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Church and State in the City

Church and State in the City: Catholics and Politics in Twentieth-Century San Francisco

William Issel
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 330
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  • Book Info
    Church and State in the City
    Book Description:

    Church and State in the Cityprovides the first comprehensive analysis of the city's long debate about the public interest. Historian William Issel explores the complex ways that the San Francisco Catholic Church-and its lay men and women-developed relationships with the local businesses, unions, other community groups, and city government to shape debates about how to define and implement the common good. Issel's deeply researched narrative also sheds new light on the city's socialists, including Communist Party activists-the most important transnational challengers of both capitalism and Catholicism during the twentieth century.

    Moreover,Church and State in the Cityis revisionist in challenging the notion that the history of urban politics and policy can best be understood as the unfolding of a progressive, secular modernization of urban political culture. Issel shows how tussles over the public interest in San Francisco were both distinctive to the city and shaped by its American character.

    In the seriesUrban Life, Landscape, and Policy, edited by Zane L. Miller, David Stradling, and Larry Bennett

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0993-5
    Subjects: History, Religion, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Introduction: City of Contests
    (pp. 1-6)

    Many myths populate the conventional wisdom about American cities, but one of the most tenacious is the notion that San Francisco has always been the nation’s “Left Coast” city: a decidedly un-American carnival of secular humanism featuring warring tribes of radicals thumbing their noses at tradition and authority while onlookers adopt a devil-may-care tolerance for whomever turns up no matter what they do. The myth developed from a kernel of truth, the reality that from Gold Rush days, to the Dot Com Boom, to the Great Recession, San Francisco has attracted more than its share of rebels and bohemians whose...

  5. 1 “The True Interests of a City”: The Public Interest in a Divided City
    (pp. 7-24)

    On January 7, 1897, James Duval Phelan, the newly inaugurated mayor of San Francisco, walked into the office of the Merchants Association and asked its secretary “to prepare a list of names from which the Committee of 100 might be selected.”¹ Three days before his visit, Phelan had promised to bring the city into the twentieth century with “a more scientific and satisfactory charter”—a new framework for municipal government that would be drafted by a committee of citizen volunteers and ratified by the electorate. Phelan turned to the Merchants Association for volunteers because he believed its members were especially...

  6. 2 “The Need for Cooperation”: The Origins of the Liberal Growth Regime
    (pp. 25-43)

    On September 1, 1941, a small crowd of curious bystanders and committed union members gathered under sunny skies in the small park at the foot of Market Street for the unveiling and dedication of the memorial to Andrew Furuseth. The Norwegian-born Furuseth, president of the International Seamen’s Union, had achieved legendary status long before his death in January 1938. Now the larger-than-life bronze bust, which faithfully captured his hawk-like profile and craggy features, stood watch atop a marble pedestal across from the city’s Ferry Building. The white-capped sailors who gathered around the memorial with their sleeves rolled up ready for...

  7. 3 “No Quarter Can Be Given”: Catholics, Communists, and the Construction of the Public Interest
    (pp. 44-65)

    On November 24, 1936, a St. Mary’s College student from North Beach named Joseph L. Alioto delivered a prize-winning speech in San Francisco. Alioto would go on to graduate in 1937 and then to earn a law degree at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. In an address entitled “The Catholic Internationale” to the St. Ignatius Council of the Young Men’s Institute, Alioto, who would later be elected mayor of San Francisco, warned his audience: “Communism has attained the position of a universal power [and] stands today as a cancer in the world’s social organism.” Given its international...

  8. 4 “A Great Tragedy”: Catholics, Communists, and the Specter of Fascism
    (pp. 66-79)

    San Franciscans kept informed about and were deeply concerned with, disturbed by, and divided over the political crises that roiled European affairs, from Benito Mussolini’s March on Rome in October 1922 to Adolf Hitler’s Blitzkrieg against Poland in September 1939. City residents turned out in the thousands for competing Catholic and communist events, especially after March 19, 1937, when Pope Pius XI published his encyclicalDivini Redemptoris(On Atheistic Communism). A scathing indictment of “bolshevistic and atheistic Communism, which aims at upsetting the social order and at undermining the very foundations of Christian civilization,” the pope’s message also contained a...

  9. 5 “With Malice toward None”: Catholic Liberalism in San Francisco
    (pp. 80-98)

    When young Joseph L. Alioto urged Catholics to borrow grand strategy from communists and organize a “Catholic Internationale” in 1936, he immediately joined the front ranks of San Francisco’s Catholic Action cadre of dedicated men and women determined to bring public life into alignment with the values of their religious faith. His public work and that of a like-minded network of men and women contributed to a distinctive Catholic liberalism in San Francisco, a project that generated deep concern among critics of such a faith-based program. Catholics argued that nothing in the First Amendment prohibited a citizen’s drawing on his...

  10. 6 A “Different Era”: San Francisco Women and the Pursuit of the Public Interest
    (pp. 99-118)

    When Julia Gorman Porter reflected on her experience in party politics and urban planning in 1975, she described the 1960s as a turning point for women in public life. Porter was not repeating the familiar refrain about feminists challenging traditional gender roles and exerting more influence in politics. She was instead referring to what she regarded as the negative consequences for female political activists in San Francisco of changes in American political culture after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy: cynicism about politics; distrust of public officials; criticism of noblesse oblige. Porter was also ambivalent about the rise of...

  11. Illustrations
    (pp. 119-124)
  12. 7 “Humanity Is One Great Family”: Jews, Catholics, and the Achievements of Racial Reform
    (pp. 125-148)

    On August 12, 1957, Mayor George Christopher presided over the swearing-in ceremony for the seven members of San Francisco’s new Commission on Equal Employment Opportunity (CEEO). Approved by the Board of Supervisors after more than a decade of lobbying by civil rights activists, the CEEO became the first such agency in a major city in California. Three years later, the commission ceased operations when the state pre-empted its duties after the California Fair Employment Practice Act of 1959 went into effect.¹ In the twenty-year period prior to the passage of the state’s fair employment act, as the world reeled from...

  13. 8 “Not for Real Estate Values Alone”: Urban Redevelopment and the Limits of Racial Reform
    (pp. 149-172)

    The nearly 5,000 fans who turned out for the Golden Gloves boxing tournament at the Civic Auditorium in 1948 cheered, shouted, whistled, and applauded when “Singing Sam” Jordan accepted the Diamond Belt after winning the light heavyweight championship fight. Jordan acquired his nickname after he began singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” before his fights; sometimes he even gave the crowd a tune after one of his winning bouts. Like so many black men and women who helped boost the African American population from 4,846 to 43,502 in the decade of the 1940s, Sam Jordan decided to settle down in the city...

  14. 9 To “Alleviate Racial Concentrations”: The Public Interest in Education and Employment
    (pp. 173-198)

    In August 1962, the San Francisco Board of Education voted to cancel the opening of the proposed new Central Junior High School, and in July 1964, the Board of Supervisors established the city’s Human Rights Commission (HRC). The cancellation of Central and the creation of the HRC occurred to the accompaniment of contentious debates that dramatized growing divisions among the city’s interest groups during the administrations of President John F. Kennedy and President Lyndon B. Johnson. Public controversy over Central marked the politicization of the city’s public schooling and began a nine-year battle over how to organize public education in...

  15. 10 “Land Values, Human Values, and the City’s Treasured Appearance”: The Freeway Revolt
    (pp. 199-219)

    In January 1959, neighborhood preservationists and land use reformers convinced the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to rescind its approval of seven of nine freeways scheduled for construction by the state highway department.¹ Extensive consultation then took place involving the supervisors, city planners, design consultants, landscape architects, and state engineers. In 1966, after having rejected a plan to run a new freeway through the so-called Panhandle part of Golden Gate Park two years earlier, the board met again, this time to consider both a second revised Panhandle freeway and a redesigned Golden Gate Freeway. The Panhandle Freeway would have run...

  16. 11 “I Came Out of the New Deal”: Redefining the Public Interest, 1967–1980
    (pp. 220-250)

    When Joseph Alioto took the oath of office to become San Francisco’s thirty-sixth mayor on January 8, 1968, nearly twenty years had passed since the San Francisco Communist Party urged its members to take the Catholic threat to their cause more seriously. In the spring of 1948, frustrated by its inability to limit Catholic political power in local elections and in the labor movement, the party’s county committee commissioned the research report “Catholicism in San Francisco.” The eight-page, single-spaced report went out to all party members, along with a recommendation for “our people [to] read LENIN ON RELIGION.” It stated,...

  17. Conclusion: Beyond the New Deal
    (pp. 251-254)

    San Francisco in the 1980s was significantly different from the “Pacific Coast metropolis” of ninety years earlier. The Spanish–American War, two world wars, and a global Cold War had brought permanent new additions to the built environment and new residents by the thousands. International economic growth and development made the city a node in a globalization process that both enhanced its opportunities and increased its dependence on business decisions beyond the control of city residents. Federal government monies helped build the bridges, interstate highways, and international airport that connected the city to nearby communities and overseas destinations. African American...

  18. Notes
    (pp. 255-310)
  19. Index
    (pp. 311-325)
  20. Back Matter
    (pp. 326-326)