About Newport in the 1870s

In the 1870s, industrial Newport faced a crisis that threatened its economic base. Newport was a dispersed city in which property was brought quickly to the market rather than withheld from it, and rates of home ownership were remarkably high. These factors facilitated the emergence of discernible neighborhoods, from which flowed political implications. Newport was about one quarter Irish and one quarter German with a very small African American population. Both its Irish and German populations had established large numbers of cultural institutions, secular and religious, and these anchored spatial neighborhoods. The situation facing leaders in Newport in the early 1870s was grave, with a strike at the city’s largest single employer producing violent confrontations and pressure for federal troops to quell the disorder. As the municipal election of 1874 approached, Newport voters recognized that the economic future of their city was imperiled.