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City of Big ShouldersA History of Chicago$
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Robert G. Spinney

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781501749599

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501749599.001.0001

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Chicago Conquers the Midwest, 1850–1890

Chicago Conquers the Midwest, 1850–1890

(p.40) Chapter 4 Chicago Conquers the Midwest, 1850–1890
City of Big Shoulders

Robert G. Spinney

Cornell University Press

This chapter focuses on Chicago in the 1850s, which had been thriving but remained an unspectacular frontier town and the unglamorous home of thirty thousand residents and miles of mud. It mentions the Swedish novelist Fredrika Bremer who described Chicago as one of the most miserable and ugliest cities she has yet seen in America, which she observed during her visit in 1853. The chapter talks about Chicago's population that would grow to 1.7 million, making it the second largest city in the United States. It points out the observation made by the French political scientist Emile Boutmy in the late 1800s regarding the United States as primarily a commercial society and only secondarily a nation. It also investigates how Chicago emerged as the preeminent “commercial company” in the world between 1850 and 1900.

Keywords:   Chicago, Fredrika Bremer, population, Emile Boutmy, commercial society, commercial company

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