Introduction

Politics and Commerce accompany one another in every time and every culture. We are perhaps more aware of this fact in the modern world (at least since Karl Marx made such a big deal of it) than once was the case. But examples in this section show that it was also true in the medieval Mediterranean, in sixteenth-century Mexico, through the age of exploration, and during the French Revolution too, when Louis XVI’s police worried about pamphlet sales.

Political pamphlets are a Newberry specialty; our French and British ones are heavily used by historians. Some of the most intriguing pamphlets, however, concern American Indian affairs; and some of the rarest flyers and booklets document leftist movements in twentieth-century Chicago.

The history of Chicago and of the American West is full of political maneuvering and political wrangling, not least about who makes money and how. As a transportation hub, and as a manufacturing and printing center, Chicago has always been a place where commercial competition was lively and fierce. Sports like baseball could be just as commercial as railroads or ports. All these aspects of life were thoroughly documented by the city’s journalists and cartoonists.

The published sources for politics and business are many, but the real story is often hidden in the files of prominent people. The papers of less famous folk may tell truer stories still. Making these sources available to researchers has always been part of the Newberry’s mission.