Chapter 17
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The origins of Progressivism

Four Goals of Progressivism

Protecting Social Welfare

Relief of urban problems


Opened libraries

Sponsored classes

Built swimming pools and handball

The Salvation Army

Fed poor people in soup kitchens

Cared for children in nurseries

Sent "slum brigades" to convert poor immigrants to the middle-class values of hard work and temperance

Florence Kelly

Illinois Factory Act of 1893

Prohibited child labor

Limited women’s working hours

Soon became a model for other states

Promoting Moral Reform

Morality held the key to improving the lives of poor people



Frances Willard

Anti-Saloon League

Creating Economic Reform

Panic of 1893 caused some to question the capitalist economic system

Criticism of laissez-faire


Eugene V. Debs

American Socialist Party

Fostering Efficiency

Increase the efficiency of American society

Scientific Management

Frederick Winslow Taylor

Improve efficiency in the workplace by applying scientific principles to make tasks simpler and easier

Henry Ford

Assembly line

Increased production but high worker turnover often due to injuries suffered by exhausted workers

The "Five Dollar Day"


Journalists who wrote about the corrupt side of business and public life

Ida Tarbell

History of the Standard Oil Company

Upton Sinclair

The Jungle

Jacob Riis

How the Other Half Lives

Cleaning Up Government

Corruption was widespread in the big city political machines

Efforts to reform grew from the desire to make government more efficient and responsive to its constituents but also from distrust of immigrants’ participation in politics

Reforming Local Government

Natural disasters



Reform Mayors

Hazen Pingree

Detroit, Michigan (1890-1897)

Concentrated on economic issues

Fairer tax structure

Lowered fares for public transportation

Rooted out corruption

City workers built schools, parks, and a municipal lighting plant

Lowered gas rates

Set up a system of work relief for the unemployed

Tom Johnson

Cleveland, Ohio (1901-1909)


Believed that citizens should play a more active role in city government

Held large meetings and invited citizens to question officials about how the city was managed

Strove toward honest government

Johnson was one of 19 socialist mayors who worked to institute progressive reforms in America’s cities

"Gas and water socialism"

Focused on dismissing corrupt and greedy private owners of utilities and converting the utilities to publicly owned enterprises

Reform at the State Level

Spurred by progressive governors, many states passed laws to regulate railroads, mines, mills, telephone companies, and other large businesses

Reform Governors

Robert M. La Follette


Led the way in regulating big business

Railroads were his major target

Leader of the progressive wing of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, he served three terms as governor before entering the U.S. Senate in 1906

Other Reform Governors

Charles B. Aycock of North Carolina

Albert B. Cummins of Iowa

Joseph W. Folk of Missouri

James S. Hogg of Texas

Protecting Workers

National Child Labor Committee

Formed in 1904 to end child labor

Joined by labor unions who thought that child labor lowered wages for all workers, they pressured the national government into passing the Keating-Owen Act of 1916

Barred goods made by children from interstate commerce

Keating-Owen was overturned by the Supreme Court in Hammer v. Dagenhart (1918)

Reversal of precedent on interstate commerce

Failing at the national level, reformers succeeded in banning child labor and setting maximum hours in nearly every state

Muller v. Oregon (1908)

Supreme Court said that a state could legally limit the working hours of women to ten hours

Duty of state to protect health and welfare of citizens overrides freedom of contract

"Brandeis brief"

Louis D. Brandeis

Same argument used in Bunting v. Oregon to uphold ten hour workday for men

Workers’ Compensation laws passed

Reforming Elections

Australian Ballot





Direct Primary

By 1915, about 2/3 of the states had adopted some form of direct primary, and by 1920, 20 states had adopted at least one of these procedures

17th Amendment

Direct election of senators

Women in Public Life

Women in the Work Force

Farm Women

Critical part of the economic structure of the family

Roles had not changed substantially

Cooking, cleaning, sewing, and a host of other chores

If husbands were ill or absent they had to plow and plant the fields and harvest the crops

Domestic Workers

African-American women migrated by the thousands to cities to work as cooks, laundresses, scrubwomen, and maids

Unmarried immigrant women also did domestic labor

Women in Industry

At the turn of the century, one out of five American women worked; 25% of them held jobs in manufacturing

Most were immigrants or the children of immigrants

Garment trade claimed about all women industrial workers

Typically held least skilled positions and received lowest pay

Working women were assumed to be supporting only themselves, while men were assumed to be supporting families

Other business opportunities

Stenographers, typists, bookkeepers, and teachers

Required high school education

By 1890 women high school graduates outnumbered men

Women’s Leadership in Reform

Women in Higher Education

Vassar College



8 men and 22 women

Maria Mitchell

Smith and Wellesley College (1875)

Randolph Macon Women’s College (1891)

Columbia, Brown and Harvard established separate colleges for women

Barnard (1889), Pembroke (1891), Radcliffe (1894)

Female graduates still expected to fulfill traditional domestic roles

Marriage no longer a woman’s only option

Almost half of college-educated women in the late 19th century never married

Many began to apply skills toward achieving social reforms

Women and Reform

Not allowed to vote or run for office

"Social Housekeeping"

Targeted unsafe factories and labor abuses

Promoted housing reform, educational improvement, and food and drug laws

National Association of Colored Women (NACW)


Managed nurseries, reading rooms, and kindergartens

Mission was "the moral education of the race with which we are identified


Women split over rights for blacks

Some supported 14th and 15th Amendments as progress toward their goals

Others opposed them because they excluded women

Movement united by 1890 under the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA)


Susan B. Anthony

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Lucy Stone

Julia Ward Howe

The Battle Hymn of the Republic

Three Part Strategy

Convince state legislatures to grant women the right to vote

Wyoming (1869)

By 1896, Utah, Colorado, and Idaho, but after that, no others

Attempting to vote in order to test, in court, whether women were considered citizens under the !4th Amendment

Minor v. Happersett (1875)

Court said that while women might be citizens under the 14th Amendment, that didn’t necessarily mean they had the right to vote

Push for a national constitutional amendment that would grant women the right to vote

First proposed in 1878

Not accomplished until 1920

Theodore Roosevelt’s Presidency

Election of 1900

McKinley over

McKinley assassinated

Roosevelt became president in 1901

Strong president

The Square Deal

Six policies

Increase the power of the federal government

Mediate strikes

Should be settled in an orderly and unbiased manner

Government shouldn’t necessarily side with management and should intervene not only to protect private property but also to protect public welfare

Regulate trusts

Wanted to curb trusts if their actions were oppressive to the public but did not want to destroy large corporations

Regulate transportation

Strengthened the Interstate Commerce Act

Elkins Act(1903)

Once a railroad had set rates it could not raise them without first notifying the public

Hepburn Act(1906)

Gave the ICC power to set maximum railroad rates, with court approval, whenever shippers complained

Protect health

Response to The Jungle

Pure Food and Drug Act(1906)

Called for meat inspection and the listing of ingredients on labels

Conserve natural resources

People began to realize that natural resources were limited

Roosevelt withdrew millions of acres of land from public sale and created a system of national parks

Active role for government

Foreign policy

Treaty of Portsmouth

Roosevelt mediated a peace treaty between Russia and Japan

Won the Nobel Prize in 1906

Panama Canal

US helped Panama win independence from Columbia

After gaining independence, Panama gave the US a ten mile wide canal zone forever

Building began in 1904 and was finished in1914

Greatly increased US position as a world power

Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine

Any interfering in Latin America would be done by the US

The US would protect its interests in Latin America, if necessary by being the policeman of the area

"Walk softly and carry a big stick"

Roosevelt easily won the election of 1904 over Democrat Judge Alton B. Parker

Progressivism Under Taft

William Howard Taft Becomes President

Roosevelt picked Taft as his successor to carry his policies

Election of 1908

Democrats ran William Jennings Bryan for the third time against Taft

Taft won easily largely due to popularity of Roosevelt

Taft Stumbles

Though Taft pursued a cautiously progressive agenda, he received little credit for it

Roosevelt busted 44 trusts in 7½ years while Taft busted 90 in 4 years

Not as effective at the bully pulpit or at subduing troublesome members of his own party

Tariffs and conservation posed his first problems

Payne-Aldrich Tariff

After promising to lower tariffs in the campaign, Taft signed this bill which was crafted by conservative Senate Republicans

Disputing Public Lands

Taft angered conservationists by appointing as his secretary of the interior Richard A. Ballinger, a wealthy Seattle lawyer who disapproved of conservationist controls on western lands

Ballinger removed 1 million acres of forest and mining lands from the reserved list and approved the sale to Seattle businesses of several million acres of coal-rich land in Alaska

Gifford Pinchot, head of the U.S. Forest Service under Roosevelt, testified against Ballinger in a congressional hearing

Taft fired Pinchot

Pinchot retaliated in a book called The Fight for Conservation

The Republican Party Split

Problems Within the Party

Progressives and conservatives split over Taft’s support of political boss Joseph Cannon, Speaker of the House

Under Cannon’s virtual dictatorship, the House often ignored or weakened progressive bills

With the help of Democrats, progressive Republicans stripped Cannon of most of his power in March 1910

In the midterm elections, the Democrats gained control of the House of Representatives for the first time in 18 years

Voters voiced concerns over the rising cost of living, which they blamed on the Payne-Aldrich Tariff

They also believed Taft to be against conservation

The Bull Moose Party

Roosevelt returned from big game hunting in Africa in 1910 and declared that the country needed a "New Nationalism" under which the federal government would exert its power for the "welfare of the people"

By 1912 Roosevelt had decided to run for a third term

Taft was the incumbent, and his supporters were able to refuse seats to Roosevelt delegates at the Republican Convention

Roosevelt supporters held their own convention and formed the Progressive Party and nominated Roosevelt

The Progressive Party became known as the Bull Moose Party after Roosevelt’s boast that he was "as strong as a bull moose"


Direct election of senators, initiative, referendum, recall, women’s suffrage, national workman’s compensation, an eight-hour workday, a minimum wage for women, a federal law against child labor, and a federal trade commission to regulate business

The Election of 1912

Democrats ran Woodrow Wilson

Endorsed a progressive platform, called the New Freedom, that demanded even stronger antitrust legislation, banking reform, and reduced tariffs

Split between Taft and Roosevelt turned nasty

Wilson benefited

Eugene Debs ran as the Socialist Party candidate

Wilson captured only 42% of the popular vote, but he won an electoral victory and a Democratic majority in Congress

Roosevelt defeated Taft in both popular and electoral votes

75% of went to reform candidates Wilson, Roosevelt, and Debs

Wilson could claim mandate to expand the government’s role in social reform

Wilson’s New Freedom

Progressive Reform Under Wilson

Attack on the triple wall of privilege

Trusts, tariffs, and high finances


Clayton Antitrust At

Sought to strengthen the Sherman Antitrust Act

Corporations could no longer acquire the stock of another corporation if doing so would create a monopoly

If a company violated the law, its officers would be prosecuted

Specified that labor unions and farm organizations not only had a right to exist but also would no longer be subject to antitrust laws

Federal trade Act

Federal Trade Commission

Power to investigate possible violations of regulatory statutes, to require periodic reports from corporations, and to put an end to unfair business competition and unfair business practices


Believed high tariffs created monopolies by reducing competition

Underwood Tariff of 1913

Substantially reduced tariff rates for first time since Civil War

Needed to replace lost revenue

16th Amendment (1913)

Legalized a graduated (progressive) federal income tax

Taxed larger incomes at higher rates than smaller incomes

High Finances

Needed to make credit more readily available and a way to quickly adjust the amount of money in circulation

Federal Reserve Act of 1913

Federal Reserve System

Divided country into twelve districts

Each district had a federal reserve bank with which all banks within the district were affiliated

Federal Reserve banks made loans to member banks which in turn made loans to customers

Federal Reserve determines interest rates on loans

Still serves as the basis for the nation’s banking system