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Progressive Era: Its Politics and Culture
Origins of Progressivism ¨ What is Progressivism? _____________________________ Two Kinds of Progressivism ¨ One that came American Populism of the late 19 th century (rural and values based). ¨ Another that came from a movement of intellectuals that sought change through inclusion and education (urban and intellectual based). ¨ These two progressive movements sometimes overlapped ¨ Both movements driven by Protestant beliefs in justice and moral imperatives.
Types of Progressive Policy ¨ 1) Prohibition (banning of alcoholic beverages) was a subject of the Progressive movement: ¨ · Those new found city dwellers once a part of rural society saw immigrant abuses of alcoholic beverages as a moral cancer, and used the Social Gospel as justification for Prohibition. (Anti-Saloon League and the Woman’s Temperance Union spearheaded crusades against alcohol) ¨ · City Progressive intellectuals backed Prohibition because alcoholic beverages made city bosses and political machines stronger.
The Machine and Alcohol Machines used alcohol as an instrument of leverage with immigrants, even though they exploited the immigrant they understood and catered to them culturally and personally. Not until 1920 does Prohibition takes effect with the Volstead Act and the 18 th Amendment.
Wealth 2) Uneven distribution of wealth at the end of the Gilded Age began to show antagonisms toward those who have apparently used competition to destroy competition; thus, in the words of Walter Weyl, The New Democracy, “As wealth accumulates, moreover, a cleavage of sentiment widens between the men who are getting rich and the men who rich…The widening of [this] competitive field has widened the variation and has sharpened the contrast between success and failure, with resulting inequality and discontent. ” ¨ The current state of American competition was not considered democratic to him and the others at the New Republic.
Muckrakers • Muckrakers, usually journalists, used their outlets to fight immoral behavior in city politics, economics, and in society as a whole. • Lincoln Steffens criticized corruption in city politics, Charles Beard’s An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution, and Ida Tarbell criticized Standard Oil, novels by people like Upton Sinclair lampooned city life.
Immigration 3) Immigration illustrates the split in the Progressive movement. • Some reformers were antiimmigrant and sided with American nativists. • Some reformers, like Jane Addams, felt Americanizing immigrants was the best strategy. • Either way together they both (pro and antiimmigration types) made up the Progressive Era philosophy.
Scientific Revolution 4) Scientific Revolution finds its way into society in two ways (early industrial revolution and 20 th century automation): • Scientific Management, or the study of industrial efficiency, guided people like Frederick Taylor to influence Henry Ford. (modern assembly line for autos. ) • Social Sciences influenced people, like John Dewey in Democracy and Education (1916), to apply pragmatic thinking to how democracy should be run in society and in education. (Also an important person in the formation of the New Republic)
The Vote ¨ 5) Direct Election Reforms both represented the Progressive • ¨ ¨ attitude toward popular democracy. First direct democracy (or popular democracy) could only work if the public is educated. (With no education on democracy people would revert back to the comfort of political machines, which was a vice to Progressives. By 1920, 20 states had accepted one of the following. ) a) __________: (initiative) A bill originated by the people rather than lawmakers, and done so by petition. b) __________: (referendum) Instances where the voters, not state legislatures, accepted an initiative by a vote. c) __________: (recall) This enabled voters to remove public officials from elected office by facing another election before their term is done. d) __________: (Seventeenth Amendment) This allowed for the election of US senators by the people rather than state legislatures in 1913.
TR’s Accomplishments 6) Enlightened public and a Strengthened Executive. • Teddy Roosevelt becomes president after the assassination of William Mc. Kinley in 1901. • Teddy urged Americans to “Speak softly and carry a big stick” • Roosevelt’s Square Deal which emphasized the curbing of trusts (or trust busting). • Teddy used the Sherman Anti. Trust Act of 1890 as justification. Work with mixed success, worked with the Northern Securities Company’s monopoly over northwestern railroads
Teddy’s Accomplishments Roosevelt sought federal regulation and pushed through regulation of railroads (Hepburn Act of 1906 gave the Interstate Commerce Commission power to set max rates). Food and medicine (Meat Inspection Act of 1906 created federal inspectors and the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, which halted the sale of contaminated foods and medicines as well as truthful labels). The environment (he used executive power to set aside 50 wildlife sanctuaries and national parks. ) Instead of complete preservation of wilderness Roosevelt saw that only some would be preserved and other would be developed for the common good. )
The Progressive Presidents ¨ TR’s “New Nationalism” (19011908) vs. ¨ Taft (1908 -1912) vs. ¨ Wilson’s (1912 -1920) “New Freedom”
Trust-Busting: ¨ Two strains of American thought that demonstrate why the Progressive Era progresses the way it does. They are represented by… ¨ 1) Alexis de Tocqueville: (Traveled the US in the early 1800’s) Commented on American democracy by saying that the Puritan ethic of hard work in the pursuit of salvation (hard work and economic success was evidence that ones soul would be saved) was dangerous in a democracy like the United States. ¨ Why? Because this type of individualism (pursuit of individual success) would lead to self-gratification, and the lack of public virtue would lead to political indifference, social conformity, and submission to “tyranny” and “democratic despotism. ”
Max Weber ¨ 2) Max Weber: (late 1800’s and early 1900’s German) worried about the opposite tendency of Tocqueville. That instead of individuals acting democratically, people will turn to the government for protection. Thus, a bureaucratic (the people administrating government) monster is born…and people will then be less political and more bureaucratic pawns.
More on TR ¨ Why are thoughts of Weber and Tocqueville important reflections of the Progressive Era? ______________ ¨ While president (1901 -1908), TR talked of trust-busting, but in reality he didn’t believe in trust-busting (or breaking up monopolies)… ¨ TR was quoted as saying it was an “impossible task of restoring…the conditions of business sixty years ago by trusting only to the succession of lawsuits. ” ¨ TR also said “the man who advocates destroying the trusts…by measures which would paralyze the industries of the country is at least a quack and at worst an enemy to the Republic”
More on TR: ¨ According to TR, trust- busting would not restore the old competitive and democratic order. ¨ TR believed the government should not be a trust-busting activist, but instead should organize to expose big business when it’s good or bad, and subject big business to regulation. (Meat Inspection Act (1906) and the Pure Food and Drug Act (1906) were all examples of this)
TR to Taft… ¨ So the cornerstone to TR’s “New Nationalism” (not so named until the presidential race of 1912) was a belief that trusts were not harmful to competition as long as they were subject to federal regulation. ¨ TR’s handpicked candidate William H. Taft ran for president in 1908 and won.
Taft vs. TR ¨ Taft’s claim to fame was aggravating TR on the trust issue (90 instances of enforcing trust-busting). The most famous instance was the prosecution of US Steel, Standard Oil Company and the American Tobacco Company under anti-trust statutes for a business deal that had TR’s approval. ¨ TR split with Taft and the Republican Party by the 1912 election. He went on to assume the leadership of the Progressive Party or “Bull Moose Party” (abandoned by Wiscon. Robert La Follette). ¨ “Bull Moose Party’s” name was derived from the characteristics of strength and vigor often used by Roosevelt to describe himself.
What do you think? ¨ How would you view both TR and Taft? ______________ ¨ Are they defending what De Tocqueville saw as America’s Puritan work ethic or do they represent what Weber thought was America’s natural progression toward federal regulation and administration or do we find both Tocqueville and Weber in both TR’s and Taft’s policies? _______________ ¨ Why do you choose what you choose? ____________________
Enter Wilson… ¨ The Bull Moose ticket polled some 25 percent of the popular vote in 1912, which split the Republican vote. ¨ Woodrow Wilson polled less than 50% of the vote. ¨ Son of a Presbyterian minister, Wilson was governor of New Jersey in 1910 and president at Princeton University in 1902 before running for president in 1912. (He had his law degree and was interested in international politics. )
Wilson’s Politics and Trusts ¨ Wilson ran on the “New Freedom” platform: 1) conservation, 2) corrupt practices act, 3) banking and currency reform, 4) tariff, 5) tended to view monopolies as positive evils unfavorable to the existence of free competition. ¨ Wilson tried to differentiate between efficient monopolies and inefficient monopolies…He said “I am for big business and I’m against the trusts. ” ¨ What’s the difference between this and TR’s view of trusts? _____________
‘New Freedom’ ¨ Once he came into office, Wilson’s “New Freedom” platform looked more and more like TR’s “New Nationalism. ” ¨ Wilson pushed through the Clayton Anti-Trust Act (1914) (It enforced the Sherman Anti-Trust Act by saying…no price discriminations pertaining to a monopoly and no stockholding which would lessen competition, almost impossible to prove in Court) and the Federal Trade Commission Act (1914) (arbiter of unfair trade practices in order to prevent monopoly).
Wilson and Trusts ¨ Wilson’s Anti-Trust Division was expanded by only 8 men, and this was done only after the war began…By 1955, the Securities and Exchange Commission needed 1, 200 men. By 1913, Wilson was actually inviting members of business into the White House because a depression had started. ¨ Considering these aspects of Wilson’s policies, was his form of Progress Era progressivism any different from TR’s? ___________
Progressive Questions: ¨ Was Wilson defending what De Tocqueville saw as America’s Puritan work ethic or does Wilson represent what Weber thought was America’s natural progression toward federal regulation and administration or do we find both Tocqueville and Weber in both TR’s and Taft’s policies? _________________ ¨ Why do you choose what you choose? ________________________________________
Wilson and the War ¨ Wilson’s wartime and post-war policies essentially end the domestic forms of Progressive Era and the Progressive movement and focus attention overseas. ¨ Progressivism, though, follows Wilson’s international policies, and we call this today “Wilsonianism. ” ¨ Wilson wins second term in 1916 on a platform keeping America out of the war (World War I starts in 1914) and neutral, and out of “Old World” politics. His slogan “he kept us out of war” was very effective. By April 1917, this all changes.