One of these would also become boeing's first woman production worker - the first of thousands of women workers known collectively as Rosie the riveter. The effects of World War ii on Washington did not end with v-j day. The use of atomic bombs - fueled by hanford plutonium and carried by boeing B-29s - assured the state a starring role in the development of the post-war military-industrial complex. In seattle, african Americans found themselves politely but firmly locked into segregated schools and neighborhoods, while their white coworkers sought housing in new developments east of lake washington. Its new floating bridge, completed in 1940, soon became the highway to suburbanization. All but a few women abandoned their rivet guns and wartime jobs, and embraced their boyfriends and husbands as they returned from the front. Nine months later, the first peals - or squeals - of the baby boom could be heard in maternity wards across the state and the nation.
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Government orders for thousands of war planes, not to mention ships and host of other materiel bolstered seattle sonnet economy. Boeing field became so crowded as new B-17 bombers rolled off the assembly line that the port of seattle was recruited to build a new regional airport to serve seattle and Tacoma. Similarly, the military's appetite for everything from apples to aluminum energized Eastern Washington's economy. Meanwhile, in a secret factory on the banks of the columbia river near Hanford, washington, the Army began building a weapon that would transform the world. World War ii transformed the state in other fundamental ways. The internment of Japanese Americans in 1942 sent thousands of citizens far inland, and most would never return. A brave few such as Gordon Hirabayashi protested at the time, but Washington's own William. Douglas sanctioned this gross violation of Constitutional rights from the supreme court bench. Douglas later regretted his action, and I should add that Washington leaders such as mike lowry championed the campaign for a national apology and reparations. Seattle's Japan Town - then the nation's second largest Japanese American community - was turned into a ghost town virtually overnight, but it did not remain empty for long. Thousands of African Americans would soon move in and go to work in the ship yards and factories.
Labor and the rest of the democratic left would not recover, ironically, until the nation plummeted into the black hole of the Great Depression. Economic hardship swelled the ranks of both unions and the unemployed, and critics of capitalism of every stripe - from Technocrats to communists - found new audiences for their street corner manifestoes. Washington went solidly for Franklin roosevelt in 1932 and never looked back. Local leftists organized the washington Commonwealth Federation to stump for the new deal and parallel state reforms, and the seattle-based Fraternal Order of Eagles led the national campaign for Social Security. Young Democrats such as future governor Albert Rosellini and future. Magnuson, and Henry "Scoop" Jackson rode fdr's coattails to their first electoral victories as federal funds put the unemployed to work building roads and parks and tapped the columbia river to produce electricity and turn Eastern Washington deserts into wheat fields and orchards. Not everyone cheered roosevelt, of course, and least of all year Bill boeing, a former timber magnate who founded a tiny airplane company in 1916 and turned it into a national aircraft and airline conglomerate by 1934. This drew the attention of anti-trust regulators and liberal legislators, who forcibly broke up the combine of boeing and United Airlines - and temporarily crippled America's air transport system - in a campaign that presaged the current predicament of another local alleged monopolist, bill Gates. Hot and Cold Wars, the boeing Company would recover as the clouds of impending world war darkened both the western and eastern horizons.
Anna louise Strong, a vocal socialist and member of the seattle School board, led the charge in the pages of the seattle Union Record, the nation's only daily newspaper published by organized labor. The local labor council authorized the general strike while most mainstream union leaders were away attending a convention, and the city's wheels stopped turning on February 6, 1919, although special labor committees maintained vital public services. The strike began with expectations that it might evolve into a mini-bolshevik revolution, a prospect which exhilarated local radicals and terrified the business establishment. Both the left's hopes and the right's fears proved exaggerated, and the strike fizzled after just five days. The seattle general Strike is often invoked with rose-colored nostalgia by today's left, but it was in fact a disastrous folly for labor and its progressive allies. The hyperbolic rhetoric of strike helped to fuel the post-World War I "Red Scare" and was exploited to justify crackdowns on labor unions and radical groups across the nation. For the next 12 years, most voters would agree with Calvin coolidge that the business of America was business - and best run by republicans.
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I should note that Washington went dry just four years after women started voting. The first two decades of the twentieth century witnessed an explosive growth in Washington's population and work force. Seattle alone tripled in size to more than 250,000 residents, thanks in large part to the city's new prominence as the gateway to Alaska, established by the 1897 Klondike gold Rush. Seattle celebrated its good and ample fortune by hosting its first world's fair, the Alaska-yukon-Pacific Exposition, in 1909. The labor movement also enjoyed good times and experienced a parallel expansion in membership and influence. At the same time, washington's docks, factory floors, and forests provided fertile soil for socialists, anarchists, and other anti-capitalist radicals such as the Industrial Workers of the world, better autobiography known as Wobblies.
With the support of new women voters, various populists, progressives, and other visionaries scored impressive electoral victories in the early twentieth century. In 1912, teddy roosevelt and other third-party candidates outpolled Democrats and Republicans alike. The progressive left also spearheaded major reforms including the regulation of the railroads, the creation of public port districts and electrical utilities, and state constitutional amendments to authorize legislative referenda, recall elections, and citizen initiatives - about which I will say more in a moment. From Red Scare to new deal. The influence of organized labor peaked in 1919, when a long-simmering waterfront dispute boiled over into calls for a city-wide general strike.
This was very much on the minds of delegates to washington State's 1889 constitutional convention when they forbid their new government from subsidizing railroads or other private enterprises. As in other Western states, washington's farmers, workers, and urban middle class progressives soon found a common enemy in the industrial autocrats who controlled the railroads and the wall Street financiers who triggered a national economic panic - what we call a depression today. This fueled a populist fusion which triumphed in 1896 with the election of governor John Rogers under the banner of the people's Party. The coalition provided an unsteady platform from with to govern, however, and Rogers ran for re-election - and won - as a democrat in 1900. Governor Rogers was, by the way, the author of our state's pioneering "barefoot schoolboy law" which guaranteed a public education for every child in Washington.
Women played an important role such reforms, although they could not yet vote. A motion to enfranchise white women in Washington Territory's constitution had failed by just a single vote back in 1853. It has been speculated that if the proposal had included native women - to whom many of the white male delegates were married - washington might have become the first American jurisdiction in which women could vote. As it was, women in our state did not secure the ballot until 1910 - still a decade ahead of ratification of the 19th Amendment to the. Even without electoral franchise, women served as influential leaders in early labor unions, farmer granges, and a wide array of social reform movements in the late 1800s and early twentieth century. Women were especially prominent in the campaign for the prohibition of alcohol, which, frankly, did not help them to woo male voters to the cause of universal suffrage.
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These workers were initially welcomed by their white neighbors, but respect quickly turned to resentment during the economic downturns of the 1880s, leading to anti-Chinese riots in seattle and Tacoma and passage of exclusionary federal and state laws all up and down the west coast. Seattle would not elect a chinese American until 1962, when Wing luke won a seat on the city council, at the time the highest post yet achieved by any Chinese American in the continental United States. That honor is now held by governor Gary locke, by the way. African Americans were also welcomed at first. Unlike oregon Territory, which formally paper banned black residency in order avoid entanglement in the pre-civil War turmoil over slavery, washington Territory opened its doors to freedmen and runaway slaves. African Americans planted the seeds for small but prosperous communities in seattle and other Washington towns early on, and black workers were actively recruited after the civil War to build railroads and mine coal - but their exploitation to break early unions would sow later. Completion of the northern Pacific railroad in 1884 and of the Great Northern railway a decade later set in motion further changes in Washington's politics. The railroads brought prosperity, but at the price of virtual monopoly power.
Democratic dominance in the west was shattered by the civil War, and Republicans - the self-proclaimed party of business and development - ruled the roost when Washington was admitted to the Union in 1889. By this time, however, new forces were at play which would undermine republican hegemony and begin to earn the state its national reputation for business inventive, if not downright quirky, politics. Railroading Washington, like other Western states, washington's early economy was founded on agriculture, timber, mining and other extractive industries, all knitted together by steel rails. Gaining a railroad connection to the east was an obsession from the start. Indeed, back in 1845, the first national proposal for a transcontinental railroad named Puget sound - not the willamette valley or San Francisco bay - as its logical western terminus. This manifest destiny also made the development of trade with the far East a priority from Washington's earliest days. Construction of the northern Pacific railroad commenced in 1873 and immediately began to change washington Territory's social and political landscape. The railroad and other industries imported large numbers of Chinese immigrant workers to lay tracks and to mine coal and other minerals.
river which would divide it from Oregon, and strategically, they christened their first counties for newly elected President Franklin pierce and his short-lived Vice President, william Rufus de vane. At the last moment, kentucky congressman Richard. Stanton persuaded his colleagues to change the territorial name to "Washington" to avoid confusion with the district of Columbia. Thus we have been the "other Washington" for nearly 150 years. This was a good introduction to the vagaries of Congressional politics and the law of unintended consequences. Speaking of the latter, Chief seattle and other tribal leaders signed major treaties in 18 which ceded most of their lands in exchange for guaranteed rights to hunt and fish in their accustomed way. These privileges were violated before the ink dried, and it took washington's tribes 120 years to finally gain definitive legal recognition of their treaty rights with the boldt Decison. This struggle is far from over, and our local Duwamish Tribe was just ambushed in Washington when the bush Administration rescinded recognition granted in the final days of the Clinton presidency.
Unfortunately it's probably not true. James Farley denied ever saying it, there is no contemporary press report or other documentation of its original utterance, and it makes no sense since the left wing of the state democratic Party, then organized as the washington Commonwealth Federation, was among the most loyal. While washington does in fact have a long and proud history of leftwing and progressive politics, this record is counterbalanced by, and sometimes entwined with, darker strands of racism, reaction, provincialism, and xenophobia - all forces which challenge the democratic Party throughout the west and. Looking at Washington state politics from outer space, it might resemble the nation in miniature. The major urban centers on the eastern and western edges of the state tend to be more liberal than the rural, sparsely populated districts in between. Density has generally trumped acreage to elect Democrats and the occasional progressive republican - which are very rare today, if not quite extinct. The Trail from Oregon, similarly, looking at the broad sweep of the past 150 years, the state's political ontogeny seems to recapitulate the national phylogeny.
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On may 24, 2002, walt Crowley delivered the about following historical "primer" on Washington state politics to the western States caucus of the democratic National Committee held in seattle. The talk reviews the evolution of the state democratic Party and allied progressive and populist groups from the 1850s forward. Special thanks are owed Karen Marchioro and Jeff Smith, event organizers, for extending this privilege to historyLink. Welcome to the soviet of Washington. Let me begin with the famous toast offered. Postmaster and national Democratic Party leader "Big Jim" Farley in the mid-1930s: "To the 47 States of the Union and the soviet of Washington.". It's one of my favorite stories.