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Muckrakers & Reformers Quotes

They Said It

"There will never be a new world order until women are a part of it."

- Alice Paul, suffragette and founder of the National Women's Party80
"Everybdy is talkin' these days about Tammany men growin' rich on graft, but nobody thinks of drawin' the distinction between honest graft and dishonest graft. There's all the difference in the world between the two. Yes, many of our men have grown rich in politics. I have myself... but I've not gone in for dishonest graft—blackmailin' gamblers, saloon-keepers, disorderly people—and neither has any of the men who have made big fortunes in politics. There's an honest graft.... I'm tipped off, say, that they're going to lay out a new park at a certain place.... I go to that place and I buy up all the land I can in the neighborhood. Then the board of this or that makes its plan public, and there is a rush to get my land.... Ain't it perfectly honest to chare a good price and make a profit on my investment and foresight? Of course, it is. Well, that's honest graft."

- George Washington Plunkitt, a ward boss for Tammany Hall in New York City, 190581
"If in a democratic country nothing can be permanently achieved save through the masses of the people, it will be impossible to establish a higher political life than the people themselves crave....the blessings which we associate with a life of refinement and cultivation can be made universal and must be made universal if they are to be permanent...the good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain, is floating in mid-air, until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life."

- Jane Addams, "The Subjective Necessity of Social Settlements," an address to a conference of social workers, 189282
"A philosophy animated, be it unconsciously or consciously, by the strivings of men to achieve democracy will construe liberty as meaning a universe in which there is real uncertainty and contingency... a world which in some respect is incomplete and in the making, and which in these respects may be made this way or that according as men judge, prize, love and labor."

- John Dewey, "Philosophy and Democracy," a talk delivered at the University of California, Berkeley, 191883
"Monopolies are fearful evils—and growing in their devilish power all over the country... no wonder that such a terrible problem stands before the country to be solved; peacibly [sic] if possible—by force if it must be—but to be solved and answered, by this generation before God and the world.... God grant it be righteousness."

- Esther Tarbell, writing to her daughter Ida in 189384
"Now, it is very necessary that we should not flinch from seeing what is vile and debasing. There is filth on the floor, and it must be scraped up with the muck rake; and there are times and places where this service is the most needed of all the services that can be performed. But the man who never does anything else, who never thinks or speaks or writes, save of his feats with the muck rake, speedily becomes, not a help but one of the most potent forces for evil.... The effort to make financial or political profit out of the destruction of character can only result in calamity."

- Theodore Roosevelt, "The Man with the Muck Rake" speech, 14 April 190685
"We muckraked, not because we hated our world, but because we loved it. We were not hopeless, we were not cynical, we were not bitter."

- Ray Stannard Baker, a muckraker and one of the most renowned contributors to McClure's magazine86
"A woman is stripped of everything by them [saloons]. Her husband is torn from her; she is robbed of her sons, her home, her food, and her virtue.... Truly does the saloon make a woman bare of all things!"

- Carry A. Nation, temperance activist, c. 190087
"The colored youth is vicious we are told, and statistics showing the multitudes of our boys and girls who crowd the [penitentiaries] and fill the jails appall and dishearten us. But side by side with these facts and figures of crime I would have presented and pictured the miserable hovels from which these youthful criminals come. Make a tour of the settlements of colored people, who in many cities are relegated to the most noisome sections permitted by the municipal government, and behold the mites of humanity who infest them. Here are our little ones, the future representatives of the race, fairly drinking in the pernicious example of their elders, coming in contact with nothing but ignorance and vice, till at the age of six, evil habits are formed which no amount of civilizing or Christianizing can ever completely break. Listen to the cry of our children.... Seeking no favors because of our color, nor patronage because of our needs, we knock at the bar of justice, asking an equal chance."

- Mary Church Terrell, African-American suffragette and president of the National Association of Colored Women, in an address before the National American Woman's Suffrage Association, 189888

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