The Half-Century: The View from 1900

Horatio Alger, his rags-to-riches message in popular bloom, had died the year before. Stephen Crane, who had seen more of the rags than the riches and had written Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, was about to die at 28. Pessimism and doubt were not hard to find on Jan 1, 1900, but the world, and especially the U.S., sided with Alger. It looked forward to the 20th Century with a degree of confidence unequaled by any previous age and unregained since. Paced fast or slow, progress was sure, limitless, irreversible. Virtue walked with...

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