Welcome to the Progressive Era

external image TR.jpg

I) Progressive Roots
  • Groundswell of new reformist wave went back to Greenback Labor Party (1870s) and the Populists (1890s)
  • Unrest of many individuals: more and more power was concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer individuals
  • Increasing gap between rich and poor
  • Violent conflict between labor and capital
  • Dominance of political machines in the cities
  • Outworn philosophy of hands-off individualism seemed increasingly out of place in the modern machine age
  • Society could no longer afford the luxury of a limitless “let-alone” (laissez-faire) policy
  • Wanted to make moderate political changes and social improvements through government action
    • Government could be used to promote reform
    • The people, through government, must substitute mastery for drift
  • Committed to democratic values and shared in the belief that honest government and just laws could improve the human condition, people should take a pragmatic or practical approach to morals, ideals, and knowledge
  • Bryan, Atgeld, and other Populists attacked the "bloated trusts" by stating that they were responsible for corruption and wrongdoing
  • 1894- Henry Demarest Lloyd published his book, Wealth Against Commonwealth
    • in this book, he spoke out against the Standard Oil Company
  • Eccentric Thorstein Veblem published The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899)
    • assailed the new rich
    • the book was an attack upon "predatory wealth" and "conspicuous consumption"
    • he felt that the leisure class acted through wasteful "business" rather than protective "industry"
  • Jacob Riis, reporter for the New York Sun
    • in 1890, published How the Other Half Lives
    • assailed the dirt, disease, vice, and misery of the New York slums (rat-infested human rookeries)
    • the book would later influence Theodore Roosevelt, a future New York City police officer
  • Socialists later gained popularity and strength at the ballot box

Jacob Riis

Poor children sleeping in the slums

II) The Muckrakers
  • 1902- exposing evil became an important industry among American publishers
    • 10 and 15 cent magazines quickly flourished
    • notable magazines: McClures, Cosmopolitan, Collier's, and Everybody's
  • dug deep to uncover hidden truths in order to awe the public
    • editors began extensive research to uncover these truths while also encouraging pugnacious writing styles
  • "muckrakers"- first coined by President Roosevelt in 1906
    • he was annoyed by the excess of zeal
    • compared these muckrakers to the character in Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress
  • muckrakers went on to publish best-selling books
  • began a crusade to lay bare the much of iniquity in American society
  • The Great American Fraud (1905): exposed the false claims of patent medicines and that their creators only wanted to make money
  • Upton Sinclair published The Jungle (1906)
    • dealt with conditions in the U.S. meat packing industry
    • caused a public uproar that contributed to the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act in 1906
  • "The Shame of the Cities"- published by Lincoln Steffens in McClure's
    • unveiled the corrupt alliance between big business and municipal government
  • Ida M. Tarbell published a factual exposé of the Standard Oil Company (the oil interested ruined the life of her father)
  • Thomas W. Lawson was an erratic speculator who had earned $50 million through the stock market
    • "Frenzied Finance"- exposed the practices of himself and his accomplices
    • he made enemies among his rich friends, and therefore died in poverty
  • David G. Phillips published "The Treason of the Senate" (1906) in Cosmopolitan
    • stated that 75 of the 90 senators responded to the interests of railroads and trusts rather than representing the people who elected them
    • these attacks continued through his novels until he was shot in 1911 by an individual (claimed that Phillips had allegedly maligned his family)
  • many muckraker activity was centered around social evils
    • included immoral "white slave" traffic in women, various slums, and the continuous numbers of industrial accidents
    • Following the Color Line (1908)- Ray Stannard Baker highlighted the subjugation of 9 million blacks in America
    • The Bitter Cry of the Children (1906)- John Spargo elucidated the abuse of child labor
  • muckrakers aimed to cleanse capitalism, not overthrow it
  • they believed that in order to cure the ills of American democracy, more democracy was needed

Did you know ...smiley_1.PNG
The term "muckraker" derives from the word muckrake, used by President Theodore Roosevelt in a speech in 1906, in which he agreed with many of the charges of the muckrakers but asserted that some of their methods were sensational and irresponsible.

Upton Sinclair

The Jungle

III) Theodore Roosevelt’s Square Deal
  • Square Deal for Labor
    • insisted on square deal for both labor and management
    • previous presidents had favored policies beneficial to big business
  • Trust Busting
    • he became known as the "trust buster"
    • however, he attempted to differentiate between good and bad trusts
    • enforced the Sherman Antitrust Act (1890)- Northern Securities Company broken up
    • Standard Oil Company was also broken up
  • 1903- Department of Commerce and Labor created
    • Bureau of Corporations was allowed to probe business engaged in interstate commerce
  • Roosevelt was successful in regulating the railroads
    • Elkins Act (1903)- ICC had greater authority to stop RRs from granting rebates to favored customers
    • Hepburn Act (1906)-commission could fix just and reasonable rates for RRs
  • Roosevelt also made social reforms in order to improve sanitation and cleanliness
    • The Pure Food and Drug Act (1906)- forbade the manufacture, sale and transportation of adulterated or mislabeled foods and drugs
    • The Meat Inspection Act (1906)- inspectors visit meatpacking plants to ensure that then met minimum standards of sanitation
  • Roosevelt quickly became concerned with the earth and land conservation
    • Roosevelt made use of Forest Reserve Act (1891)
    • set aside 150 million acres of federal land as a national reserve
    • 1902- Roosevelt won passage of the Newlands Reclamation Act- law providing money from the sale of public land for irrigation projects in western states
  • Roosevelt was also concerned with the protection of Latin America
  • These areas, such as Panama, were areas rich in resources which could be traded to the United States
  • The United States were also influential in the building of the Panama Canal
  • Roosevelt Corollary:an amendment to the Monroe Doctrine which stated that the United States had the right intervene to stabilize the economic affairs of small nations in the Caribbean and Central America if they were unable to pay their international debts

Forest Conservation

Did you know ...smiley_1.PNG
Theodore Roosevelt was the first president to have an African American as a guest in the White House. After hosting Booker T. Washington to dinner, the news shocked the nation and many U.S. citizens were outraged. Roosevelt simply responded by stating that as president or even as a regular person. who he entertained at his dinner table was no business of the public.

IV) William Howard Taft
  • “Dollar Diplomacy”- Taft’s foreign policy where American businessman would invest money in foreign areas strategic concern of the US. Especially the Far East/areas strategic to gaining control of the Panama Canal. This he hoped would bolster trade putting more money back into the pockets of Americans
  • Opposition in Manchuria (US attempt to buy Manchurian R.R from Japan/Russia fails)
  • Opposition in Caribbean (US under Monroe Doctrine keeps Europe out, US feels obligated to spend money, revolts numerous, ie. 1912 2500 marines sent to Nicaragua, frequent riots in D.R and Cuba)

  • Paine-Aldrich Tariff (1909)-
    • It began in the House of Representatives as a bill lowering certain tariffs on goods entering the US
    • By the time it ran through the Senate, 650 tariff schedules were lowered, 220 raised, and 1,150 left unchanged
    • greatly angered Progressives, who were beginning to stop supporting President William Howard Taft
    • The debate over the tariff split the Republican party into Progressives and Old Guard and, split votes in most states, resulted in the eventual presidency of Democrat Woodrow Wilson who was elected in 1912.
  • Pinchot-Ballinger controversy (1909)- Taft replaced TR's Secretary of the Interior, James Rudolph Garfield, with Richard Ballinger.
    • Ballinger tried to invalidate Roosevelt's actions by taking almost 1 million acres of forestry and mineral reserves from public lands, making them accessible for private development.
    • Louis Glavis investigated this issue and took it to Gifford Pinchot, who was head of the Forest Service at the time.
    • Pinchot carried over the evidence to Taft who ordered further investigation. In turn, the charges and evidence were nullified.
    • Pinchot turned the story over to the press. Pinchot then asked Congress to investigate the issue.
    • When President Taft found out about this, he discharged Pinchot on grounds of insubordination. The Congressional committee that was investigating the issue had pardoned Ballinger because it was led by the Old Right.
    • By the end of the controversy, Taft had already removed almost all of Roosevelt's supporters.
  • Taft brought 90 suits against trusts in 4 years (actually broke up more trusts than Roosevelt had, although Roosevelt was known as the "trust buster")
  • Did not differentiate between good and bad trusts- he attempted to break up the steal trust
  • In 1911, the Supreme Court ordered the dissolution of the Standard Oil Company

Did you know ...smiley_1.PNG
William Taft gave the White House its first set of "wheels." He had the stables converted into a garage for four cars, all ordered in 1909.

V) Woodrow Wilson’s Progressivism
  • Wilson’s Progressive Program- president should actively lead Congress and appeal directly to the people to rally their support for his legislative program
    • his plan was to tackle the “triple wall of privilege” (tariff, banks, trusts)
  • Tariff Reduction
    • Wilson called special session of Congress to lower the tariff
    • Underwood Tariff (1913)- lowered tariffs and included graduated income tax rate (16th Amendment)
  • Banking Reform
    • June 1913- spoke to Congress
    • proposed a national banking system with 12 district banks supervised by a Federal Reserve Board
    • Federal Reserve Act (1913)- included printing of Federal Reserve Notes (Elastic Currency)
    • Federal Farm Loan Act (1916)- 12 regional federal farm loan banks were established to provide farm loans at a lower interest rate
  • Business Reform
    • Clayton Antitrust Act (1914)- strengthened provisions of Sherman Antitrust Act, lengthened list of objectionable actions, exempted unions from being trusts, legalized peaceful strikes
    • Federal Trade Commission (1914)- new regulatory agency was empowered to investigate and take action against any unfair trade practice in every industry except banking and transportation
    • Child Labor Act (1916)- prohibited the shipment of interstate commerce of products manufactured by children under 14 years

Did you know ...smiley_1.PNG
Sheep on the White House lawn? A flock of sheep grazed during Woodrow Wilson's term. Their wool was sold to raise money for the Red Cross during World War I.

VI) Woman and the Progressive Era

Margaret Higgins Sanger was an American birth controlactivist. Initially met with fierce opposition to her ideas, Sanger gradually won some support, both in the public as well as the courts, for a woman's choice to decide how and when she will bear children. Though her support of eugenics was less well received, Margaret Sanger was instrumental in opening the way to universal access to birth control.

Jane Addams- won the Nobel Peace Prize and was a founder of the U.S. Settlement House Movement.

During the Progressive Era woman startted to take action and come togrther on some of the issues that plauged society. Some of their major movments are listed below.

The Woman's Christian Temperance Movement -
Temperance was a popular issue for late nineteenth-century reform women. Temperance reformers sought to limit the consumption of alcohol by Americans. This issue resonated with many women because alcohol consumption often increased the frequency and severity of domestic violence and abuse. In addition, men would sometimes squander limited household finances on alcohol.

The Woman's Suffrage Movement -

external image NWP.JPG

The Woman's Suffrage Movement actually began in 1848, when the first women’s rights convention was held in Seneca Falls, New York. For the next 50 years, woman suffrage supporters worked to educate the public about the validity of woman suffrage. Under the leadership of Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and other women’s rights pioneers, suffragists circulated petitions and lobbied Congress to pass a Constitutional Amendment to enfranchise women.

The Birth Control Movement -
Women in the reform movement also worked on many issues related to sexuality, marriage, and childbirth. Some reform women worked to censure pornography, abolish prostitution and “white slavery” (today called trafficking in women), and raise the age of sexual consent. Other women worked to hold men to the same standards of sexual conduct as women, promoted sexual education, and asserted the right of wives to refuse sex within marriage. Margaret Sanger quickly became involved in this area.

The Hull House
In 1889, Jane Addams and her friend, Ellen Gates Starr founded Hull House, a settlement house, in a large home in Chicago. At the beginning, Hull House offered day care services, libraries, classes, and an employment bureau. By its second year alone, it served over two thousand people per week. Eventually, Hull House grew to encompass 13 buildings. By 1900, Hull House included a gymnasium, cooperative housing for working women, meeting space for trade union groups, and a pool.

external image addamsweb.JPG
Jane Adams

VII) World War I

Before The Entrance
  • Wilson had asked Congress to grant him the power to arm American merchant ships
  • those who opposed him were dubbed by Wilson as a "little group of willful men" (reflected isolationist ideology)
  • Zimmerman note interecepted and published on March 1, 1917
    • German foreign secretary Arthur Zimmerman suggested a German-Mexican alliance
    • he had promised, if Mexico invaded the U.S., that he would return Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona to Mexico
  • "overt" acts in Atlantic: German U-boats sank four unarmed American merchant vessels
  • revolution in Russia: the regime of the czars was toppled
    • this allowed America to fight for democracy on the side of the allies (did not worry about Russian despotism)
  • Wilson asked for a declaration of war on April 2, 1917
  • Wilson led the country out of a long period of isolationism
  • it would be hard to arouse spirit in the landlocked Midwest, where it would be hard to understand fighting for protection from submarines
  • more glorified aim: "to make the world safe for democracy"

Wilson's Fourteen Points (speech given on January 8, 1918)
I. Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at, after which there shall be no private international understandings of any kind but diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view.
II. Absolute freedom of navigation upon the seas, outside territorial waters, alike in peace and in war, except as the seas may be closed in whole or in part by international action for the enforcement of international covenants.
III. The removal, so far as possible, of all economic barriers and the establishment of an equality of trade conditions among all the nations consenting to the peace and associating themselves for its maintenance.
IV. Adequate guarantees given and taken that national armaments will be reduced to the lowest point consistent with domestic safety.
V. A free, open-minded, and absolutely impartial adjustment of all colonial claims, based upon a strict observance of the principle that in determining all such questions of sovereignty the interests of the populations concerned must have equal weight with the equitable claims of the government whose title is to be determined.
VI. The evacuation of all Russian territory and such a settlement of all questions affecting Russia as will secure the best and freest cooperation of the other nations of the world in obtaining for her an unhampered and unembarrassed opportunity for the independent determination of her own political development and national policy and assure her of a sincere welcome into the society of free nations under institutions of her own choosing; and, more than a welcome, assistance also of every kind that she may need and may herself desire. The treatment accorded Russia by her sister nations in the months to come will be the acid test of their good will, of their comprehension of her needs as distinguished from their own interests, and of their intelligent and unselfish sympathy.
VII. Belgium, the whole world will agree, must be evacuated and restored, without any attempt to limit the sovereignty which she enjoys in common with all other free nations. No other single act will serve as this will serve to restore confidence among the nations in the laws which they have themselves set and determined for the government of their relations with one another. Without this healing act the whole structure and validity of international law is forever impaired.
VIII. All French territory should be freed and the invaded portions restored, and the wrong done to France by Prussia in 1871 in the matter of Alsace-Lorraine, which has unsettled the peace of the world for nearly fifty years, should be righted, in order that peace may once more be made secure in the interest of all.
IX. A readjustment of the frontiers of Italy should be effected along clearly recognizable lines of nationality.
X. The peoples of Austria-Hungary, whose place among the nations we wish to see safeguarded and assured, should be accorded the freest opportunity of autonomous development.
XI. Romania, Serbia, and Montenegro should be evacuated; occupied territories restored; Serbia accorded free and secure access to the sea; and the relations of the several Balkan states to one another determined by friendly counsel along historically established lines of allegiance and nationality; and international guarantees of the political and economic independence and territorial integrity of the several Balkan states should be entered into.
XII. The Turkish portions of the present Ottoman Empire should be assured a secure sovereignty, but the other nationalities which are now under Turkish rule should be assured an undoubted security of life and an absolutely unmolested opportunity of an autonomous development, and the Dardanelles should be permanently opened as a free passage to the ships and commerce of all nations under international guarantees.
XIII. An independent Polish state should be erected which should include the territories inhabited by indisputably Polish populations, which should be assured a free and secure access to the sea, and whose political and economic independence and territorial integrity should be guaranteed by international covenant.
XIV. A general association of nations must be formed under specific covenants for the purpose of affording mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike.

  • Committee on Public Information was crated
  • headed by George Creel, a young journalist
  • although outspoken and tactless, he was zealous and imaginative
  • the organization employed 150,000 workers worldwide
  • 75,000 "four-minute men": gave speeches with "patriotic pep"
  • depicted Germany as a brutal beast
  • stirred up hatred towards the kaiser
  • Espionage Actof 1917 and Sedition Act of 1918: represented the fears about Germans and about Americans who did not support the war

War Production: The Factories
  • Wilson created the civilian Council of National Defense: this served to study the conflicts related to with economic mobilization
  • shipbuilding program initiated
  • modest building up of army personnel
  • March 1918: Bernard Baruch (stock speculator) was appoined as head of the War Industries Board
  • Americans favored laissez-faire and a weak central government

The Workers
  • slogan: "Labor Will Win the War"
  • War Department's "work or fight" rule of 1918: any unemployed male could be drafted into the army (workers became fearful of strikes)
  • the American Federation of Labor (and Samuel Gompers) supported the war effort
  • Industrial Workers of the Worl (IWW): against the war- known as the "Wobblies" or "I Won't Works"
  • the AF of L has its membership doubled after the war (memebership rose to 3 million)
  • real wages rose 20% by war's end
  • however, there was constant struggle: over 6,000 strikes eupted during the war

  • an immense army needed to be raised to help fight the war
  • a military draft was the only answer
  • although Wilson and other Americans disliked the idea, a draft bill was sent to Congress (received criticism)
  • six weeks after declaring war, Congress passed the draft bill
    • registration of all males from 18 to 45
    • could not purchase an exemption or hire a substitute
    • those in important industries were exempt from the draft
  • women were allowed to fight in the armed forces for the first time
  • recruits: 6 months of training in America, two more months overseas

Hammering Out the Treaty
  • Paris Conference was composed of the Big Four (Wilson-U.S. Orlando-Italy George-Britain Clemenceau-France)
  • Wilson's ultimate goal was a League of Nations (would not accept the U.S. not being part of it)
  • he did not want former colonies or proectorates given to the victors)
  • the League Covenant would be a part of the final treaty
  • the Senate would not accept the treaty (League of Nations) in its present form
  • Wilson refused to negotiate regarding this issue
  • Seantor Lodge wanted to "Americanize", "Republicanize: or "senatorize" the Treaty of Versailles (he came up with fourteen formal reservations to the treaty)
  • the treaty was finally defeated in the senatorial vote


1. Muckrakers furthered the causes of the Progressive movement by…
a) Organizing grassroots campaigns for political reform at the state level.
b) Suing large companies and donating their court awards to progressive campaigns.
c) Staging large, violent protests in support of Progressive goals.
d) Warning Americans of the dangers inherent in such radical movements as communism and socialism
e) Alerting the public to the social ills and corporate corruption targeted by Progressives.

2. As one progressive explained, the “real heart” of the progressive movement was to…
a) preserve world peace
b) use the government as an agency of human welfare
c) ensure the Jeffersonian style of government
d) reinstate the policy of laissez-faire.

3. Lincoln Steffens, in his series of articles entitled “The Shame of the Cities,”
a) attacked the united States senate
b) exposed the deplorable condition of blacks in urban areas
c) laid bare the practices of the stock market
d) unmasked the corrupt alliance between big business and municipal government.

4. Most muckrakers believed their primary function in the progressive attack on social ills was to
a. formulate a consistent philosophy of social reform.
b. explain the causes of social ills.
c. devise solutions to society’s problems.
d. make the public aware of social problems.

5. Progressive reformers were mainly men and women from the
a. middle class,
b. lower class.
c. upper class.
d. new wave of immigrants.

6. While he was president, Theodore Roosevelt chose to label his reform proposals as the
a. Fair Deal.
b. Big Deal.
c. Square Deal.
d. New Deal.

7. As a part of his “Square Deal” program, Teddy Roosevelt advocated all of the following except
a. control of labor.
b. control of corporations.
c. consumer protection.
d. conservation of natural resources.

8. When Upton Sinclair wrote The Jungle, he intended his book to focus attention on the
a. unsanitary conditions that existed in the meat-packing industry.
b. plight of workers in the canning factories.
c. corruption in the United States Senate.
d. deplorable conditions in the drug industry.

9. Under William Howard Taft’s “dollar diplomacy,”
a. the federal government invested taxpayers’ money in foreign nations.
b. Wall Street bankers were encouraged to invest their money in foreign areas.
c. American colonies began to regain control of their own financial affairs.
d. the United States purchased Manchurian railroads.

10. When it came to the concerns of women, progressivism
a. supported many of the reforms advocated by feminists,
b. offered little to the ever-growing women’s movement.
c. only supported the demand for suffrage.
d. followed examples of reform movements in Europe.

1) e
2) b
3) d
4) d
5) a
6) c
7) a
8) a
9) b
10) a