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Chapter 21 - Urban America and the Progressive Era

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The Currents of Progressivism
- Progressives could be found in all classes, regions, and races
- Felt that America needed a new social consciousness to cope with problems
- Several key issues behind progressivism:
- Ending political corruption
- More businesslike governing methods
- More compassionate leglislative response to the excesses of industrialism
- Many feel this term is exceedingly vague
 
Unifying Themes
- Three basic attitudes behind progressive movements:
- Anger over the excesses of industrial capitalism and urban growth
- Emphasized social cohesion and common bonds to understand modern society
- Against social Darwinism
- Felt citizens needed to intervene to improve social conditions
- Progressives offered a combination of social justice and social control
 
Women Spearhead Reform
- Many middle class women supported the settlement house movement
- Reformers such as Jane Addams and Florence Kelley promoted female education
 
The Urban Machine
- Women had to work outside existing political institutions
- City politics had become a closed and corrupt system
- Machine politics - well organised, dominant political parties catering to specific voters
- Viewed their work as a business, served people who needed assistance
- “Honest Graft” - Making money from inside information on public improvements
- Timothy “Big Tim” Sullivan - embodied the machine politics style
- Gained votes by helping pass reforming legislature, eg. child labour laws, etc
 
Political Progressives and Urban Reform
- Political progressivism originated in the cities to challenge machine politics
- Governments hardly seemed capable of providing basic essential services
- “Good Government Movement” - led by the National Municipal League
- Fought to make city management a non-partisan process, like a large corporation
- Progressive politicans focused on changing policies, not the political structure
 
Progressive in the Statehouse
- “Wisconsin Idea” - The application of academic scholarship and theory to public needs
- Adopted by many states
- Western progressives displayed the greatest enthusiasm for institutional political reform
- The Initiative - allowed direct vote on an issue raised by petition
- The Referendum - allowed voters to decide on bills referred to them by the legislature
- These and other measures intentionally weakened political parties
- Southern populism = biracial policies         - Southern progressivism = whites only
- Southern progressives supported black disfranchisement as a reform
- “Grandfather clauses” - uneducated whites could vote if their grandfather was able to
- Southern progressives pushed for fully segregated public areas
 
New Journalism: Muckraking
- Jacob Riis - How the Other Half Lives - first real exposé detailing poor living conditions
- Journals such as McClure’s began uncovering the bad side of American life
- Journalists included Lincoln Steffen (The Shame of the Cities) and Ida Tarbell (History of the Standard Oil Company)
- Exposure Journalism, as it was called, paid handsomely
- President Theodore Roosevelt coined the term “muckrakers” for these journalists
 
Intellectual Trends Promoting Reform
- Intellectual thinkers began challenging several core American ideas - this led to reforms
- L. F. Ward - Dynamic Sociology - said applying Soc. Darwinism to society was wrong
- Legal, educational and industrial reformers began speaking out against their fields
- Lochner v. New York - Judge Holmes ruled that a 10-hour day for bankers was wrong
- Holmes affected a new group of lawyers known as the “social jurisprudence”
- Edward A. Ross - Social Control - became a key phrase in progressive thought
- Argued that society needed an elite with the best interests of society at heart
 
Social Control and Its Limits
- Some progressives felt they were acting for the common good, but were actually racists
- Extreme side of these views supported eugenics (making a supreme race)
 
The Prohibition Movement
- WCTU provided women with their first political forum to voice their protests
- Core supporteres were generally small-town, Protestant, native-born Americans
- Some “ritualists” protested against prohibition - usually working-class immigrants
 
The Social Evil
- New movements arose to reform society in general - prostitution, gambling, etc
- Portrayed religious minorities as the cause of these vices
- Huge crackdowns in prostitution districts only led to the transformation of the sex trade
 
The Redemption of Leisure
- Progressives felt that “commercialised leisure” must be closely watched
- 1909 - NYC movie producers joined to make the National Board of Censorship (NBC)
- 1914 - The NBC reviewed 95% of the nation’s film output
 
Standardizing Education
- Public schools were seen primarily as agents of “Americanization” - huge melting pot
- 1930 - 47% of kids aged 14-17 were in school
- Progressives led the way in developing specialized fields of study
 
Working-Class Communities and Protest
- Industrial Rev reached its peak in the early 19th century
- Differences between workers in skill, ethnicity and race proved to be powerful barriers
- Industrial workers began calling for increased social justice
 
The New Immigrants
- Untrained foreign immigrants became the bottom rank of the American workforce
- Certain industries became dominated by particular ethnicities
- Most immigrants came from Europe, although some came from Asia
- Barrios - Southern communities dominated by Mexican immigrants
 
Urban Ghettos
- Immigrants moved to ghettos filled with their countrymen, densely packed poor areas
- NYC became the center of the garment trade, which employed many Jews
- Huge work force united as one to strike against the garment manufacturers
- Known as the Uprising of the 20,000
- March 25th, 1911 - huge fire in the Triangle Shirtwaist Company
- Workers couldn’t escape due to the locked doors, many jumped to their deaths
 
Company Towns
- Many workers lived in company towns (Hershey, PA, etc) but had no influence there
- Immigrants had higher death rates because they did not understand safety instructions
- Women added to the family income by taking boarders, sewing, doing laundry, etc
- Women struggled with longer hours than the men and the latters’ excessive drinking
- Companies hired “efficency experts” to make sure the workers did as much as possible
- Strikers were met with opposition from the companies as well as the “neutral” army
- In 1913-14, the Colorado coal workers went on a major strike
- State sent in National Guard, who proceeded to side with the company
 
The AFL: “Unions, Pure and Simple”
- After the 1890’s, the American Federation of Labor emerged as the strongest union
- Unions’ strength gave rise to descrimination from whites against other workers
- Although members of one union, the various industries disliked each other
- National Association of Manufacturers launched a campaign to eradicate unions 
- Only in the 1930’s could unions count on legal support
 
The IWW: “One Big Union”
- Tensions grew between unions and the employers; many strikes turned violent
- Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) formed in Chicago to facilitate the “workers struggle to unite as a class, take possession of the earth, and abolish the wage system”
- Briefly became a force against the AFL
- Some violent union demonstrations ended up hindering the IWW’s progress
- McNamara brothers bombing the Los Angeles Times’ offices
 
Rebels in Bohemia
- Reformers gathered in NYC’s Greenwich Village
- Sympathized with labour struggles, liked modern art, were open to socialism
- “Village bohemians”, especially women, challenged social double standards
- Pre-hippie Hippies
- “Bohemian” - anyone who had artistic / intellectual dreams and disregarded social rules
- Bohemian views displayed in the monthly socialist magazine The Masses
- Bohemians organised a reproduction of a NJ silk workers strike displayed at MSG 
- Viewed as an artistic triumph
- Village bohemia lasted a few years, but Greenwich Village is still a gathering place for artsy types looking for experimentation
 
Women’s Movements and Black Awakening
- New women’s associations gave women a place in public life and more civil influence
- Black progressives fought to preserve rights they had gained during Reconstruction
 
The New Woman
- 1900 - 7% of Americans went to high schoool - 60% of these were women
- 1890 - General Fed. of Women’s Clubs brought together 200 local clubs of women
- Club activity led members to participate in other reform ventures
- Included “child-saving” reforms, eg. child labour laws, mother’s pensions, etc
- Women’s reform movements introduced quality control
 
Birth Control
- Margaret Sanger
- Coined the phrase “birth control” in 1913
- Threw herself into the bohemian society and became an organizer for the IWW
- Began her own magazine, the Woman Rebel
- After persecution for her views, she fled to Europe in Oct. 1914
- After Sanger was jailed, she gained lots of publicity for her crusade
 
Racism and Accomodation
- 1900 - 4/5ths of the US’s 10 million blacks still lived in the South
- Most worked in agriculture
- Some whites believed that blacks were genetically predisposed to the evils of society
- Used evolutionary theory to argue blacks could not improve = racial Darwinism
- Thomas Dixon - The Clansman - described the typical black as half man, half animal
 
Booker T. Washington
- The most influential black leader of his time
- Born a slave in 1856, educated at Hampton Institute
- 1881 - Founded Tuskegee Institute, a black school in Alabama
- Accomodationist philosophy - blacks and whites can work together for mutual benefit while remaining distinct from each other
- Up from Slavery - Washington’s widely-read biography
- Founded the National Negro Business League with Andrew Carnegie to help develop black business in black communities
- Consulted by Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft on some issues
 
Racial Justice and the NAACP
- W.E.B. Du Bois offered an alternative to Washington’s leadership
- Did not fully accept the values of the dominant white society
- Du Bois criticized Washington for accepting the “alleged inferiority of the Negro”
- Niagara movement - protested the denial of black rights and other descrimination
- Held at Niagara Falls, Canada
- Failed to generate much change
- National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People - NAACP
- Led struggles to overturn legal and economic barriers to equal opportunity
 
National Progressivism
- Both Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson called themselves “progressives”
- National level progressivism animated many perspectives
 
Theodore Roosevelt and Presidential Activism
- 1901 - Theodore Roosevelt became the youngest president in US History
- Roosevelt won national fame during the Spanish-American war
- Follows the pattern of war heros being elected to office
- Roosevelt felt that administrative agencies run by experts could satisfy everyone
 
Trustbusting and Regulation
- Roosevelt began breaking up monopolies under the Sherman Antitrust Act
- Included the Northern Securities Co, a railroad merger under J.P. Morgan
- Also included Standard Oil, owned by John D. Rockefeller 
- During Roosevelt’s two terms, the government filed 43 cases under the Sherman Act
- After Roosevelt was re-elected, he felt more comfortable pushing for regulations
- Pure Food and Drug Act - established the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
- Tested drugs before they went on the market
- Journalism exposés warned consumers about false meat products, etc
- Some big businesses supported reforms because they drove small companies bankrupt
 
Conservation, Preservation, and the Environment
- Roosevelt worried about the environment, and created the U.S. Forest Service in 1905
- Headed by Gifford Pinchot, a conservationist
- Pinchot believed in the “wise use” of America’s resources by the govt
- Some radicals such as John Muir wanted much more land preserved
- Many disagreements between conservationists and preservationists
- 1916 - National Park Service created - gave preservationists a voice in Washington
- Newlands Act - established a new federal presence in managing water resources
 
Republican Split
- 1908 - Roosevelt kept his promise to retire after a second term
- Named Taft as his successor, who easily defeated William Jennings Bryan
- During Taft’s presidency, the gap between Republicans widened
- Taft’s indecisive nature alienated Roosevelt and many other progressives
- When the old guard Republicans would not nominate Roosevelt in 1912, he and his supporters formed the Progressive Party, where he ran along with Hiram Johnson
 
 
 
The Election of 1912: A Four-Way Race
- The Democrats took advantage of the divisions among Republicans 
- Nominated Woodrow Wilson, who had the support of many of the party’s progressives
- Wilson contrasted his New Freedom campaign with Roosevelt’s New Nationalism
- 4th candidate was Eugene V. Debs, a Socialist
- Due to the Republican split, Wilson easily won, with an incredible 435 electoral votes
- Considered the first “modern election”
- Direct Primaries (switching parties)
- Challenging traditional party loyalties
- Issue-oriented campaigns
- A high degree of interest group activity
 
Woodrow Wilson’s First Term
- Wilson pushed for a greater federal role in regulating business and the economy
- By 1916, Wilson’s reform program looked more like New Nationalism
- 1913 - Underwood-Simmons Act reduced certain tariffs
- Took advantage of new 16th Amendment by imposing the first graduated federal income tax - up to 6%
- By creating federal reserve banks, the power of private banks was weakened
- Clayton Antitrust Act (1914) - replaced the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890
- Exempted unions as illegal combinations
- Federal Trade Commission (FTC) - Gave govt regulation control over corporations
 
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