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Jo Labadie and His Gift to Michigan

A Legacy for the Masses

Intellectual Development




  Exhibit Home
  Browse All Images
  Birth and Early Life
  Marriage and Family
arrow Intellectual Development
  John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)
  Herbert Spencer (1820-1903)
  Darwin and Evolution
  Socialism and Karl Marx
  Henry George (1839-1897) and the Single Tax Movement
  Knights of Labor
  Judson Grenell (1847-1930)
  Benjamin Ricketson Tucker (1854-1939)
  The Haymarket Affair

Later Relations to Labor Organizations

  Leon Czolgosz (1873-1901)

The Water Board Incident

  Bubbling Waters
  The Labadie Print Shop
  Later Years
  Agnes Inglis (1870-1952)
  Further Reading

Special Collections Library
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor


Although it is thought Jo had no more than a very rudimentary formal education, he had not only absorbed the basics but wrote letters that could easily pass muster as he entered adulthood. He continued to educate himself throughout his life, and became a proficient writer and editor. In addition, his wife, Sophie, not only encouraged him to write but also served as a mentor in his choice of expression.

As Jo Labadie came of age, the Civil War had ended and the United States was experiencing a hugely expanding economy with transcontinental transportation and the excitement and corruption of the Gilded Age. The disparities between the immense wealth of the new tycoons and the poverty of the workers and immigrants prompted a large variety of suggested remedies, some as benign as the Homestead Act and a few factory protection laws, others as debatable as Greenbackism and the "silver movement." Some of the sweeping revolutionary ideas of socialism and anarchism provoked both hope and horror. Labadie's mind expanded in unconventional and sometimes contradictory ways.

The later nineteenth century was an age of hot intellectual disputation in general. Perhaps the fulmination of preachers against Darwinism helped to make Labadie a lifelong agnostic. Certainly his avid reading of John Stuart Mill and Herbert Spencer stood behind his developing personal philosophy.