American History College Term Paper

Topics: Progressive Era, Theodore Roosevelt, Progressivism, Socialist Party USA / Pages: 9 (3272 words) / Published: Mar 13th, 2011
Progressivism & the Battle for National Reform: Progressivism was a reform movement so varied and comprehensive that it almost defies definition. The movement had many causes, most notably the Depression of the 1890s and the Populist movement. In fact, a Kansas editor referred to Progressivism as "populism that had shaved its whiskers, washed its shirt, put on a derby, and moved up into the middle class." The Progressive Era, the years 1895-1920, was an idealistic period, one that focused on constructive social, economic, and political change. Progressives believed that the complex social ills and tensions generated by the urban-industrial revolution required expanding the scope of local, state, and federal government authority. This, they believed, would ensure the progress of American society. The progressive movement refers to the common spirit of an age rather than to an organized group or party. Progressivism was so diverse in its origins and intentions that few people adhered to all of its principles. Nevertheless, Progressivism became one of the central elements of American liberalism, and the legislation and initiatives of the period lay the first steps for what would become in the 1930s the Welfare state. Antecedents to Progressivism: 1) Populism: Populism was undoubtedly the impetus for the growth of Progressivism. The Omaha Platform of 1892 outlined many of the reforms that would later be accomplished during the Progressive Era. 2) Mugwumps: this group supplied Progressives with an important element of its thinking: the honest government. The new problems that arose in urban areas, such as crime, and efficient provision of water, electricity, sewage, and garbage collection, led to a growing number of elected officials with this new outlook toward honesty and efficiency. 3) Socialism: the Socialist Party of the time served as the left wing of progressivism. The growing familiarity with socialist doctrine and its critique of urban

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