The Structure of Power

  • Malcolm McLaughlin


As discussed in chapter 1, from the 1870s, East St. Louis was transformed by rapid industrialization, fuelling an explosion in its population. Known as an “industrial offshoot of St Louis” by the early twentieth century, the East St. Louis that emerged was a city largely defined by industrial production. In this sense, the city owed its existence to the large corporate employers who had built factories and plants there.1 As factories came to dominate the city physically, so the corporations who owned those factories became the dominant power in the city. This was not seen in a positive light by all. “East St Louis”, wrote Roger Baldwin, a former secretary to the St Louis Civic League in the wake of the 1917 race riot, “is probably the most finished example of corporation owned city government in the United States.” He argued that all these corporate interests demanded, “is a city government that will give them the privi­leges they want and then let them alone. The politicians and underworld can have the rest.”2 Indeed, as will be seen, East St. Louis was a city gripped by powerful capitalist interests—interests served by City Hall. Moreover, as Roger Baldwin observed, organized crime was allowed to take root in the city—in the Valley vice district downtown—and this constituted a violent presence at the heart of the city. As will be seen later, when the moment of the riot is considered, that presence would have a significant bearing on the trajectory of the violence of 1917.


Organize Criminal Black Worker Select Committee White Worker Black Voter 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Elliott M. Rudwick, Race Riot at East St Louis, July 2,1917, Cleveland and New York, World Publishing Co., 1964, pp. 4–5.Google Scholar
  2. 7.
    Robert H. Weibe, The Search for Order: 1877–1920, New York, Hill and Wang, 1967, pp. 151Google Scholar
  3. Richard Hofstadter, The Age of Reform, New York, Random House, 1955, p. 243.Google Scholar
  4. James R. Barrett, Work and Community in the Jungle: Chicago’s Packinghouse Workers, 1894–1922, Urbana and Chicago, University of Illinois Press, 1987, pp. 20–31.Google Scholar
  5. 31.
    Rick Halpern, Down on the Killing Floor: Black and White Workers in Chicago’s Packinghouses, 1904–1954, Urbana and Chicago, University of Illinois Press, 1997, p. 23.Google Scholar
  6. 95.
    Ross McKibbin, “Why Was There No Marxism in Great Britain?” in The English Historical Review, 99, 391 (April 1984), pp. 297–304.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 145.
    Sundiata Keita Cha-Jua, America’s First Black Town: Brooklyn, Illinois, 1830–1915, Urbana and Chicago, University of Illinois Press, 2000, p. 152.Google Scholar
  8. 151.
    William Fitzhugh Brundage, Lynching in the New South: Georgia and Virginia, 1880–1930, Urbana and Chicago, University of Illinois Press, 1993. See esp. pp. 34–35.Google Scholar
  9. Perry R. Duis, The Saloon: Public Drinking in Chicago and Boston 1880–1920, Urbana and Chicago, University of Illinois Press, 1999 (1983), pp. 204–229Google Scholar
  10. 154.
    David A. Gerber, Black Ohio and the Color Line, Urbana, Chicago, and London, University of Illinois Press, 1976, pp. 100–101.Google Scholar
  11. Zane L. Miller, Boss Cox’s Cincinnati: Urban Politics in the Progressive Era, New York, Oxford University Press, 1968, pp. 98–99Google Scholar
  12. William M. Reddig, Tom’s Town: Kansas City and the Pendergast Legend, Philadelphia and New York, J. B. Lippincott, 1947, pp. 67–68.Google Scholar
  13. 163.
    Marilynn Wood Hill, Their Sisters’ Keepers, Prostitution in New York City, 1830–1870, Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London, University of California Press, 1993.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Malcolm McLaughlin 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Malcolm McLaughlin

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations