13 terms

Progressive Era 1900-1914

Election 1896
-William Jennings Bryan (Democrat) losses to McKinley (Republican) ii. Consequences of loss
1. Currency was dead as a viable issue
2. Death blow to populist/farmers partyiii. McKinley delivered on campaign promises
1. Raised tariffs in 1897
2. Economy improved following depression
Teddy Roosevelt became president1. Major political changing of the guard
2. Ushered in an era of change and reform
b. First decade of the 20th century
i. Crucial politically
ii. Very activist oriented
iii. Lots of debate
iv. Politics become complex
c. Reform wasn't new to politics
i. Huge burst of reform in the north from 1840's to 60's
ii. Reform post-Civil War, as well
iii. Progressive era known for the extent of its reforms
d. 3 major issues involved with reform
i. Active progressives were a distinct minority
ii. Reform was driven by well educated, middle-class citizens
iii. These reformers differed from populists because reformers were urban and well to do
1. Populists were mostly farmers
II. Middle Class Discontent
a. Threats from business and labor
i. Wanted to know why economic growth lead to poverty
1. In 1890, 45% were below the poverty line
2. 2% of Americans owned 60% of the nation's wealth
ii. Middle class felt threatened by big business
iii. After 1900 the middle class felt threatened by organized labor
1. Organized labor picked up membership and momentum after the depression of the 1890's
a. Very successful with strikes
b. Capable of paralyzing transportation
b. Depression of 1890's
i. Main background to progressive movement
ii. High unemployment during period
iii. Pullman strike
iv. During the depression, many Americans believed the dream of democracy was dead
1. Thought upward mobility was dead
2. How much longer was the working class going to wait before exploding?
iii. Pullman strike
1. Labor unions shut down railroad transportation starting in Pullman, IL
2. Lead by Eugene Debs
III. Progressive Agenda
a. Most reforms were done out of moral/humanitarian values
b. Progressives turned to the state
i. Most reform ended up coming from the state level not the national level
c. Prohibition was a favorite
d. Trusts. Politics
i. Needed to be separated from business
f. Social Welfare
i. Purely humanitarian
ii. Concentrated on cities
g. Muckrakers
i. McClures - Magazine
1. Ran 2 important series of articles
2. Tarbell
c. Prohibition
i. Get rid of alcohol to help working class families
ii. Reduce violence
iii. Wanted to Americanize immigrant groups
iv. Working class drank heavily so middle class drank heavily saw removing alcohol was a way to control them
d. Trusts
i. Rate of mergers in 1890's skyrocketed
ii. Number one on the list of most progressive reformers
1. Wanted to end the "unholy alliance between business and politics"
2. Corruption at all levels - fairly visible and disturbing
iii. Lincoln Steffans
1. Sounded the alarm on the city level
2. Visited 6 cities and founded a version of Tammany Hall machine at each
3. Published a series of articles in 1902 and then a book The Shame of the Cities
4. Exposed corruption
5. Wanted to motivate the upstanding citizen to do something
iv. The problem was one of abusive power
1. Unchecked by the will of the people
v. The middle class thought trusts were destroying their class
vi. America had grown so big that the average citizen was broken down
vii. Politically there were three solutions
1. Gilded age Lassiez-faire
a. Lower class would explode
2. Didn't want to go too far to the left
a. Wanted property rights
3. Reform and regulation
viii. Realist view - trusts were not entirely negative
1. Increased the standard of living
2. Top of the line products as a result
3. Needed to leave the good trusts alone
4. Government should be more of a policeman
ix. Middle Class View
1. Their desired role for government was to break up all large business combinations
2. Felt all trusts were bad
3. Wanted to restore competition
4. Lower prices
5. Increasing opportunity for people to go into business
6. Wanted to turn the clock back to little businesses
e. Politics
i. Needed to be separated from business
ii. Women's suffrage was sold to progressive politicians
1. "Include us in the reform and we will help you get other reforms passed"
a. Child labor, prohibition, etc
2. Progressive men were open to this
iii. The direct election of senators would put more pressure on politicians
iv. Initiative and referendum
1. Tool to democratize the state
2. If you propose a law and get signatures it can be put on the ballot
3. Took power from politicians and gave it to individuals
f. Social Welfare
i. Purely humanitarian
ii. Concentrated on cities
iii. Interested in alleviating urban suffering among working class
1. Wanted to destroy slums
2. Wanted to create playgrounds for children
3. Championed labor
a. Limited working hours
b. Workers compensation
c. Unemployment insurance
4. New city services
a. Water, street paving, plumbing
5. End to child labor
a. In 1900, there were more children under 16 working in factories than there were members of the AFL
iv. Most social welfare champions were women
1. Many had college educations
v. Jane Addams and Hull House, 1889
1. Began the settlement house movement
2. Addams purchased a large, rundown building in Chicago
3. Hired staff of women to run Hull House
4. Served as an enrichment institution for immigrants
a. Offered English classes
b. Helped with job placements
c. Offered daycare services
d. Free health clinic
e. Offered home-ec classes
f. Taught disease prevention
g. Offered advance classes too
h. Maintained gallery and offered art classes
i. Sponsored a theater
g. Muckrakers
i. McClures - Magazine
1. Ran 2 important series of articles
2. Tarbell
a. Exposed some corrupt legal practices of Rockefeller
3. Steffans articles about the cities
4. Circulation was so great that other magazines started hiring their own investigative journalists
ii. By WWI, 2000 exposes had been done on every industry
iii. A new enduring, entertaining journalism trend had been established