Ch. 21: The Progressive
Era, 1900-1917
 How did intellectuals, novelists, and journalists help lay the
groundwork for the progressive movement?
What problems of the new urban-industrial order particularly
disturbed progressives, and how did they address these
How did progressive reform affect ordinary Americans,
including workers, women, immigrants, city dwellers, and
African Americans?
As progressivism emerged as a national movement, which
politicians and issues proved most important?
How did progressivism change Americans’ view of the proper
role of government?
The Many Faces of Progressivism
 The rapid growing middle class (native-born, white, and
 White-collar work jumped from 5.1 to 10.5 million
between 1900-1920
 Professional societies began to emerge (Bar, Advertising,
 People had new allegiances, certification, licensing,
membership and standardization
 With these new identities came an effort to make their
influence felt
 College educated women tripled and the divorce
rate crept up – the “New Woman” emerged
 The initial push for reform came from women’s
clubs, settlement houses, and private groups, not
from political parties
 Even the urban political machines got involved later
 No matter, progressivism was a series of political
and cultural responses to industrialization and its byproducts
 They were journalists, academics, social theorists,
urban dwellers; reformers, not radicals
 They sought the following:
 Regulation of business
 Protection of workers and the urban poor
 Government reform
 Improved morality
 All with the use of science and expert knowledge
Intellectuals Offer
New Social Views
 Thorstein Velben - The Theory of the Leisure
William James – Pragmatism
Herbert Croly – The Promise of American
Life and the New Republic
Jane Addams – Democracy and Social Ethics
John Dewey – Democracy and Education
Oliver Wendell Holmes – The Common Law
conspicuous consumption
truth comes from experience, not
Call for an activist government
Each individual’s well-being depends
on the well-being of others
The key institution for a more humane and
cooperative social order was the public school
(7 mil.- 23 mil.: 1870-1920)
Law must evolve as society changes
Novelists, Journalists, and Artists
Spotlight Social Problems
 Frank Norris – The Octopus
 Theodore Dreiser – The Financier
 McClure’s and Collier’s
 Lincoln Steffens – Shame of the Cities
 Ida Tarbell – The History of Standard Oil
 Lewis Hines photographs
 Muckrakers
California’s railroad vs. wheat farmers
Tycoon who lacks social conscience
Muckraking journalists
Exposing city corruption
Reforming the Political Process
 Samuel M. (Golden Rule) Jones of Toledo, OH
 Profit sharing in factories, playgrounds, free
kindergarten, lodging for transients
 New styles of governing like the city manager
system (many times changing after natural
 These new systems brought in experts to run the
city like a business
 However, government changes sometimes
reduced the power of the immigrant classes
 Electoral reform was popular
 Secret ballot
 direct primary
 initiative
 referendum
 Recall
 All of these weakened party loyalty
and voter participation (individual
activity decreases while interest group
activity increases)
Regulating Business, Protecting
 J.P. Morgan’s U.S. Steel Company owned 80%
of the nation’s production; he also had the one
major farm-implement company, International
Workers wages did increase from $532 to $687
by 1915 (annual wage)
However, whole families had to work
Average work day: 9 ½ hours
1907 – 4,534 railroad workers died; 3,000
 Frederick Winslow Taylor’s Scientific Management
focuses on efficiency: standardization
 Reformers felt that since business benefited from
government’s high tariffs, government should
regulate these businesses
 Wisconsin’s Robert “Fighting Bob” La Follette led
the way
 Direct primary, railroad regulatory commission,
increased corporate taxes, limited campaign
spending, legislative reference library
 By 1907, thirty states had child labor
 1903, Oregon limited the work-day of
women to 10 hrs.
 Political bosses even got involved,
especially after the Triangle Shirtwaist
Factory Fire
Making Cities More Livable
 By 1920, the urban population surpasses 20%
 There are campaigns for parks, streetlights,
laws against billboards and electric wires
 Concern for public health (they had a socialclass agenda)
 Typhoid Mary (Irish cook)
 Infant mortality drops
 Antismoke campaign
Progressivism and Social
 Self-righteous nature of the Progressive
Movement (pitted native-born vs. immigrant)
 Alcohol
 Prostitution
 Mann Act (1910) – can’t transport a woman across
state lines for “immoral purposes”
 Drugs
 Narcotics Act (1914) – also known as the Harrison Act,
bans the distribution of morphine, cocaine, and other
addictive drugs
Immigration Restriction and
 NW vs. SE Europeans
 Immigration Restriction League and the American
Federation of Labor fear job competition and
endorse restriction
 Literacy bills passed then vetoed repeatedly;
overridden in 1917
 Sterilization of “inferior” genetic stock
 Proposal: Eugenics gave a scientific justification to
anti-immigrant sentiment
Racism and Progressivism
 The Great Migration to the Northern cities
 1.4 million African American in the North by
 Fed up in the South; growth of the cities;
 Birth of a Nation (glorifies the KKK); 75
lynchings occur yearly
 W.E.B. du Bois vs. Booker T. Washington
 1905- Niagara Movement (meet annually and
eventually form the NAACP)
Revival of the Women’s Suffrage
 1910-Women can vote in WY, CO, UT, and ID
 Middle-class women upset that immigrant men can
 GB movement helped fuel U.S. women
 California campaign
 Municipal reforms, public-school issues
 Joined with labor leaders and male progressives
 1911 – suffrage in CA
 “Organized Womanhood” however had limits
 Elite and middle-class women mostly
 National American Woman Suffrage Association
 Susan B. Anthony retires and Carrie Chapman
Catt takes over
 They adopted the Winning Plan: grassroots
organization with tight central coordination
 Lobbied legislatures, held parades, ran newspaper
ads, put up posters, held fundraisers, arranged
photo ops, distributed items emblazed with
suffrage message
 1917- NY approved a woman-suffrage
 NAWSA membership was mostly white,
native-born and middle class
 “Antis”
 Alice Paul (who studied the British approach)
grew impatient with the state by state
 She formed the Women’s Party
 She targeted the White House and the
Democratic Party
 Accused Wilson of being a hypocrite
Enlarging “Woman’s Sphere”
 Women were active in Progressive reforms (it was
 Contraception and birth-control information were
key issues
 1914- Margaret Sanger began her crusade
 Her journal The Woman Rebel was “obscene”
 1916- she opened the first birth control clinic
 1921- founded the American Birth Control League
 Mary Ware Dennett’s The Sex Side of Life
was declare obscene
 It was a pamphlet for youth
 She lobbied efforts to amend obscenity
 She argued that contraception should by
free (Sanger thought you should have them
Workers Organize;
Socialism Advances
 American Federation of Labor (AFL) grew to 4 million
by 1920; but only in skilled trades and only 20% of the
 Industrial Workers of the World (IWW; Wobblies), led
by Big Bill Haywood; mostly western miners,
lumbermen, fruitpickers and itinerant laborers
 Socialism gains followers
 End to capitalism
 Public ownership of factories, RR, utilities,
communications systems
 1900- Socialist Party of America
 The Masses – radical magazine
 Height was in 1912: Debs receives 900,000 votes
National Progressivism
Phase I: Roosevelt and Taft,
 1905: La Follette goes to Washington as a
 TR – cowboy, state assemblyman, New York
City police commissioner, U.S. civil serviceman,
Asst. Sec. of the Navy
 1902 Pennsylvania Coal Strike: United Mine
Workers Union; arbitration and the threat of a
govt. takeover; miners get 10% wage increase and
a reduction of hours to 9
 Trustbusting
 Suit against the Northern Securities Company (5-
4 in favor of dissolution)
 He announced his “square deal”
 During his presidency, 43 antitrust lawsuits;
Standard Oil is broken up and American Tobacco
Company is reorganized
 During TR’s second term he turned to RR
 Hepburn Act (1906) – set maximum RR rates and free
passes; govt. could examine financial records
 Consumer Protection and Racial Issues
 Pure Food and Drug Act
 Meat Inspection Act
 Booker T. Washington to the White House
 Brownsville Incident
 Dishonorable discharge of three companies, without
due process
 Rescinded in 1971
 Environmentalism Progressive-Style
 1891- 35 million acres of public lands for national
forests had be set aside
 Boy Scouts formed in 1910; Girl Scouts in 1912
 Gifford Pinchot (head of U.S. Forest Service)
stresses conservation
 John Muir stresses preservation
 1902- National Reclamation Act: water
management in arid western regions; construction
of dams and irrigation projects
 Newlands Act required farmers to repay the
construction costs
 Antiquities Act (1906) - protected
archeological sites
 TR helps create 53 wildlife reserves, 16
national monuments, and 5 national parks
 1916- National Park Service set up
 Taft in the White House
 Running on a conservative ticket, he beats William
Jennings Bryan
 Taft actually prosecutes more anti-trust cases than
TR, but he doesn’t garner the publicity
 Reform turns to Congress and the Insurgents (La
Follette is one)
 Payne-Aldrich Tariff makes them mad
 Ballinger-Pinchot Affair: makes matters worse
 TR returns and supports Insurgent Candidates in
1910 and proposes the New Nationalism
 Election of 1912
 Taft (R), TR (Bull Moose
Progressive), Wilson (D), and Debs
National Progressivism
Phase II: Woodrow Wilson,
 Tariff and Banking Reform
 Underwood-Simmons Tariff lowers rates by 15%
 Federal Reserve Act of 1913- 12 regional banks and the
 Regulating Business; Aiding Workers and Farmers
 Federal Trade Commission Act – FTC is a watchdog
 Clayton Antitrust Act- listed actions that would bring a
lawsuit such as price discrimination and exclusive
dealings (was ineffective due to business links)
 Federal Highway Act – matching funds to states
 Keating Owen Act – banned from interstate commerce
products manufactured by child labor (but declared
Progressivism and the
 Muller v. Oregon – women’s 10-hr. workday
 Louis Brandies was the first Jewish Supreme
Court justice
16th Amendment – income tax
17th Amendment – direct election of Senators
18th Amendment – Prohibition
19th Amendment –Women’s right to vote
Ch. 21 Notes Quiz
 1. What were three goals of the Progressives?
 2. What book did John Dewey write? Describe its
3. What was the significance of McClure's and
4. What is a referendum?
5. What were the limits of the women’s suffrage
movement? Give two (not just men didn’t like
6. Who opened America’s first birth control

Ch. 21: The Progressive Era, 1900-1917