Tag Archives: Jack London

The Rise of the Small Business Owner in Progressive Era Culture

Small business owners played a key role in the rise of postwar conservatism. New historians of capitalism have shown how business activism shaped the politics of the postwar era, funded the rise of movement conservatism, and endeavored to roll back the New Deal. But the image of the small businessman is also an important figure in the struggle for the cultural legitimacy of conservatism. This essay looks at the role that Progressive Era writers, such as Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Jack London, and Edgar Rice Burroughs, played in restoring the image of the small business owner—especially after the shady business practices, corruption of politics, and scandalous personal lives of the captains of industry in the preceding decades had dealt a severe blow to the image of business.

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