as attachedpart_i.docxPart I. Content
1.Explain the author’s primary point.
2.What evidence does the author use to supports this point.
Part II Evaluate Credibility of the document
1.What is the author’s bias and how does the bias affect the credibility of the
viewpoint? You should to do
some research on the author.
2.Why was the document produced? Does the rationale affect the credibility of the source? If so, explain how.
3.Does the author present a strong case? Explain your answer.
4. Is the author’s argument based on any unproven assumptions? If so, identify the assumptions and identify
what information is needed.
5.Explain the significance of the document. How does this give us insight into the issues and events of the
Lincoln Steffens (1866–1936), born and educated in California, was a pioneer in muckraking and became
famous for his searing accounts of municipal corruption. Steffens provided his readers with an informed, if
sensational, look into how cities were really governed, and he epitomized the reform-minded journalism that
was popular in the Progressive Era. Steffens’s urban subjects included St. Louis, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, New
York, Philadelphia, and Chicago. These pieces, which appeared in McClure’s magazine, were collected in The
Shame of the Cities (1904). Here Steffens exposes the “shame” of St. Louis, which he likens to that of New York
City. “Tweed,” which appears in the title, refers to New York’s Tweed Ring, the notoriously corrupt political
machine that was led by William Marcy Tweed and controlled the city.
St. Louis, the fourth city in size in the United States, is making two announcements to the world: one that it is
the worst-governed city in the land; the other that it wishes all men to come there (for the World’s Fair) and see
it. It isn’t our worst-governed city; Philadelphia is that. But St. Louis is worth examining while we have it
inside out. . . .
The corruption of St. Louis came from the top. The best citizens—the merchants and big financiers—used to
rule the town, and they ruled it well. They set out to outstrip Chicago. The commercial and industrial war
between these two cities was at one time a picturesque and dramatic spectacle such as is witnessed only in our
country. Business men were not mere merchants and the politicians were not mere grafters; the two kinds of
citizens got together and wielded the power of banks, railroads, factories, the prestige of the city, and the spirit
of its citizens to gain business and population. And it was a close race. Chicago, having the start, always led,
but St. Louis had pluck, intelligence, and tremendous energy. It pressed Chicago hard. It excelled in a sense of
civic beauty and good government; and there are those who think yet it might have won. But a change
occurred. Public spirit became private spirit, public enterprise became private greed.
Along about 1890, public franchises and privileges were sought, not only for legitimate profit and common
convenience, but for loot. Taking but slight and always selfish interest in the public councils, the big men
misused politics. The riff-raff, catching the smell of corruption, rushed into the Municipal Assembly, drove out
the remaining respectable men, and sold the city—its streets, its wharves, its markets, and all that it had—to
the now greedy business men and bribers. In other words, when the leading men began to devour their own
city, the herd rushed into the trough and fed also.
So gradually has this occurred that these same citizens hardly realize it. Go to St. Louis and you will find the
habit of civic pride in them; they still boast. The visitor is told of the wealth of the residents, of the financial
strength of the banks, and of the growing importance of the industries, yet he sees poorly paved, refuseburdened streets, and dusty or mud-covered alleys; he passes a ramshackle fire-trap crowded with the sick, and
learns that it is the City Hospital; he enters the “Four Courts,” and his nostrils are greeted by the odor of
formaldehyde used as a disinfectant, and insect powder spread to destroy vermin; he calls at the new City Hall,
and finds half the entrance boarded with pine planks to cover up the unfinished interior. Finally, he turns a tap
in the hotel, to see liquid mud flow into wash-basin or bath-tub.
The St. Louis charter vests legislative power of great scope in a Municipal Assembly, which is composed of a
council and a House of Delegates. Here is a description of the latter by one of Mr. Folk’s grand juries:
“We have had before us many of those who have been, and most of those who are now, members of the House
of Delegates. We found a number of these utterly illiterate and lacking in ordinary intelligence, unable to give
a better reason for favoring or opposing a measure than a desire to act with the majority. In some, no trace of
mentality or morality could be found; in others, a low order of training appeared, united with base cunning,
groveling instincts, and sordid desires. Unqualified to respond to the ordinary requirements of life, they are
utterly incapable of comprehending the significance of an ordinance, and are incapacitated, both by nature and
training, to be the makers of laws. The choosing of such men to be legislators makes a travesty of justice, sets a
premium on incompetency, and deliberately poisons the very source of the law.”
These creatures were well organized. They had a “combine”—a legislative institution—which the grand jury
described as follows:
“Our investigation, covering more or less fully a period of ten years, shows that, with few exceptions, no
ordinance has been passed wherein valuable privileges or franchises are granted until those interested have
paid the legislators the money demanded for action in the particular case. Combines in both branches of the
Municipal Assembly are formed by members sufficient in number to control legislation. To one member of
this combine is delegated the authority to act for the combine, and to receive and to distribute to each member
the money agreed upon as the price of his vote in support of, or opposition to, a pending measure. So long has
this practice existed that such members have come to regard the receipt of money for action on pending
measures as a legitimate perquisite of a legislator.”
One legislator consulted a lawyer with the intention of suing a firm to recover an unpaid balance on a fee for
the grant of a switch-way. Such difficulties rarely occurred, however. In order to insure a regular and
indisputable revenue, the combine of each house drew up a schedule of bribery prices for all possible sorts of
grants, just such a list as commercial traveler takes out on the road with him. There was a price for a grain
elevator, a price for a short switch; side tracks were charged for by the linear foot, but at rates which varied
according to the nature of the ground taken; a street improvement cost so much; wharf space was classified and
precisely rated. As there was a scale for favorable legislation, so there was one for defeating bills. It made a
difference in the price if there was opposition, and it made a difference whether the privilege asked was
legitimate or not. But nothing was passed free of charge. Many of the legislators were saloon-keepers—it was
in St. Louis that a practical joker nearly emptied the House of Delegates by tipping a boy to rush into a session
and call out, “Mister, your saloon is on fire,”—but even the saloon-keepers of a neighborhood had to pay to
keep in their inconvenient locality a market which public interest would have moved.
From the Assembly, bribery spread into other departments. Men empowered to issue peddlers’ licenses and
permits to citizens who wished to erect awnings or use a portion of the sidewalk for storage purposes charged
an amount in excess of the prices stipulated by law, and pocketed the difference. The city’s money was loaned
at interest, and the interest was converted into private bank accounts. City carriages were used by the wives
and children of city officials. Supplies for public institutions found their way to private tables; one itemized
account for food furnished the poorhouse included California jellies, imported cheeses, and French wines! A
member of the Assembly caused the incorporation of a grocery company, with his sons and daughters the
ostensible stockholders, and succeeded in having his bid for city supplies accepted although the figures were in
excess of his competitors’. In return for the favor thus shown, he indorsed a measure to award the contract for
city printing to another member, and these two voted aye on a bill granting to a third the exclusive right to
furnish city dispensaries with drugs.
Men ran into debt to the extent of thousands of dollars for the sake of election to either branch of the
Assembly. One night, on a street car going to the City Hall, a new member remarked that the nickel he handed
the conductor was his last. The next day he deposited $5,000 in a savings bank. A member of the House of
Delegates admitted to the Grand Jury that his dividends from the combine netted $25,000 in one year; a
Councilman stated that he was paid $50,000 for his vote on a single measure.
Bribery was a joke. A newspaper reporter overheard this conversation one evening in the corridor of the City
“Ah there, my boodler!” said Mr. Delegate.
“Say there, my grafter!” replied Mr. Councilman. “Can you lend me a hundred for a day or two?”
“Not at present. But I can spare it if the Z —— bill goes through to-night. Meet me at F —— ‘s later.”
“All right, my jailbird; I’ll be there.”
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