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The Progressive Era 1900-1917


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Title: The Progressive Era 1900-1917

The Progressive Era1900-1917
  • Chapter 21

  • This chapter covers
  • Economic and social changes
  • Problems caused by industrialization and
  • How the Progressive reform movement emerged to
    wrestle with these problems/changes

Introduction (cont.)
  • An example
  • The unsafe and unsanitary conditions in which
    millions of workers labored produced tragedies
  • Such as the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist fire in
    which 141 sweatshop employees died
  • After the Fire, aroused Progressives convinced
    New York State to enact many labor protective laws

The need for Progressive reform for factory
workers was made evident in the 1911 Triangle
Shirtwaist fire
Introduction (cont.)
  • 1.) How did intellectuals and writers prepare the
    way for Progressive reform?
  • 2.) What conditions in the cities and states
    bothered Progressives, and what did they hope to
    do about them?
  • 3.) How did Progressive reform reach national
    politics, and which leaders and issues were

Introduction (cont.)
  • 4.) What impact did Progressive reform have on
    the lives of women, immigrants, the urban poor,
    and African-Americans?
  • 5.) Did progressivism alter peoples views on the
    proper role of govt. in Americas society and

The Many Faces of Progressivism (cont.)
  • The Progressives were strongest in the cities
  • Attracted support from middle-class professionals
    and intellectuals
  • Most Progressives accepted the capitalist system
  • They merely wanted to reform the worst abuses
    that had developed under it

The Many Faces of Progressivism (cont.)
  • There was never 1 unified movement, but many
    different groups of reformers
  • Some preached regulation of big businesses
  • Others concentrated on passing laws to protect
  • Others thought the way to cure social ills was to
    curtail immigration

The Many Faces of Progressivism (cont.)
  • Progressives generally attempted to be
    scientific in their approach
  • Backed their demands for change with scholarly
    studies of deplorable conditions to be remedied

Intellectuals Offer New Social Views
  • Many intellectuals criticized unrestrained,
    brutal capitalist competition
  • They called for an activist govt. that would
    regulate business practices and protect the
    economically vulnerable
  • Thorstein Veblen (economist)
  • Herbert Croly (journalist)
  • William James (pragmatic philosopher)
  • Jane Addams (settlement-house leader)

Intellectuals Offer New Social Views (cont.)
  • New educational and legal ideas paved the way for
    the Progressive movement
  • John Dewey
  • Preached that schools must foster in students
    respect for the values of democracy and
  • Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
  • Supreme Court Justice
  • Attacked conservative judges for being guided
    entirely by legal precedent
  • He insisted that the law must evolve as society

Dewey and Holmes
Novelists, Journalists,and Artists Spotlight
Social Problems
  • Muckraking journalists and novelists played an
    important role in stimulating the Progressive
    movement by exposing to middle-class Americans
    political corruption and corporate wrongdoing

Novelists, Journalists,and Artists Spotlight
Social Problems (cont.)
  • Lincoln Steffens
  • Wrote about urban political machines and bosses
  • Ida Tarbell
  • Cutthroat competitive practices of Standard Oil

Novelists, Journalists,and Artists Spotlight
Social Problems (cont.)
  • Magazines such as McClures and Colliers
    specialized in muckraking articles
  • Novelists Frank Norris in The Octopus and
    Theodore Dreiser in The Financier also told tales
    of business abuses and political corruption

Novelists, Journalists,and Artists Spotlight
Social Problems (cont.)
  • Ashcan School artists and photographers such as
    Lewis Hine depicted the harsh world of the
    immigrants, factory workers and child laborers

State and Local Progressivism
  • Reforming the Political Process
  • The earliest signs of the Progressive movement
    appeared in cities where municipal reformers
    battled corrupt political machines
  • These cities elected activist mayors dedicated to
  • Hazen Pingree of Detroit
  • Samuel Jones of Toledo
  • Reform mayors generally
  • brought honesty to municipal govt.
  • Provided city dwellers with improved municipal
    services and facilities
  • Forced transportation and utility companies to
    lower rates and pay their fair share of taxes

Reforming the Political Process (cont.)
  • Other municipal reformers experimented with
    commission and city-manager forms of govt.

Reforming the Political Process (cont.)
  • The reform efforts soon moved up to state govt.
  • Progressives attempted to democratize politics by
  • secret balloting
  • direct primary
  • initiative
  • referendum
  • recall
  • In practice these measures fell short of
    producing the democratic results that the
    Progressives had hoped

Regulating Business, Protecting Workers
  • After 1900, the growth of huge business
    corporation speeded up
  • Example in 1901 J.P. Morgan consolidated
    hundreds of independent steel makers to form the
    U.S. Steel Company which controlled 80 of
    production in the nation
  • This trend alarmed many Americans

Regulating Business, Protecting Workers (cont.)
  • The real wages of industrial laborers rose after
  • They were still so inadequate that in many
    families the mothers and children had to work to
    make ends meet
  • In 1910 at least 1.6 million youngsters between
    10-16 years old worked full-time

Regulating Business, Protecting Workers (cont.)
  • Industrial laborers spent on average 9 1/2 hours
    a day in mills and shops
  • Often in hazardous conditions (both in health and
  • Employers tried to get even more work out of
    their employees
  • Frederick W. Taylor and other efficiency experts

Regulating Business, Protecting Workers (cont.)
  • Under Progressive influence, state govts. started
    to impose regulation on railroads, mines, and
    other business corporation
  • The pioneer was WI under Governor Robert

Regulating Business, Protecting Workers (cont.)
  • Between 1901 and 1906 LaFollette convinced the
    legislature to
  • create a state railroad commission
  • increase corporate taxes
  • limit business contributions to political
  • He and the legislature also introduced political
    reforms such as the direct primary
  • Wisconsin Idea

Regulating Business, Protecting Workers (cont.)
  • Other states passed important labor laws as well
  • Maximum of hours per workday for female
  • Oregons 10-hour law
  • Factory safety codes
  • Such as the one enacted in NY after the Triangle
    Shirtwaist fire
  • Workers compensation acts
  • Bans on child labor

Making Cities More Livable
  • Cities grew rapidly between 1900 and 1920 as
    rural Americans and millions of immigrants moved
    into them
  • Overwhelmed and often corrupt municipal govts.
    failed to provide the newcomers with adequate
    services and public facilities

Making Cities More Livable (cont.)
  • Progressive reformers began to beautify cities
  • more parks and playgrounds
  • Broad boulevards
  • Impressive municipal buildings
  • State legislatures passed housing coded to
    upgrade living conditions in tenements and slum

Making Cities More Livable (cont.)
  • Cities and states improved
  • Garbage collection
  • Street cleaning
  • Water and sewer systems
  • And required higher standards
  • of cleanliness
  • Of quality form sellers of food and milk
  • These Progressive reforms significantly decreased
    infant mortality and tuberculosis deaths

Making Cities More Livable (cont.)
  • There were also attempts to reduce air pollution
  • Business fought these vigorously
  • The continued reliance on coal as the chief
    energy source left cities smoky and sooty

Progressivism and Social Control
  • Moral Control in the Cities
  • Some reformers tried to guard morality by
    inducing cities to censor movies and outlaw
  • A wave of hysteria over prostitution led to the
    passage of the federal Mann Act (1910) and the
    close of red-light districts

Battling Alcohol and Drugs
  • Prohibition became the biggest moral crusade of
    the Progressive Era
  • Anti-Saloon League, Womens Christian Temperance
    Union, various church groups
  • Many localities enacted bans on liquor sales
  • The national prohibition movement grew stronger

Battling Alcohol and Drugs (cont.)
  • Progressives also campaigned against the
    then-widespread use of such addictive drugs as
    morphine, heroin, and cocaine
  • Their efforts led to the passage of the federal
    Narcotics Act in 1914
  • Outlawed the distribution of heroin, morphine,
    and cocaine except by doctors prescriptions

Immigration Restriction and Eugenics
  • Between 1900-1917, 17 million immigrants entered
    the U.S.A.
  • Mostly from southern and eastern Europe
  • Many native-born Americans became fearful
  • They often believed that immigrants caused
    poverty and immorality

Immigration Restriction and Eugenics (cont.)
  • Immigration Restriction League
  • 1894
  • Founded by Senator Henry Cabot Lodge and other
    prominent Bostonians
  • In 1971 Congress excluded illiterate immigrants
  • Over President Wilsons veto

Immigration Restriction and Eugenics (cont.)
  • Eugenicists claimed that humans and society could
    be improved by controlled breeding
  • Some states passed laws allowing forced
    sterilization of criminals, mentally deficient
    persons, and sex offenders
  • Pseudo-scientific racism was spewed by some
    so-called progressive writers
  • Madison Grant--The Passing of the Great Race

Racism and Progressivism
  • In 1900 the majority of the 10 million
    African-Americans were still in the rural South
  • Most as sharecroppers
  • Many began to migrate to cities and to the North
  • Escape poverty, disenfranchisement, Jim Crow
    laws, and violence

Racism and Progressivism (cont.)
  • In the North they encountered de factor
    segregation and discrimination
  • Under these difficult circumstances,
    African-Americans developed their own communities
    and culture
  • Racism in American society reached a peak during
    the Progressive Era
  • Many progressives either ignored racial
    discrimination or were themselves racists

Racism and Progressivism (cont.)
  • Southern Progressives combined advocacy of
    economic and political reform with vicious
    attacks on African-Americans
  • James K. Vardaman and Ben Tillman
  • The 2 Progressive-reformer presidents of the era
    compiled sorry records on racial justice
  • Theodore Roosevelt
  • Woodrow Wilson

Racism and Progressivism (cont.)
  • Roosevelt ordered the unwarranted dishonorable
    discharge of an entire regiment of
    African-American soldiers in the Brownsville,
    Texas, incident
  • Wilson praised the racist movie Birth of a Nation
    and condoned the introduction of racial
    segregation in all federal govt. agencies and

Racism and Progressivism (cont.)
  • Some white progressives decried racial injustice
    and helped found the National Association for the
    Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
  • Lillian Wald and Mary White

African-Americans, Women, and Workers Organize
  • African-American Leaders Organize Against Racism
  • Booker T. Washington
  • Americas best-know black leader between
  • Advised blacks to concentrate on economic
    advancement through vocational education
  • Accept the Souths Jim Crow and
    disenfranchisement laws

African-American Leaders Organize Against Racism
  • Northern African-Americans intellectuals and
    professionals urged African-Americans to fight
    for economic, political, and educational equality
  • William Monroe Trotter
  • Ida Wells-Barnett
  • W.E.B. DuBois

Trotter, Wells, DuBois
African-American Leaders Organize Against Racism
African-Americans have a right to know, to
think, to aspire We must strive for the
right which the world accords to man. W.E.B.
  • Niagara Movement
  • 1905
  • DuBois and other African-American critics of
    Washington formed
  • In 1909, DuBois and other members of the Niagara
    Movement joined with white Progressives in
    organizing the NAACP
  • Rejected Booker T. Washingtons accommodations
  • Began the long fight for racial justice

Revival of the Woman-Suffrage Movement
  • A new group of feminists emerged to revitalize
    the womens movement
  • Carrie Chapman Catt
  • Became president of the National American Woman
    Suffrage Association in 1900

Revival of the Woman-Suffrage Movement (cont.)
  • Catt led her members in lobbying, distributing
    literature, and demonstrating
  • They convinced several states to grant women the

Revival of the Woman-Suffrage Movement (cont.)
  • Alice Paul
  • National Womans Party
  • Bring direct pressure on the federal govt. for
    passage of a constitutional amendment
    enfranchising women

Enlarging Womans Sphere
  • Feminists challenged the assumption that the only
    proper roles for women were those of wife,
    mother, and homemaker
  • Florence Kelley, Alice Hamilton, Margaret Sanger
  • Led the Progressives drives to
  • abolish child labor
  • Protect the health of workers and consumers
  • Establish birth-control clinics

The Womens Movement
  • Margaret Sanger championed the cause for
    increased birth control
  • Sanger hoped birth control education would reduce
    the social stresses caused by too many immigrant
  • Her journals provided contraceptive information
    for poor middle-class women
  • In 1916, Sanger opened the 1st birth control
    clinic in the U.S.

Workers Organize Socialism Advances
  • To improve their working environment, workers
    kept trying to unionize
  • Their right to strike was frequently curtailed by
    conservative court decisions
  • Employers often hired recent immigrants as scabs
    when employees went on strike

Workers Organize Socialism Advances (cont.)
  • American Federal of Labor (AFL) grew primarily in
    the skilled trades
  • Most factory workers were unorganized early on
  • 2 unions attempted to help semiskilled and
    unskilled workers
  • International Ladies Garment Workers Union
  • Led successful strikes in the needle trades
  • Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)

Workers Organize Socialism Advances (cont.)
  • The IWW singed up western miners, lumberjacks,
    and migratory farm workers
  • IWW won a major strike in 1912 in the textile
    mills of MA
  • Govt. repression of the IWW during WWI caused the
    decline of the organization

Organizing Labor
  • Eugene V. Debs formed the Socialist Party of
    America applied Marxist ideas into a moderate
    appealing political platform

Did not threaten to overthrow the capitalist
Workers Organize Socialism Advances (cont.)
  • The Socialist Party of America was gaining
  • Hoped to end capitalism through the ballot box
    rather than revolution
  • Eugene Debs
  • Ran for president in 1912 and received 900,000

National Progressivism--Phase I Roosevelt and
Taft, 1901-1913
  • Roosevelts Path to the White House
  • Became President in 1901 after McKinley was
  • Became the first Progressive president

Roosevelts Path to the White House (cont.)
  • A believer in strong executive leadership,
    Roosevelt enlarged the powers of the presidency
  • Turned the office into both an effective forum
    and the center of legislative initiative

Labor Disputes, Trustbusting, and Railroad
  • Unlike earlier presidents who used troops to
    break strikes, Roosevelt like to use arbitration
  • Example coal miners strike of 1902
  • Management and the United Mine Workers used
    arbitration by a commission Roosevelt appointed
  • The commission granted the miners increased pay
    and reduced hours

Labor Disputes, Trustbusting, and Railroad
Regulation (cont.)
  • Roosevelt did not want to attack big business
  • He preached that corporate giants must obey the
    law and serve the public interest
  • He prosecuted firms that he believed violated the
    Sherman Anti-Trust Act
  • Northern Securities Company
  • Despite his trustbusting, he stayed on good terms
    with big business

Labor Disputes, Trustbusting, and Railroad
Regulation (cont.)
  • 1904 election, Roosevelt easily won over
    conservative Democratic opponent, Alton B. Parker
  • Hepburn Act
  • 1906
  • Strengthened corporate regulation
  • Gave the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) the
    power to set maximum railroad rates and examine
    railroads financial records

Consumer Protection
  • Responding to public concern generated by Upton
    Sinclairs The Jungle, Roosevelt persuaded
    Congress to pass the Pure Food and Drug Act
    (1906) and the Meat Inspection Act (1906)
  • Pure Food and Drug Act
  • Meat Inspection Act

I aimed at the publics heart by accident I
hit it in the stomach
Environmentalism Progressive Style
  • Roosevelt made his most enduring reforms in
  • Years of exploitation for private gain had
    damaged and depleted Americas natural
  • By the 1890s, land use had become a political
  • Putting business interests, preservationists, and
    conservationists against each other

Environmentalism Progressive Style (cont.)
  • Entrepreneurs wanted to continue unrestricted
    development for private enrichment
  • Preservationists wished to save large wilderness
    tracts for their beauty and spiritual worth
  • John Muir and the Sierra Club
  • Conservation movement sought govt. scientific
    management to make the public domain best serve
    the resource needs of the nation now and in the
  • Gifford Pinchot (Roosevelts Forest Service chief)

Environmentalism Progressive Style (cont.)
  • At times, the preservationists and the
    conservationists engaged in bitter combat
  • Example the 1913 fight over the building of a
    dam in a beautiful part of Yosemite National Park
    to provide water and hydroelectric power for San

Environmentalism Progressive Style (cont.)
  • Roosevelt used the presidency to popularize both
    conservation and preservation
  • Newlands Act of 1902
  • Important in the economic development of the West
  • Set aside about 200 million acres of forest and
    mineral-rich lands for government-managed use
    rather than sale to business
  • Antiquities Act (1906)
  • National historical landmarks
  • Established national parks

Environmentalism Progressive Style (cont.)
  • In 1916, during Wilsons administration, Congress
    established the National Park Service to protect
    and run the national historic sites, monuments,
    and parks

Taft in the White House, 1909-1913
  • William Howard Taft was Roosevelts secretary of
  • Won 1908 election over William Jennings Bryan
  • Pledged to continue Roosevelts Square Deal

Taft in the White House, 1909-1913 (cont.)
  • Taft prosecuted more trusts than Roosevelt had
  • Taft, though, lacked Roosevelts activism, flair
    for publicity, and political skills

Taft in the White House, 1909-1913 (cont.)
  • In the fight shaping up between the progressive
    and conservative wings of the Republican party,
    Taft sided with the conservatives
  • Taft alienated progressive Republicans by
  • Signing the Payne-Aldrich bill
  • Raised tariffs
  • Fired conservationist Gifford Pinchot

Taft in the White House, 1909-1913 (cont.)
  • Progressive Republicans joined with Roosevelt in
    denouncing the conservatives and campaigned for
    revived Progressive reform

The Four-Way Election of 1912
  • In 1912, Theodore Roosevelt challenged Taft for
    the Republican nomination
  • The convention chose Taft
  • Roosevelts backers walked out and founded the
    rival Progressive Party and nominated Roosevelt
  • The Democrats nominated Woodrow Wilson
  • Socialists nominated Eugene Debs

The Four-Way Election of 1912 (cont.)
  • New Nationalism
  • Roosevelts platform
  • Accept big business as inevitable
  • But build a powerful activist federal govt. to
    regulate the corporate giants
  • New Freedom
  • Wilsons platform
  • Rejected big govt. in Washington
  • Called for a return to an economy composed of
    small, competing enterprise

The Four-Way Election of 1912 (cont.)
  • Wilson won the White House
  • Democrats also won Congress

National Progressivism--Phase II Woodrow
Wilson, 1913-1917
  • Introduction
  • Woodrow Wilson had been a political science
    professor and president of Princeton University
  • Then he became Governor of NJ
  • Skilled and flexible politician
  • But sometimes was intolerant and self-righteous

Introduction (cont.)
  • Despite Wilsons stated preference for small
    business and limited govt. in the 1912 election,
    as president he led the effort to use govt. to
    address the problems of the new corporate order.

Tariff and Banking Reform
  • Wilson convinced Congress to pass the 1913
    Underwood-Simmons Tariff
  • Reduced import duties by roughly 15
  • Federal Reserve Act
  • 1913
  • Kept banking a private enterprise but imposed
    public regulation over it
  • 12 regional Federal Reserve banks
  • Empowered to expand the nations credit and money
  • Could issue Federal Reserve notes
  • Under the supervision of the Federal Reserve
  • Appointed by the president

Regulating Business Aiding Workers and Farmers
  • Federal Trade Commission
  • 1914
  • Federal regulatory agency
  • Power to uncover unfair methods of business
  • Then issue cease and desist orders against

Regulating Business Aiding Workers and Farmers
  • Clayton Act
  • 1914
  • Supplemented the vague and general Sherman
    Anti-Trust Act
  • Defined and listed specific illegal practices

Regulating Business Aiding Workers and Farmers
  • Wilson endorsed the clause in the Clayton Act
    exempting union strikes, boycotts, and picketing
    from prosecution under the antitrust laws

Regulating Business Aiding Workers and Farmers
  • He also signed the following into law
  • Keating-Owen Act
  • 1916
  • Child labor law with interstate commerce
  • Later declared unconstitutional
  • Adamson Act
  • 1916
  • 8-hour day for railroad workers
  • Workmens Compensation Act
  • For federal employees
  • Legislation to help farmers obtain loans at lower
    interest rates

Progressivism and the Constitution
  • Wilson nominated to the Supreme Court Progressive
    Jewish attorney Louis Brandeis
  • Conservatives and anti-Semites objected
  • Wilson persuaded the Senate to confirm Brandeis

Progressivism and the Constitution (cont.)
  • The Progressive Era saw 4 amendments added to the
    U.S. Constitution
  • 16th (1913)
  • Authorized a federal income tax
  • 17th (1913)
  • Popular or direct election of senators
  • 18th (1919)
  • Prohibition
  • 19th (1920)
  • Women suffrage

1916 Wilson Edges Out Hughes
  • Democrats renominated Wilson
  • Republicans ran Charles Evans Hughes
  • Wilson won in a close race

(No Transcript)
  • Some Progressive reforms did less good than their
    backers had hoped
  • Progressivism had some repressive and intolerant
  • The movement as a whole left a legacy of govt.
    intervention to
  • regulate destructive corporate practices
  • protect the economically vulnerable
  • improved social problems arising from
  • It was a precedent on which the New Deal would
    later build

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