Chapter 21:

The Rise of Progressivism


1)The Progressive Impulse

a)Varieties of Progressivism

i)Progressives varied on how to intervene + reform- popular idea of “antimonopoly” (fear of concentrated power, limit + disperse wealth, power)

ii)Social cohesion- welfare of single person dependent on welfare of society

iii)Faith in knowledge, principles of natural + social sciences, modernized govt

b)The Muckrakers

i)Muckrakers were crusading journalists who exposed social, economic, political injustices and corruption

ii)At first targeted trusts (particularly RR barons)- Ida Tarbell’s study on Standard Oil. Later, attention toward govt + political machines- writings of Lincoln Steffens helped arouse sentiment for urban reforms

c)The Social Gospel

i)Muckrakers moralistic tone prompted outrage at social + econ injustice, led to rise of Protestant Social Gospel- fusion of religion w/ reform

ii)Salvation Army was Christian social welfare organization; ministers left parish to serve in troubled cities; Father John Ryan wrote of expanding scope of Cath social welfare groups

iii)Religion w/ reform gave Progressivism moral component + commitment to redeem lives of even least favored citizens

d)The Settlement House Movement

i)Progressives believed env’t influenced individual development. To help distressed required improving their conditions

ii)Ppl believed crowded immigrant neighbors created distress- creation of settlement houses a response. Most famous was Jane Addams’ Hull House in Chicago- sought to help immigrant families adapt to language + culture, belief that middle-class had responsibility to share values w/ immigrants

iii)College educated women often involved in settlement house movement; movement helped spawn profession of social work

e)The Allure of Expertise

i)Progressivism values application of scientific methods, knowledge, expertise- well-designed bureaucracy needed. Some proposed civilization where science could solve social + econ problems- advocated in A Theory of The Leisure Class (1899) by Thorstein Veblen

ii)Rise of social sciences- scientific methods used to study society + its institutions

f)The Professions

i)Late 19th century more ppl engaged in administrative + professional tasks (managers, scientists, teachers). This new middle class valued education, individual accomplishments

ii)As demand for professionals increased so did their desire for reform to create organized professions

iii)Doctors saw creation of professional American Medical Association1901- strict standards for admissions, govt passed laws requiring licensing; also rise of rigorous, scientific training and research

iv)Similar movements in other professions- lawyers formed bar associations w/ central examining boards businessmen formed Chamber of Commerce

g)Women and the Professions

i)Some women encountered obstacles in entering professions, but many from women’s colleges did enter “appropriate professions”- settlement houses and social work, teaching, nursing (all had vague “domestic”/“helping” image)

2)Women and Reform

a)The “New Woman”

i)“New woman” product of social + economic changes- wage earning activity had moved out of house and into factory or office, children enrolled in school at earlier ages, technology (running water, electricity) made housework less of a burden, declining family size; “Boston marriages”- women living w/ women

b)The Clubwomen

i)Late 19th/early 20th century rise of women’s clubs- network of associations that lead many reform movements. General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC) at first cultural, later focused on social betterment

ii)Clubs represented effort to extend women’s influence out of traditional role in home and create a public space for women. Worked to lobby legislatures for regulation of children + women work conditions, food inspection, temperance

iii)Women’s Trade Union League rallied women to join unions, aid female labor

c)Woman Suffrage

i)Women’s suffrage movement at first advanced thru arguments that women deserved same “natural rights” as men, opponents said society needed distinct female “sphere”

ii)Early 20th century suffragists more organized-- Anna Shaw + Carrie Chapman Catt formed National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA)

iii)Began to make “safer” arguments for suffrage in that voting would not ruin distinct sphere but allow women to bring special virtues to society’s problems and contribute to politics. Some claimed could soothe male aggression (WWI)

iv)1910 Washington extended suffrage to women, more hesitant in East b/c of associations w/ ethnic conflict (Catholics) over temperance movement

v)1920 Nineteenth Amendment ratified guaranteeing female political rights; others (including Alice Paul’s Woman’s Party) wanted to fight on for an Equal Rights Amendment to prohibit all discrimination based on sex

3)The Assault on the Parties

a)Early Attacks

i)Late 19th century populism and rise of Independent Republicans had attempted to break party lock on power- resulted in secret ballot

ii)Argued party rule could be dealt w/ by increasing power of ppl + ability to express will at polls, also put more power in nonpartisan, nonelected officials

b)Municipal Reform

i)Many progressives believed party rule most powerful in cities. Muckrakers mobilized urban middle-class progressives against city bosses, special interests who benefited from machine organizations, immigrant laborers

c)New Forms of Governance

i)Commission Plan- replaced mayor and council replaced w/ nonpartisan commission. First used in Galveston, TX  in 1900, others followed

ii)City-Manager Plan- elected officials hired outside expert to run govt, remain above corruption of politics

iii)Successful reformer Cleveland Mayor Tom Johnson from conventional political structure controlled by progressives- fought special interests

d)Statehouse Progressivism

i)Failure of some attacks on city boss rule led reformers to turn to state govt for change- progressives looked to circumvent incompetent state legislatures

ii)Initiative allowed reformers to submit legislation directly to voters in general election; Referendum put actions of legislature directly to the ppl for approval

iii)Direct primary allowed ppl instead of bosses to choose candidates; Recall gave voters right to remove elected official thru special election

iv)Famous state-level reformer was Gov Robert LaFollette in Wisconsin- regulated RRs, utilities, workplace, graduated taxes on inherited wealth

e)Parties and Interest Groups

i)Reform did not destroy parties but led to decline in their influence- seen by decreasing voter turnout. “Interest groups” emerged from professional organizations or labor to advance own demands directly to govt, not thru party

4)Sources of Progressive Reform

a)Labor, the Machine, and Reform

i)Samuel Gompers’s American Federation of Labor mostly uninvolved in reform at time, but local unions played role in passing some state reform laws

ii)Parties tried to preserve interest by adapting- some bosses allowed their machines to be vehicle of social reform (e.g. Charles Murphy of Tammany Hall supported legislation for working conditions, child labor)

iii)Triangle Shirtwaist Fire 1911 in NY killed many women workers b/c bosses had locked emergency exits. Commission delivered report calling for reform in labor conditions- reform lead in legislature by Tammany Dems. Imposed regulation on factory owners and mechanisms for enforcement

b)Western Progressives

i)In Western states reformers targeted federal govt b/c powerful as it never had been in East (power over lands and resources, subsidies for RRs and water projects, issues transcended state borders). Weaker local + state govts political led to weaker W polit. parties, govts passed progressive reforms more quickly

c)African Americans and Reform

i)AAs faced large legal, social, economic, political obstacles in challenging their oppressed status and seeking reform- many embraced Booker T Washington’s message of self-improvement over long-term social change

ii)1900s new Niagara Movement led by WEB Du Bois (author of 1903 The Souls of Black Folk) called for immediate civil rights, professional education

iii)1909 joined w/ supportive white progressives to form National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), used federal lawsuits in pursuit of equal rights. In Guinn v. United States (1915) Supreme Court ruled grandfather clause illegal; Buchanan v. Worley (1917) Court outlawed some segregation—NAACP established itself as leading black organization

5)Crusade for Social Order and Reform

a)The Temperance Crusade

i)Many progressives saw elimination of alcohol as way to restore societal order- women saw alcohol as source of problems for families, employers saw it as roadblock to efficiency, political reformers saw saloon as Machine institution

ii)1873 temperance supporters formed Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) led by Frances Willard, together w/ Anti-Saloon League called for abolition of saloons and prohibition of manufacture and sale of alcohol

iii)Opposition by immigrant and working-class voters; regardless, national effort and start of WWI moral fervor led to 1920 Eighteenth Amendment prohibition

b)Immigration Restriction

i)Reformers saw growing immigrant population as source of social problems- some wanted to help assimilation, others to limit flow of new immigrants

ii)Early century pressure to slow immigration, heightened by growth of eugenics movement arguing human inequalities hereditary and immigration (especially of non-Anglo E. Eurs and Asians) resulting in growth of unfit peoples

iii)Publicist Madison Grant’s 1916 The Passing of the Great Race tied together eugenics + Nativism; Congress’s Dillingham Report said new immigrants less assimilable than earlier groups, restrictions should be based on nationality

iv)Others supported restrictions as means to solve urban overcrowding, unemployment, strained social services, and unrest

6)Challenging the Capitalist Order

a)The Dream of Socialism

i)Radical opposition to capitalist system strongest btwn 1900-1914, Socialist Party under Eugene V. Debs grew during progressive era. Socialists wanted to change structure of economy, but disagreement as to extent and tactics

ii)Some moderates favored nationalizing only major industries, use electoral politics; radicals including union Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) under William Haywood wanted abolition of “wage slave” system, favored use of general strike, supported unskilled workers (strong force in West)

iii)1917 strike by IWW led to federal government crackdown on union b/c needed materials in mobilization for war; IWW never fully recovered

iv)Socialist Party refusal to support war + growing antiradicalism led to decline of socialism as powerful political force in America

b)Decentralization and Regulation

i)Most progressives also saw major problem in great corporate centralization + consolidation, but instead of nationalizing industries wanted federal govt to create balance btwn need for big business and need for competition

ii)Lawyer Louis Brandeis argued about “curse of bigness”, saw it as threat to efficiency and freedom, limited individual control of own destiny

iii)Others believed combinations sometimes helped efficiency, therefore govt should distinguish btwn “good” and “bad” trusts to protect against abuses by “bad” concentrations. Supported by “nationalist” Herbert Croly in 1909 The Promise of American Life

iv)Movement growing for industry cooperation and self-regulation; others wanted active govt role in regulation and planning economy