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The Progressive Era. Reform shifts from the farm to the city, Then climbs the ladder of government from local  state  national level. Progressive Movement. Social Darwinism and “Survival of the fittest” fall out of favor

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The Progressive Era

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the progressive era

The Progressive Era

Reform shifts from

the farm to the city,

Then climbs the ladder

of government from

localstatenational level

progressive movement
Progressive Movement

Social Darwinism and “Survival of the fittest” fall out of favor

The Progressive Era from 1890 to 1913 was a time when large numbers of people were working to improve society.

Many turned away from the idea of “Social Darwinism.”

Fine for animals in the wild but

American Government should work for all the citizens, not just the fittest ones.



A group of writers & journalists (middle class) who contributed to Progressivism; exposed political & social evils; inspired Americans to take action & join reform groups.

key writers or muckrakers
Key Writers or “Muckrakers”
  • Henry George – Progress and Poverty
    • Described an unjust real-estate system, proposed land owner tax, rather than land use tax
  • Uptown Sinclair – The Jungle
    • Exposed the meat packing industry, inspired Pure Food and Drug Act
  • Ida Tarbell – The History of the Standard Oil Co.
    • Revealed the abuses committed by the Standard Oil Trust
  • Lincoln Steffens – The Shame of the Cities
    • Uncovered gross political corruption in St. Louis and other cities

How did the muckrakers pave the way for progressive reform?

some key leaders groups
Some Key Leaders & Groups
  • The Labor Unions
    • Organization of workers formed to protect the interest of its members
  • The Socialists
    • Believed in public, or social control of property and income over private control
  • The National Consumer’s League
    • Women’s group, united local consumers’ leagues, investigated and enforced
  • Florence Kelley
    • Worked for labor reform
  • Mary Harris Jones
    • Organized unions around the country to improve working conditions
one example of the work of progressives

In 1900, the average laborer worked 10 hours a day, 6 days a week for only $1.50 a day.

Women and children were paid even less.

Progressives’ Response

Florence Kelley: helped organize National Child Labor Committee

NCLC helped 39 states pass child labor laws

Progressives lobbied for :

Laws limiting hours

Higher wages

Improvement in workplace safety

One Example of the Work of Progressives
create a conversation
  • In pairs, meet and create a dialogue
  • In it you must discuss:
    • A problem in society
    • why you are bothered by this problem
    • What you believe the government should be doing about it
    • How you intend to force progress, or change
  • Dialogues should be 10 lines or more
problems of the 1890 s
Problems of the 1890’s
  • Huge Gap between rich and poor
  • Tremendous economic and political power of the rich
  • Wealthy flaunted their wealth before a poorer public
problems of the 1890 s1
Problems of the 1890’s

Industrial workers :

  • living in inhumane filth
  • Hideously poor
  • dangerous work conditions
  • Jacob Riis’ How the Other Half Lives (1890)
  • Little concern for Black America
a streams of reform
A. Streams of Reform
  • The “Social Gospel” movement

--Walter Rauschenbusch: Christianity and the Social Crisis (1907)

  • Settlement House Workers

--Jane Addams, Hull House in Chicago (1889)

  • Americans of “Old Wealth”
a streams of reform cont
A. Streams of Reform (cont.)
  • Young, socially-conscious lawyers
  • Investigative Journalists

-- “Muckrakers”

-- Lincoln Steffens, Ida Tarbell, and Upton Sinclair

  • Small businessmen
b features of progressive reform
B. Features of Progressive Reform
  • Desire to remedy problems through government initiative
  • Reliance on “experts”

-- Robert Lafollette’s “Wisconsin Idea”

  • Wanted reform not revolution
  • Stressed the importance of efficiency in reform

--Frederick W. Taylor

b features of progressive reform cont
B. Features of Progressive Reform (cont.)
  • Want to bring order out of chaos

--Creation of NCAA in 1910

--Federal Budget (1921)

  • Desire to make politics more democratic
  • Desire to make businessmen more responsible for problems
b features of progressive reform cont1
B. Features of Progressive Reform (cont.)
  • Desire to make society more moral and more just
  • Desire to distribute income more equitably
  • Desire to broaden opportunities for individual advancement
  • Women were active in progressivism

--Suffragettes like Susan B. Anthony

b features of progressive reform cont2
B. Features of Progressive Reform (cont.)
  • Infiltrated both political parties

-- Republican “insurgents”

  • Middle-class reform movement
  • Operated on all three levels of government
a political reforms
A. Political Reforms
  • Tried to put more power into the hands of the people
  • Innovative changes in city government

--city managers and commission model

  • The Direct Primary
  • Initiative, Referendum and Recall
  • The Secret Ballot
  • Direct Election of Senators and the Vote for Women
b social reforms
B. Social Reforms
  • Child labor laws
  • Ten-hour work days

--The “Brandeis brief”

--Muller v. Oregon (1908)

--Bunting v. Oregon (1917)

  • Prohibition initiatives
  • Moral Purity campaigns

--Mann Act (1910)

b social reforms cont
B. Social Reforms (cont.)
  • Minimum safety standards on the job
  • Minimum standards for housing codes
  • “City Beautification” movement
  • Immigration Restriction
  • Eugenics

--Buck v. Bell (1927)

  • Little Help for Blacks

--NAACP (1909)

-- “Birth of a Nation”

iv progressive amendments to the constitution
IV. Progressive Amendments to the Constitution
  • Progressive reliance on the law
  • 16th Amendment (1913)—federal income tax
  • 17th Amendment (1913)—direct election of senators
  • 18th Amendment (1919)—prohibition
  • 19th Amendment (1920)—vote for women
v presidential progressivism theodore roosevelt
V. Presidential Progressivism: Theodore Roosevelt
  • Great drive, energy and exciting personality
  • TR’s interests and early years
  • NYC police commissioner
  • Spanish-American War experience

-- “Rough Riders”

  • Political Rise from NY Governor to Vice-President
a first term as president 1901 1904
A. First Term as President (1901-1904)
  • McKinley’s assassination
  • Offered energetic national leadership
  • Cast every issue in moral and patriotic terms

--The “Bully Pulpit”

  • Master Politician
  • Modest goals for his “accidental” presidency
b trust buster
B. “Trust-Buster”?
  • TR’s attitude toward Big Business
  • Wants to regulate in order to get businesses to act right
  • The “Square Deal” (1902)
  • Making an example of the Northern Securities Co.
  • The Elkins Act (1903) and the Bureau of Corporations
c second term as president 1905 1909
C. Second Term as President (1905-1909)
  • More vigorous progressivism
  • Hepburn Act (1906)
  • Federal Meat Inspection Act (1906)
  • Pure Food and Drug Act (1906)
  • Conservation Policy

--Preservation vs. Conservation

vi a tough act to follow the presidency of william howard taft 1909 1913
VI. “A Tough Act to Follow”: The Presidency of William Howard Taft (1909-1913)
  • The Election of 1908
  • Taft’s political experience
  • Taft’s weight
  • Not a dynamic politician
  • Never completely comfortable as President
vi presidency of taft cont
VI. Presidency of Taft (cont.)
  • Controversy over the Tariff
  • More conservative than TR, but also more trust suits
  • The “Ballinger-Pinchot” Affair
  • Growing tension with Teddy Roosevelt
vii the election of 1912
VII. The Election of 1912
  • Growing split within the Republican Party
  • Creation of the “Bull Moose” Party
  • Progressive Party Platform: “New Nationalism”
  • Democrats drafted Woodrow Wilson
  • Results of the Election
viii democratic progressivism the presidency of woodrow wilson 1913 1921
VIII. Democratic Progressivism: The Presidency of Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921)
  • Wilson’s early life and political career
  • True progressive and dynamic speaker
  • Sympathetic to small businessmen
  • Could be a stubborn, moral crusader and ideologue
a new freedom
A. “New Freedom”
  • Wilson’s brand of progressivism
  • Wants to recreate the “golden age” of small American businesses
  • Wilson wants to open channels for free and fair competition
  • Historic Jeffersonian approach to federal power
b key wilsonian legislation
B. Key Wilsonian Legislation
  • Underwood Tariff Act (1913)
  • Federal Reserve Act (1913)
  • Clayton Anti-Trust Act (1914)
  • Federal Trade Commission (1914)
c congressional progressivism after 1914
C. Congressional Progressivism After 1914
  • Wilson was not a strong progressive when it came to social reform
  • Congress takes over the progressive agenda
  • Appointment of Brandeis to Supreme Court
  • Examples of congressional progressive legislation after 1914

--Federal Highways Act (1916)

ix the waning of the progressive movement
IX. The Waning of the Progressive Movement
  • Progressive movement peaks by 1917
  • Success of the movement led to its decline
  • Advent of World War I also hurt progressive activism
  • Progressives themselves began to weary of their reform zeal—as did the nation as a whole
  • Ironically, voter participation has steadily declined since the election of 1912