Chapter 21: The Progressive Era

Chapter 21: The Progressive Era
AP United States History
West Blocton High School
Mr. Logan Greene
Chapter Objectives
• What was the nature of progressivism?
• What role did women play in Progressive Era
• How did electoral and municipal reforms
improve voting and government during the
Progressive Era?
• How was the executive branch strengthened
under Teddy Roosevelt?
• How did Woodrow Wilson bring progressivism
to its climax?
The Progressive Era
• The simple definition of the Progressive
Era was an era in the United States
from 1900 to about 1917 in which
important movements challenged
traditional relationships and attitudes
• Defined by the Presidencies of
Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard
Taft, and Woodrow Wilson
Contextualizing Reform:
Industrial & Urban Tension
• Progressivism began due to the squalid
conditions of America’s quickly
growing cities and industrial centers
• The growth of Populism had begun a
spirit of change but the return of
prosperity in 1900 slowed the fervor of
• However, the big businesses of the last
century were not gigantic corporations
and working conditions began to get
even worse
The Triangle Shirt Waist Fire
• The disturbing working conditions of
urban Americans were brought to light
by the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire in 1911
• Workers locked in the Triangle
Shirtwaist Factory so they could not
leave the premises were trapped when
a fire broke out
• 146 young women were killed
exemplifying America’s place as the
most dangerous country for industrial
Churches and Campus
• The Church began to respond to the
issues of the day with the Social Gospel
– Created by reform minded Protestant
preachers trying to introduce religious
ethics to industry
• Social gospel movements gave ethical
backing to government intervention as
they wanted to improve the social
order of America
• Muckrakers were journalists at the
turn of the century who drew attention
to the social injustices of America
• Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle was by far
the most famous work of muckraking
as it exposed the disgusting conditions
of Chicago’s meat packing plants
Scientific Management and the
Gospel of Efficiency
• Many progressive leaders saw science
as an answer to issues of the day
• Scientific management was the idea of
using the scientific method to find the
most efficient ways to run business
• This gospel of efficiency appealed to
more learned managers who realized
less accidents and more stable
conditions led to more profit
Labor’s Demands for Rights
• Workers continued to organize through
the early 1900s as they hunted for
more rights
• The AFL (American Federation of
Labor) was up to 4 million members by
• Unions basically fought for the same
things: increased wages, an 8 hour
work day, and safer working conditions
Expanding Rights for Women
• Women’s clubs began pushing more
and more for social reform in this era
• As social problems began threatening
the traditional home women became
“social housekeepers”
• Women’s clubs protested against poor
working conditions and fought to help
working women
Influences from Abroad:
• Socialists never attracted a huge following
in America but their criticism of the
industrial economy did attract followers
• Socialism believed in government
ownership of large corporations and a
more equally distributed economic
• The leader of the American Socialists was
Eugene V. Debs
• Overall socialism was considered far to
drastic for most progressivism reformers
Opponents of Reform
• Not all Americans supported reform
• Protestant fundamentalists believed
in personal salvation as opposed to
worrying about society
• Large corporate owners were angered
over any intrusion into their business
• People who saw labor unions as a
threat also resisted progressive reforms
Settlement Houses & Urban
• Settlement Houses were the heart of social
reform movements
• These were community centers in urban
neighborhoods run primarily by middle
class women
• Their goal was to help the poor by
education and revitalizing the
• However, they soon found that
widespread poverty was the root of the
issues and pushed for new housing codes
and better urban planning
• Settlement workers realized only large
scale government intervention could
help fix society
• Reformers of this time managed to
pass minimum age working
requirements in all states but 1 by 1914
• Although some laws were passed
protecting women they were ignored
more as it was still believed that men
should protect the women
Public Education
• As reformers worried with child labor
protection they also became concerned
with education
• Widespread reforms happened
between 1880 and 1920 including
compulsory attendance, age-graded
elementary schools, parent-teacher
associations, and professional training
for teachers
• The South lagged far behind
Challenging Gender Issues
• Even though most progressives were
reform minded they held traditional
views of sexuality and gender roles
• Female reformers began pushing for
rights to contraceptives and having the
right to tell their husband they did not
want to become pregnant
Country Life
• Some progressives looked to the
country instead of the city
• The USDA placed agents in rural
counties to help teach modern farming
• Farmers overall resisted these reforms
• However, the changing economy
increasingly tied farmers, banks,
urban centers, and railroads together
Social Control and Moral
• Many Americans wanted social control
through limited immigration
• These pushes harkened back to
nativist ideals of hatred towards
immigrants and wanted to
Americanize immigrants here
• As well, attempts of Prohibition
surfaced with alcohol being linked to
social problems
Whites Only?
• Despite reforming attitudes racism
permeated the progressives mindset
• Despite progress race relations
declined across America
• However, some progress was scene such
as WEB Du Bois’ Niagara Movement for
racial integration, civil and political
rights, and equal economic
Politics: Women Suffrage
• Women’s suffrage had been gaining
momentum since the mid 19th century
• By the early 20th century a new
generation of leaders pressed harder
for women to gain the vote
• As progressivism spread so did support
• In 1920 the 19th Amendment was
passed guaranteeing women the right
to vote
Electoral Reform
• During the Progressive Era the
“Australian Ballot” took hold as the
preferred form of voting
• This meant an official ballot as
opposed to party only tickets and
secret voting
• As elections became fairer party
control lessened and so did voter
turnout dropping to an average of 50%
Municipal Reform
• Muckrakers continually exposed
crooked politics
• Political machines, like NYC’s
Tammany Hall, controlled city
government by forcing alliances
between business leaders and city
• Reformers put power in city councils
and managers to break the “political
machines” power
State Governments
• Several reforms in state government
passed during the progressive era
• Initiative: enabled reformers to
propose legislation
• Referendum: permitted voters to
approve or reject legislation
• 17th Amendment: Direct popular
election of US Senators
• Recall: Ability to remove
unsatisfactory political officials
Theodore Roosevelt
• A crazed anarchist assassinated
William McKinley in 1901
• Theodore Roosevelt assumed the
presidency and changed the office
TR and Modern Presidency
• Roosevelt brought many “modern”
ideals to the Presidency that we see
• He believed in a loose construction of
the constitution and executive power
• He reorganized the executive branch
and made it more efficient
• Clearly spelled out his goals to Congress
• As well he used the media to achieve
his goals
TR and Labor
• Roosevelt was hardly a champion of
labor but he was against overly
powerful corporate ownership
• TR overstepped his executive power in
1902 to break up a coal strike that
threatened the northeast power supply
• This set up an important precedent for
an active government involved with
labor issues
Managing Natural Resources
• Roosevelt was the first President to
concentrate on conservation
• Many businesses were angry but
Roosevelt set aside Federal land to
create National forests and National
• Roosevelt believed in using resources
but responsibly so they would be
available in the future
TR and Corporate Regulation
• Roosevelt gained a reputation as a
“trust buster,” or a politician who
breaks up major corporations that
lead to monopolies
• Roosevelt first attacked the Northern
Securities Company of JP Morgan in
1902 leading to its break up
• Roosevelt believed in good trusts that
helped the public and bad trusts that
restrained the economy
• Roosevelt’s successor was William
Howard Taft
• Taft actually ended up breaking up
more trusts than Roosevelt
• As well, Taft oversaw the 16th
Amendment establishing a federal
income tax
• However, Taft bumbled through his
Presidency and changed a lot of
Roosevelt’s policies
Election of 1912
• The election of 1912 saw incumbent
Taft represent the Republicans,
Woodrow Wilson represent the
Democrats, and Roosevelt represent
the new “Progressive” party
• Roosevelt and Taft split the Republican
votes leading to an easy Wilson victory
The Differing Views
• Theodore Roosevelt:
– Square Deal: Idea of each American
getting an equal shake
– New Nationalism: Strong National
Government to regulate business
• Woodrow Wilson:
– New Freedom: Limited government
intervention in the economy to restore
competition by curtailing trusts and
• Wilson’s first act was to reduce the
tariff and he did this with the
Underwood-Simmons Tariff Act
drastically bringing down tariff rates
• Wilson reformed the currency system
with the Federal Reserve Act of 1913
creating the Federal Reserve System to
regulate currency
• Wilson also oversaw the creation of the
Federal Trade Commission to oversee
business practices
Wilson and the Expansion of
• Wilson brought reform to a logical end
in a way that Roosevelt and Taft could
• Wilson and Congress reached out to
labor by directly helping several labor
• As well Wilson consolidated reformers
by brining reformers into the
government as judges
Chapter Objectives
• What was the nature of progressivism?
• What role did women play in Progressive Era
• How did electoral and municipal reforms
improve voting and government during the
Progressive Era?
• How was the executive branch strengthened
under Teddy Roosevelt?
• How did Woodrow Wilson bring progressivism
to its climax?