Chapter

The Great Army of Tramps

in Citizen Hobo

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print September 2003 | ISBN: 9780226143781
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226143804 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226143804.003.0001
The Great Army of Tramps

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This chapter discusses the causes and effects of the great army of tramps in America in 1870. It took the Wall Street crash in September and five subsequent years of bankruptcies, wage cuts, layoffs, strikes, and mass unemployment to thrust the tramp army to the fore of public consciousness. Tramps, of course, wrestled with their own insecurities, though middle-class descriptions of tramp life hardly mentioned them. Tramping was an expression of the new social and economic relationships coming to dominate American life in the Gilded Age. The strict laws proved ineffective in the face of the market and transportation revolutions of the 1820s and 1830s, which unleashed new streams of poor migrants throughout the country. In addition to sex, race also played a large role in determining the social composition of America's tramp army in the 1870s.

Keywords: tramp; unemployment; American life; social composition; transportation revolutions

Chapter.  11352 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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