Lincoln Steffens: “The Shame of Minneapolis”


Lincoln Steffens (1866–1936) was a New York City journalist whose name is often associated with early-twentieth-century “muckraking”—investigative journalism, often sensational, that exposed scandal and corruption. “The Shame of Minneapolis” was an exposé published in McClure's Magazine in January 1903, but the title does not give the full story of the article, for its subtitle reads “The Rescue and Redemption of a City That Was Sold Out.” Essentially, the article tells the story of corruption, bribery, cronyism, graft, and a host of other political ills that beset the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota, under its mayor, Albert Alonzo “Doc” Ames, who served several terms (not always continuous) beginning in 1876. The article was later published in a 1904 collection of similar pieces, The Shame of the Cities, but by that time Ames had been driven from office.

Three trends converged to give rise to the type of article Steffens wrote. The first was improvements in printing...

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Lincoln Steffens (Library of Congress)

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