A series of reform efforts
transformed the American society
This period is known as the Progressive Era.
Because of the social problems that had resulted during
this time of urbanization, industrialization (and any
other ations) ‘- the poverty of the working class and
the filth and crime of the urban society, etc.
Although progressivism appeared to
be diverse and even dissimilar in
movement, they did share a Shared
• A Belief in Progress—a direct, ordered
progress in opposition to the laissez faire
Varieties of Progressivism
• Economic: Anti Monopoly—What were they
afraid of? What did they want?
• Social: Importance of Social Cohesion-Social
Bonds—What does social interdependence( the
key to improving society) mean? Creates
concerns about the “victims” of
industrialization—who are they? What had been
• Ideology: Faith in Knowledge-Science and
expertise—social order is no accident—life is
complicated now –it should be studied
• All strands helped to bring order and progress
Who were the Progressives?
• Unlike the populists…they
came from the Middle Class
• They were journalists, social
workers, educators, politicians,
and members of the clergy.
• Among the first people to articulate
Progressive ideas was a group of crusading
journalists who investigated social, economic
conditions and political corruption-they were
called muckrakers. Newspapers started to
complete- who could expose the most
corruption and scandal.
How were the muckrakers different
from Yellow journalist?
• Ida Tarbell- Standard Oil--“they never played
• Jacob Riis
Lincoln Steffens- The Shame of the
• Wrote on corrupt practices of urban political
• He wrote a famous book called The Jungle—
about the horrors of the meat packing plants
in Chicago. Became a best seller and changed
• Some focused on the social problems such as
crime, literacy, alcohol abuse, health and
safety and child labor.
• John Spargo- The Bitter Cry of the Children
presented details evidence on child labor
• Many adult workers also worked in dangerous
and difficult conditions as well.
• Triangle shirtwaist factory fire-Story of US
• 100 years later
The Ballad of the Dead Girls
SCARCE had they brought the bodies down
Across the withered floor,
Than Max Rogosky thundered at The District Leader’s door.
Scarce had the white-lipped mothers come
To search the fearful noon,
Than little Max stood shivering
In Tom McTodd’s saloon!
In Tom McTodd’s saloon he stood,
Beside the silver bar,
Where any honest lad may stand, And sell his vote at par.
“Ten years I’ve paid the System’s tax,” The words fell, quivering, raw;
“And now I want the thing I bought— Protection from the law!”
The Leader smiled a twisted smile: “Your doors were locked,” he said.
“You’ve overstepped the limit, Max— A hundred women.… dead!”
Then Max Rogosky gripped the bar And shivered where he stood.
“You listen now to me,” he cried, “Like business fellers should!
“I’ve paid for all my hundred dead, I’ve paid, I’ve paid, I’ve paid.
”His ragged laughter rang, and died— For he was sore afraid.
“I’ve paid for wooden hall and stair, I’ve paid to strain my floors,
I’ve paid for rotten fire-escapes, For all my bolted doors.
“Your fat inspectors came and came— I crossed their hands with gold.
And now I want the thing I bought, The thing the System sold.
” The District Leader filled a glass With whiskey from the bar,
(The little silver counter where He bought men’s souls at par.)
And well he knew that he must give The thing that he had sold,
Else men should doubt the System’s word, Keep back the System’s gold.
The whiskey burned beneath his tongue: “A hundred women dead!
I guess the Boss can fix it up, Go home—and hide,” he said.. . . . . . . .
All day they brought the bodies down From Max Rogosky’s place—
And oh, the fearful touch of flame On hand and breast and face!
All day the white-lipped mothers came To search the sheeted dead;
And Horror strode the blackened walls, Where Death had walked in red.
But Max Rogosky did not weep. (He knew that tears were vain.)
He paid the System’s price, and lived
To lock his doors again.
The Social Gospel
• A sentiment emerged from the outrage at the
social and economic injustice, combined with
a humanitarian sense of social responsibility
helped produce what came to be known as
the Social Gospel.
• All true Christians should be concerned with
the plight of the poor
• Salvation Army, YMCA, and the YWCA—fusing
religion and reform.
• Walter Rauschenbusch—believed in the power of
Christianity to make social reform- “Translate the
Darwin evolutionary themes into religious faith
and you have the doctrine of the Kingdom of
• Father John Ryan- believed that all could work
together toward the evolution of a more just
society—rather than individuals
• There were those who saw the Social Gospel
as just some people moralizing over the
human condition, but it didn’t hurt to have a
religious component on your side if you were
tying to make changes.
Influence of the Environment
• Nature vs Nuture
• unhealthy environment =Ignorance + poverty
The Settlement House Movement
• Born of the notion that the poor conditions in
which most lived explained social problems.
• Jane Addams-Hull House-Chicago, 1889
• Social Work grew from this
The Allure of Expertise
• Progressives placed a high value on
knowledge and expertise. Everything could be
studied and analyzed.
• Requirements were now being established for
• American Medical Association
• American Bar Association
• New Middle Class—The Professionals
Women and Reform
• The New Woman p. 727
• The Clubwoman p. 727
The Suffrage Movement
• Suffrage—the right to vote
• Women suffrage was an important issue for
• Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton
and Lucretia Mott worked hard for the right to
vote. Finally in 1920, the 19th amendment was
added to the constitution guaranteeing
women the right to vote.
•A natural right
•Bring their special and distinct
•Help with the temperance
•If blacks and immigrants vote,
why not well educated
•Women in her own “sphere”first wives and mothers
•Threat of the natural order of
•Many linked suffrage with
promiscuity, looseness and
neglect of children
•Just too radical an idea
Progressives worked on Making
• One group of progressives focused on making
government more efficient. They believed
many problems could be solved by the
government if the government worked
• Robert LaFollette –Gov. of Wisconsin—The
Wisconsin Idea- “laboratory of
progressivism”—regulation of RR and utilities,
workplace reforms, state taxes
• Urban reformers gradually tried to lessen the
power of the political machines-• New forms of governance—Commission Plan,
city manager plan—Galveston was one of the
first successes after the 1900 Hurricane
• To force state legislators to respond to voters,
three new reforms were introduced in many
• Initiative—allowed citizens to (initiate) introduce
a law that goes on a ballot—bypass the leg.
• Referendum—people refer a proposed piece of
legislation to be submitted for approval
• Recall—allowed voters to demand a special
election or remove an elected official from office.
• Direct Election of Senators
• 17th amendment –people in the states elected
their own senators.
African Americans and Reform
• One social question that received little
attention from the white progressives was
• But African Americans themselves brought
Booker T Washington & W.E.B. Dubois
Born a slave, his message was
“put down your bucket where
you are “
Concentrate on achieving
economic goals—summed up
his views in a speech :Atlanta
Stressed education and
Educated and first to
“work for civil rights”
Founder of the NAACP
Launched the Niagara
Crusades for Order and Reform
• Reformers directed much of their attention to
moral issues—curb prostitution, limit divorce
and eliminate alcohol.
• Many believed that alcohol was responsible
for many of the problems in American society.
• Scarce wages lost, hours in saloons, violence
• Women, employers
• Women’s Christian Temperance Union and
Anti Saloon League
• Amendment 18 1920—Prohibition-Banning
the manufacturing, sale and consumption of
• Many agreed the growing numbers of
immigrants created social problems but much
disagreement on what to do.
• Help to assimilate
• Americas racial stock was being polluted:Limit
the flow of immigrants
• Eugenics: the science of altering the
reproductive process of plants and animals to
produce new hybrids or breeds
• -The Dillingham Report-federally funded
• -The Dillingham Report-federally funded –
• Study showed that the new immigrants had
proven themselves less assimilable and should
be restricted by nationality.
Rise of the Socialist Party
• A time of much critique of the capitalist
• Attracted more support between 1900-1914
than any other time
• Dedicated to the welfare of the working class
• Platform more radical that of the Progressives:
public ownership of the RR, utilities, even
major industries like oil and steel
• The Socialist Party grew during this time, more
than at any other time.
• Disagreed on how and what to change
• Eugene Debs received nearly 1 million votes
for President in the 1912 election.
• Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)-a large
union that championed the cause of the
unskilled—militant radical union—founder Bill
Decentralization and Regulation
• Many reformers agreed with the threat to the national
economy due to excessive corporate power-but
retained a faith in the capitalist system. They knew we
would never go back to a society of “small”
• BUT government could regulate-balance between
breaking up large industries and having competition
• Louis Brandies— brilliant lawyer wrote :Other People’s
Money-about the “curse of biggest”;business must be
regulated to ensure that large combinations did not
• Others distinguished between “good” and “bad” trusts.