The Other Side of the Road

in Citizen Hobo

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print September 2003 | ISBN: 9780226143781
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226143804 | DOI:
The Other Side of the Road

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This chapter presents the other sides of the tramp crisis of 1870 in America. The labor press ran sympathetic accounts of un-employed workingmen and followed the time-honored customs of vagrancy law by harshly condemning those tramps who could not give a good account of themselves. In addition to reflecting such practical concerns as wages, the tension in the labor press regarding tramps also betokened a larger ideological crisis in working-class culture, a crisis that the rise of the tramp army had, in part, precipitated. The sentimental language used by the labor press to describe the homelessness crisis often evoked the sense of eroding patriarchal barriers that protected otherwise vulnerable women and children. Tramping becomes a confidence game where a willingness to work gets expressed through carefully chosen words, gestures, and apparel.

Keywords: tramp; America; patriarchal barriers; vagrancy law; working-class culture

Chapter.  12120 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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