Chapter 28 Progressivism and the Republican Roosevelt (1901-1912)
Progressive Roots • Progressive= Promoting or favoring progress toward better conditions; employing or advocating more enlightened or liberal ideas, new or experimental methods • The new crusaders, who called themselves “progressives,” waged war on evils, notably monopoly, corruption, inefficiency, and social injustice.
Progressive Roots • The progressive army was large, diverse, and widely deployed, but it had a single battle cry: “Strengthen the State.” • The groundswell (public opinion) of the reformist wave went back to the Greenback Labor party of the 1870s and the Populist of the 1890s. • Progressive theorist were insisting that society could no longer afford the luxury of a limitless “let-alone” policy.
Politicians and Writers pinpoint targets • Well before 1900, perceptive politicians and writers begun to pinpoint targets for the progressive attack. • Henry Demarest Lloyd, in 1894, charged headlong into the Standard Oil Company with his book Wealth Against Commonwealth. • A writer by the name of Thornstein Veblen assailed (attacked) the new rich with The Theory of the Leisure Class, in 1889.
Politicians and Writers pinpoint targets • In the view of Veblen, the parasitic leisureclass engaged in wasteful “business” rather than productive “industry.” • A Danish immigrant, Jacob A. Riis, from the New York Sun shocked middle class Americans in 1890 with his book How the Other Half Lives. • His account was a strong indictment of the dirt, disease, vice and misery of the New York Slums.
Socialist • Socialist, many of whom were European immigrants inspired by the strong movement in the Old World, for the states social movement, began appreciable strength to the ballot box. • Social Gospel Movement=promoted a brand of progressivism based on Christian teachings. • Using religious doctrine to demand better housing and living conditions for the urban poor. • Feminists entered the fight to improve the lot of families living and working in the festering cities.
The Muckrakers • Beginning about 1902 the exposing of evil became a flourishing industry among American publishers. • Enterprising editors financed extensive research and encouraged pugnacious writing by their bright young reporters, whom President Roosevelt branded as “muckrakers” in 1906. • Despite presidential scolding, these muckrakers boomed circulation, and some of their most scandalous exposures were published as best-selling books.
The Muckrakers • Ida M. Tarbell, a pioneer journalist who published a devastating but factual exposé of the Standard Oil Company. (Her father had been ruined by the oil interest.) • Lincoln Steffens, launched a series of articles in McClure’s titled “Shame of the Cities” where he unmasked the corrupt alliance between big business and municipal government. • The American consumer’s appetite for reform was whetted by Upton Sinclair’s sensational novel The Jungle, published in 1906.
Politician Progressivism • Progressive reformers were mainly middle-class men and woman who felt themselves squeezed from above and below. • The Progressives simultaneously sought two goals: to use state power to curb the trusts and to stem the socialist threat by generally improving the common person’s conditions of life and labor. • One of the objectives of the progressives was to regain the power that had slipped from the hands of the people into those of the “interested”.
Politician Progressivism • Direct election if U.S. senators became a favorite goal of progressives, specially after the muckrakers had exposed the scandalous intimacy between greedy corporations and Congress. • The Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution was approved in 1913, which established the direct election of U.S. senators.
Progressivism in the Cities and States • Progressives scored some of their most impressive gains in the cities. • Urban reformers attacked “slumlords,” juvenile delinquency, and wide-open prostitution, which flourished in red-light districts unchallenged by bribed police. • The governor of the state, pompadoured Robert M. (“Fighting Bob”) La Follett, was an undersize but overbearing crusader who emerged as the most militant of the Republican leaders.
Progressivism in the Cities and States • Routing the lumber and the railroad “interests,” he wrested considerable control from the crooked corporations and returned it to the people. • After a desperate fight with entrenched monopoly, he reached the governor’s chair in 1910.
Progressive Women • Women proved themselves to be and indispensable part of the progressive army. • Nineteenth-century notions of “separate spheres” dictated that a woman’s place was in the home, so most female progressives defended their new activities as an extension-not a rejection- of the traditional roles of wife and mother. • Female activist agitated through organizations like the Women’s Trade Union League and the National Consumers League, as well as through two new federal agencies, the Children’s Bureau (1912) and the Women’s Bureau (1920), both in the Department of Labor. • Florence Kelley, a former President of Jane Addam’s Hull House, became the state of Illinois’s first chief factory inspector and one of the nations advocates for improving factory conditions.
TR’s Square Deal for Labor • The Square Deal for labors received its acid test in 1902, when a crippling strike broke out in the anthracite coal mines of Pennsylvania. • The workers demanded, among other improvements, a 20% increase pay and a reduction of the working day from ten hours to nine hours. • As coal supplies dwindled (diminished), factories and schools were forced to shut down, and even hospitals felt the icy grip of winter.
TR’s Square Deal for Labor • Seeking a desperate solution Roosevelt summoned representatives of the striking miner sand the mine owners to the White House. • A compromise decision ultimately gave the miners a 10% pay boost and a working day of nine hours.
TR Corrals the Corporations • The Interstate Commerce Commission, created in 1887 to make the public happy, had proved woefully inadequate. • Congress passed effective railroad legislation, beginning with the Elkins Act of 1903; which meant heavy fines could now be imposed both on the railroads that gave rebates and on the shoppers that accepted them. • Still more effective was the Hepburn Act of 1906 in which free passes, with their hint of bribery were severely restricted.
Consumer Protection • Big meat packers were being shut out of certain European market houses because some American meat-from the small packing-houses, claimed the giants-- had been found to be tainted. • The American consumer’s appetite for reform was whetted by Upton Sinclair’s sensational novel The Jungle, published in 1906. • The book described in noxious detail the filth, disease, and putrefaction in Chicago’s damp, ill-ventilated slaughterhouses. • The president was moved by the loathsome mess in Chicago to appoint a special investigation commission, whose cold-blooded report almost outdid Sinclair’s novel.
Conservation • Before the end of the nineteenth-century far-visioned leader’s saw that such a squandering of the nation’s birthright would have to be halted, or America would sink from resources richness to despoiled dearth. • A first step towards conservation was taken with the Desert Land Act of 1877,under which the federal government sold arid land cheaply on the condition that the purchaser irrigate the thirsty soil within three years of purchase.
Conservation • The Forest Reserve Act of 1891, authorizing the president to set aside public forest as national parks and other reserves. • The Carey Act of 1894 distributed federal land to the states on the condition that it be irrigated and settled. • Many forest were preserved by president Roosevelt.
The “Roosevelt Panic” of 1907 • Roosevelt was reelected for president in 1904. • Roosevelt suffered a sharp setback in 1907 when there was a panic descended on Wall St., where there was a financial flurry featured frightened “runs” on banks, suicides, and criminal indictments against speculators.
The “Roosevelt Panic” of 1907 • Conservatives damned him as “Theodore the Meddler” and branded the current distress as the “Roosevelt panic.” • Congress in 1908 responded by passing the Aldrich-Vreeland Act, which authorized national banks to issue emergency currency backed by various kinds of collateral.
The Presidency of William Howard Taft • Roosevelt departed leaving a successor who would carry out his policies, the man he chose was William Howard Taft. • William Howard Taft was the secretary of war and a mild progressive. • Taft had graduated second in his class at Yale and had established an enviable reputation as lawyer and judge. • Taft, in contrast had none of the arts of a dashing political leader and none of the zest for the fray. • Recoilingfrom the clamor of controversy, he generally adopted an attitude of passivity towards congress.
Taft’s “Dollar Diplomacy” • Taft wanted to boost American political interest abroad, and approach to foreign policy that his critics denounced as “dollar diplomacy.” • Washington warmly encouraged Wall Street bankers to take their surplus dollars into foreign areas of strategic concern to the United States. • Taft encouraged bankers to invest in China.
Taft Splits the Republican Party • Lowering the barriers of the formidable protective tariff-the “Mother of Trust” – was high on the agenda of the progressive members of the Republican party, and they first thought they had a friend and ally in Taft. • Ringing, Taft signed the PayneAldrich Bill, thus betraying his campaign promises outraging the progressive wigs of his party, heavily drawn form the Midwest. • Taft rubbed salt in the wound by proclaiming it “the best bill the Republican party ever passed.” • The Ballinger-Pinchot quarrel of 1910 further widened the growing rift between the president and the former president, onetime bosom political partners. • Republicans lost badly the elections of 1910.
Roosevelt breaks with Taft • In February 1912 Roosevelt formally wrote to the seven state governors that he was willing to accept the Republican nomination. • His reasoning was that the third-term tradition applied to three consecutive elective terms. • A Taft-Roosevelt explosion was near in June 1912, when the Republican convention met in Chicago. • Roosevelt, a supposedly good sportsman, refused to quit the game. • Having tasted for the first time the bitter cup of defeat, he was now on fire to lead the third-party crusade.