Introduction to American Studies

Introduction to American
Progressive Movement
• Social, political and cultural reform movement of the late
nineteenth and early twentieth centuries
• Social reform led by figures such as Jane Addams
– Included issues such as Temperance
• 18th (1919) and 21st (1933) amendments
• Muckraking journalists and authors
– Bring about change through writing in newspapers and mass
circulation magazines such as:
– The Arena, Colliers, Cosmopolitan, Everybody’s, The
Independent, and McClures
– Important authors include Lincoln Steffens, Ida Tarbell, David
Graham Phillips, Ray Stannard Baker, T.W. Lawson, Mark
Sullivan, and Samuel Hopkins Adams
• Political Reform
– The closer politics are directly to the people, the better
• Urban renewal and the environment
– The City Beautiful Movement
Jane Addams
• Founded and managed the settlement house called Hull House.
• Hull House was founded in 1889 in the slums of Chicago.
• A settlement house was a means to mitigate the harsh conditions of
poverty found in the cities.
– The house would be staffed by trained social workers who also lived in
the house.
– These workers would do whatever they could to help their neighbors.
– They would educate them through lectures and providing books, they
would care for the children, they would honor and care for the elderly.
– They pushed for legislative reforms like child labor laws and clean
– They did what they could to facilitate the integration of immigrants into
the United States.
– And above all they provided a place for people to get together just to
• No direct financial support
Upton Sinclair (1878-1968)
• The Jungle (1906) had spurred reform of U.S. meat
inspection laws and promoted passage of the Pure Food
and Drug Act.
• The Jungle was only the first of several “muckraking”
novels written by Sinclair.
– Theodore Roosevelt is credited with first applying the word
“muckraker” to social reformers like Sinclair.
Other Sinclair works in the genre are:
King Coal
Boston (dealing with the Sacco-Vanzetti trial)
The Brass Check (dealing with “the prostitution of the press”)
The Profits of Religion, a non-fiction work, attacked aspects of
organized religion.
Political Reform
Women’s suffrage
• Rose out of the abolition movement
• Lead by figures such as:
– Sojourner Truth (c. 1797-1883)
• Born a slave Isabella Baumfree in about 1797 in New York
• “Ain’t I a woman” speech delivered at a women’s rights convention in Ohio in 1851
– Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906)
• Arrested in 1872 for trying to vote in Albany, New York
– Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902)
– Carrie Chapman Catt (1859-1947)
1869: Wyoming territory is organized with a provision for women’s suffrage.
Wyoming becomes a state in 1890.
1878: Woman’s suffrage amendment is introduced in Congress
– Identical in wording to amendment that would finally pass in 1919
1893: Colorado becomes first state to adopt an amendment enfranchising
By 1918 a number of states, primarily in the West had approved some form
of women’s suffrage
1919: The 19th Amendment passes Congress and in 1920 is ratified by the
Ain’t I a woman (a contemporary account)
Several ministers attended the second day of the Woman's Rights
Convention, and were not shy in voicing their opinion of man’s
superiority over women. One claimed "superior intellect", one spoke
of the "manhood of Christ," and still another referred to the “sin of
our first mother. "Suddenly, Sojourner Truth rose from her seat in the
corner of the church. "For God's sake, Mrs. Gage, don't let her
speak!" half a dozen women whispered loudly, fearing that their
cause would be mixed up with Abolition. Sojourner walked to the
podium and slowly took off her sunbonnet. Her six-foot frame
towered over the audience. She began to speak in her deep,
resonant voice:
"Well, children, where there is so much racket, there must be
something out of kilter, I think between the Negroes of the South and
the women of the North - all talking about rights - the white men will
be in a fix pretty soon. But what's all this talking about?" Sojourner
pointed to one of the ministers. "That man over there says that
women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and
to have the best place everywhere. Nobody helps me any best
place. And ain't I a woman?"
Sojourner raised herself to her full height. "Look at me! Look at my
arm." She bared her right arm and flexed her powerful muscles. "I
have plowed, I have planted and I have gathered into barns. And no
man could head me. And ain't I a woman?"
"I could work as much, and eat as much as man - when I could get it
- and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne
children and seen most of them sold into slavery, and when I cried
out with a mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me. And ain't I a
woman?" The women in the audience began to cheer wildly.
She pointed to another minister. "He talks about this thing in the
head. What's that they call it?" "Intellect," whispered a woman
nearby. "That's it, honey. What's intellect got to do with women's
rights or black folks' rights? If my cup won't hold but a pint and yours
holds a quart, wouldn't you be mean not to let me have my little halfmeasure full?"
"That little man in black there! He says women can't have as much
rights as men. ‘Cause Christ wasn't a woman. She stood with
outstretched arms and eyes of fire. "Where did your Christ come
from?“ "Where did your Christ come from?", she thundered again.
"From God and a Woman! Man had nothing to do with him!“ The
entire church now roared with deafening applause.
"If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the
world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able
to turn it back and get it right-side up again. And now that they are
asking to do it the men better let them."
Other political reform
• Direct election of senators (the 17th
amendment) passed in 1913
• Non-partisan local elections
• Referendums, propositions, recall
– Designed to give more power directly to the
– Collect enough signatures and the proposition
must be voted on.
• Professional city managers
The Environment
• Establishment of National Parks
– Yellowstone N.P. 1872
– Yosemite N.P. 1890
• John Muir (1838-1914)
– Wrote on preserving nature, in particular the Sierra Nevada
Mountains. His writings led to the establishment of Yosemite N.P.
• Gifford Pinchot (1865-1946)
– Served under Theodore Roosevelt as director of the U.S. Forest
Service (1905) which was given responsibility for the National
– With Roosevelt developed the term “conservation”
THE success of the conservation movement in the United States depends
in the end on the understanding the women have of it. No forward step in
this whole campaign has been more deeply appreciated or more
welcomed than that which the National Society of the Daughters of the
American Revolution and other organizations of women have taken in
appointing conservation committees. Patriotism is the key to the success
of any nation, and patriotism first strikes its roots in the mind of the child.
Patriotism which does not begin in early years may, enough it does not
always, fail under the severest trials. I say "not always," for many men and
women have proved their patriotic devotion to this country although they
were born elsewhere. Yet, as a rule, it must begin with the children. And
almost without exception it is the mother who plants patriotism in the mind
of the child. It is her duty. The growth of patriotism is first of all in the hands
of the women of any nation. In the last analysis it is the mothers of a
nation who direct that nation's destiny. . . .
Women should recognize, if this task is to be carried out, one great truth
above all others. That this Nation exists for its people, we all admit; but
that the natural resources of the Nation exist not for any small group, not
for any individual, but for all the people-in other words, that the natural
resources of the Nation belong to all the people-that is a truth the whole
meaning of which is just beginning to dawn on us. There is no form of
monopoly which exists or ever has existed on any large scale which was
not based more or less directly upon the control of natural resources.
There is no form of monopoly that has ever existed or can exist which can
do harm if the people understand that the natural resources belong to the
people of the Nation, and exercise that understanding, as they have the
power to do. . . .
Time and again, then, the women have made it perfectly clear what
they can do in this work. Obviously the first point of attack is the
stopping of waste. Women alone can bring to the school children the
idea of the wickedness of national waste and the value of public
saving. The issue is moral one; and women are the first teachers of
right and wrong. It is a question of seeing what loyalty to the public
welfare demands of us, and then of caring enough for the public
welfare not to set personal advantage first. It is a question of
inspiring our future citizens while they are boys and girls with the
spirit of true patriotism as against the spirit of rank selfishness, the
anti-social spirit of the man who declines to take into account any
other interest than his own; those one aim and ideal is personal
success. Women both in public and at home, by putting the men
know what they think, and by putting it before the children, can make
familiar the idea of conservation, and support us with a
convincingness that nobody else can approach.