The Progressive Era 1 Defining the Progressive Era (roughly 1890-1920) By the end of the 1890s, the hands-off approach government displayed toward business was no longer popular among most Americans. People could now see that the ?founding fathers?? fear of centralized government never anticipated the enormous amount of wealth and power private business interests had acquired during the Gilded Age. Clearly, the system was unbalanced. As the gap between rich and poor widened, issues of social injustice reared their ugly heads as somber reminders of that imbalance. Violence and militancy characterized the period ? labor strikes, farmer revolts, suffrage campaigns, antilynching movements ? and polarized the nation even further. Progressive reformers increasingly advocated more government intervention to guarantee a more equitable society. Americans? willingness to use the government to promote change to counterbalance the power of private interests redefined liberalism in the 20 th century. Key Impulses and Concepts ? Progressivism was a reaction to changes caused by urbanization, industrialization, immigration, growing corporate power, environmental degradation, changing gender roles. ? Primary targets of the reform impulse were industrial and political sectors. Progressives sought to curb corporate and political corruption ? they saw power as having been taken away from people, and progressive reform was a concerted effort to restore power to the people. ? Progressives fostered a growth in government regulation, which they used to correct economic and social imbalances ? Progressives turned more and more to government to fix problems. ? Progressivism was a trans-Atlantic phenomenon ? there was an exchange of ideas between Europe and the US ? Promoters of social justice ? this was the ?social gospel? of distributing the wealth. Progressives were also social moralists and believed they could remake the individual ? this often meant ?vice reform? (e.g. prostitution). ? Progressives explained the world around them through the idea of ?environment? ? this was the understanding that people are the way they are because of their environment. To fix this, one had to re-engineer the environment ? parks, schools, housing were often the results of this approach. The opposite of this idea was Social Darwinism ? the survival of the fittest. Notice the intellectual shift: Social Darwinism in Gilded Age ? weakness of character to Environment/science in Progressive Era ? causal. ? Progressives thus had a very optimistic approach ? we can change the environment therefore we can change human behavior through government interaction. They believed in tweaking the system, not overhauling it; they worked within the existing system ? reformers, not revolutionaries ? Progressives approached problems with a kind of sociological jurisprudence. To them Constitutional law is organic, not fixed, and was designed to change flexibly with the needs of the times. It can and must adapt to changes in society. The Progressive Era is characterized by paradox: ? A diverse coalition of individuals and interests fueled by grassroots activism who left a legacy of a stronger executive office and unprecedented federal involvement in the economy and social welfare. ? Advocates of social justice who constructed that social justice through social control. ? Reformers who called for greater democracy but believed democracy could only be achieved through expertise and efficiency. Bringing order and efficiency to economic life ? this was often to be accomplished through professional expertise. BUT?with increased reliance on gov?t and experts, a lot of people had power taken away from them. Who were the Progressives? ? Urban middle class ? Educated, professional ? WASPs ? the people determining what and who needed changing (often their targets were minorities or members of lower classes and their efforts attempted to erase ethnic and cultural distinctions) The Progressive Era 2 Two strategies Progressives employed to implement their agendas: ? Grassroots activism ? Presidential progressivism I. Grassroots Activism Three important fronts of grassroots attack that Progressives employed: ? Settlement houses ? provided direct contact between reformers and those who would benefit from reform ? Social gospel ? a mindset that played out through benevolent organizations and acts with a Christian affiliation ? Social purity movement ? an idea and an organizational effort making direct connections between environment and behavior. Also made broader connections between the state of the sinner and the state of the nation. Settlement houses ? Originated in England; first one in US was in New York City in 1886 ? These were facilities set up near tenement neighborhoods and offered a variety of social services ? nursing, counseling, financial support, shelter, job training ? Probably the most famous settlement house was Chicago?s Hull House, founded by Jane Addams in 1896. Her system grew to over 400 settlements by 1911. ? Offered variety of services and assistance to immigrant families ? Created a new profession ? social work. ? Gave hundreds of educated women the opportunity to apply their education and training. Social gospel ? Offered a powerful corrective to the idea of social Darwinism and the gospel of wealth (being rich signaled some kind of divine favor) ? Ministers turned away money from people like Rockefeller ? it was ?tainted? ? Often represented by elite Christian ministers and churches ? Believed in a mission not only to reform the individual but also to clean up and reform society (a sinning nation) Social Purity ? Strong connections between social gospelers and social purity movements ? Goal was to eradicate sinful activities ? sin created environments that hindered personal growth and economic opportunity ? Linked ministers with professionals and experts ? Two big targets of the social purity movements: o Alcohol o Prostitution 1. Alcohol Reform ? Women?s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) and Anti-Saloon League - KS first state to outlaw alcohol (1881) ? Coalitions of Protestant clergy and women reformers ? Linked drinking to prostitution, unemployment, domestic abuse, industrial accidents, and political corruption ? Anti-liquor often linked to a hostile nativism (anti-German, Irish, and Italian) ? Very powerful liquor lobby ? fought back by spending heavily in election campaigns The Progressive Era 3 2. Prostitution ? Anti-vice campaigns close red-light districts for various reasons: Doctors ? disease. Ministers ? sin. Women reformers ? sexual double-standard. ? Prostitution a direct outcome of poverty; campaigned for higher wages for women. Women and Gender in Progressive America Women were key members of the progressive movement, both in the efforts to effect change and as the recipients of that change. ? ?Social Housekeeping? ? middle class women used traditional gender roles to claim public role in reform. ? Women are the moral authorities and guardians of the home; They are chaste, selfless, devoted to children; society has them on a pedestal. ? Women expanded their influence by claiming they were the moral authorities and had the expertise to affect social improvement of a male-dominated society that was corrupt. ? Embraced their gender roles to achieve this?but this arguably ended up being a detrimental political strategy. ? Areas in which women used the idea of ?social housekeeping?: ? Temperance and prohibition ? Settlement House Movement and the rise of social work ? Women and labor reform ? Urban environmental reform ? Politics and Suffrage ? Prostitution and the Sexual Double Standard Let?s look at three examples of women and progressivism: ? Women and Labor ? Women and Sex ? Women and Suffrage A. Women and Labor Women?s Trade Union League (WTUL) - 1903 ? This was a coalition of middle and upper class women reformers and lower class/immigrant women laborers. ? Goal was to organize women laborers with the help and support of the AFL. ? Activities (political campaigns, strikes) funded by wealthy reform women; because they funded, they believed they had the right to dictate the rules. Created internal divisions. ? 1909 Triangle Shirtwaist Strike ? hundreds of female employees went on strike for safer conditions, higher wages, and recognition of their union (International Ladies? Garment Workers Union) ? Roughly 20,000 women joined in this strike ? Occurred in dead of winter ? ended in February 1910 Triangle Shirtwaist Fire (1911) ? Typical sweat factory - Low wages, long hours, and unsanitary and dangerous working conditions ? The Asch building owners subcontracted work to individuals who hired the hands and pocketed a portion of the profits Subcontractors could pay the workers whatever rates they wanted, often extremely low. ? Building owners supposedly never knew the rates paid to the workers, nor did they know exactly how many workers were employed at their factory at any given point. Such a system led to exploitation. The Progressive Era 4 The Fire itself?. ? Around closing time on Saturday afternoon, March 25, 1911 ? Fire broke out on the top floors of the Asch Building in the Triangle Waist Company ? By the time the fire was over, 146 of the 500 employees had died ? Women leaped from ninth floor windows ? Many of the workers were women, especially young ones; recent Italian and European Jewish immigrants ? New York was in shock. People were angry. Muller v. Oregon (1908) An employer worked a woman more than 10 hours in a day. This was a violation of Oregon state law. The USSC ruling intervened to ?protect women? as a ?vulnerable class.? Basically, long work hours endangered women and therefore the entire human race. Significance: Women were split, rather than united, about this law. This disagreement fractured the woman?s suffrage movement. ? Equal-rights feminists were against this law because it stereotyped women into specific gender roles and restricted women's financial independence. ? Governmental interest in public welfare outweighed the freedom of contract often read into the 14th Amendment. Excerpt from Muller v. Oregon ruling: This Court takes judicial cognizance of all matters of general knowledge -- such as the fact that woman's physical structure and the performance of maternal functions place her at a disadvantage which justifies a difference in legislation in regard to some of the burdens which rest upon her. As healthy mothers are essential to vigorous offspring, the physical wellbeing of woman is an object of public interest. The regulation of her hour of labor falls within the police power of the State, and a statute directed exclusively to such regulation does not conflict with the due process or equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. The right of a State to regulate the working hours of women rests on the police power and the right to preserve the health of the women of the State, and is not affected by other laws of the State granting or denying to women the same rights as to contract and the elective franchise as are enjoyed by men. B. Women and Sex Women?s gender roles were changing rapidly. The ?social construction? of gender - the culture we live in shapes or ?constructs? what it means to be male or female. Construction of gender changes over time. Example: Body shape defines ?womanhood? in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Clothing reform becomes a key component of feminism and equal rights rhetoric. Feminism ? First used in the US in New York in 1913 ? group of ?Free thinkers? in Greenwich Village ? bohemian ? rejected traditional women?s roles ? journalists, social workers, labor leaders, writers ? Advocated individual freedom and development ? but NOT as mothers ? Sexual freedom ? Sweeping changes that most Americans regarded as dangerous and threatening The Progressive Era 5 The ?New Woman? By the 1920s, Americans are calling these new emancipated females ?The New Woman.? What circumstances occurred to lead to the ?New Woman? mindset? And did all women agree with that? ? Increased educational opportunities ? Women in public life ? vital public political force before they got the ballot ? women?s clubs, organizations, reform efforts o Temperance, prohibition, 18th Amendment (1919) o Women?s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) o Women?s Trade Union League (WTUL) o ?Social housekeeping? ? although these women considered themselves traditional, not radical (more moral, more religious) ? Women working for wages ? used their money for leisure; had economic clout - Commercial leisure. In 1860 10% of work force was women; by 1910 it was 20%. Young, single, diverse ethnicity. Stopped working on marriage. Women migrated from rural to cities. Jobs included clerical, sales, domestic, factories. ? Suffrage movement ? 19th Amendment (1920) ? Women needed political clout to enact reform. Margaret Sanger ? Radical reformer ? Witnessed her mother?s death (mother had 11 children). Blamed her father?s ?passion.? ? Coined the term birth control ? made it more acceptable to Americans. A growing positive attention to her campaign reflected changing attitudes toward sex in America. Argued birth control was sexual and medical reform. ? Loftier goals of altering social and political power and alleviating human misery. Sex a healthy release, physical activity, etc. Sex could be something besides just creating children. Birth control essential to woman?s autonomy. ? Wrote column on sex education ? ?What Every Girl Should Know? ? This was illegal ? Comstock Law (1870) ? birth control information is obscene; a felony to openly advocate contraception (both the sale of the devices and informational literature) ? 1916 ? birth control clinic established in Brooklyn, NY. This is the first of its kind in the country. ? Doctors starting to advocate birth control for health reasons ? Eugenics ? a pseudo-science characterized by intense racism and xenophobia ? Birth control would keep ?unfit? people from reproducing ? ?more fit, stronger human being? ? Sanger believed genetic defects would be eliminated through birth control C. Women and Suffrage The significance of Minor v. Happersett Suffragists divided: National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) ? Carrie Chapman Catt o Work with Congress; work with state legislatures; get suffrage state by state; adhere to traditional women?s roles; promote social housekeeping National Woman?s Party (NWP) ? Alice Paul o Work toward a national amendment to the Constitution o Encouraged equal treatment of the sexes. Paul wrote the Equal Rights Amendment in 1920 after women won suffrage. The Progressive Era 6 Suffragists were divided about suffrage, what it would mean, how it should be obtained, and how it should be exercised. They became even more so with the onset of WWI. Do we unite as women, or do we only want certain women to enjoy suffrage (Southern women refused to consider working with African American women). Do we fight against a war-time president? Do we look like we?re not supporting our troops and our country? Haunted by the mistakes made by the women?s rights movements during and after the Civil War, suffragists postponed their fight for suffrage during the Civil War, and they lost their momentum. II. Presidential Progressivism ? Theodore Roosevelt, trust-busting, and the ?bully pulpit? ? William Taft, the Progressive (Bull Moose) Party and the Election of 1908 ? Woodrow Wilson and the Election of 1912 A. Teddy Roosevelt ? Came to power with President McKinley?s assassination in 1901 ? Spanish-American war hero ? Governor of New York (1898) ? Activist, naturalist, moralist, progressive Trust-busting ? ?The absolute vital question was whether or not the government has the power to control the trusts.? ? Concerned that the courts and attorney generals had weakened the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 by using it to attack labor unions (?conspiracies?) instead of corporations, TR launches an attack soon after taking office. He orders the attorney general to start a secret anti-trust investigation of the Northern Securities Company. This company was created by J.P. Morgan after two northwestern railroad companies were wreaking havoc on Wall Street with their own rate wars. Now this company was monopolizing railroad traffic in the northwest. The government filed an antitrust suit against the company in February 1902. The USSC turned from its previous interpretations and this time ruled that the company violated the Sherman Act and ordered the company be dissolved. ? TR used the Sherman Act against over 40 more trusts, including Standard Oil and Du Pont. Pennsylvania Coal Miners ? May 1902 - Roughly 150,000 United Mine Workers go on strike for a reduction in the workday from 12 to 10 hours/day and increased wages. ? Strike dragged on through the summer and into the fall. As winter came, coal shortages started to threaten stability ? riots in urban areas, profiteering drove up the price of coal. Baer: ?The miners don?t suffer, why they can?t even speak English?.? ?God in his infinite wisdom? had placed ?the rights and interests of the laboring man? in the hands of the capitalists not the ?labor agitators.? ? TR steps in as mediator and tries to get the mine owners and the union to negotiate. Mine operators spokesman George Baer and mine owners refused to talk to union representatives. This angered TR and his AG. TR threatened to seize the mines and run them with federal troops. It was a bluff that worked. The miners won a reduction in hours and a wage increase, but the mine owners refused to recognize the union. The Progressive Era 7 Pure Food and Drug Act/Meat Inspection Act (1906) Muckraking Journalism helped fuel public support for TR?s reform agenda. ? Documentary journalism revealing social ills and business corruption ? People increasingly concerned with poor regulation of patent medicines ? full of poisons ? An important example from the period was Upton Sinclair?s The Jungle - this was a realistic novel of the meatpacking industry in Chicago. Author?s intent was to expose the social inequities of labor. It instead spurred consumer activism toward such things as pure food and drug reform. Conservation ? Tripled the number of acres set aside for national parks and wildlife preserves form 45 million to 150 million. ? Fought western cattle barons, lumber kings, mining interest, and congressional leaders to conserve natural resources ? Policy of ?managed use? ? efficient use of land resources. Willing to permit grazing, lumbering, and the development of hydroelectric power if businesses acted responsibly and did not monopolize water and electric power. B. William Taft ? TR announces he will ?retire? after his one full term. Hand picked Taft to be his successor. Taft wins 1908 election basically on TR?s coattails. ? Taft has a sharp legal mind, but no affinity for politics. ? Believed it was up to the courts, not the president, to arbitrate social issues. This was in direct contrast to TR?s use of presidential power, which had been carried to unheard of levels. ? Republicans divided ? conservatives like Taft vs. progressives like TR ? Mid-term elections (1910) ? Democrats gain control of House. Worked with progressive Republicans in Senate to pass 16th Amendment (graduated income tax) and 17th Amendment (direct election of senators)?remember the Populists. ? 1912 Republican Convention ? TR runs as a candidate again, bringing over 200 delegates to Taft?s 48. The people want TR back; the Republican political leadership wants Taft because he is so malleable. TR?s group splits and forms a 3rd Party ? The Progressive (Bull Moose) Party. ? Democrat candidate Woodrow Wilson wins 1912 presidential election C. Woodrow Wilson ? 1st southerner to be elected president since the 1840s ? 2nd Democrat to be in White House since Reconstruction (Grover Cleveland) 1. First agenda was banking and tariff reform Reduced the tariff with the Underwood tariff, and made up for lost revenue with a federal income tax Federal Reserve Act of 1913 ? Established a national banking system with 12 regional banks ? Privately controlled but regulated/supervised by Federal Reserve Board (appointed by the president) ? First efficient banking and currency system ? Provided greater degree of government control over banking ? Made currency more elastic and credit adequate for business and agriculture The Progressive Era 8 2. Second agenda was trust reform ? Federal Trade Commission (FTC) ? 1914 ? Wide investigatory powers ? Had authority to prosecute corporations for ?unfair trade practices? ? Enforce ?cease and desist? orders Wilson then proceeds to anger progressives by declaring the progressive movement had fulfilled its mission and the nation needed ?a time of healing.? By 1917, he was struggling to keep a nation united in its commitment to WWI. Progressive Era Achievements and Legacies Political and Constitutional Reform ? federal income tax (16th amendment) ? direct election of senators (17th amendment) ? initiative, referendum, and recall ? city manager form of government ? Women?s Suffrage (19th amendment in 1920) Moral Reform ? Prohibition (18th amendment) ? Mann Act ? 1910 ? outlawed interstate transportation of women for immoral purposes. Labor Reform ? Factory inspection laws ? Workers compensation ? Shorter working hours, particularly for women and children Consumer Reform ? Meat Inspection Act - 1906 ? Pure Food and Drug Act - 1906 Conservation, Preservation, and the Roots of Environmentalism ? U.S. Forest Service (1905) ? Gifford Pinchot ? creation of public forests. Management for greatest good, greatest number, for longest time ? Hetch-Hetchy (in Yosemite National Park) ? the controversy over Hetch-Hetchy inspired a movement to preserve nature against all utilitarian use. Preservation becomes the opposing viewpoint to Conservation. Michele Lansdown The Progressive Era
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