- Select two of the articles from the list below and read them carefully and completely. All of the articles are about a controversial topic in American History. The article will present two sides of the issue.
- Write two, separate single-spaced reviews of the articles.
A. The review should have four elements/paragraphs:
- Write a one paragraph overview of the issue. (200-300 words)
- Write a one paragraph summary of one the arguments. (200-300 Words)
- Write a one paragraph summary of the other argument. (200-300 Words)
- In your final paragraph, select which argument you believe is more convincing and explain why.(200-300 Words)
B. The review should meet the following format guidelines:
- It should be typed (single-space)
- The margins should be set at one inch (top, bottom, left, right).
- The font style should be Times New Roman. The font size should be 12 point.
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UNFORMATTED ATTACHMENT PREVIEW
Clinton Impeachment High Crimes and Misdemeanors or Political Witch Hunt? The issue: Should President Bill Clinton (D) be impeached for alleged crimes resulting from his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky? Or are his transgressions not serious enough to merit impeachment? Arguments in favor of impeachment: Clinton lied to a civil and a grand jury about the nature of his relations with Lewinsky and obstructed justice in attempting to cover up the affair; those charges represent serious moral, ethical and legal breaches. Clinton must be punished for violating the responsibilities of his office and lying to the American public. It would set a bad precedent if the president were allowed to get away with such crimes. Arguments against impeachment: Whether or not Clinton committed the alleged transgressions, they do not constitute grounds for impeachment; such drastic action should be reserved only for the most serious offenses. Furthermore, removing Clinton from office would undermine the will of the American electorate, which has twice selected Clinton to be president. The whole impeachment affair is merely a political witch hunt by Republicans who do not agree with Clinton’s policies. President Bill Clinton before television cameras in the White House Map Room moments before he addressed the nation about the Lewinsky affair. Introduction The Constitution provides for the removal of a president who has been found guilty of committing “Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors” but impeachment is rare. In December 1998, for only the second time in the 209-year history of the presidency, a sitting president was impeached in the House. The House voted to impeach President Bill Clinton (D, 1993-2001) on charges stemming from an affair he had conducted with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Clinton was spared removal from office after the Senate voted to acquit him in February 1999. Impeachment is the process that the Constitution grants to Congress to remove a sitting president, vice president or other civilian federal officials (excluding members of Congress) for their misconduct. Impeachment inquiries begin in the House, which examines the evidence. A majority vote of the House is required to impeach the president, an action similar to indicting him for trial. Charges of impeachment are then sent to the Senate, which acts as a court to weigh the charges. A vote of two-thirds of the Senate is required to remove the president from office. The House had launched an impeachment investigation against Clinton in October 1998, after Congress received a 445-page referral from independent counsel Kenneth Starr. Starr had been investigating the president since 1994 for an unrelated matter. The referral, known as the Starr report, contained what Starr called “substantial and credible information” providing support for Clinton’s impeachment. Monica Lewinsky departs from the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. Lewinsky’s relationship with President Bill Clinton was the focus of the House prosecutor’s case in the impeachment of Clinton. The Starr report focused on charges relating to the president’s involvement with Lewinsky. In early 1998, evidence had emerged indicating that Clinton had tried to hide an affair with her. The report accused Clinton of perjury (lying under oath) before a grand jury and in a civil trial, obstruction of justice and abuse of power in his attempt to hide the affair. After the House Judiciary Committee completed its impeachment inquiry, it drew up four articles of impeachment related to those charges. The U.S. House voted on December 19, 1998, to impeach Clinton. In near party-line votes, the House approved two of the four articles of impeachment that had been drawn up by the Judiciary Committee. The House approved Article I, which accused him of lying under oath about the nature of his relationship with Lewinsky before a grand jury, and Article III, which accused Clinton of obstructing justice in order to cover up his sexual affair with Lewinsky. However, the House rejected Article II, which accused him of perjury in a civil lawsuit, and Article IV, which accused him of abusing his presidential power. The proceedings sparked intensely partisan debate. In this New York City health club, members intently watched the impeachment proceedings while exercising. Under constitutional procedures, the case was subsequently sent to the Senate for trial. The Senate on February 12, 1999, voted to acquit Clinton on both charges of impeachment. Clinton would have been the first American president to ever be removed from office. President Andrew Johnson (R, 1865-69) had been impeached in 1868 in a dispute with radical Republicans over the reconstruction of the South following the Civil War (1861-65), but had been spared removal by one vote in the Senate. The House Judiciary Committee had approved three articles of impeachment against President Richard Nixon (R, 1969-74) in 1974 over the Watergate scandal, but Nixon resigned before a scheduled House vote on impeachment. One thing that all three impeachment proceedings had in common was intensely partisan debate. The debate over Clinton’s impeachment was particularly acrimonious. Republicans argued that Clinton had betrayed the nation’s trust, and they urged him to resign. Democrats just as vehemently defended Clinton. The vote accordingly followed party lines. On the most serious charge Clinton faced, that of lying to a grand jury, just five Democrats and five Republicans crossed party lines. Those who supported Clinton’s impeachment said that the actions with which he was charged represented serious moral, ethical and legal breaches. They argued that Clinton must be punished for breaking the law, violating the responsibilities of his office and lying to the American people. As the nation’s leader, the president must uphold the law and preserve the integrity of the government more so than any other person or official, they asserted. It would set a poor precedent, they added, if the president were allowed to go unpunished for crimes that would be penalized if they were committed by the average citizen. Opponents of impeachment, however, questioned the validity of the charges against Clinton. Even if the allegations were true, they said, such crimes would not warrant impeachment; his transgressions fell far short of the Constitution’s impeachment standard. They accused Clinton’s critics of conducting a “witch hunt” to uncover and exaggerate Clinton’s alleged misconduct. Moreover, they pointed out, Clinton’s job approval ratings remained high, and polls showed that most Americans did not want the president to be removed from office. Impeachment and Censure in U.S. History Allegations of misconduct involving presidents have long been a part of American politics. Even President George Washington (Federalist, 1789-97) , who was deeply revered during his first term, faced hostility from other politicians, the press and the public by the time he finished his second term. Washington’s critics called him a monarch-like tyrant and a hypocrite who abused his power as president. In some ways, Washington was lucky. He faced no real challengers for the presidency, and political parties, which later changed the nature of American politics, did not yet dominate the political landscape. (Washington did not belong to a political party when he was first elected; he would later join the new Federalist Party.) Organized parties began to influence elections and politics immediately after Washington’s tenure as president ended in 1797. The U.S. Senate convened for the impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson in the aftermath of the Civil War. The growth of the two-party political system in the U.S. changed the tenor of politics, often by making political debate more bitter and by solidifying partisan alliances between members of Congress. At times, party members have mobilized to attack the credibility of presidents and have even considered the most drastic step—impeachment, or removing a president from office. In 1868, for the first time in U.S. history, the House voted to impeach a president, Johnson. In Johnson’s case, impeachment charges were brought by radical Republicans, who bitterly disagreed with his policies for rebuilding the country in the aftermath of the Civil War. When Johnson removed a member of his cabinet without the consent of the Senate, a move that had been made illegal by a now-defunct 1867 law, the action gave Johnson’s foes the opportunity they needed to bring impeachment charges. However, the Senate fell one vote shy of the two-thirds majority need to convict Johnson, and he remained in office. Watergate, the all-encompassing name for the most notorious political scandal ever to rock the U.S. presidency, occurred 100 years later. Watergate involved a series of crimes and ethical lapses by the Nixon administration. The first inkling that administration officials were involved came in June 1972, when members of Nixon’s reelection campaign were arrested for breaking into the Watergate building in Washington, D.C., where the Democratic Party headquarters were housed. An investigation into the crimes uncovered widespread graft and political abuses that were linked to many high-ranking members of Nixon’s administration, including the president himself. With his family standing behind him, President Richard Nixon read his resignation statement to the American public, in August 1974. Many Republicans joined congressional Democrats seeking to investigate the president’s role in the Watergate scandals. The House Judiciary Committee in July 1974 brought three articles of impeachment against Nixon—for obstructing the House panel’s investigation, abusing presidential powers and disobeying subpoenas. In August 1974, before a scheduled House vote on impeaching the president, Nixon resigned, the only president ever to do so. He never faced criminal charges because he was pardoned by his successor, President Gerald Ford (R, 1974-77), in September 1974. In addition, four presidents have been censured by Congress, according to the Congressional Research Service. Censure is a resolution passed by Congress that condemns the president for misconduct or abusing his power. The four presidents who were censured were Andrew Jackson (D, 1829-37), John Tyler (Whig, 1841-45), James Buchanan (D, 1857-61) and Nixon. The Start of the Clinton Investigation Clinton’s impeachment troubles stemmed from an unrelated investigation begun by Starr four years earlier. Starr was originally appointed by a panel of federal judges in August 1994 to investigate Clinton’s involvement in a series of financial and real-estate dealings known collectively as Whitewater. At issue was whether Clinton or his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, either knew about or committed illegal financial transactions during those dealings. First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton arrives for an appearance before the grand jury hearing into the Whitewater investigation being led by Kenneth Starr. After Starr’s appointment, the inquiry into Clinton’s conduct widened to encompass numerous other allegations. Those allegations included charges that Clinton received illegal campaign contributions, that members of the administration attempted to cover up certain sensitive records and that associates of the Clintons attempted to influence testimony of key witnesses in the Whitewater case. In a November 19, 1998, statement to the House Judiciary Committee, Starr cleared Clinton of several key claims of wrongdoing. Starr said that there was no evidence that the Clintons had acted improperly in either the so-called Travelgate or Filegate affairs. Travelgate centered on accusations that the Clintons had improperly fired seven White House travel office employees in order to replace the staff with loyal friends. Filegate, meanwhile, involved allegations that White House officials had misused confidential files from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). In addition, Starr testified that he had insufficient evidence to implicate the Clintons for any wrongdoing in their Whitewater dealings. Yet the 1998 impeachment charges against Clinton did not result from any of the investigations originally launched by the independent counsel. Instead, the charges against Clinton stemmed from his testimony in a civil lawsuit against him. That case, a sexual-harassment lawsuit filed by Paula Corbin Jones, a former Arkansas state employee, was settled in November 1998 for $850,000. Clinton did not admit wrongdoing in the settlement. Paula Jones (left) and her attorney, Susan Carpenter, walk to their plane for Little Rock, Arkansas, to testify in her sexual harassment lawsuit against President Bill Clinton. In the case, Jones alleged that Clinton had made inappropriate sexual advances to her in a Little Rock, Arkansas, hotel suite in 1991, when he was the state’s governor. The case was dismissed in April 1998 by Judge Susan Webber Wright of the U.S. District Court in Little Rock. As part of the November 1998 settlement of the case, Jones and her lawyers agreed to end their appeal of Wright’s ruling. During the case, Jones’s lawyers had sought to show that Clinton had engaged in a pattern of sexual misconduct with his workplace subordinates. Two women—Gennifer Flowers and Dolly Kyle Browning—said that they had engaged in long-term extramarital affairs with Clinton, and another woman, Kathleen Willey, testified that Clinton had made unwanted sexual advances to her while she was a White House volunteer. Another woman who testified was 24-year-old Lewinsky, who had served as a White House intern between June 1995 and April 1996. In their January 1998 sworn testimony for the Jones case, both Clinton and Lewinsky denied that they had been involved in a “sexual relationship” with each other. New Allegations The accuracy of those statements was called into question when Linda Tripp, a Defense Department employee and confidante of Lewinsky, contacted the office of the independent counsel. Tripp had secretly taped her telephone conversations with Lewinsky. In those conversations, Lewinsky said that she had engaged in intimate relations with Clinton and discussed filing a false affidavit in the Jones case. Linda Tripp, a Defense Department employee, secretly taped her telephone conversations with Monica Lewinsky. Starr then obtained permission to extend his investigation into the Lewinsky matter. In July, Starr granted Lewinsky immunity from prosecution for perjury in exchange for her testimony to the grand jury that was hearing evidence in the matter. In her grand jury testimony, Lewinsky described having sexual encounters with Clinton. She also claimed that they had discussed ways to keep the affair secret, but she said that Clinton had never told her directly to lie under oath; encouraging someone to lie under oath to a grand jury constitutes an obstruction of justice, a federal offense. On many occasions during the Jones suit, Clinton publicly denied that he had engaged in sexual relations with Lewinsky. After testifying to the grand jury on August 17, however, Clinton made a televised address to the nation in which he admitted that he and Lewinsky had had a relationship that was “not appropriate.” He told the American public that although his earlier statements were “legally accurate,” he had “misled” the public. In the wake of the speech, even many of Clinton’s longtime Democratic allies harshly criticized the president for his previous denials of the affair. Less than a month later, on September 9, Starr submitted to Congress the 445-page report alleging that his office had found “substantial and credible information…that may constitute grounds for impeachment” of Clinton. The Starr report contained graphic descriptions of 10 sexual encounters between Clinton and Lewinsky, based mostly on Lewinsky’s testimony to the grand jury. Vernon Jordan (left); Monica Lewinsky (right) In his report, Starr cited 11 acts that might constitute grounds for impeachment. Five of those charges involved perjury. Starr contended that Clinton had lied under oath in the Jones case and to the federal grand jury about his sexual relationship with Lewinsky; that he had lied when he claimed that he did not recall being alone with Lewinsky; and that he had lied about conversations he had had with both Lewinsky and his friend Vernon Jordan. Starr further claimed that Clinton had obstructed justice by concealing evidence of his relationship with Lewinsky and by enlisting Jordan to help her find a job in New York City. Starr also charged Clinton with attempting to influence the testimony of potential grand jury witnesses, including his secretary, Betty Currie. The last of the 11 counts claimed that Clinton had abused his power by lying to the public and Congress and by invoking executive privilege. Independent counsel Kenneth Starr testifies before the House Judiciary Committee. Calls for Clinton’s ouster had surfaced immediately after the Lewinsky matter was reported in the press and intensified after the Starr report was submitted to Congress. Many critics called upon the president to resign for the good of the country. Instead, Clinton apologized for misleading the public but firmly denied that he had committed any criminal wrongdoing. Clinton had said he would “never” consider resigning over the allegations against him. When it became clear that Clinton would not resign, the ball was set in motion for an impeachment inquiry. On October 8, the House voted, 258-176, to approve a full-scale, open-ended impeachment investigation of Clinton’s conduct. Wrangling over Terms Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution states that a president may be impeached and removed from office for “Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors.” But just what may be considered a “high crime or misdemeanor” has been the subject of extensive debate. Before hearing any testimony about Clinton’s conduct, the House Judiciary Committee heard arguments from numerous scholars who disagreed about what type of conduct constituted an impeachable offense. President Bill Clinton addressed the nation on the nature of his relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. In his response to accusations by the independent counsel, Kenneth Starr, president Clinton denied any action which could be grounds for impeachment. Some legal experts asserted that even if proved, the charges against Clinton could not be considered high crimes and misdemeanors because he did not misuse his office. “Lying about your sex life,” says historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr., was “the last thing, surely, that the framers of the Constitution had in mind” when giving Congress the power to impeach the president. The White House, which issued a rebuttal to the Starr report in September 1998, asserted that high crimes and misdemeanors had a fixed meaning for the framers of the Constitution. “It meant wrongs committed against our system of government,” the rebuttal said. “The impeachment clause was designed to protect our country against a President who was using his official powers against the nation.” Other observers, however, said that the charges against Clinton fell easily within the definition of high crimes and misdemeanors. “If perjury and obstruction of justice do not undermine the integrity of the office, what offenses would?” asked Representative Charles Canady (R, Florida), a member of the House Judiciary Committee. Some legal experts said that the charges against Clinton were no trivial matter, and that considering them anything less than high crimes and misdemeanors would set a dangerous precedent for future officeholders. Determining that such felonious offenses were not grounds for impeachment, they contended, would give future presidents free rein to break the law. Clinton denied the charges against him and asserted that he was not guilty of any illegal conduct. Clinton even challenged the charge that would seem most evident—that he had lied under oath when he denied having sexual relations with Lewinsky. Although Clinton admitted to having sexual contact with Lewinsky, he and his lawyers maintained that his statement in the deposition for the Jones case, although misleading, was “legally accurate.” In the case, “sexual relations” was defined as intentional touching between specified parts of the body “with an intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person.” Clinton maintained that he did not commit perjury because he and Lewinsky did not have a type of intimate relation that fell under that definition. Clinton and his lawyers also pointed out that court precedents had established that misleading answers were not always tantamount to perjury. In the 1973 case Bronston v. United States, the Supreme Court had overturned the perjury conviction of a man who had intentionally misled the court. The court had ruled that while testifying falsely was considered perjury, providing misleading answers or withholding information was not. However, Clinton’s critics and some legal experts said that his testimony in the Jones case was clearly an instance of perjury. Clinton’s claims that he did not lie under oath, critics said, rested on legal hairsplitting and represented an attempt to evade charges of wrongdoing. Clinton Impeached, Acquitted in the Senate On December 19, 1998, the House approved two measures of impeachment against Clinton. Article I, which accused Clinton of lying under oath before the grand jury, passed the House by a vote of 228-206. The article, which was considered the most serious charge against Clinton, accused him of lying to Starr’s grand jury about the “nature and details” of his relationship with Lewinsky. President Bill Clinton was welcomed by his staff in the White House Rose Garden, in December 1998. Shortly afterwards, he addressed the nation and expressed his regrets over the House vote for his impeachment. In particular, Clinton was accused of lying when he testified that he had believed the relations he had with Lewinsky did not fall into the category of Jones’s lawyers’ written definition of “sexual relations.” He was also accused of lying about what parts of Lewinsky’s body he had touched, when their first encounter had occurred, and the frequency of their meetings. Article III, which accused Clinton of obstructing justice in order to cover up his sexual affair with Lewinsky, was approved in a 221-212 vote. The same five Democrats voted against Clinton, while 12 Republicans voted in his favor on Article III. The article accused Clinton of obstructing justice in the Jones case by encouraging Lewinsky to submit a false affidavit of the affair and to lie about it if she were called as a witness. He was also accused of trying to find another job for Lewinsky, attempting to conceal subpoenaed gifts to Lewinsky, and coaching a potential witness, Curie. With regard to Starr’s grand jury, Clinton was accused of lying to White House aides who might be called as witnesses. The House rejected Article II, which accused Clinton of perjury in the Jones case, in a 205-229 vote. Clinton was accused of perjuring himself when he denied that he and Lewinsky had had sexual relations. It also rejected Article IV, which accused him of abusing his presidential power, in a 148-285 vote. Article IV was considered the weakest of the four charges; it accused Clinton of abusing his presidential power by showing “contempt” for the House impeachment inquiry. After the House voted to impeach Clinton, the case moved to the Senate, which began the trial after the new Senate convened in January 1999. The vote on February 12 fell far short of the two-thirds majority, or 67 votes, needed to convict a president on impeachment charges. The party-line vote in favor of Article I was 45-55, and the vote for Article II, the obstruction-of-justice charge, was 50-50. The 45 Democrats in the Senate voted unanimously to reject both impeachment charges. The vote culminated a five-week-long trial presided over by U.S. Chief Justice William Rehnquist. The Senate voted not to impeach President Bill Clinton. Although the trial included new depositions from key figures in the scandal, including Lewinsky and Clinton confidante Jordan, it did not add any significantly new information to what had been included in the September 1998 report by Starr. The final vote to acquit followed two days of secret deliberations during which the 100 senators each delivered a speech, limited to 15 minutes. Following the Senate vote to acquit him on charges of impeachment, Clinton in February addressed the nation in a short speech in which he said he was “profoundly sorry” for his actions. He implored Congress and the nation to “move on” with national affairs. The Case for Impeachment Advocates of impeachment argued that Clinton had flouted the duties bestowed on him by the Constitution and the American public who elected him. As president, Clinton was sworn to uphold U.S. laws and the Constitution, they noted. In fact, the executive branch of the federal government, which Clinton headed, was chiefly responsible for enforcing the nations laws. Supporters of Clinton’s ouster said that there was substantial evidence that the president had repeatedly broken those laws himself by committing perjury, obstructing justice and tampering with witnesses. Those who favored impeachment said that Clinton must be held accountable for lying to the American public and breaking the law. During closing statements in the House impeachment hearings, Representative James Sensenbrenner (R, Wisconsin) warned of the consequences of overlooking the president’s transgressions. Sensenbrenner said: We have not spent long hours poring through the evidence, sacrificed time with our families and subjected ourselves to intense political criticism to further a political vendetta. We have done so because of our love for this country and respect for the Office of the Presidency, regardless of who may hold it. We have done so because of our devotion to the rule of law and our fear that if the President does not suffer the legal and constitutional consequences of his actions, the impact of allowing the President to stand above the law will be felt for generations to come…. Supporters of impeachment also discounted arguments by Clinton’s defenders that removing Clinton from office would overturn the will of the electorate, who twice had chosen him to be president, once after the Starr probe was already under way. Regardless of public opinion on the matter, Congress had a duty to do what was right, not necessarily what was popular, they said. Although Clinton’s job approval ratings remained high, they argued that he had violated the laws of the nation. As a result, they said, he forfeited the right to retain his elected position. “What’s popular isn’t always right,” Representative J.C. Watts (R, Oklahoma) said on the day of the House vote. “Polls would have rejected the Ten Commandments. Polls would have embraced slavery and ridiculed women’s rights. You say we must draw this to a close. I say we must draw a line between right and wrong.” Impeachment, proponents maintained, would demonstrate an important American principle: No one was above the law. Backers pointed out that the entire American justice system was based on the truthfulness of testimony given under oath in a court of law. “The question is whether or not we will say to all our citizens, including the president of the United States: When you take an oath, you must keep it,” said Representative Paul McHale (D, Pennsylvania) in October 1998. “And if, in disgust or dismay, we were to sweep aside the president’s immoral and illegal conduct, what dangerous precedent would we set for the abuse of power by some future president of the United States?” In addition, Clinton’s critics said, someone who lied in court and subverted the legal process could not be trusted to devise sound policy and conduct honest negotiations as U.S. president. Someone who lied under oath or misled the public should not be allowed to command and govern a nation, they argued. Critics maintained that members of Congress and the American people could no longer trust Clinton to fulfill his obligations or keep his word in vital policy matters. In addition, they said, Clinton’s actions had put the nation’s security at risk by undermining his international credibility. Clinton’s critics firmly rejected the notion that lying may be justified if it was done to cover up private conduct of a sexual nature. “The idea seems to be that perjury about sex is not as serious as perjury about other matters. That won’t wash,” wrote Robert Bork, a former federal judge and one-time Supreme Court nominee, in the National Review (October 12, 1998). “Lying under oath strikes at the heart of our system of justice and the rule of law. It does not matter in the least what the perjury is about.” Backers of impeachment also pointed out that the charges against Clinton were more serious than simply lying about sex. Clinton also stood accused of obstruction of justice and witness tampering, two felony offenses, they noted. However, those charges were more difficult to substantiate than were the perjury allegations, because Clinton and several key witnesses, including Lewinsky, denied any such wrongdoing by Clinton. The Case Against Impeachment Although few observers stepped forward to defend the president’s behavior in the Lewinsky matter, the majority of Americans did not support his impeachment. Opponents of impeachment said that removing Clinton from office would not be in the national interest, particularly since most Americans approved of the job he was doing. House Democrats and some legal analysts said that if proven, Clinton’s offenses, while reprehensible, were not severe enough to warrant impeachment. Clinton’s behavior, they said, had not interfered with his official duties or affected his performance as president. They contended that the punishment should fit the crime. “Impeachment was designed to rid this nation of traitors and tyrants, not attempts to cover up extramarital affairs,” argued Representative John Conyers (D, Michigan). Clinton’s defenders argued that if Congress impeached Clinton for the offenses for which he had been accused, the institution of the presidency would be weakened. “Nothing less than our system of separation of powers hangs in the balance,” said Bruce Ackerman, a law professor at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. “If a man can be driven from office for lying about his sexual misadventures, why should he not also be driven from office for something much more important, like making a disastrous decision on a fundamental matter of public policy?” In addition, many Clinton supporters contended that, under the circumstances, it was understandable that he had not been completely truthful. Clinton’s personal life should never have entered the public record, they argued, and the only crimes of which he had been accused centered on trying to keep his personal life private. Covering up a sexual relationship was less serious than lying about matters directly relevant to his duties as president, they contended. Opponents of impeachment also pointed out that perjury in a civil lawsuit such as the Jones case was rarely prosecuted. They said that prosecuting Clinton for lying in the Jones deposition was unfairly singling him out. In addition, they argued that the obstruction of justice and witness tampering charges alleged by Starr were flimsy and not backed by the evidence. They pointed to Lewinsky’s testimony that “no one ever asked me to lie, and I was never promised a job for my silence.” Overall, opponents of impeachment characterized the proceedings as a partisan ploy by Republicans who disagreed with Clinton’s policies. Critics characterized the impeachment as a witch hunt. Representative David Bonior (D, Michigan) during the House debate declared, “To my colleagues across the aisle I say, let go of your obsession. Listen to the American people. Stop hijacking the Constitution.” Clinton addressed the issue of partisanship in his response after the House voted for impeachment. “We must get rid of the poisonous venom of excessive partisanship, obsessive animosity and uncontrolled anger,” he stated. “That is not what America deserves.” Clinton backers also questioned the motives and conduct of the office of the independent counsel in the Lewinsky inquiry. They pointed out that Starr had ties to conservative groups, and alleged that he had collaborated inappropriately with Jones’s lawyers. They said that such ties indicated that Starr was biased and politically motivated. They accused his office of leaking grand jury information to the press and of mistreating witnesses. (Starr denied that he or any of his investigators had done anything improper). [See Special Counsel Starr Comes under Fire (sidebar)] Differing Views of the Man and the President While rancorous debate is nothing new in politics, the political debate over Clinton’s conduct was particularly strident. Since 1994, the federal government’s two elected branches had been controlled by opposing political parties, creating a highly charged and partisan atmosphere. Congress had been dominated by Republicans, but in the 1998 midterm elections, the GOP suffered unexpected losses and its majority was reduced by five seats in the House. Many political analysts suggested that the electorate cast their votes in the 1998 election in part as a sign of their frustration over the ongoing Clinton investigation. Some said that the American people had made it clear that they did not want Clinton to be impeached. As a result, support for impeachment dwindled in the House. Public support for Clinton was borne out by opinion polls in the wake of the impeachment hearings. His job approval rating hit record highs in February 1999 following the Senate’s acquittal. Polls by both the Washington Post and the Gallup Organization Inc. found a 68% approval for Clinton’s job performance and a 64% approval for the Senate’s acquittal verdict. However, while generally approving of the job Clinton was doing as president, the public had a more negative view of him personally. The Gallup poll showed that 57% of the public had a negative view of Clinton “as a person,” and an ABC News poll found that 66% of the public agreed that Clinton lacked “high personal, moral and ethical standards.” Although the Senate ultimately acquitted Clinton of all charges, the issues involved in the impeachment proceedings will likely always remain contentious among politicians, legal experts and historians. Did the inquiry spring from reckless, immoral and illegal behavior on Clinton’s part, as many Republicans claimed? Or were the charges of misconduct the result of an overzealous prosecution launched by Starr, as many Democrats charged? Agreement between Democrats and Republicans on those answers will likely remain elusive. Bibliography Ackerman, Bruce. “What Ken Starr Neglected to Tell Us.” New York Times, September 14, 1998, A33. Bork, Robert H. “The Clinton Meltdown.” National Review, October 12, 1998, 29. Chertoff, Michael. “Why It Matters.” Newsweek, June 10, 1996, 28. Church, George. “A Funny Thing Happened…” Time, July 8, 1996, 26. Clines, Francis. “Character Question Fails to Catch Public Interest.” New York Times, October 28, 1996, A14. “Clinton, Starr and the Constitution.” Nation, October 5, 1998, 3. Conason, Joe and Gene Lyons. Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2001. Coulter, Ann. High Crimes and Misdemeanors. Boca Raton, Fla.: Regnery Publishing, Inc., An Eagle Publishing Company, 2002. Fineman, Howard and Bill Turque. “Grenades Will Land.” Newsweek, June 10, 1996, 31. Ford, Gerald R. “The Path Back to Dignity.” New York Times, October 4, 1998, Sect. 4, p. 15. Gergen, David. “The Politics of the Gutter.” U.S. News & World Report, July 15/July 22, 1996, 88. Klein, Joe. “The Town That Ate Itself.” New Yorker, November 23, 1998, 78. “Shameless.” New Republic, November 30, 1998, 20. Stewart, James. Blood Sport. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996. Stewart, James. “On the Road to Scandal.” Time, March 18, 1996, 49. Tell, David. “Impeach the Perjurer.” Weekly Standard (September 28, 1998): 7. Feminist Movement Should the Equal Rights Amendment Be Added to the Constitution? By Chris Bodenner The issue: The core tenet of the mainstream feminist movement is that women and men should be treated equally under the law. Should the Constitution—through a proposed Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)—reflect that principle of gender equality? Arguments against the Equal Rights Amendment: The ERA and the feminist movement it represents are a threat to traditional American society. Women are fundamentally different from men and should be treated under the law accordingly. The proper place for a woman is in the home, where she is best able to care for the needs of her husband and children. Ratification of the ERA will empower an already intrusive federal government to undermine local customs and enact radical policies that will completely blur the line between genders. The ERA will also sweep away decades of protective laws meant to help those women who do work outside the home. Arguments for the Equal Rights Amendment: The biological difference between men and women is incredibly small, and even the biological traits that differentiate the sexes should have little if any bearing under the law. Laws should treat women and men as individuals with varying abilities, not as indistinguishable members of a particular gender group. While state and federal leaders have passed many laws to benefit women, only an amendment to the Constitution can enshrine gender equality once and for all. And the ERA would not bring about all the radical scenarios put forth by anti-ERA activists; those people are simply trying to frighten the American people and distract them from the real issues at hand. Many of those activists are staunch traditionalists who want to perpetuate the historical oppression of women by confining them to the domestic sphere. 1 Opponents of the Equal Rights Amendment demonstrate in front of the White House. Introduction “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” That opening sentence to the proposed Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the U.S. Constitution embodied the central mission of the modern feminist movement: gender equality. Although difficult to define, the movement was a broad and diverse effort that arose in the early 1960s to achieve equal rights and opportunities for women in employment, politics and their personal lives. The campaign to ratify the ERA in the 1970s became the central battleground for feminists and their opponents. According to historians, the feminist movement of the 1960s and 1970s—also known as the “women’s liberation movement,” or simply the “women’s movement”—was actually the second phase of a struggle to achieve equal rights for American women. The “first wave” took place in the 19th and early 20th centuries and focused on securing the right to vote. That struggle for women’s suffrage began at a convention in Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848 and ended in 1920 with the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which read, “The right of citizens in the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” Since women comprised half of the U.S. population, suffragists asserted, women’s access to the ballot box—the root of political power in a democracy—would bring about gender equality in all areas of American society. 2 Alice Paul, holding the banner, emerges from the National Woman’s Party headquarters in New York City to demonstrate for full and equal rights. But by the early 1960s, American women were still far short of achieving the same economic and social opportunities afforded to men, a discrepancy perpetuated by many state and federal laws. Female workers consistently earned around half of what their male counterparts earned, and many professions and educational institutions were closed to women. Female political representation was minimal; by 1961, only two out of 100 U.S. senators and 17 out of 435 U.S. representatives were women. Within popular culture, women were still typically considered to be passive, irrational, irresponsible and dependent on men for both economic support and a sense of self-worth. Simmering discontent over the status of women suddenly gained national visibility in 1963 with the publication of The Feminine Mystique, a feminist manifesto written Betty Friedan, a college-educated, suburban housewife. She and her colleagues went on to found the National Organization for Women (NOW), a rights group that publicized women’s issues and lobbied for government reform. Over the next decade, NOW and other feminist organizations helped to enact a variety of federal laws centering on equal pay, equal employment opportunity and equal access to educational funding for women. 3 Betty Friedan Simultaneously, the feminist movement spurred dramatic changes in American culture regarding female sexuality, in what would become known as the “sexual revolution.” Traditionally, women were taught to restrain their sexual impulses and conform to modest standards of dress and behavior. Sex was to be reserved for marriage. But the introduction of the birth control pill in the 1960s allowed women to enjoy sex more freely, causing a profound shift in sexual norms. The legalization of abortion nationwide also gave women more control over their bodies. Divorce-law and family-law reforms further transformed the ability of women to determine their own destinies. Feminist principles of female empowerment and gender equality gradually made their way into American popular culture in the 1970s. Mainstream movies and television programs began to portray strong, independent female characters. Media and advertising companies started to profit from invoking feminist attitudes and desires in their articles, programs and commercials. Academic institutions began to imbue a new generation of Americans with feminist ways of thinking. But despite all the victories of the feminist movement, the movement still failed to achieve its greatest legislative goal: a constitutional amendment guaranteeing gender equality. Although the ERA had overwhelming support in Congress and the approval of the majority of the American people, it fell just short of winning the approval of three4 quarters of the state legislatures, a prerequisite for its passage. That defeat was primarily the result of a highly organized, grassroots movement of conservative activists who argued that the feminist movement had pushed traditional standards too far. On what grounds did they oppose gender equality? Conservative opponents of the ERA maintained that the feminist movement was a grave threat to traditional American society. Notions of female autonomy distracted women from their proper role, which was to care for their husbands and children within the home, traditionalists argued. Sexual and reproductive freedom, they said, corrupted female morality. The ERA, conservative critics insisted, would unleash a series of federal laws and court decisions that would undermine local customs and continue to blur the natural distinctions between men and women. More moderate opponents of the ERA, such as union officials, contended that the amendment would sweep away many of the protective laws that had been put into place for the benefit of women over the years. Although of no lesser value than men, they argued, women had different abilities than their male counterparts and those differences had to be taken into account. Besides, many critics said, the basic rights of women were already enshrined in the Constitution, so adding the ERA was not necessary. On the other hand, feminist supporters of the ERA insisted that the Constitution did not guarantee equal rights for women, meaning that the major legislative gains of the 1960s and 1970s would always run the risk of being repealed. Only a constitutional amendment would truly ensure gender equality, they said. The vast majority of differences between men and women were a result of societal influences, not inherent traits, they claimed. Even biological differences should have no relevance before the law, they argued; individual men and women had unique qualities and thus should not be treated based on the predominant perceptions of their gender group. Proponents of the ERA asserted that the radical scenarios put forth by conservative critics—such as unisex toilets and same-sex marriage—were without legal basis and were simply being used as scare tactics. Traditional norms that confined women to the domestic sphere and inhibited their sexuality were oppressive, they insisted. Women were just as capable of succeeding in business and politics as men were, supporters said, and women were just as entitled to engage in sex outside of marriage. Legislative Victories of First Wave Feminism After the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920, feminists and their political allies went one step further by trying to amend the Constitution to guarantee gender equality across the board, not just in voting. In 1923, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention, the Equal Rights Amendment, authored by suffragist Alice Paul, was introduced to Congress. But when the amendment failed to secure the required two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate, the ERA was shelved, and the women’s movement dropped out of the national spotlight. 5 Progressive women continued to shape the cultural landscape, however. During the socalled Roaring Twenties—a decade of economic prosperity and cultural exuberance— young women called “flappers” flouted conventional norms in dress and behavior. After the U.S. entered World War II (1939-45) in December 1941, women replaced nearly six million fighting men in U.S. factories and manufacturing plants, and even formed a national baseball league. The figure of “Rosie the Riveter” became a popular symbol of working women and their economic clout during the 1940s. At war’s end, the majority of middle-class women returned to their traditional roles as mothers and homemakers. The subsequent “Baby Boom” —an unprecedented increase in the U.S. birth rate between 1946 and 1964—was a reaction to the poverty of the Great Depression of the 1930s and the hardships of World War II, an outgrowth of the national exuberance that came with a booming postwar economy. The rapidly expanding middle class focused on a renewed sense of the traditional, nuclear family. For instance, the average age at which American women got married dropped to 20, a record low. Gloria Steinem But, in the 1950s, a growing number of women, emboldened by their wartime work experience and benefiting from the proliferation of time-saving household appliances, desired careers outside the home. Furthermore, the emerging civil rights movement— 6 which sought equality of opportunity for African Americans in voting, employment and education—was beginning to undermine the traditional dominance of white males, encouraging middle-class white women to also stand up to them. Historians generally acknowledge Friedan as sparking the modern feminist movement. Although French philosopher Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex (1949) had set the tone for the movement early on, Friedan’s wildly popular book The Feminine Mystique became the clarion call for American middle-class women in the 1960s. Friedan—a freelance writer and housewife with several children—argued in her book that the media, advertising, psychology and other male-dominated fields tried to convince women that they could find fulfillment only in the domestic sphere. She wrote of a “problem that has no name stirring in the minds of so many American women today,” a desire for something beyond their traditional roles as wives and mothers. Friedan continued: The problem lay buried, unspoken, for many years in the minds of American women. It was a strange stirring, a sense of dissatisfaction, a yearning that women suffered in the middle of the twentieth century in the United States. Each suburban housewife struggled with it alone. As she made the bed, shopped for groceries, matched slipcover material, ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children, chauffeured Cub Scouts and Brownies, lay beside her husband at night—she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question—’Is this all?’ In 1960, Senator John F. Kennedy (D, Massachusetts) barely defeated Vice President Richard Nixon (R) in one of the closest presidential elections in U.S. history. Having secured a solid majority of female votes in that contest, Kennedy and his administration strongly supported the emerging feminist movement. Upon assuming office, Kennedy mandated that the U.S. government hire “solely on the basis of ability to meet the requirements of the position, and without regard to sex.” He named Esther Peterson the first female head of the Women’s Bureau of the Commerce Department, which oversaw women’s issues in the workplace. At Peterson’s behest, the President’s Commission on the Status of Women was formed in 1961 to study the economic and legal rights of women. The committee—chaired by former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, the widow of President Franklin D. Roosevelt (D, 1933-45)—issued its report two years later. Although it made several significant recommendations for reforming employment policies and property and contract laws that discriminated against women, the report fell short of many feminist leaders’ expectations, especially by failing to endorse the controversial ERA. [See Executive Order Establishing the President’s Commission on the Status of Women (primary document)] The first major victory of the feminist movement was the passage of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which sought to eliminate pay differentials in the workplace based on gender. At the time, women still earned around half as much as men did for doing the same work, an inequity justified by the widely held belief that a man should be his family’s primary provider. That law would be challenged in the coming years, but “equal pay for equal work” was ultimately upheld in Reed v. Reed (1971) and Frontiero v. Richardson (1973), 7 two Supreme Court cases successfully argued by American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lawyer and future Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. [See Equal Pay Act of 1963 (primary document)] But the most far-reaching legislative victory for the women’s movement was the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, a broad series of measures outlawing discrimination in voting, employment and public services, based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Specifically, Title VII of that law addressed discrimination in private-sector employment. Initially, that section was meant to prevent discrimination in the hiring and firing of African Americans. But right before Congress was set to vote on the bill, Representative Howard W. Smith (D, Virginia)—a vocal opponent of civil rights legislation for African Americans—amended Title VII to include the word “sex.” Although Smith was a long-time supporter of women’s rights, his fellow Southern Democrats endorsed the amendment in the hopes that it would sabotage the bill’s passage in the House. Their strategy backfired, however; the House ended up passing the bill, 290 to 130. Although Title VII banned job discrimination against women, private employers generally ignored the law. Furthermore, the federal agency formed to enforce it—the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)—failed to hold those employers accountable, focusing instead on fighting inequality on the basis of race. Feminist leaders grew steadily impatient with the U.S. government’s reluctance to enforce Title VII. In October 1966, Friedan and around 300 colleagues formed NOW, a rights group that publicized women’s issues and lobbied for government reform. The NOW “Statement of Purpose” pledged “to take action to bring women into full participation in the mainstream of American Society NOW, assuming all privileges and responsibilities thereof in truly equal partnership with men.” Spurred by pressure from NOW and other feminist organizations, the EEOC began to take action. Its first major target was the airline industry. Since the 1950s, airlines had regularly fired female flight attendants when they married or reached the age of 32, and all efforts to reform such policies had been struck down in Congress. In 1968, however, under threat of a feminist-led strike of flight attendants, the EEOC banned such practices and forced the industry to comply. But most cases of employment discrimination were not as clear-cut; the explicit hiring or firing of employees, or failure to promote them based on gender was difficult to prove. The EEOC thus embarked on a different approach. In 1970, it filed suit against American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T), ultimately forcing the company to institute an affirmative-action program. Affirmative action was a policy that had been introduced by President Lyndon B. Johnson (D, 1963-69) in 1965 to force federal agencies and contractors to take active measures to hire more African Americans. In 1967, that policy was extended to women. By 1973, the EEOC had filed nearly 150 affirmative action suits against dozens of private employers accused of gender discrimination. 8 Shirley Chisholm (left) and Barbara Jordan (right) With lobbying from groups like NOW, the feminist movement continued to achieve legislative victories in the early 1970s. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 barred gender discrimination within “any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” (That law’s most prominent effect would turn out to be equal funding for school athletic programs.) Two years later, Congress passed the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, which prohibited creditors from discriminating against applicants on the basis of gender. [See Title IX, Education Amendments of 1972 (primary document)] Instead of merely appealing to Congress, which was overwhelmingly male, Friedan and her colleagues sought to put women directly into positions of political power. In 1971, they formed the National Women’s Political Caucus (NWPC), an organization that supported women running for public office. In 1972, an unprecedented number of women were elected to Congress, including representatives Barbara Jordan (a Democrat from Texas), Pat Schroeder (a Democrat from Colorado) and New York Democrat Elizabeth Holtzman. Similarly, female representation in state legislatures jumped 28%. Representative Shirley Chisholm (D, New York), who in 1968 had been the first female African American elected to Congress, also made a serious bid for the Democratic nomination in the 1972 presidential race. That new contingent of congresswomen revived interest in the Equal Rights Amendment, which had languished in congressional committee for decades. In March 1972, a half century after it was first proposed to Congress, the ERA was finally approved by both houses of Congress; the House passed it by a vote of 354 to 24 and the Senate by a vote of 84 to 8. Congress initially set a seven-year ratification period, the customary length of time in which three-quarters of the states (38 states) had to approve the amendment. By the end of 1973, 30 of the required state legislatures had ratified the ERA. With six years left to close that gap, feminists expressed confidence that the ERA would finally succeed. 9 Sexual Liberation and Reproductive Rights The major legislative gains of the feminist movement in the 1960s and early 1970s mostly dealt with public issues such as employment, education and attainment of political office. But the movement was also intensely personal, involving the most private of realms: women’s bodies and their sexuality. Such matters were not only discussed in private, or within the “consciousness raising” groups that became so widespread during that time. (Consciousness-raising groups were small, grassroots gatherings where women would discuss a variety of personal matters to enhance one another’s awareness of women’s issues and provide emotional support to group members.) Rather, the feminist movement thrust female sexuality to the forefront of the national debate. One of the central mottos of feminism was “the personal is the political,” meaning that the oppression experienced by individual women was actually part of a wider, systemic problem that could be overcome through political action. Hippies arrive in Paris to participate in celebrating the culture of love. The sexual revolution of the 1960s was characterized by a drastic relaxation in traditional standards of sexual behavior, notably an increase in premarital sex and casual sex among single women. Although traditional society frowned upon men who engaged in casual sex, it was far less forgiving of women who did the same. A growing number of women 10 influenced by the “free love movement” approached sex as a source of personal pleasure, not merely as a means of bearing children or fulfilling a marital duty. The linchpin of the sexual revolution was the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the birth control pill in 1960. “The Pill,” as it was commonly known, was far more convenient and effective than other methods of contraception, such as condom use. It encouraged many women to engage in casual sex while significantly lowering the risk of pregnancy. With that newly acquired freedom, sex outside of marriage gradually became more and more socially acceptable. That change did not happen overnight; a Gallup poll in 1969 reported that 74% of women still viewed premarital sex as wrong. But norms were steadily shifting; just a few years later, that figure had dropped to 53%. Despite its popularity, the Pill was strongly opposed in certain quarters. The Catholic Church opposed its use even by married women who only had sex with their husbands, since the only form of birth control it permitted was the “rhythm method”—the timing of intercourse to coincide with periods of low fertility during a woman’s menstrual cycle. Some African Americans claimed the Pill was a ploy by the federal government to limit black population growth. Many state legislatures banned its use. However, the right of all married couples in the U.S. to use contraception was guaranteed in the Supreme Court case Griswold v. Connecticut (1965). Seven years later, in Eisenstadt v. Baird, that right was extended to unwed Americans as well. The Pill allowed women to stay single longer, largely because fewer of them became pregnant inadvertently and then felt they had to get married. As a result, marriage rates leveled off in the 1960s, and dropped dramatically in the 1970s. The feminist movement also led to an increase of women who left their marriages; between 1968 and 1972, the divorce rate in the U.S. nearly doubled. That increase was also influenced by reforms in divorce law, such as the provisions for dividing property equally between husbands and wives and the emergence of “no-fault divorce”—when either party can dissolve a marriage without having to come up with specific grievances against the other party. (The stated reason of “irreconcilable differences” is commonly invoked in no-fault divorce cases.) During that era, just as the Pill severed the link between sex and pregnancy, so did growing legalization of abortion sever the link between pregnancy and childbirth. In the late 1960s, nearly two-thirds of the states had laws banning abortion in all cases except when the mother’s life was in jeopardy. To avoid prosecution, wealthy women often flew to hospitals in foreign countries where abortion was legal. Poor women, on the other hand, usually had to resort to illegal clinics or “back alley” abortionists, which carried a high risk of illness and even of death. Between 1967 and 1973, however, 13 states relaxed their restrictions on abortions, and four states—Alaska, Hawaii, New York and Washington—repealed their bans. In January 1973, the Supreme Court took the unprecedented step of legalizing abortion 11 nationwide. In the landmark case Roe v. Wade, the court overruled a Texas antiabortion statute, siding with an unmarried woman known as “Jane Roe” who wanted to terminate her pregnancy safely and legally. The Roe decision declared that all women in the U.S., as part of their constitutional right to privacy, were legally permitted to end their pregnancy in the first trimester, prior to the point of “viability”—when the fetus is able to survive outside the womb. That controversial Supreme Court decision sent shock waves through the U.S. It was immediately denounced by religious groups, particularly Catholics and evangelical Protestants. They argued that because human life began at conception, abortion was tantamount to murder. Other “pro-life” conservatives claimed that “abortion on demand” would lead to widespread promiscuity and the dissolution of the nuclear family. On the other hand, feminists hailed the Roe decision, insisting that unwanted pregnancies trapped women in the domestic sphere and prevented them from achieving success and fulfillment outside the home. Other “pro-choice” advocates maintained that a pregnant woman—not the government—had sole dominion over her body and should thus have the right to decide the fate of her unborn child. Feminism in Mainstream Culture By the early 1970s, feminist ideas of equality and empowerment began to enter the American mainstream. Ms. magazine became the leading voice of the feminist movement when the first full issue went on sale in July 1972, selling more than 250,000 copies in its first week. The magazine’s creator, Gloria Steinem, was a journalist who had achieved fame in 1963 for her sensational, undercover exposé of the goings-on at a Playboy Club in New York City. She was also an outspoken supporter of the ERA. Ms.—whose name derived from a form of address coined by feminists opposed to the traditional labels “Miss” and “Mrs.”—became a popular forum for women’s issues not previously covered in the mainstream press. [See Gloria Steinem Addresses Gender Myths before the Senate (Excerpts) (primary document)] The advertising industry was quick to take advantage of the growing influence of feminism. One of the most successful ad campaigns of the 1970s was for Virginia Slims, a brand of cigarettes developed in 1968 by the Philip Morris Company and specifically aimed at, professional women. The ads often contrasted images of turn-of-the-century women with images of contemporary women, topped with the slogan, “You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby.” By emphasizing that smoking was once considered “unladylike,” the ads implied that using Virginia Slims was an act of rebellion against traditional, maledominated society. Film and television in the 1970s also were imbued with feminist themes. Box-office successes such as Julia (1977), Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) and Norma Rae (1979) all had strong, independent women as their central characters. One of the highest-rated sitcoms of the 1970s was the Mary Tyler Moore Show, whose title character was a single, careeroriented woman who had broken off her engagement and moved to a new city. (The writers had originally made her a divorcée, but they felt the subject of divorce was still too controversial for that characterization to be left in when the show aired in 1970.) 12 Another popular sitcom was Maude, which shocked audiences in its second month on the air in 1972 when its title character—a married, 47-year-old woman—decided to undergo an abortion. Despite vehement protests by pro-life groups and the refusal of many affiliates to air certain episodes, ratings for the show soared. Feminism infiltrated academia in the 1970s. Ivy League universities became coeducational. Military academies began to admit women. Female enrollment in law schools and medical schools increased steadily, so that by 1990 women earned 40% of all law degrees and one-third of all medical degrees. Liberal-arts colleges and universities became a bastion of feminist ideology, and numerous women’s studies and gender studies programs were formed as a result. Books by leading feminists, such as Kate Millett’s Sexual Politics (1970), Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch (1970) and Susan Brownmiller’s Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape (1975), also received wide attention. One of the best-selling books of that decade was Our Bodies, Ourselves, first published by the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective in 1970. A frank, informative guidebook for women’s health issues and female sexuality, Our Bodies, Ourselves went through a number of editions and became a classic. But just as feminist themes were beginning to be absorbed into the American mainstream, a growing backlash against the movement was forming as well. Social and religious conservatives were disturbed by what they viewed as the excesses of the women’s movement, which they said encouraged sexual licentiousness and the breakdown of the nuclear family. They were particularly distressed by the Roe decision and the passage of the ERA, two events that became successful recruiting tools for conservative leaders. The most prominent of those conservative leaders was Phyllis Schlafly, a longtime activist in the Republican Party. In 1972, she formed the National Committee to Stop ERA, a grassroots organization that publicly denounced the ERA and lobbied state legislatures to strike it down. Schlafly and other anti-ERA activists were effective at mounting opposition to the amendment. By 1979—the deadline for the ratification—the ERA was still three states short of its goal. Despite a three-year extension by Congress, not a single state added its support, and by 1982, the ERA was officially dead. Many viewed its demise as the end of the feminist movement. The Case Against the Equal Rights Amendment Opponents of the Equal Rights Amendment maintained that men and women were inherently different, and that each group warranted special consideration under the law. The ERA, they argued, threatened to wipe away all such distinctions and create a genderneutral society, which would actually be detrimental to the women it was purportedly meant to help. “We live in a world of socially prescribed differences, of fashion prejudices, of customs relating to masculinity and femininity,” union official Myra Wolfgang testified in 1970 during a hearing on the ERA by the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on constitutional amendments. “To achieve equality, we must start equal by recognizing physical and biological differences. We are different, and remember, 13 different does not mean deficient,” she continued. [See Union Official Myra Wolfgang Argues Against the Equal Rights Amendment (primary document)] The ERA and the feminist movement promoting it were fundamental threats to the nuclear family and traditional American society, conservative opponents insisted. Women were naturally designed to be mothers and homemakers, roles that were corrupted by feminist ideas of independence and sexual liberation, traditionalists argued. A woman’s primary duty was to her husband and children, not to herself, they said. “Man is the head of the home,” Ellen Campbell, Mississippi state leader of STOP ERA, declared, continuing, “In the societal order of things, he is above the woman.” The ERA would codify themes of the feminist movement that were already weakening the nuclear family and blurring the distinctions between men and women, opponents asserted. The ERA was part of a radical feminist agenda, and did not represent the interests of the majority of American women, opponents of the amendment maintained. “For the most part, women who join ‘liberation groups’ are white, middle-class and college-oriented,” Wolfgang stated, continuing, “The most active of these women, who do the work of the organizations, are those with no or grown children. Working women, like the mothers of young children, are too busy to be liberated.” Mary Dennison of the Congress of Racial Equality was more succinct: “The Women’s Liberation Movement is a luxury that only bored white women can afford.” By eliminating protections and policies that had been put into place for the benefit of women, moderate critics argued, the ERA would actually do more harm than good. The ERA “will accomplish the exact opposite its proponents claim it will,” Wolfgang insisted, adding that it “will invalidate the legislation, hundreds of pieces of it, which has been adopted over the last 100 years passed to permit a semblance of equality that was denied to women down through the ages.” For instance, moderate opponents of the ERA argued, the amendment would hurt working women with families by taking away union-imposed limitations on strenuous physical labor and on working hours, which were meant to provide women with more time to tend to their homes and families. “For an example, the passage of an hours limitation law for women provided them with a shield against obligatory overtime to permit them to carry on their life at home as wives and mothers,” Wolfgang testified. “While all overtime should be optional for both men and women, it is absolutely mandatory that overtime for women be regulated because of her double role in our society.” As well-intentioned as the ERA might have been, moderate critics argued, the solution to female inequality was not sweeping changes to the Constitution, but rather specific laws designed to protect women in specific circumstances. The federal government did not have the ability to change entrenched cultural attitudes toward woman, they argued. “The removal of protective labor standards will not and the passage of the equal rights amendment cannot eliminate overt and subtle cultural practices,” union official Ruth Miller testified before Congress. 14 Furthermore, conservative opponents argued, the ERA would open a Pandora’s box of radical changes to gender-specific policies. For instance, they claimed, the ERA would lead to the repeal of alimony laws and regulations governing child support payments and Social Security benefits for dependent wives. Most dramatically, they said, the amendment would lead to compulsory military service and combat duty for women, who were not physically or emotionally equipped for the battlefield. Forty-four percent of women “can’t throw a hand grenade far enough to keep from killing themselves,” Schlafly joked, adding that that alone justified keeping women from serving in the army. The lack of gender distinctions would also lead to such things as unisex bathrooms and locker rooms, conservative critics of the ERA claimed. Even more drastically, they contended, preventing discrimination based on sex would provide the basis for legalizing same-sex marriage. Schlafly wrote that the “ERA would put ‘gay rights’ into the Constitution because the word in the amendment is ‘sex,’ not ‘women.’ Eminent authorities have stated that ERA would legalize the granting of marriage licenses to same-sex couples and generally implement the gay and lesbian agenda.” All of those radical measures would be carried out by an elitist, federal judiciary out of touch with most of the American people, conservative opponents of the ERA asserted. By amending the Constitution, they argued, the ERA would allow the U.S. government to override state and local laws that reflected well-established differences between different regions of the country. The wording of the ERA was “so simple it is open to just any kind of interpretation by the courts,” anti-ERA activist Peggy Rayborn stated. She continued: “The main result of the passage of the ERA would be to transfer jurisdiction of all laws pertaining to women and the family from the states to the federal government and courts. Considering the mess they make of everything, this would be catastrophic. Besides, the government has enough power and interferes too much as it is.” Besides, conservative critics of the ERA contended, the basic rights of women were already sufficiently protected under the law. The 14th Amendment, they pointed out, offered equal protection to “all persons,” not just men. Schlafly noted that women “have enjoyed equal opportunity since 1964,” when Congress passed Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Before the Arkansas legislature, Schlafly stated: The Constitution does not say men are created equal. That is in the Declaration of Independence. Fortunately you are not amending the Declaration of Independence. We are talking about the Constitution. And the Constitution uses exclusively sex neutral terms, we the people, citizens, residents, inhabitants, president, ambassador, representative. Women have every Constitutional right that men have. The Case for the Equal Rights Amendment Proponents of the Equal Rights Amendment maintained that centuries of gender-based laws had perpetuated sexism in American society, keeping women from achieving as much freedom and success as men. “This Nation is antifemale in its laws, its expressions, its value systems, its language, everything,” NOW Chairwoman Wilma Scott Heide 15 stated at a 1970 congressional hearing on the ERA. The surest way to repeal such laws and prevent further discrimination was to insert women’s equality directly into the Constitution, supporters said. “We believe that one reason sex discrimination persists is that we lack a firm constitutional basis for equal rights on the basis of gender, civil rights leader Mary Frances Berry declared. “[I]n the absence of a formal constitutional foundation for gender equality, a hostile legislature, we know, could wipe off all the antidiscrimination laws that are now on the books.” [See Mary Francis Berry Argues to Revive the Equal Rights Amendment (Excerpt) (primary document)] Men and women should not be treated differently based strictly on gender, ERA supporters maintained; the law should treat citizens as individuals. The differences between men and women in American society were not inborn, they argued, but rather stemmed from a variety of social pressures. By providing a legal foundation for the social institutions that applied those pressures, they said, government denied individuals their liberty. As Heide explained: [See NOW Statement on the Equal Rights Amendment (primary document)] Well, there are no social-psychological traits that are ‘feminine’ or ‘masculine’…. There are only human traits. There are no men’s roles or women’s roles beyond the biological…. My possession of a uterus does not uniquely qualify me for child care, housework, secretarial work or nursing. Men’s biology does not disqualify them for child care and housework or qualify them for leadership or scientific analysis or any particular courage. The continuation of sex-stereotyped, sex-caste laws that deny the individuality and humanity of women and men…is simply intolerable. Thus, every woman should be free to choose whatever profession, school or position in government she was best suited for, ERA supporters maintained. If a woman chose to stay at home and become a traditional homemaker, they argued, she should have every right to do that as well. Such vital decisions, they said, should be made by women and their families, not the government. So-called protective laws, however well-intentioned, still imposed criteria on women solely because of their gender, proponents of the ERA maintained. For instance, they argued, labor laws that prevented women from working overtime handicapped women who actually wanted to do so, whether or not they had families to care for. Furthermore, supporters argued, just because men were more suited for certain jobs than women did not mean that all women were less suited for such jobs than all men. Chisholm elaborated on that idea: [See Shirley Chisholm Argues in Support of the Equal Rights Amendment (primary document)] Working conditions and hours that are harmful to women are harmful to men; wages that are unfair for women are unfair for men. Laws setting employment limitations on the basis of sex are irrational…. The physical characteristics of men and women are not fixed, but cover two wide spans that have a great deal of overlap. It is obvious, I think, that a robust woman could be more fit for physical labor than a weak man. The choice of 16 occupation would be determined by individual capabilities, and the rewards for equal works should be equal. That same principle of non-gender-related assessment of people as individuals carried over into family law as well, ERA supporters contended. In Senate testimony, business leader Myra Ruth Harmon said that alimony and child custody “should be based on the individual people involved and the persons themselves and not on whether it is a man or a woman…. In regard to alimony, it may very well be that the wife should pay for alimony for the husband if he is unable to support himself or in some particular assistance needs her financial support.” The ERA would not mandate unisex restrooms or locker rooms, supporters insisted. “Only actions that violate the principle of equal rights would be prohibited,” Berry said in response to that claim. In fact, supporters pointed out, there already were unisex bathrooms aboard airplanes and in many business establishments, and current privacy laws were sufficient to prevent men and women from using such facilities at the same time. Other radical scenarios put forth by ERA opponents—same-sex marriage, state-funded abortions—were similarly unfounded, supporters of the ERA insisted. They argued that Schlafly and other anti-ERA activists used those claims simply to shock people into opposing the amendment. Such scare tactics, ERA supporters said, clouded the real, substantive issues of the feminist movement. One scenario put forth by Schlafly—military conscription for women—actually was a possibility, supporters conceded, but not because of the ERA; Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution already gave Congress the power to draft women, since gender was not specified. In fact, many ERA supporters maintained, if women were accorded full rights as Americans, they would be expected to defend those rights in time of war just as men were. Even so, they insisted, that did not mean that all women would be forced to fight, since many women—like many men—did not have the physical abilities required for combat. “The selective service law would have to include women, but women would not be required to serve in the Armed Forces where they are not fitted any more than men are required to serve,” Chisholm stated. Supporters also rebutted claims that women’s equality was already guaranteed by the Constitution. “It is assumed today by many persons that women were granted equality with the passage of the 14th amendment, ratified in 1868. Only 50 years later, however, was woman suffrage guaranteed by the ratification of the 19th amendment,” Representative Margaret M. Heckler (R, Massachusetts) stated at a 1970 Senate hearing. Previous laws, while a step in the right direction, were also limited in their coverage, supporters insisted. Without the protection of a constitutional amendment, they said, all such legislation risked being revised or even repealed. Supporters of the ERA conceded that sexist attitudes and behavior in American society would not change overnight merely because of a constitutional amendment. But in time, 17 they said, the ERA would have an impact on all areas of society. “Although changes in social attitudes cannot be legislated, they are guided by the formulation of our federal laws,” Heckler stated. Chisholm agreed: “The focusing of public attention on the gross legal, economic, and social discrimination against women by hearings and debates in the federal and state legislatures would result in changes in attitude of parents, educators, and employers that would bring about substantial economic changes in the long run.” Legacy of the Feminist Movement The defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment signaled not only the waning influence of the feminist movement but also a general shift in American politics toward the conservative right. The administration of President Ronald Reagan (R, 1981-89), which had helped erode support for the ERA, continued to weaken the feminist movement by cutting government funding for organizations linked to it and opposing its platforms. Membership in groups such as NOW, NWPC, the Women’s Equity Action League (WEAL) and the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) dropped significantly in the early 1980s. Whereas previous conservative movements in U.S. history had focused primarily on limiting government interference in the economy or fighting communism around the globe, the new era of conservatism that emerged in the 1980s increasingly shifted toward upholding traditional “family values.” That new brand of social conservatism was characterized by hostility to abortion, homosexuality, affirmative action and church-state separation. The movement had strong religious overtones; among its leaders were Reverend Jerry Falwell of the Moral Majority and television host Reverend Pat Robertson, who made a bid for the U.S. presidency in 1988. The rise of the so-called Christian Right was to a large extent a backlash against the perceived excesses of feminism, particularly the Roe decision and the counterculture movement that grew out of the 1960s. Although feminism as a political movement dwindled in the 1980s, women continued to make great strides in American society. In 1981, Sandra Day O’Connor became the first female Supreme Court justice. Three years later, Representative Geraldine Ferraro (D, New York) became the first female vice presidential candidate of a major political party. In 1993, O’Connor was joined on the bench by another woman on the court, Ginsburg. By 1993, more than 1,500 women were serving either in Congress or in various state legislatures, up from around 250 in 1960. Women also figured prominently in the 2008 presidential election, making a run for the highest offices in the nation. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D, New York) ran a strong campaign for her party’s presidential nomination, ultimately losing the nomination to Illinois Senator Barack Obama, who went on to win the election in November. (Clinton became secretary of state in January 2009, the third woman to hold that office.) And for the first time ever, the Republican Party selected a woman, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, as its vice presidential candidate. Although neither woman won office, their high-profile candidacies appeared to signal a greater acceptance of women at the highest levels of power. 18 Bibliography Allyn, David. Make Love, Not War : The Sexual Revolution: An Unfettered History. New York: Routledge, 2001. Buechler, Steven M. Women’s Movements in the United States: Woman Suffrage, Equal Rights, and Beyond. Piscataway, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2007. Davis, Flora. Moving the Mountain: The Women’s Movement in America since 1960. Champaign, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1999. Deslippe, Dennis A. Rights, Not Roses: Unions and the Rise of Working-Class Feminism, 1945-80. Champaign, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1999. Dicker, Rory Dicker and Alison Piepmeier (eds.). Catching a Wave: Reclaiming Feminism for the 21st Century. Boston, Mass.: Northeastern University Press, 2003. Freedman, Estelle. No Turning Back: The History of Feminism and the Future of Women. New York: Ballantine Books, 2003. Mansbridge, Jane J. Why We Lost the ERA. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986. Walters, Margaret. Feminism: A Very Short Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. Watkins, Susan Alice. Introducing Feminism. New York: Totem Books, 2001. 19 Meat Packing Industry Was Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle Accurate or Did It Exaggerate Industry Problems? The issue: In 1906, publication of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, describing unsanitary conditions in Chicago meat packing houses, resulted in the passage of legislation establishing stricter inspection of the packing houses. Were the conditions as unsanitary as Sinclair depicted? Or had he exaggerated the problem? · Arguments that there is a problem with the meat industry: Sinclair’s portrayal of the filthy conditions of the slaughterhouses is accurate. Because of the unsanitary conditions, contaminated and diseased meat is often sold for human consumption. The existing program of government inspection, approved in 1891, is not sufficient to assure the safety of the nation’s meat supply. In particular, the 1891 act mandates inspection solely of meat intended for export, leaving American consumers at risk. · Arguments that there is no problem with the meat industry: Sinclair has greatly exaggerated the supposedly unsanitary conditions in the packing houses. There is already an inspection system in place, and hundreds of inspectors have visited Chicago’s slaughterhouses. None of those inspectors has ever reported conditions such as those described in The Jungle. Any shortcomings found in the slaughterhouses are isolated cases; even if an employer maintains the highest standards, he cannot control the actions of every worker. Library of Congress 1 Introduction In 1905, Upton Sinclair wrote The Jungle, a fictional attempt to educate Americans about the plight of exploited workers in Chicago’s slaughterhouses. However, the book had a different impact from the one Sinclair intended. Rather than leading to improvements in the workers’ lives, The Jungle, which described unsanitary conditions in the slaughterhouses, revolted the nation and sparked government regulation of the meat industry. The socialist newspaper Appeal to Reason had commissioned Sinclair to write about workers in the slaughterhouses after tens of thousands of meat packers went on strike in 1904. According to Sinclair, his goal was to write a book equivalent to Uncle Tom’s Cabin—which had exposed the evils of slavery in 1852—for ordinary working Americans, whom he referred to as “wage slaves.” With a stipend from Appeal to Reason, Sinclair spent nearly two months among Chicago’s slaughterhouse workers. The result was The Jungle, published in serial form by Appeal to Reason as it was being written, before coming out in book form in early 1906. The book is about a group of Lithuanians who immigrated to the U.S. in the hope of finding better lives but who end up in a constant struggle for survival. Library of Congress Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle helped spur the passage of the Meat Inspection Act in 1906. In The Jungle, Sinclair focuses on the lives of the main character, Jurgis Rudkus, and his extended family; he devotes roughly 10 pages to a description of conditions inside the slaughterhouses. However, it was those several pages that captured the nation’s attention, as Sinclair depicts everything from rats scurrying around to people falling into meat processing vats and ending up being cannibalized, as it were. 2 The Jungle sparked an immediate reaction, as both domestic meat consumption and European imports of U.S. beef dropped roughly 50%. Several people, including Sinclair, sent a copy of the book to President Theodore Roosevelt (R, 1901-1909). Although he initially expressed skepticism about Sinclair’s claims, Roosevelt—a progressive who believed that the government should play an active role in fostering social justice and improving people’s lives—promised to investigate the Chicago meat packers and take action if warranted. The findings of that investigation were released in early June 1906, and Roosevelt declared that it showed conditions in the packing houses to be “revolting.” Later that month, Roosevelt signed the Meat Inspection Act, requiring the inspection of meat intended for export and for interstate sale. The legislation was not the first to mandate inspection of U.S. meat. A previous Meat Inspection Act had been passed in 1890. However, the 1890 act did not provide funding for the inspections, and applied only to meat intended for export. The new act provided for stricter inspection of meat, including meat to be sold domestically, and also provided funding for the program. There was not a great deal of debate over the stricter inspections themselves. Larger meat packers had actually been lobbying for greater inspection, reasoning that Europeans would be more likely to buy U.S. beef if they knew the government had guaranteed its purity. However, even though there was already strong support for increased government regulation, The Jungle generated considerable controversy. How accurate was the book? Were conditions in the meat packing houses as unsanitary as Sinclair described them? Or had he exaggerated the problem? Critics of the meat packing industry claimed that Sinclair’s portrayal was accurate. Several people, particularly the investigators appointed by Roosevelt, reported similar accounts of unsanitary slaughterhouse conditions, which resulted in contaminated and diseased meat being sold for human consumption. The 1890 inspection act was not sufficient to assure the safety of the nation’s meat supply, critics said, particularly since it mandated inspection only of meat intended for export, leaving Americans at risk. Supporters of the packing industry, on the other hand, claimed that Sinclair had greatly overstated the problem; conditions in the slaughterhouses were in fact sanitary. Supporters pointed out that there was an inspection system in place; hundreds of inspectors had already visited Chicago slaughterhouses, they noted, and none had reported conditions such as those described in The Jungle. Any shortcomings found by Roosevelt’s inspectors were isolated cases, supporters claimed. Early Food Regulation Efforts Efforts to ensure food safety date back to the earliest days of America’s colonial existence. The regulations, passed at the local and, later, the state level, mainly dealt with preventing the sale of contaminated or adulterated food to consumers. Regulation in the early days was less about protecting consumers and more about ensuring the quality of food exported to Europe, to protect trade interests. As early as 1641, the Massachusetts colony passed the Meat and Fish Inspection Law, requiring the inspection of meat and fish intended for export. In 1785, the state of Massachusetts passed more far-reaching legislation, An Act Against Selling Unwholesome Provisions. Other states soon followed suit. 3 The federal government initially avoided regulating businesses in general, not just food-related enterprises. Many people argued that the government’s role should be limited, and that the regulation of industry overstepped its bounds. However, in 1887 Congress passed the Interstate Commerce Act, which imposed government regulations on the railroad industry. It was the first time that the government had regulated any industry, and paved the way for the regulation of other industries. People soon began to argue that federal regulation was also necessary in the food industry, particularly the meat packing industry. With advances in transportation and technology, large centralized meat packing operations had arisen in Chicago, where major rail lines converged. The large meat packers were able to handle all aspects of the operation; they owned packing houses to slaughter the animals, refrigerated railroad cars to ship the meat, and branch houses where the meat was distributed. They largely replaced the small, local slaughterhouses that had previously provided Americans with meat. As meat production became more centralized, and the products often traveled great distances, some people began to argue that local regulations were not sufficient to ensure the meat’s quality. Federal regulation of meat packers was needed, they insisted. Calls for regulation grew louder in the early 1890s, as most European nations tightened restrictions on the import of U.S. beef amid rumors that U.S. cattle were diseased. Many historians contend that the rumors were started by smaller slaughterhouses unable to compete with the larger slaughterhouses. According to that theory, European meat packers capitalized on the rumors to discredit their American competition. Whatever the reason, those restrictions led to a decline in European imports of meat, which was one of the main U.S. exports. Library of Congress Freshly killed lamb is prepared at Swift & Co. Packing House in Chicago. 4 In an attempt to stem the decline in exports, on August 30, 1890, President Benjamin Harrison (R, 1889-93) signed the Meat Inspection Act, which required the inspection of pork and bacon intended for export. The following year, the Meat Inspection Act was amended to apply to all live cattle intended for export and to cattle that were to be slaughtered for meat for export. However, because the act did not appropriate any money to fund the inspections, it had little impact and did not fully reassure European buyers. Large packers called for stricter government regulation, arguing that it was necessary to allay European concerns. At the end of the decade, calls for reform were further fueled by allegations that the War Department and one of the large meat packers, Armour & Company, had deliberately contrived to send cans of tainted beef to U.S. soldiers fighting in the Spanish-American War in 1898. Critics claimed that hundreds of soldiers had died as a result of eating what they termed “embalmed beef.” A commission appointed by President William McKinley (R, 1897-1901) found that although it had been foolish to send canned beef to the tropics, because it spoiled quickly in the hot sun, the charges against the War Department and Armour were unsubstantiated. Sinclair’s The Jungle Sparks Stricter Inspection Law Sinclair was among a new breed of progressive writers and journalists in the late 19th and early 20th century. Dubbed “muckrakers,” they wrote about abuses by big business, government corruption and other social ills. They sought not just to educate the public, but to secure reforms as well. However, Sinclair did not set out to write an exposé about the meat industry. As he described it, he was asked to write “a novel dealing with the life of those wage slaves of the Beef Trust,” following a strike by thousands of slaughterhouse workers seeking better wages and working conditions. For seven weeks in 1904, Sinclair worked in the slaughterhouses and lived among the workers. Appeal to Reason published his story as a weekly serial, but Sinclair had trouble finding a publisher for the completed novel because of its controversial content. Finally, Doubleday Publishing carried out its own investigation of Chicago’s packing houses. After determining that Sinclair’s claims were factual, Doubleday published The Jungle in February 1906. While Sinclair considered the oppressed workers to be the focus of The Jungle, the public was more concerned with his description of unsanitary conditions in the packing houses where his characters worked. For instance, in one passage Sinclair described unexpected ingredients in people’s sausage: These rats were nuisances, and the packers would put poisoned bread out for them; they would die, and then rats, bread, and meat would go into the hoppers together. This is no fairy story and no joke; the meat would be shoveled into carts, and the man who did the shoveling would not trouble to lift out a rat even when he saw one—there were things that went into the sausage in comparison with which a poisoned rat was a tidbit. The immediate result of The Jungle’s publication was a decline in meat sales, both domestically and abroad, while the book became a best-seller. As meat exports fell, the large packing houses increased their calls for stricter government inspections to reassure European importers. 5 Roosevelt’s initial response upon reading The Jungle was skepticism. However, in a letter to Sinclair he stated that “the specific evils you point out shall, if their existence be proved, and if I have power, be eradicated.” Although the Agriculture Department already had the responsibility of inspecting packing houses, Roosevelt decided to send his own investigators. He turned to Labor Commissioner Charles Neill and Assistant Secretary of the Treasury James Reynolds, neither of whom, Roosevelt said, had any stake in the outcome of the investigation. The duo investigated Chicago packing houses for two weeks in April during an unannounced visit. Although Sinclair sought an investigation into working conditions at the packing houses, Neill and Reynolds focused on sanitary conditions. After reading their preliminary report in May, Roosevelt instructed the Agriculture Department to draft measures that would improve inspection of the packing houses. However, he said that he would not make the report public because its contents would damage the meat industry. He said that he would release the report only as a last resort if meat packing interests attempted to block stricter inspection legislation. Library of Congress President Theodore Roosevelt was a supporter of the Meat Inspection Act, which he signed in 1906. Senator Albert Beveridge (R, Indiana) presented the resulting bill to the Senate on May 23, to be attached as an amendment to an agriculture appropriations bill. Under the new bill, animals intended for human consumption would have to be inspected after slaughter as well as before slaughter. Furthermore, the bill would apply both to meat intended for export and to meat intended for sale across state lines. To fund the increased inspections, the slaughterhouse owners would have to pay a fee for each animal inspected. 6 The Senate unanimously passed the bill on May 25. However, the measure faced greater opposition in the House. While most agreed that an inspection bill was needed, there was bitter disagreement on how the inspections should be funded. Many congressmen argued that since the bill would essentially benefit the meat packers by shoring up European imports of U.S. meat, the packers should have to pay for the inspections. However, the packers argued that since the inspections were mandated by the government, the government should bear their cost. While the Senate bill put the cost of inspections on the packers, the packing industry intensely lobbied against including that provision in the House version. With the impasse in the House over the legislation, Roosevelt released the Neill-Reynolds report to Congress on June 4. In introducing the report, he declared that it showed “urgent need of immediate action.” Following the release of the report, the House Agriculture Committee held hearings about the meat industry on June 6-11. In mid-June, it presented a bill to the House. Though they had lost out in the Senate bill, the meat packers won in the House version; the bill appropriated $3 million annually to fund the program. The House passed the bill, and Roosevelt signed it on June 30. However, that was not the only bill improving food sa…
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