Book Review Linda Gordon, the Great Arizona Orphan Abduction
What happened next is the subject of historian Linda Gordon's compelling new book: For their act of Christian charity, the nuns were rewarded with near-lynching and public vilification of an intensity hard to fathom today.
Focusing on the delivery of 40 ""white"" orphans to Mexican Catholic adoptive families in the Arizona mining towns of Clifton and Morenci in 1904, Gordon vividly describes how the Anglo women of the town--all of them Protestants--became enraged and instigated a mass abduction of the children, often carried out at gunpoint. A trial ensued, pitting the Foundling Hospital against the Anglo powers of Arizona, which ended up in the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court held that the abduction was legal, and that placing the children with Mexican families had been tantamount to child abuse. In delineating the racial and religious dynamics in turn-of-the-century Arizona (including frontier feminism, the evolution of racial and class structures and the history of copper mining, labor disputes and vigilantism), Gordon reveals a great deal about the origins of ""family values"" in America. (Nov.)
I realize that this request may seem perverse but it is a way to introduce an historical approach to the problem of family violence. The fact that child abuse, domestic violence, and rape are now crimes--no matter what the relationship between perpetrator and victim--represents a major victory for women, men, and children, for humanity and for democracy. 150 years ago, beating children harshly was not only commonplace but often praised; beating wives was widely considered a standard, inevitable and minor foible, like rape the subject of snickers among men and resignation among women. Today the criminalization of these practices should be seen as an achievement of the magnitude of compulsory education or woman suffrage.
Linda Gordon, "Progressive Expertise: an Oxymoron?", for conference of the Association for the Study of Law, Culture and the Humanities, March 2002, published as "If the Progressives were Advising Us Today, Should We Listen?" Journal of Gilded Age and Progressive Era, April 2002.
Linda Gordon, Social Movements, Leadership and Democracy: Toward More Utopian Mistakes," keynote lecture, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, 2000, Monday, May 22, 1933, Washington, DC
Linda Gordon in "On Difference," Genders, Spring 1991, and "The Trouble with Difference," Dissent, spring 1999
Linda Gordon "Harry Hopkins Brings Relief," in "Days of Destiny," ed. McPherson and Brinkley (NY: Agincourt Press for the Society of American Historians, 2001).