The success of Hull House prompted Lillian Wald to open the Henry Street Settlement House in New York in 1893. The combined success of these settlement houses prompted other reformers to open similar houses in other eastern cities with large immigrant populations. In time, women like Addams and Wald used their positions of power to fight for women’s suffrage, temperance, civil rights, and improved labor laws.

Black Civil Rights

In 1896, the Supreme Court upheld the policy of segregation by legalizing “separate but equal” facilities for blacks and whites in the landmark Plessy v. Ferguson decision. In doing so, the court condemned blacks to more than another half century of second-class citizenship.

Despite the ruling, African-American leaders of the civil rightsmovement continued to press for equal rights. Booker T. Washington, president of the all-black Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, rather than press for immediate social equality, encouraged blacks to become economically self-sufficient so that they could challenge whites on social issues in the future. The Harvard-educated black historian and sociologist W. E. B. Du Bois, on the other hand, ridiculed Washington’s beliefs and argued that blacks should fight for immediate—and overdue—social and economic equality. This dispute between Washington and Du Bois encapsulated the divide in the civil rights movement at the end of the nineteenth century and the question as to how blacks could most effectively pursue equality—a debate that lasted well into the civil rights movement of the 1960s and continues today.

Popular pages: The Gilded Age & the Progressive Era (1877–1917)