Theses Doctoral

The Point of Destruction: Sabotage, Speech, and Progressive-Era Politics

Lossin, Rebecca Hawthorne

Strike waves in the late nineteenth century United States caused widespread property
destruction, but strike leaders did not suggest threats to employer property as a comprehensive
strategy until the I.W.W. adopted a deliberate program of sabotage. Contrary to historical
consensus, sabotage was an intellectually coherent and politically generative response to
progressive, technocratic dreams of frictionless social cooperation that would have major
consequences for the labor movement. This dissertation treats sabotage as a significant
contribution to the intellectual debates that were generated by labor conflict and rapid
industrialization and examines its role in shaping federal labor policy. It contends that the
suppression of sabotage staked out the limits of acceptable speech and the American political

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
John, Richard R.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 30, 2020