This is one of twelve sermons Earl Davis kept together in a twine-bound collection. While these manuscripts are undated, internal evidence clearly dates them to the years 1909-1911. The United States went through a recession in 1908, and there was increasing labor unrest, including a general strike in Philadelphia in 1910. These difficulties provide some of the backdrop to these manuscripts.
One of the manuscripts, “What about City Government,” has a clear notation that it was written for the “Pipe and Pen Club,” presumably some periodic gathering to discuss issues of the day. It is possible that all – or nearly all – of these manuscripts were prepared for that gathering, as they do not read like sermons.
This is a long piece about social unrest. Davis covers various "causes" for the current social unrest, from economic hardship, to unjust distribution of burdens and benefits, to increased education. He thinks there is a deeper reason rooted in the ongoing massive social change from feudalism to modern society. He also attends to the great good that individualism -- as opposed to the classes in a feudal society -- did for moving us beyond feudalism. He also discusses the limits of individualism, as represented in various extreme versions of social Darwinism. He discusses the various attempts at alleviating the social conditions -- including references to Jane Addams, Walter Rauschenbusch and Wiles Robert Hunter -- and ultimately he opts for socialism as the answer to the current problems.
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Transcription by Davis Baird. Item description based off writing and context provided by Davis Baird.
Earl Clement Davis, minister, Unitarianism, religion, philosophy, recession, social unrest, feudalism
Davis, Earl Clement, "The Social Unrest [Twine Bound Bundle]" (1908). Manuscripts. 21.