The Progressive Agenda

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In reading excerpts of Michael McGerr’s A Fierce Discontent, it appears that the goal of Progressivism was a middle class agenda to transform America to the middle class life style. The middle class appeared to be afraid that they were going to be stuck in the middle of the big corporations that had sprung up and the vast number of new immigrants. It appeared that their goal may have been to turn the immigrants into middle class citizens like themselves. It seems that the Progressive Party of 1912 was made up of a lot of “do good” people, and in a sense it was. There were people like Theodore Roosevelt, Jane Addams, Lillian Wald and Carrie Nation, just to name a few. The platform of the Progressive Party was long and covered a lot of social and industrial justice issues including women’s suffrage, child labor laws and the shorter work day and week. It also covered issues like conservation, administration of justice, and health and the high cost of living. (Progressive Party Platform, 1912) All these issues were important to the party and to the American people. Even though they lost the election of 1912, supporters of the party, no doubt with good intentions tried to individually work at turning America into a middle class society.

Some of these supporters went about trying to fix what was wrong with America in the Progressive Era. Some worked among and with the immigrants and some worked to uphold the law that was not being upheld by the factions of the government that were there to uphold the law. Among these was Lillian Wald who according to Michael McGerr was the founder of the settlement house, the Nurses’ of Henry Street. She was in the habit of securing help for those who were ill and less fortunate by getting them into hospitals when they were in need of medical care. McGerr has told the story of Rahel Golub, who was very ill and was visited by Lillian Wald. Wald convinced Rahel’s family against their better judgment to allow Rahel to be...
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