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Revival and Upheaval: Religion, Irreligion, and Chicago's Working Class in 1886

Bruce C. Nelson
Journal of Social History
Vol. 25, No. 2 (Winter, 1991), pp. 233-253
Published by: Oxford University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3788751
Page Count: 21
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Revival and Upheaval: Religion, Irreligion, and Chicago's Working Class in 1886
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Abstract

In the spring of 1886, two months before the Haymarket Riot, Chicago hosted three very different revivals. The foremost evangelist of the nineteenth century and two itinerant Baptists evangelized the city's Protestants; both Passionist and Jesuit fathers targeted Chicago's Catholic majority; and those religious revivals accompanied and competed with a rebirth of the local labor movement which would culminate in the Eight Hour movement and the Haymarket Riot. This essay explores a religious dimension to Chicago's labor history by counting its infidel population and by considering the Protestant revivals and Catholic parish missions as evangelical responses to the problems of infidelity. In 1886 Passionists and Jesuits addressed working-class Catholic parishioners; Moody and the two Baptists addressed middle class Protestants; and trade unionists, Knights of Labor, and anarchists addressed the irreligious within the city. Labor organizations during the Great Upheaval of 1885-1886 mirrored the divisions within the city's labor movement and the fragmentation of its working class. Craft, skill, ethnic and gender divisions were important to the failure of the Eight Hour movement, but religious differences should be salient to our understanding of the labor movement and working classes in the nineteenth-century.

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