The Progressive Era (1900-1917)
Who were the progressives and what reforms did they pursue?
* To answer this question, we must analyze the causes of progressivism * General causes: The 1890s – the 1890s were a cause of Progressivism, mainly b/c they sucked. In the 1890s, all the tensions built up during industrialization broke loose in the Panic of 1893, labor problems, political issues, and foreign entanglements. * Capitalism out of control – Partially b/c of the depression, many people started to realize that capitalism, w/ its monopolistic tendencies and rampant destruction of natural resources needed just a bit of restraint. * Screwed-Up Cities – Disease, poverty and crime were often rampant. * Immigration– viewed as problems to society, feared urban immorality, social disorder, etc. Thus… Progressivism- series of political and cultural responses to industrialization and its by-poducts: immigration, urban growth, rise of corporate power/ socio-economic elite, widening class divisions; desire to build new institutions, fear of alien, desire to end abuses of power, efficiency, and desire to achieve perfection
Society is responsible for individuals and should HELP them!
Intellectuals offer new social views
Thorstein Veblen - sharpest critic of new business order. Wrote The Theory of the Leisure Class in which he satirized the lifestyle of the newly rich captains of industry- “conspicuous consumption” argued they were selfish people who flaunted their wealth and didn’t give a flip about other people. Later said that workers/ engineers were better fitted to lead society b/c they were shaped by the discipline of the machine
“Pragmatism”- truth doesn’t emerge from abstract theorizing, it emerges from the experience of coping w/ life’s realities; argued by William James
Herbert Croly- captured faith in power of new ideas to transform society. The Promise of American Life- called for activist gov. like Alexander Hamilton’s but argued this gov. would instead promote the welfare of all citizens rather than serving only business class
Jane Addams- settlement-house leader. Argued each individual’s well-being depends on well-being of all; urged people to take lead in demanding better conditions in factories, slums, etc. Settlement house was called Hull House- center of social activism and legislative-reform initiatives
John Dewey- said public schools are the potent engines of social change- interaction between pupils necessary to learn to live in social groups
Novelists, journalists, artists
Novelists and journalists roused the reform spirit by chronicling corporate wrong doing, municipal corruption, slum conditions, and industrial abuses * The Octopus by Frank Norris portrayed epic struggle between railroad owners and wheat growers. Theodore Dreiser’s The Financier undermined reputation of industrial elite * “muckrakers”- emphasized facts rather than abstractions, awaken readers to conditions of industrial America by exposing urban political corruption and corporate wrongdoing- McClure’s and Collier’s magazines whose circulation soared b/c public loved scandals
Party loyalty and voter turnout declined as politics opened to new interest groups, each of which had their own agendas – i.e. the Progressive Era witnessed the birth of that delightful phenomenon: the nationwide [charitable] organization that calls your house and asks you for money eight times a day. These organizations included: professional groups, women’s organizations, issue-oriented groups, civic clubs, and minority groups. So, politics became more fragmented and issue-driven - the initiative [propose laws], the referendum [vote on laws], and the recall [get rid of offending officials] to restore gov. by the people, aimed to democratize voting - electoral-reform movement- states replaced old system of voting that involved preprinted ballots bearing names of candidates with better secret ballot which...
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