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Progressivism. Idealism, Professionalism, and Politics, 1900-1917. So what was it?. Multi-faceted reform movement, as much a persuasion as an agenda Credentialed professionals, scientific management, desire for efficiency underlay many Progressive initiatives.

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Idealism, Professionalism, and Politics, 1900-1917

So what was it

So what was it?

  • Multi-faceted reform movement, as much a persuasion as an agenda

  • Credentialed professionals, scientific management, desire for efficiency underlay many Progressive initiatives.

  • Humanitarian Impulses and Political Reforms were the two major strains of Progressivism. (These often were intermingled.)

Why progressivism

Why Progressivism?

  • Awareness of harsh conditions for workers—muckrakers: Jacob Riis, How the Other Half Lives

  • Old Liberal Republicans

  • Socialism

  • Quest for efficiency and order

Poor people fishing for coal

Poor People Fishing for Coal

Political progressivism

Political Progressivism

  • Local, State, and National Level Reforms

  • “The cure for the ills of Democracy is more Democracy.

  • Council-Manager municipal government [City Managers (credentialed professionals)]

  • Initiative, Referendum, Recall

  • Direct Election of U. S. Senators; Graduated Income Tax



  • F. W. Taylor, Principles of Scientific Management

  • Robert La Follette—Legislative Reference Bureau—legal, economic, and scientific advice to law makers

Humanitarian reforms

Humanitarian Reforms

  • Professional Social Workers

  • Child Labor Laws

  • Problem with “liberty of Contract”

  • Muller v. Oregon (1908) upheld maximum hour laws for women

Progressive era presidents roosevelt taft wilson

Progressive Era Presidents: Roosevelt, Taft, Wilson

Roosevelt presidency

Roosevelt Presidency

  • Prosecuted Northern Securities Trust

  • 1904 Election—Square Deal

  • Hepburn Act (1906)—ICC to set rates

  • Pure Food & Drug Act; Meat Inspection Act (1906)

  • Support of Conservation of Public Domain

Taft presidency

Taft Presidency

  • Not really a progressive

  • Angered Progressives when he supported Payne-Aldrich Tariff (lower rates of house bill replaced by high rates under Senate Republicans)

  • Angered Progressives when he fired Gifford Pinchot after he reported how the Richard Ballinger (Interior) had opened up western rivers to dams.

  • Roosevelt broke with Taft and returned from Africa to run for political office.

1912 election

1912 Election

  • Roosevelt and Progressive “Bull Moose Party”: “We stand at Armageddon and we battle for the Lord.”

  • Taft—Regular Republicans

  • Wilson and Progressive Democrats

  • Wilson had 435 electoral votes; TR had 88; and Taft 8.

Woodrow wilson

Woodrow Wilson

  • Self-righteous Presbyterian Sunday School Teacher

  • Ph. D. in Political Science from Johns Hopkins

  • Scientific Racist—Father was a leading Pro-Slavery minister (Joseph Ruggles Wilson)

Wilson the progressive

Wilson the Progressive

  • Underwood-Simmons Tariff (cut rates and backfilled with income tax)--1913

  • Federal Reserve Act—1913

  • Federal Trade Commission—1914 (cease & desist orders against unfair traders)

  • Nominated Louis David Brandeis to S. Ct.

  • Signed Keating-Owen Child Labor Act—1916 (Struck down in Hammer v. Dagenhart (1918)

Progressive legacy

Progressive Legacy

  • Racist assumptions made disfranchisement seem progressive

  • White, Middle-Class, College Educated biases (Prohibition was directed against working class, eastern European, Catholic immigrants)

  • But U. S. Entry into WWI, trumped Progressivism, the way U.S. entry into WWII would trump the New Deal

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