“The California Progressives” by Mowry


Written on the background of politics in one of the richest states in America, Mowry’s the California Progressives highlights the origin of liberalism led by two newspapermen who were neither socialist nor capitalist. As such, the author expounds on how Dickson Edward and Rowell Chester used their disgust and led to the upheavals that saw Hiram Johnson become governor for decades without the support of the influential Southern Pacific Company (Mowry 182). This paper explores topics such as Ramona Myth, anti-unionism, the reaction of “LA Times’ to the campaigns of 1934, and how it promoted segregation in the city.

Ramona Myth

The author explains that between 1900 and 1916, the movements which began in the US cannot be classified as socialism because they were bipartisan and non-political. Also, the California progressives did not start the movement from the grassroots (Mowry ix). Besides, they were involved in politics which was divisive. Conversely, the book Ramona written in 1884 unveiled in southern California became the best seller, painting a colorful and glamorous Spanish past, portraying the state as a romantic place in America.

It focuses on romance in a Spanish culture where lovers show the ranch life and their adventure in the city during the golden age. The Times newspaper took the book as their advertisement image to promote the region and attract investors. Mowry wrote that the land was good with cloud-shadowed foothills (1). Also published stories in major newspapers and journals marketed the region leading to the surge of new visitors. Further, Harrison Otis outwitted the Southern Pacific by using the Times newspaper and rallying for the building and promotion of a deep-water harbor situated at San Pedro (Mowry 65). As a result, the Senate passed legislation that resulted in its construction.

Los Angeles Land and Unionism

The annexation of the Valley of San Fernando, saw its value grow after Harris Otis and Chandler bought 44,000 acres of land from residents. The size grew from 4,340 square miles along with San Diego and Santa Barbara to 34,520 east of Colorado (LA Times Documentary 1). On the contrary, Otis was against unionism since he believed that workers were there to be used but not to join groups or be organized. As a result, a dynamite explosion in his company led to the death of 20 people as others were injured (LA Times Documentary 2). This fueled his resentment toward laborers’ representatives who he saw as scandalous people.

Los Angeles Times

The mid-winter editions of the newspaper in 1910 and 20s led to a vigorous campaign with pictures and enticing advertisement about Los Angeles to the rest of the US, urging people to come to the new frontier. This led to 1.5 million emigrants who came for the promised life (LA Times Documentary 3). Similarly, the paper was used to promote racism by targeting Anglo-mid westerners in the US to come and join the workforce. “White Spot” referred to the segregation used in their announcement where they marketed California as a crime-free, non-communism state and non-white region (LA Times Documentary 3). Furthermore, the Times ran a smear campaign against Sinclair who was a socialist and a favorite to clinch the seat. Therefore, it claimed that he was anti-Christian and he promoted promiscuity thereby losing.


In conclusion, during the Great Depression, California was engulfed in xenophobic violence by white natives who saw the Filipinos, Mexicana and Chinese as competitors in agricultural labor jobs. As a result, Repatriation and the Chinse Exclusion Acts were enacted resulting into the deportation and restriction of employing labor in mines from the aforementioned groups (Young). Those who remained were required to have permits for work. In addition, Randolph created the notion that the 1934 general strike by workers was led by barbaric men who led the mob in unleashing violence against those who wanted peace (Byarlay). This was because he realized that the downing of tools by union members affected his businesses.

Works Cited

Byarlay, Rachelle. “1934 Waterfront Strike: Press Coverage.” UW Departments Web Server, 2009. Web.

LA Times Documentary. ““Inventing LA: The Chandlers and Their Times”.” YouTube. 2013. Web.

Mowry, Edwin G. The California Progressives Paperback. Times Books, 1963.

Young, Julia G. “Making America 1920 Again? Nativism and US Immigration, Past and Present.” Journal on Migration and Human Security, vol. 5, no. 1, 2017, pp. 217-235.

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