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History PhD Candidate, Northwestern University

Gideon Cohn-Postar


Academic Bio:

Gideon Cohn-Postar is a PhD candidate in history at Northwestern University. His dissertation “’Mind How You Vote, Boys:’ Economic Voter Intimidation and the Crisis of Workplace Democracy in the Late-Nineteenth Century United States,” explores the intimidation of economically precarious workingmen during the Gilded Age and how it reshaped American politics and voting. Contemporaries frequently described the web of threats, persuasion, observation, and bribes that employers subjected their employees to at the polls as coercion. Workers in nearly every industry and region faced coercion of various forms in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. By emphasizing how economic voter intimidation threatened the manliness, whiteness, and independence of white Northern workers, labor and reform leaders were able to convert popular anger at coercion into advocacy for compulsory ballot secrecy. Particularly in states where secret ballot laws faced considerable political opposition, labor and socialist leaders and organizations advocating on its behalf found that invoking the threat that economic voter intimidation posed to American democracy was their most effective way to persuade reluctant politicians to go along.



Phone: (510)290-6605

Twitter: @SaberGid510