The World's Columbian exposition

The World's Columbian Exposition

The World's Columbian Exposition continues to rank among the most well-known, important, and culturally significant moments in human history. The event's planners had a unified message they wanted to convey to the world about the advancements America had made in a variety of areas, including cultural, social, political, and fiscal fronts. Numerous exhibits and millions of tourists contributed to the event's splendor and color. The exposition demonstrated that America had made progress in all spheres, and the actuality on the ground was consistent with that progress since independence.

The Emphasis on Culture

The exposition's planners placed a lot of stress on culture. Looking at the architecture of the exposition, it is evident that the message aimed at the people was that America had reached parity with Europe regarding cultural advancement. Adoption of the European Beaux-Arts is clear evidence that organizers believed America had made progress and attained Europe's status regarding culture. This vision of equaling Europe's culture was a clear reflection of the reality on the ground. This is because during the late 19th century when the exposition was held, America had adopted magnificent building architecture that rivaled Europe, and the level of civilization among Americans was quite high. The ceremony was graced by numerous great performances such as poems from John K. Paine and Invocation from Chaplain Milburn. More performances included Croffut's poem that had been written specifically for praising the social advancements that Americans had made. All the performances and art display was a clear message to the visitors that America as a young country had indeed advanced in culture equaling their masters in Europe.

Magnificent Buildings and Structures

Magnificent buildings and structures built skillfully were another show that exhibited the progress of America. On April 30th at the World's Fair Ground in Chicago, President Cleveland opens the exposition, and the narrator paints the picture of how magnificent the buildings had been done. It is said that every building was artistically completed and the barren park had been transformed into an artistic city within a short period. If the United States under construction department headed by Burnham and Higginbotham could manage to come up with such beautiful buildings in Chicago during that time, it is evident that the vision of progress in America had come into reality.

Technological Advancement

Organizers also believed that American development lay in the technological advancement that the country had attained, which was displayed during the exposition. In 1893, at Jackson Park, President Grover Cleveland surrounded by cabinet members and officials of high ranking in his government, leaders from other nations, and the American citizens officially commissioned the operation of machines in Columbian exposition. This was a strong message to the whole world by the organizers of the event because having the president commission the operation of the machines signified that machinery and technological advancement formed a greater part of the American vision of progress. It is noted that in previous expositions, the use of electricity was only limited to starting some machines. However, in the 1893 Columbian exposition in Chicago, history was written because there was electric communication with Washington before the president officially kicked off the fair. This is a clear indication that indeed, the organizers' vision of displaying the technological advancement of America had come to fruition. This vision is real because after the Columbian exposition, some of the significant improvements in American industrialization happened, and the American economy took a turn from being a semi-industrial country to become fully industrialized.

Military and Police Power

According to organizers, progress was also supposed to be portrayed by having a stronger military and police. The military power is evident when the organizers paraded some powerful police troops during the opening ceremony in Cleveland. Immediately the president and other dignitaries appeared at Lexington Hotel's entrance, there was a police procession consisting of a platoon of mounted police, Illinois National guards, and the chairman of the Columbian commission. This ceremony was meant to display how America had advanced in security by successfully building a strong police force that could protect people and their wealth in the country. The vision by organizers about security enhancement was real because it is during this era that the United States enjoyed a period of peace, serenity, and tranquility.

Corporate Power and Mass Consumption

Corporate power and mass consumption were another vision of progress for American society according to organizers. During the exposition, there were numerous advertisements, packaging, and mass marketing that graced the event. The move to showcase locally produced American goods was meant to celebrate the strides that the country had made in the production of American goods. This was a huge progress towards increasing the confidence of Americans in the business system. The vision of the organizers was a true reality of what was happening in America in the late 19th century. Commerce was one of the key propellers of industrialization in America.

Works cited

"Chicago's Great Day," The Evening World (New York, NY), October 21, 1892, Page 1, Image 1, col. 8.

"Cleveland Presses the Golden Key," The Salt Lake Herald (Salt Lake City, UT), May 2, 1893, Page 1, Image 1, col. 1.

"Starting the Machinery," New-York Tribune (New York, NY), May 2, 1893, Page 11, Image 11, col. 1.

Gordon, Robert J. The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living Since the Civil War. 2017.

Jacobs, Jane. The death and life of great American cities. Vintage, 2016.

Schlereth, Thomas J. Victorian America: transformations in everyday life, 1876-1915. New York, NY: HarperPerennial, 1992.

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