1. How did progressivism and organized interest groups reflect the new political choices of Americans? • 2. Why did progressives believe in the ability of individuals to affect positive change? How has this idea manifested itself in political reform efforts? • 3. What reforms did American women, African Americans, and urbanites seek? • 4. Why and how did President Roosevelt expand the Federal government's power within the economy? • 5. How did President Wilson seek to accommodate his progressive principles to the realities of political power?
One needs to keep in mind the intellectual elements of the progressive outlook and recognize the interaction of progressive ideas with the academic disciplines of economics, philosophy, psychology, and law.
and lets keep in mind as well the successes and failures of the labor movement during the Progressive Era. But consider in what ways this was a turning point for the labor movement?
And finally we must recognize the struggles of African Americans to secure their rights during the Progressive Era. And the aspects of progressive reform that undermined blacks’ rights?
The Course of Reform Progressive Ideas
progressivism embraces a widespread, many-sided effort after 1900 to build a better society there was no single progressive constituency, agenda, or unifying organization. • placed great faith in scientific management and academic expertise • The urban middle class occupied the center of progressive action as exemplified by Jane Addams, founder of the settlement movement and Hull House.
The urban middle class experienced a generational crisis that reflected a crisis of personal faith acted out by reforming American society to meet their Christian mission. • They felt a sense of urgency to reform society in part because they were not insulated from the ills of industrialism.
Progressive Ideas • The starting point for progressive thinking was that if the facts could be known, everything else was possible. They placed great faith in scientific management and academic expertise and also felt that it was important to resist ways of thinking that discouraged purposeful action. • Progressives thought the Social Darwinists of the Gilded Age wrong in their belief that society developed according to fixed and unchanging laws
agreed with philosophers such as William James • William James’s doctrine - pragmatism - a philosophical doctrine developed primarily by William James that denied the existence of absolute truths and argued that ideas should be judged by their practical consequences. Problem solving, not ultimate ends, was the proper concern of philosophy, in James's view. Pragmatism provided a key intellectual foundation for progressivism.
Progressives prided themselves on being tough-minded, but in truth were unabashed idealists. • The progressive mode of thought nurtured a new kind of reform journalism when, at the turn of the century, editors discovered that readers were most interested in the exposure of mischief in America. • The term muckraker was given to journalists who exposed the underside of American life; however, in making the public aware of social ills, muckrakers called the people to action.
Progressive leaders often grew up in homes imbued with evangelical piety or struggled through crises where their religious strivings could be translated into secular action
Reform became a major, self-sustaining phenomenon. • The old order was challenged and changed both politically and economically. • Reformers believed that problems could be addressed through scientific investigation and that people had the ability to master their environment. • Educated women found a congenial intellectual environment in which to play an active public role. • Religion played an underlying role in much reform activity. • There was a drive for information gathering and a high degree of confidence in academic expertise.
Inexpensive general-circulation magazines containing exposés became popular reading material. • Investigative journalism established itself as a legitimate enterprise. • Muckraking publications attracted new converts to progressive reform. • Exposure of municipal corruption gave rise to reform on the local level.
Ida M. Tarbell served as managing editor of McClure's Magazine, where her "History of the Standard Oil Company” ran in serial form for three years. Her revelations of the ruthless practices John D. Rockefeller used to seize control of the oil-refining industry convinced readers that it was time for economic and political reforms to curb the power of big business. Tarbell grew up in the Pennsylvania oil region and knew firsthand how Standard Oil crushed competitors-- her father was forced out of business by Rockefeller's South Improvement Company.
Frances Kellor was a graduate of Cornell University and worked toward a PhD at the University of Chicago. She lived periodically at Hull House and joined the circle of social reformers that congregated there. Kellor was especially concerned with the plight of jobless women and their exploitation by commercial employment agencies. Her book Out of Work was a pioneering investigation, paving the way for the modern study of unemployment. Her study on the problems of immigrants in New York led to the establishment of the New York State Bureau of Industries and Immigration in 1910. Kellor was chosen to be its head, the first woman to hold so high a post in New York State government.
Middle-class women, who had long carried the burden of humanitarian work in American cities, were among the first to respond to the idea of progressivism. • Josephine Shaw Lowell founded the New York Consumers' League in 1890 to improve wages and working conditions for female clerks in the city stores by "white listing" progressive businesses. • The league spread to other cities and became the National Consumers' League in 1899,and, under the leadership of Florence Kelley, became a powerful lobby for protective legislation for women and children.
Among the achievements of the National Consumers' League was the 1908 Supreme Court decision of Muller v. Oregon, which limited women's workdays to ten hours. Argued by Louis D. Brandeis, the case cleared the way for a wave of protective laws for women and children and helped usher in a maternalistic welfare system in the United States. • Settlement houses, such as Hull House founded by Jane Addams, helped alleviate social problems in the slums and satisfy the middle-class residents' need to pursue meaningful lives. • Women activists breathed new life into the suffrage movement by underscoring the capabilities of women.
Social reformers founded the National Women’s Trade Union League in 1903, which was financed and led by wealthy supporters. The league organized women workers, played a considerable role in their strikes, and trained working-class leaders, such as Rose Schneiderman and Agnes Nestor.
Rose Schneiderman sought to improve the lives of working class women through the vote, education, and legislative protection such as the eight-hour day and minimum wage laws. A Polish immigrant who grew up impoverished in New York’s Lower East Side, Schneiderman was well acquainted with the life of an industrial worker. She quickly learned about trade unions and organized her shop into the first female local of the Jewish Socialist United Cloth and Cap Makers’ Union. Schneiderman actively worked for the Women’s Trade Union League (WTUL), an organization dedicated to unionizing working women and lobbying for protective legislation. She had a long career in the WTUL as well as in the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU), holding a variety of leadership positions in both.
In 1897, she founded the International Glove Makers Union and became its first president. In addtion, Nestor was involved in the Women's Trade Union League in which she provided support for female unionists through educational work. During 1913-1948 she was the president of the Chicago chapter of the Women's Trade Union League.
Inspired by British suffragists, around 1910 American suffrage activity picked up and its tactics shifted; Alice Paul began to use confrontational tactics to get women the vote by rejecting the state-by-state route and advocating a constitutional amendment that would grant the right to vote to women everywhere. • Paul organized the militant National Woman's Party in 1916. Meanwhile, the more mainstream National American Woman Suffrage Association (NA WSA) was rejuvenated under the leadership of Carrie Chapman Catt, who organized a broad-based campaign to push for a constitutional amendment for woman suffrage.
The Women's Trade Union League was established at a convention of the American Federation of Labor in 1903. The two female images on its insignia represent the bond between the mother and the woman worker, the one caring, the other strong. The WTUL accepted the primacy of women's maternal obligations but recognized the reality of women's labor involvement. Thus one of the defining goals framed by their clasped hands: to guard the home. The other two objectives were a maximum of eight working hours a day for women and a wage sufficient to allow a woman to support herself.
In 1896 women voted in only four states-Wyoming, Colorado, Idaho, and Utah. The West led the way in the campaign for woman suffrage, partially because of demographics, as in the case of Wyoming, where only 16 votes were needed in the state's tiny legislature to obtain passage of the vote for women. This flag illustrates the number of states where women voted.
In a fundamental shift, younger womencollege-educated and self-supportingbegan refusing to be hemmed in by the social constraints of women's "separate sphere." The term feminism, just starting to come into use, originally meant freedom for full personal development. • Feminists were militantly pro-suffrage because they considered themselves to be fully equal to men, not a weaker sex entitled to men's protection. • Disputes led to the fracturing of the women's movement, dividing the older generation of progressives from their feminist successors who prized gender equality higher than any social benefit.
Urban Liberalism • A shift occurred in the center of gravity within progressivism by 1910, as reflected in the career of California Governor Hiram Johnson. A new strain of progressive reform known as urban hiberalism emerged from the partnership of urban middleclass reformers, machine bosses, and the working class. • This new breed of urban middle-class reformers pressured the state to take over the needs of the urban poor. • Also confronting the bosses of the traditional political machine were leftist parties like the Socialist Party, which elected a congressman in 1910 and ran Eugene Debs as a presidential candidate in 1912.
Urban liberalism was also driven by nativism in the form of moral reform movements and immigration restriction. • Although city machines adopted urban liberalism, trade unions did not, and rejected state attempts to interfere in labor affairs.
As the major spokesmen for unions, Samuel Gompers preached that workers should not seek from government what they could accomplish by their own economic power and self-help through a process known as voluntarism, a creed that weakened substantially during the progressive years. • Over time as muckraking exposes revealed labor exploitation, labor retreated from voluntarism by embracing urban liberals' progressive legislation, especially in the area of industrial hazards since liability rules, based on common law, favored employers and not injured workers.
But health insurance and unemployment compensation, popular in Europe, conjured up images of state-induced dependency among the urban liberal reformers. These major social reforms remained beyond the reach of urban liberals in the Progressive Era. • It would take a major depression during the 1930s to enable reformers to fashion a permanent state solution to poverty.
After the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, some machine politicians led the way in making laws and regulations in order to improve labor conditions, but it was clear that urban social problems had become too big to be handled by party machines.
The doors were the problem. Most were locked (to keep the working girls from leaving early); the few that were open became jammed by bodies as the flames spread. When the fire trucks finally came, the ladders were too short. Compared with those caught inside, the girls who leapt to their deaths were the lucky ones. "As I lookd up I saw a love affair in the midst of all the horror," a reporter wrote. A young man was helping girls leap from a window. The fourt "put her arms about him and kiss[ed] him. Then he held her out into space and dropped her." He immediately followed. "Thud-- dead, Thud-- dead...I saw his face before they covered it...He was a real man. He had done his best." -New York Tribune, March 26, 1911.
Former machine politicians such as Al Smith and Robert Wagner formed ties with progressives and became urban liberals— advocates of active intervention by the state in uplifting the laboring masses of America’s cities. The conversion of machine politicians was a reaction to strong competition from a new breed of middle-class progressive, skilled urban reformers and the challenge from the left by the Socialist Party. The always pragmatic city machines adopted urban liberalism without much ideological struggle.
During the progressive years, the unions’ self-reliant “voluntarism” weakened substantially as the labor movement came under attack by the courts. Judges granted injunctions to prohibit unions from striking, and, in the DanburyHatters case, the Supreme Court’s decision rendered trade unions vulnerable to antitrust suits. After the American Federation of Labor’s “Bill of Grievances” was rebuffed by Congress, unions became more politically active. Organized labor joined the battle for progressive legislation and became its strongest advocate, especially for workers’ compensation for industrial accidents.
Between 1910 and 1917, all industrial states enacted insurance laws covering on-the-job injuries, yet health insurance and unemployment compensation scarcely made it into the American political agenda. Old-age pensions met resistance because the United States already had a pension system for Civil War veterans and their survivors whose enforcement was extremely lax. Easy access to these veterans’ benefits prompted fears that a new generation of workers could become dependent upon state payments. Not until a later generation experienced the Great Depression would the country be ready for social insurance.
Like the Mugwumps, progressive reformers attacked the boss rule of the party system, but did so more adeptly and more aggressively, though their ideals of civic betterment elbowed uneasily with their politician’s drive for self-aggrandizement.
Progressive politicians, especially Robert La Follette, felt that the key to reforming party machines was to reclaim the power to choose candidates. The progressives took that power away from the bosses and gave it to voters in a direct primary.
LaFaollette was transformed into a political reformer when a Wisconsin Republican boss attempted to bribe him in 1891 to influence a judge in a railway case. As he described it in his Autobiography, "Out of this awful ordeal came understanding; and out of understanding came resolution. I determined that the power of this corrupt influence...should be broken." This photograph captures him at the top of his form, expounding his progressive vision to a rapt audience of Wisconsin citizens at an impromptu street gathering.
Many progressive politicians-Albert B. Cummins of Iowa, William S. U'Ren of Oregon, and Hiram Johnson of Califomia, all skillfully used the direct primary as the stepping stone to political power; they practiced a new kind of popular politics, which was a more effective way to power than the backroom techniques of machine politicians.
At a time when black men were being driven from politics in the South, their wives and sisters got organized themselves and became an alternative voice of black conscience. Sara Iredell Fleetwood, superintendent of the Freedman's Hospital Training School for Nurses, founded the Colored Women's League of Washington, D.C. in 1892 for purposes of "racial uplift." This picture of the league was taken on the steps of Frederick Douglass's home in Anacostia, Washington. Mrs. Fleetwood is seated at the far right, third row from the bottom. The notations are by someone seeking to identify the other members, a modest effort to save for posterity these women, mostly teachers, who did their best for the good of the race.
This is a photograph of a history class at Hampton Institute, a freedmen's school founded in 1868 in Virginia where Booker T. Washington began his career, and a model for many similar institutions throughout the South. In a controversial experiment in interracial education, Hampton also began enrolling Native American students in 1878. Freed people regarded the educational opportunities that Hampton and other such schools provided them as immense privileges. Nonetheless, such institutions, which were often overseen by white benefactors, maintained strict controls over their black students to train them in the virtues of industriousness and self-discipline. The young women were prepared for jobs as teachers, but also as domestic servants and industrial workers. In 1899,