor organizations and often transmitted ideas on reform and class struggle from Europe. More and more Germans moved into political offices and professional and management jobs throughout the city.
Like the Germans, the Irish continued to solidify their position. They had a strong ally in James Cardinal Gibbons, who had been born in 1834 of Irish parents living on Gay Street in the heart of Old Town. Ordained in 1861, made bishop of Baltimore in 1877, and invested as cardinal in 1886, he rose to a position of eminence in Baltimore and played an active role in civic and social reform throughout his career. Other members of the Irish community rose to power through the political machines that characterized municipal politics in the latter part of the nineteenth century. The Irish population had increasingly dispersed throughout the city as large numbers of second and third generation Irish-Americans moved into better jobs and middle class status.
The newcomers who arrived in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries faced many of the same problems that had greeted the Germans and Irish of the previous generation. Most landed with little or no money and without the ability to read, write or speak English. Most had no jobs or could obtain only menial ones. They generally received the lowest pay and lived in the worst housing. They faced prejudice and discrimination from both native Americans and earlier immigrant groups.
Bohemians began arriving in Baltimore at the end of the Civil War and settled first in Fells Point, then further uptown along Barnes and
Most immigrant ships docked at Piers Band 9 at Locust Point
Abbott Streets near Broadway, then still furthei north along Collington Avenue near thE Northeast Market. Many Bohemians migrated tc escape the exploitation of the Austrian Empire of which they were a subject people, anc especially to avoid service in the Austrian army. By 1870, over 700 Bohemians had settled ir Baltimore. They appealed to the Redemptorisi priests at St. Michael's, a German church, to help them establish their own parish. St. Wenceslaus Parish was formed in 1872 and placed under the charge of the Rev. Valentine Vacula, the first Bohemian priest to come to Baltimore.
St. Wenceslaus parochial school opened in 1880 and offered morning sessions in Czech and afternoon sessions in English. Not until 1910 did English become the primary language in both sessions. The parish grew, and in 1914 Cardinal Gibbons was present at the laying of the cornerstone for the present Romanesque church on Ashland Avenue. Two additional churches served the Czech community: the Mount Tabor Bohemian Methodist Church and the Moravian Presbyterian Church whose pastor, the Rev. Frank Novak, played a leading role in sectarian activities as well as church affairs.
Many early Bohemian settlers worked as tailors. Others did piecework at home. Although most Czechs did not earn high wages, they tended to be thrifty and rapidly adopted the Baltimore practice of buying their own homes. In 1900, twenty men met at Joseph Klecka's Tavern on Ashland Avenue and formed the Slavic Savings and Loan Association, the first of many similar institutions that made it possible for a high percentage of Bohemians to buy homes. August Klecka, one of Joseph's sons, in 1915 was the first Bohemian elected to the City Council.
Another community leader, Col. Wence laus Shimek, had arrived in Baltimore at the age of 15, just after the end of the Civil War. Seven years later he opened a barrel-organ factory on President Street. Shimek served as president of the Bohemian Building Association. He started a Czech-language newspaper, the Telegraf, I which, after 1929, was edited by the Rev. Frank
.Novak and published by August Klecka. Shimek was a politician, too. He often went to meet the boats and greet newcomers, helping them find a place to stay and a job.
The Sokol was almost as important as the church in the Bohemian community. The Sokol, . which means falcon, served originally as an organization to train members to fight for Czechoslovakian independence. In this country, the Sokols resembled the German Turnverein , which emphasized athletics and physical conditioning and fostered an interest in major issues of the day. Baltimore's Sokol was formed in 1872. Members met on Frederick Street near Fells Point until 1902 when the group accepted an offer to use Shimek's Hall on North Broadway.
When an independent Czechoslovak state was created after World War I, local Bohemians and Slovaks joined in the celebrations and for years afterwards held parades and festivities on October 28, the Czechoslovak independence day. Before and during World War II, the community strongly opposed Hitler and his takeover of Czechoslovakia. After the war, many residents began to move away from the neighborhood around Collington Avenue, and people of Czechoslovak descent are now widely dispersed throughout the city.
Early Polish immigrants in Baltimore settled in Fells Point where about ten families lived in 1870. From then until 1920, Poles came in large numbers to escape the economic hardship that resulted from the partitioning of Poland by Germany, Austria and Russia. Many were peasants driven from their small farms by hunger and desperation. Although a lucky 25 percent knew German, most spoke no English. The new
On arrival, newcomers had to wait to be processed by immigration and health officials. This photograph of an immigrant pen at Locust Point was taken early in the twentieth century
B&O trains came directly onto the piers to meet immigrants leaving Baltimore for points west
arrivals often worked on the railroads and in the shipyards, for construction companies and clothing manufacturers and in the steel mills.
The first Polish Catholic church, St. Stanislaus, was organized in 1880 when members of the community invited Father Peter Koncz to come to Baltimore. The church now stands at Ann and Aliceanna Streets in Fells Point. As the community continued to grow and move northward towards Eastern Avenue, a second church, Holy Rosary, was built on South Chester Street in 1886. In the early 1900s, the Polish community spread eastward towards Canton where St. Casimir's Church was built. Significant numbers of Poles settled in Locust Point and Curtis Bay, where St. Aloysius Church was founded. All the parish churches conducted schools.
Because the immigrants were extremely poor, the home buying process was often stretched out over several generations. Immigrants frequently lived in crowded conditions where both sanitation and health were poor. Families were large, and many women went to work, often in canneries, to make ends meet. Like the Germans and the Bohemians, Poles began to found building and loan societies, twenty of them by 1914, and to buy homes.
Numerous other institutions were created by the Polish community. The Polish Home has provided facilities for various social, educational, and recreational groups. The Polish National Alliance opened Baltimore's first library of books and other materials in Polish. The Polish Falcons began as a gymnastic club similar to the Turnverein and the Sokols, but the organization never played the major role in the Polish community that the others did among Germans and Bohemians. A newspaper, the Jednosc- Polonia, was published for many years. It had been preceded by other newspapers dating from 1891.
Perhaps because of their harsher economic struggles, Baltimore's Poles were comparatively slow in gaining political representation. The first Polish city councilman, a grocer named Edward Novak, won election in 1923 when roughly 11,000 Poles lived within Baltimore.
Polish people maintained an interest in the land of their birth, or their parents' birth. Before America's entry into World War I, several hundred men from Baltimore joined a Polish legion attached to the British army. Poles celebrated their nation's unification after World War I, and later opposed Hitler's invasion. Since the easing of immigration restrictions, Poles have once again begun to arrive in Baltimore. Although many people of Polish descent have spread throughout the city and county, especially to the east and northeast out Belair Road, centers of Polish settlement are still visible in East Baltimore and Locust Point, especially near the churches.
The most enduring ethnic community in a physical sense is Little Italy. In the 1870s and 1880s, Italians began to settle in this area around the President Street Station, often renting rooms from earlier German, Irish and Jewish immi grants. Driven from Italy by droughts and pervasive poverty, few spoke any English. Italian men worked on the railroad and as vendors of fruits and vegetables. Some were skilled barbers, masons, and tailors. Italian women tried to remain in the home instead of working in nearby industries. As families were able to buy their own homes, women often supplemented the family's income by taking in boarders.
The most pressing desire of the new community was to build a church in its midst. Archbishop Gibbons in 1880 appointed Father Joseph Andrei, a native of Turin, to build St. Leo's Church. Religious festivals became major events. The two largest were celebrated to
Immigrants often held festivals where they wore traditional clothes and enjoyed food, music, and dancing. This picture shows a Czech folk festival held in 1938
James Cardinal Gibbons, shown here at Mt. Royal Station later in his life, grew up in Baltimore's Irish community. He provided support for the many successive groups of newcomers as they arrived in the city
honor St. Anthony and St. Gabriel. St. Anthony's fete
on June 13 began in 1904. When the great Baltimore fire had threatened
Little Italy earlier that year, a group of residents had prayed to St.
Anthony. The flames stopped at the Jones Falls and Little Italy was saved.
The St. Gabriel's procession began soon after the canonization of the saint
from Abruzzi in 1920. The festival bore special meaning because many Baltimore
Italian families had their roots in the vicinity of Abruzzi. The church
provided an institutional center for the community. As the Germans, Irish
and Jews began to move away from the area around Exeter and Stiles Streets,
Italians remained. By 1920 the neighborhood was almost exclusively Italian,
a characteristic it has maintained to the present day.
As the Italian community became better established and people had time to save some money, prosperity increased. Men who had worked for Irish contractors began their own companies. Many worked in politically connected jobs in departments like public works and sanitation. Others opened the now famous restaurants. Others stayed in school and became professionals. As community resources im proved, a lodge of the Order of the Sons of Italy was founded in 1913 to aid new arrivals.
Italians gained political power relatively early compared to many immigrant groups. The community's first political leader, Vincent Palmisano, was elected to the Maryland House of Delegates in 1914, to the Baltimore City Council the following year, and to the United States Congress in 1926. A second powerful man succeeded Palmisano as Little Italy's best known Baltimorean. Thomas D'Alesandro, Jr., son of an immigrant, was elected as a Delegate in 1926, then went to Congress in 1938 when he defeated Palmisano, and was elected Mayor of Baltimore in 1947. His son, Thomas D'Alesandro III, was elected mayor in 1967. Since 1960, Italian immigration has increased again, and in 1970 more people born in Italy, almost 13,000, lived in Baltimore than in any previous census year.
Lithuanians came to Baltimore in smaller, yet significant numbers, beginning in the 1880s. Many left their homeland because of the efforts of the Russian government to force assimilation of Lithuanians by forbidding the teaching of the Lithuanian language in the schools and forcing Lithuanian men into service in the Russian army.
Early immigrants settled in East Baltimore, where many worked in the garment industry. They organized the St. John the Baptist Church whose congregation worshipped in the old Lloyd Street Synagogue building from 1889 until 1905, when they moved to a new church at Paca and Saratoga Streets. The Lithuanians gradually moved westward across the city until the center of the community was located around South Paca, South Greene, West Lombard and Hollins Streets. Around 1900, fraternal organizations and beneficial societies joined in purchasing a hall on West Barre Street to use for community functions. The new Lithuanian Hall was built in 1921 at Hollins and Parkin Streets. St. Alphonsus Church on West Saratoga Street now serves part of the Lithuanian community. Over two thousand persons born in Lithuania have lived in Baltimore every census year since 1920, when they were first counted separately from Russians. Like other groups, the total has increased since 1960.
Most of Baltimore's Greeks arrived after the turn of the century. They settled along Eastern Avenue, in an area which still remains the center of the Greek community with its shops, restaurants, coffee houses and one of the churches, St. Nicholas, located on South Ponca Street. The first Greek Orthodox church in Baltimore, "Evangelismos," the Annunciation, began in 1908 when the congregation purchased a building at Homewood Avenue and Chase
The Italian community produced prominent political leaders
who won local and later national offices
Vincent Palmisano (above) won the nomination and the subsequent election to the city counciL Eleven years later he was elected to the United States Congress. Thomas D'Alesandro, Jr. (lelt) defeated Palmisano in the Congressional election of 1938. He became mayor of Baltimore in 1947
Street. In 1936 the congregation bought and renovated the current building at Maryland Avenue and Preston Street. As Greeks followed East Baltimore's other immigrants in their northeastward path out from the city, they built a third church, St. Demetrios, on Cub Hill Road. As early as 1912 a school to teach the Greek language and religion opened. Children attended three times a week after their regular classes.
The Greek community has never been large enough to be a major force in urban politics. Political leaders like Peter Angelos and Paul Sarbanes have risen to prominence by appealing to the broader community. Although they are the last large group to immigrate to Baltimore, Greeks live in widely dispersed neighborhoods. They are joined more by a common heritage and church than by geographic unity.
By far the largest group of newcomers, other than Germans who outnumbered all other immigrant peoples before and after the Civil War, were the Russian Jews who began arriving in Baltimore during the 1880s. By 1900, over ten thousand Russians lived in the city and by 1910 almost twenty-five thousand. Most fled from persecution in Russia and nearby countries like Poland and Lithuania which were subject to Russian domination.
As the German Jews moved westward towards Eutaw Place, Eastern Europeans began to move into East Baltimore. Most were Orthodox and established their own synagogues, often using the buildings vacated by the German congregations. The vast majority of Eastern European Jews worked in the sweatshops, later garment factories of East Baltimore. Many of the owners were German Jews. The workers tended to be active in labor organizations. The largest, the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, formed a local chapter in 1909, the fourth in the nation. But despite their union activity, poverty pervaded the community.
At first, tensions grew between the older, Americanized German Jews, who had fought difficult battles to overcome prejudice and discrimination, and the new immigrants who spoke Yiddish, insisted on Orthodox observ ances, and frequently preferred to remain within their own closed community. Slowly, however, people began to bridge the gap. Henrietta Szold, the daughter of Rabbi Benjamin Szold, in 1889 organized the Russian Night School to teach English and American history to people who worked all day. Several thousand studied here. The Szold School, as it was known, became a model for night schools in many other cities.
A wide variety of charitable work among the new immigrants was supported by the more established segment of the community. In the first decade of the twentieth century, the German-Jewish charities united to form the Federated Jewish Charities. Jacob Hollander served as the first president. The Russian organizations joined in the United Hebrew Charities. Finally in 1921 these two merged into the Associated Jewish Charities. Jewish philanthropy was a well-established tradition and benefitted the immigrant community as well as the city as a whole. Over the years, settlement houses, like the Maccabean House, free schools, an orphanage, Sinai Hospital which was founded in 1866, and other institutions received strong support.
Time worked to overcome some of the differences. As years passed the newcomers moved into positions of political and economic power. In 1903, two Eastern Europeans, William Weissager, a Latvian, and Joseph Seidenman, a Russian, won election to the City Council. A Lithuanian immigrant of 1882, Jacob Epstein, began as a peddler and then opened a store which developed a large mail order business. By
Immigrant children often worked as vendors, sometimes in lieu of going to school
1910 he employed over 1000 workers and did over a million dollars worth of business a month. Epstein shared his good fortune with the Jewish community and with Baltimore as a whole. When the Museum of Art was first incorporated in 1914, he was among the original trustees.
At the end of World War I, the Eastern European Jews were beginning their move out of East Baltimore, first to Park Heights Avenue and then further north to Forest Park. New institutions which served the entire Jewish community came into existence. Baltimore Hebrew College opened in 1919. The Jewish Times, the newest of several papers, began publication. Recently, a new group of Eastern European Jews have been arriving in Baltimore, where the larger community is now in a position to provide significant aid for the resettlement process.
Certain settlement patterns characterized all of the various immigrant groups that came to Baltimore during the nineteenth and the early twentieth century. Most individuals arrived poor and without a skilled trade or knowledge of the English language. The majority began their new life in communities where they could use their own language. As soon as possible, they built a church or synagogue where services were conducted in their native tongue. Then each group established institutions to meet the needs of the newcomers: aid societies, schools, fraternal organizations, newspapers, building and loan associations, and so on. Such similar responses stemmed from similar needs and conditions. Moreover, the government did not yet operate in that sphere to any significant degree.
Over time, each generation of newcomers and their children learned English and began to ascend the socio-economic ladder. Participation in the city's political system generally accompanied this success. Gradually, people moved away from their original communities into new neighborhoods further from the central city. Often they built new houses of worship. Eventually the need for immigrant aid societies declined, and those that survived either changed their programs or became primarily fraternal organizations. Today, most foreign-language newspapers have disappeared.
These cycles of immigrant experience typify those of the nation. But Baltimore is somewhat unique in the nation in the combination of these sizeable immigrant groups with a large antebellum black population which post-war migration increased. Before the Civil War, the city's blacks created community institutions much like those of the German and Irish immigrants. After the war, however, the Negro community had not become as fully integrated into the life of the city as the pre-war immigrants had. Therefore, although they were one of the earliest minority groups, blacks continued to face the same deprivations and prejudices experienced by the newer immigrant groups and some additional disabilities imposed on them because of their race by both law and custom. In 1870, the year that they began to vote again, almost forty thousand blacks lived in Baltimore and represented 15 percent of the total population.
After the Civil War ended, large numbers of blacks from rural areas, especially southern Maryland, moved to Baltimore seeking work and better lives than they had known as slaves. Like immigrants, most were uneducated and had little or no money. Most worked at menial jobs. "Pigtown" in southwest Baltimore, where many rural migrants settled first, became a slum, at least as dirty and unhealthy as any immigrant settlement. Blacks, however, because of racial discrimination and the heritage of the disabilities of slavery, were less able to combat their problems than were many immigrant groups,
Henrietta Szo ld, daughter of Rabbi Benjamin Szo ld, organized
a night school to teach the English language and American history to immigrants
who worked all day. Her school became a model that was copied in cities
throughout the country
A Lithuanian Jewish immigrant who began as a peddler, Jacob Epstein later opened a store and developed a very successful mail order business. As he shared his good fortune with his adopted city, he became one of Baltimore's most prominent philanthropists
whose members were less recognizable visually. Despite their numbers, blacks held very little economic or political power. Every gain came slowly and with great effort.
The public school system provides an example of the difficulties the black community faced. Before 1867, blacks had to pay public school taxes but could not attend. When the City Council voted to open public schools for Negro students, the city took over the 16 schools run by the Baltimore Association for the Moral and Educational Advancement of Colored People. Within a year, all the black teachers were fired and whites hired in their place. Only money collected from black taxpayers was assigned to these schools. After several years, the city began to contribute additional funds to the black schools, which were frequently in buildings abandoned when new schools for white students were constructed. When continuing efforts to convince the city to rehire black teachers failed, the Rev. Harvey Johnson of the Union Baptist Church led a group of Baptist ministers in forming the Brotherhood of Liberty in 1885. One major concern was education. They succeeded in winning an ordinance in 1887 allowing the hiring of black teachers in new colored schools, and two years later Colored Primary School #9 opened with twelve black teachers.
In 1896, Dr. John Marcus Cargill, a Negro physician and member of the City Council, introduced an ordinance calling for the gradual replacement of white teachers by blacks in all the colored schools. The process was not completed until 1907. In all areas, the black schools lagged behind the white schools. No colored high school was opened until 1882 when the future Douglass High School first opened, housed with the Colored Grammar School in the old City Hall on Holliday Street. The first teachers' training school for blacks did not open until 1900.
Black churchmen continued to play a major role in community affairs. The history of the Afro-American newspaper illustrates this. In 1892, three small newspapers were in circulation in Baltimore's black community. The Rev. William Alexander, pastor of the Sharon Baptist Church, had organized a provision store and started printing a newspaper called the Afro-American to advertise his business. John H. Murphy was publishing the Sunday School Helper. The Rev. George F. Bragg, rector of St. James Episcopal Church from 1891 to 1940, published the church-related Ledger. Murphy bought Alexander's paper. Then in 1907, Murphy and Bragg merged their papers and called their publication the Afro-American Ledger. As the enterprise grew, editions for other cities were published.
Another important institution of the black community, Provident Hospital, originated in 1894 in a small building on Orchard Street. Because white hospitals often gave different treatment to Negro patients, two black physicians in the city, Dr. John Marcus Cargill and Dr. William T. Carr, with their own money established a hospital to be run by black physicians, primarily for patients of their own race, although patients of other races were never excluded.
The single most difficult problem faced by blacks was unemployment. Often fired in favor of white workers, almost always paid less, most Negroes were unable to build the financial base that the Immigrants gradually did. One black Baltimorean pioneered in this area. Isaac Myers, born in Baltimore in 1835, stands out as an entrepreneur and labor leader. When Civil War veterans returned and immigrants arrived after 1865, many blacks were driven out of skilled jobs they had held for years. In view of this, Myers, who had been apprenticed as a ship caulker at
This group of ministers and lawyers worked for the improvement
of education for Negro children and for the hiring of black teachers. Included
in this group are: Harry £ Cummings (front row center), W. Ashby
Hawkins (second row center), Warner T McGuinn (third row, third from left),
and the Reverend Harvey Johnson (back row center). The picture was taken
in front of Johnson's house on Druid Hill Avenue
Booker T Washington, shown here addressing a Baltimore audience, encouraged the development of black-owned businesses to provide a stable economic base for the community
The Reverend George Bragg, rector of St. James Episcopal Church from 1891 to 1940, provided religious, intellectual, and social leadership within Baltimore's black community
Tom Smith, the Democratic leader, held a prominent position in the predominantly Republican black community because of his power to distribute patronage 1obs and proc ure political favors
the age of 16, decided to found a black-owned shipyard which would employ black workers. He solicited funds from merchants and the black churches and sold shares of stock for $5. The Chesapeake Marine Railway and Dry Dock Company opened in 1868.
Myers also organized a Colored Caulkers Trade Union Society, one of the first Negro labor organizations. The shipyard operated until 1879 when it went out of business primarily because the wooden clippers were being replaced by steel-hulled ships. Another problem, ironically, was that other shipyard owners were paying lower wages to their white workers. By the time Myers' company went out of existence, the union had forced the white caulkers' union to accept blacks into their ranks.
Blacks in Baltimore had one advantage not possessed by most Negro residents in cities of former slave states. They voted. In northern cities, where blacks also had the franchise, their numbers were so small that they wielded little power. In Baltimore, blacks had both numbers and the franchise. Most Negroes voted for the Republican Party until the time of the New Deal. This was true in Baltimore and throughout the country. Several early 20th century attempts by the Democratic party to disenfranchise blacks in Maryland failed when reform Democrats, white Republicans, and many immigrants joined blacks in their opposition to measures like grandfather clauses.
Beginning in 1890, black Republicans won seats on the City Council almost every election until 1931. Harry S. Cummings represented a predominantly black ward for fifteen years between 1890 and 1917 when he died. When first elected, Cummings, who grew up in Baltimore and was one of the first two blacks to graduate from the University of Maryland Law School, received favorable newspaper com ments because of his educational and professio
nal background. Dr. John Marcus Cargill and Hiram Watty, a teamster and party regular, were the other black councilmen before World War I. As one of many councilmen, none possessed much power. Their greatest achievements lay in improving the colored schools and funneling some jobs into the black community. A few black Democrats also distributed patronage jobs. Most prominent among them was Tom Smith who, although he never held public office, wielded considerable power.
In the early 20th century, a system of rigid racial segregation grew up in the deep South. In Baltimore, some facilities and institutions were segregated while others were not. Schools, railroad cars, hotels, restaurants, and many stores were segregated. Streetcars were not. City Council ordinances of 1910, 1911 and 1913 requiring segregated housing were defeated when local black lawyers like W. Ashby Hawkins and Warner T. McGuinn tested their constitu tionality in court.
By the outbreak of World War I, a small black middle class had moved into houses along Eutaw Place, Druid Hill Avenue, Madison Avenue and Mosher Street, formerly occupied by German Jews who by then were moving further out from the city. That relatively small group of lawyers, doctors, ministers, and teachers all worked to provide the best services and institutions possible in the society. The vast majority of blacks lived in poor conditions, received low wages, and had little or no opportunity to gain a good education. While the immigrants became more thoroughly assimi- lated, most Negroes were forced to remain in a segregated world.
Late nineteenth century politics was marked by the growth of political machines that dominated most of the nation's cities. Generally, they based their strength on the voting power of immigrants and their descendants to whose
Harry Sythe Cummings, a
Republican, was the first black
man elected to the Baltimore City
Council in 1890
Hiram Watty, a Republican, served several terms on the city council before World War I
Isaac Myers, an entrepreneur and
y labor leader, organized one of
the nation's first Negro unions
Myers founded the Chesapeake Marine Railway and Dry Dock Company in 1868. He employed black workers who were faced with an increasing discrimination in employment when the abolition of slavery put them in competition with free white workers
needs the leaders catered. Members of the machine hierarchy,
often immigrants or first generation Americans, generally met new arrivals
at the docks. They helped the newcomers find lodging and a job. The machine
often provided emergency food, coal, and even medical care. In exchange,
the beneficiaries of these services voted their friends into office.
Baltimore had a machine, but with a difference. Its first boss, Isaac Freeman Rasin, grew up on Maryland's Eastern Shore, the son of an old Maryland, Protestant family that was listed in the Social Register. Local supporters of his Democratic machine reflected Baltimore's unique political situation as a city whose heritage was half northern and half southern.
Baltimore's foreign born population was proportionately smaller than that of most northern, industrial cities. Alone, the foreign born and their children could not have dominated the city's politics. Baltimore had, however, a strong source of Democratic party strength in its southern sympathizers and others who considered the Republican party of the 1870s to be the party of Reconstruction and Negro equality. When these two Democratic groups joined forces, they made their party dominant in Baltimore.
Rasin worked his way up through the Democratic party hierarchy, representing the 7th ward on the city's executive committee and later becoming Clerk of the Court of Common Pleas, a lucrative job which he held from 1867 to 1884. In 1870, Rasin met Arthur Pue Gorman, Maryland's future United States Senator, and the two formed an alliance between city and county political groups which lasted until Gorman 's death in 1906 and Rasin's in 1907. When the system was perfected, Rasin controlled the city and Gorman the state, and they cooperated with each other.
Rasin consolidated his power in the city when his candidate for mayor, Joshua Vansant, won in 1871 as did his candidate for governor, William Pinkney Whyte. The double victory gave Rasin control over many patronage jobs, the essence of machine power. Like all bosses, he also distributed city contracts, received campaign contributions from contractors, and placed his people in jobs with their companies. Rasin's powers included choosing the Demo cratic nominee for mayor. In addition to Vansant, at various times he backed Mayors Ferdinand C. Latrobe, whom he also opposed on occasion; George P. Kane, the former Police Marshal; James Hodges; Robert Davidson; Thomas G. Hayes; and Robert McLane, the last Rasin mayor. He made his former ally, William Pinkney Whyte, mayor of Baltimore in 1881 in order to get him out of state politics.
Like most machines, Rasin's faced opposition from groups who called themselves reformers and who accused the politicos of all sorts of corrupt practices. As early as 1873 in Baltimore, Republicans and some independent Democrats founded a Citizen's Reform party which accused the organization Democrats of fraudulent voter registration, stuffing ballot boxes, and irregularities in the awarding of city contracts, which invariably went to friends of Rasin.
Rasin s most effective response to the reformers was the nomination of respectable individuals for mayor. Ferdinand C. Latrobe, for example, who held office for 13 years between 1875 and 1895, was the son of the general counsel for the B & O. He worked hard for the city and was not a spoilsman. Rasin gave his mayors a free hand to make policies for the city except where they affected the machine. The boss kept a check on the mayors by retaining control of the City Council.
A serious challenge to Rasin came in 1885 when Charles J. Bonaparte and John Cowan led
Isaac Freeman Rasin, Baltimore's most powerful Democratic
boss, dominated the city's politics from the 1870s until his death in 1907
Rasin consolidated his power in
1871 when his candidate, Joshua
Vansant, won the election for
The choice of competent mayors like Ferdinand C. Latrobe helped Rasin maintain his influence
in the formation of the Reform League. Bonaparte, who was the grandson of Betsy Patterson and Jerome Bonaparte, at that time was a successful lawyer and well-known local reformer. After his friend and fellow reformer Theodore Roosevelt became president, Bonaparte served as his Secretary of the Navy and later Attorney General. John Cowan had already fought the machine for the principle of non-partisan judges. As president of the B & 0, he naturally favored any opponent of Gorman's, because the Senator favored the Pennsylvania Railroad over his. These leaders were typical of Progressive reformers in cities throughout the United States. They came from prosperous families, were well educated, and sought to change the system by replacing men they considered crooked and poorly trained with ones they deemed honest and competent.
The reformers' first big victory, one of their few complete ones, came in 1895 when a Republican candidate for mayor, Alcaeus Hooper, won the election. Hooper was supported by Republicans, white and black, and reform Democrats. During the campaign, Hooper had attacked not only the corruption of the machine but also slum conditions in Baltimore, the lack of food inspectors, gross mismanagement of city departments, especially the school system, and the Policy, a lottery run by the machine.
The reformers were aided by Charles H. Grasty whose Baltimore Evening News had been exposing problems it attributed to the political leadership: the high prices and poor service of the Consolidated Gas Company; the telephone monopoly; the streetcars; the system of paving streets where contracts were awarded to machine supporters; slums, where there was inefficient garbage removal and building regulation; and the Policy, which lured precious nickels from people who earned few of them.
Once in office, Hooper began personal inspections of schools, streets, and sewers. One January night in 1896 he was on the streets after midnight checking on the cleaning crews. Hooper's major contribution was the replace ment of some incompetent officials and the institution of more business-like administrative policies.
Hooper was followed in 1897 by a second Republican mayor, William T. Malster. The most important reform during his term was a new city charter. The new charter provided several major changes. School reform stood out, especially the provision requiring merit appointment for teachers, for whom the sole qualifications previously had been good political connections. A Board of Estimates, consisting of the mayor, comptroller, president of the Second Branch of the bicameral City Council, and two others, was created to draft the budget, set limits on expenditures, and grant franchises. A Board of Awards was established to award contracts, taking that power away from the City Council. With these boards that were limited in membership, responsibility for both good and bad deeds was easy to assign.
The success of the reformer-Republican alliance brought several responses from the organization Democrats. One was a series of attempts to disenfranchise blacks because their vote was so heavily Republican. Democratic campaigns became openly racist. In Annapolis, Democrats passed three separate constitutional amendments in 1904, 1908, and 1910 designed to disenfranchise Negroes and thus make a Republican majority impossible. All failed because of strong opposition from all Republi cans, reform Democrats, and many Baltimore machine Democrats, including Rasin, who feared that literacy tests, property requirements, and grandfather clauses might disenfranchise immigrants as well as blacks.
Charles J. Bonaparte, grandson of Betsy Patterson and
Bonaparte, was one of the local
reform leaders who challenged
Ras in and his machine
Republican mayors Alcaeus
Hooper (above) and William
Ma Is ter (left) defeated the
machine in 1895 and 1897
A second response by the Democrats was the nomination of a known reformer, Thomas G. Hayes, to run for mayor in 1899. He won and then appointed the president of the Reform League president of the Board of School Commissioners. He also chose able and trained men as city engineer, building inspector, water engineer and health commissioner. Several state laws passed during his administration effected major reform in Baltimore City. A building inspection act brought the beginning of the end of the sweatshops. A primary election law for the city removed the nomination machinery from the party caucus and gave it to the voting public.
Hayes accumulated enough personal power that Rasin dumped him in 1903 in favor of Robert McLane, who did, however, promise continued "good government." Both Hayes and McLane supported the undertaking of a project to build a sewage system for the city where raw waste still drained in open gutters. Both also supported the Olmsted plan for city beautification. On February 2, 1904 the Board of Estimates approved a loan for sewers, schools, street paving, fire houses, and parks. The commitment was made just in time, because on Sunday, February 7, a fire broke out in the Hurst Drygoods Company on Liberty Street.
Inside the warehouse, smoldering cotton exploded, spewing debris over the neighbor hood. A half dozen buildings were soon blazing as a southwest wind spread the fire across German Street. Before the fire stopped, 140 acres in the heart of the downtown business district, the area of the original Baltimore Town, had been consumed. The fire did not cross the Jones Falls, thereby sparing the residents of Little Italy the destruction of their homes. Miraculous ly, no one was killed. Estimated damage from the great fire was set at $125,000,000 with approximately two thousand buildings de stroyed.
Mayor McLane appointed an Emergency Committee headed by a Progressive, William Keyser, to advise him on the best plan to deal with the burned-out area and a subsequent Burnt District Commission which carried out the first group's recommendations. Keyser 's committee, which included many members of the Municipal Art Society, determined to use the tragedy as an opportunity to institute improvements long needed. They suggested the widening of streets to accommodate increased traffic. Although the property owners, whose lots would be smaller, protested, all but Baltimore Street were rebuilt with extra footage and smooth paving.
Sewer connections were installed under the new streets in anticipation of a complete system which followed soon. Seven years and $20,000,000 later, the system described by a visiting engineer as "the most modern and progressive engineering feat in the world" was completed. In May, 1904 Baltimore's voters approved a $6,000,000 loan for modernization of the harbor. The reconstruction of buildings was managed on an individual basis with no attempt at coordination of design and style. Wide-scale planning of that sort lay two generations in the future.
Mayor Robert McLane s suicide in June, 1904 made E. Clay Timanus mayor. Timanus, a Republican businessman and president of the Second Branch of the City Council, chose prominent reformers George Gaither and William Cabell Bruce as advisors. The new mayor called a General Public Improvements Confe rence in December. Neighborhoods, business groups, charitable agencies and planners all sent delegates. The program the group produced had the support not only of reformers but also of Rasin and his rising lieutenant, John J. "Sonny" Mahon. Under Timanus and J. Barry Mahool, who was elected mayor in 1907, sewers, parks,
The Great Fire of 1904 demolished 140 acres in the heart
of the downtown business district
Though the B&O building was gutted by the flames, the offices of Alexander Brown and Company survived
Guards patrolled the area to prevent looting
school facilities, paving, fire equipment and the city's water supply all improved. The changes meant better public health and safety and also the creation of jobs.
Two important political events occurred in 1907: the death of I. Freeman Rasin and the election of Mayor J. Barry Mahool. Rasin's demise left the way open for a new leader at the top of the machine. Mahool's victory was the last for Baltimore's Progressives.
Sonny Mahon, the only politician in the city with practical knowledge of each ward and a strong following in each, moved to the pinnacle of the political hierarchy. Born of Irish immigrant parents who ran a boarding house on South Frederick Street, Mahon as a boy had thrown bricks at the 6th Massachusetts Regiment as it marched through Baltimore in 1861. By 1870 he was the youngest of the Democratic ward heelers. His 9th ward waterfront gang helped him gain control. In 1878 he served his first of eleven terms on the city council.
Mahon could never concentrate his power to the extent that Rasin had. He always had to share it with others. By 1911, News cartoonist McKee Barkley drew Mahon as king of a political "Royal Family" which included two street cleaning contractors, John S. "Frank" Kelly and Danny Loden, and Robert "Paving Bob" Padgett who owned a contracting business. Mahon, Kelly and Loden. were all Irish. Padgett was of recent English stock. Irish Americans dominated Baltimore's politics even though they were greatly outnumbered by Germans and native Americans. Mahon, like Rasin, worked closely with the business community and also adopted a conciliatory approach towards reformers. Even more than Rasin, he capitalized on the needs of the new immigrants, whose numbers were expanding rapidly at this time. Mahon maintained his power until his death in the late 1920s.
In the same year Rasin died, 1907, the last progressive mayor of Baltimore, J. Barry Mahool, took office. He believed in ugood government" (by reformers), regulation of corporations, women's suffrage, and social reform. Mahool's government, like those of his recent predeces sors, operated efficiently under the influence of a number of well-trained and responsible high officials. It compared favorably with those of many large cities. In 1910, the state legislature passed a bill creating a public service commission to regulate utilities. A pure food law was also passed in 1910 allowed regulation of slaughtering and food processing.
Women's suffrage had been an issue in Baltimore long before Mahool espoused the cause. In 1894, Etta Maddox, the city's first female lawyer, and her sister, Emma Maddox Funck, led in the creation of the Baltimore Women's Suffrage Association. The group had 160 members in 1905. The following year, the organization sponsored the annual convention of the National American Suffrage Association. Susan B. Anthony, Jane Addams, Clara Barton, Julia Ward Howe, and Carrie Chapman Catt all came to Baltimore. Local activists included Mary Garrett and Elizabeth King Ellicott. Elizabeth Ellicott formed the Equal Suffrage League in 1908. In the following year, both local units took a stand for complete suffrage. Both Mahool and Mahon endorsed their stand.
All the suffragists were involved in the general reform movement and campaigned for clean water and streets, pure food and milk, playgrounds, and better schools. Mrs. Benjamin Corkran formed the first Baltimore Chapter of the National Consumers League. Elizabeth King organized the Maryland Federation of Women's Clubs. These groups and the Arundell Good Government Club, another women's group, all supported a wide range of progressive reforms.
Social reform was a major component of
Mayors E. Clay Timanus (far left) and J. Barry Mahool (Ieft)oversaw construction of major improvements including sewers, parks, school facilities and roads
Officials toured the sewer system built under the new streets
Sonny Mahon (right) took over control of the Democratic machine in 1907. He is shown here with his lieutenant, Frank Kelly, apparently studying their racing forms
Etta Maddox, Baltimore's first female lawyer, was a leader in the formation of the Baltimore Women's Suffrage Association in 1894
progressive programs in cities throughout the nation.
In addition to achievements already mentioned in labor legislation, housing
regulation, sanitation and health, several other notable programs were
instituted before World War j. Under the leadership of Eliza Ridgely, a
Children's Playground Association was establis hed. Robert Garrett organized
a Public Athletic League. Most reformers including Mayor. Mahool supported
their efforts and by 1908 the city had opened 28 park and school yard playgrounds
with supervised programs.
Proponents of public health programs supported the establishment of public baths, where people whose houses had no running water could bathe and wash clothes. Henry Walters contributed the money for the city's first three public baths. These were followed by additional baths, portable showers, and swimming pools. In 1909, another public health proposal finally became a reality. A hospital for infectious diseases was opened on the grounds of Bay View, the city's poor house.
The progressives' efforts at reforming the process of government were all aimed at bringing about concrete reforms such as those achieved in Baltimore in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The last great effort of the local reformers before the outbreak of World War I was a new charter designed to increase still further the efficient operation of the city government. Although the charter was rejected in 1910 by the state legislature, its provisions all became law during the post-World War I years. In 1918 Baltimore won home rule and a merit system was instituted for civil service jobs. In 1922 the City Council was revamped. The unwieldy bicameral body was replaced in 1923 by a single chamber whose members were to be elected from six districts instead of 28 wards. Eventually the Boards of Estimates and Awards were combined.
As the election of 1911 approached, Mahon made it clear that he was not satisfied with the number of patronage positions that Mahool had allotted him. Sonny and all the ward bosses threw heavy support to the Democratic candidate, James H. Preston. Preston's victory and subsequent two-term administration, which lasted until 1919, gave more power to the machine than it had enjoyed since 1895. City contracting became political again, and a big campaign to pave cobblestone streets and cover open sewers resulted in lucrative contracts and lots of jobs.
The Jones Falls was covered over by the Fallsway, thus in one stroke ending the danger of flooding and creating a new expressway. The sanitary sewer system was completed. The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the Municipal Band were established, both supported by the city. Parks were improved and extended. The personnel had changed with the return to power of the machine, but most of the improvements instituted by the reformers remained and often were extended. Ironically, just after the city's political power reverted to the machine, the national Democratic Party convened here, in 1912, and nominated Woodrow Wilson, the last of the progressive presidents.
From 1914 to 1917 people's attention turned more and more to events in Europe. As the war there continued and the war at sea worsened, the American's position evolved from neutrality to involvement. Although it is too arbitrary a date, April 6, 1917, the day of our declaration of war on the Central Powers, is generally given as the end of the progressive period. Energies, both national and local, turned away from domestic reform to the pursuit of the war effort. When the war ended, life was different. Clearly, World War I marked the end of one era and the beginning of a new one.
Reformers like Eliza Ridgely pressed for the establishment
of playgrounds and supervised recreational programs. This one on Calvert
Street was one of twenty-eight opened by 1908
Reformers and public health workers supported the establishment of public baths, where people whose homes had no running water could bathe and wash clothes
The public baths enloyed wide use for many years. These girls were photographed around 1920
The opening of public swimming pools followed the successful establishment of the public baths. The Gwynns Falls Swimming Pool was a popular place for outings such as this one