In American political history, the Gilded Age (1876-1900) is popularly known as an era of extremely high voter turnout with a spirit of cheerful political engagement among all eligible (white and male) voters that our modern cynical age sorely lacks. Missing from this image is the reality of what voting for working class men in the rapidly industrializing United States looked and felt like. In this talk Gideon Cohn-Postar traces voter participation from factory floor to the polling place, exploring the coercion, intimidation, and bribery that typified elections for thousands of workers throughout the United States. While it is long-forgotten now, the struggle over the right of employees to vote free of pressure from their employers guides much of the conduct of modern elections and our own experiences at the polls.
This event is free and open to all current OLLI members. The event will be streamed live to our Chicago campus. Registration is required for both campuses. Cofee and biscuits will be served at teh streaming location only.
Gideon Cohn-Postar is a doctoral candidate in American history at Northwestern University. His work focuses on voter intimidation and fraud and the hazy boundaries that American society draws around the concept of political legitimacy. His research has been supported by the Gilder-Lehrman Institute of American History, the Social Science Research Council, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.