The Progressive Era study guide chapter summary



The Progressive Era study guide chapter summary


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The Progressive Era study guide chapter summary

The Progressive Era 1901-1920 Part II

“I looked upon the heap of dead bodies.”
-witness to the fire at Triangle Shirtwaist Company, NYC
Social welfare
Urban life in the Progressive era was improved not only by political reformers but also by the efforts of settlement house workers and other civic-minded volunteers. Jane Addams, Frances Kelly, and other leaders of the social justice movement found that they needed political support in the state legislatures for meeting the needs of immigrants and the working class. They lobbied vigorously and with considerable success for better schools, juvenile courts, liberalized divorce laws, and safety regulations for tenements and factories. Believing that criminals could learn to become effective citizens, reformers fought for such measures as a system of parole, separate reformatories for juveniles, and limits on the death penalty.
Reforming the Workplace
Progressives sought to improve workplace safety. A tragic event in 1911 highlighted the need for such reforms. On Saturday March 25, some 500 employees-most of them young Jewish or Italian immigrant women-were completing their six-day workweek at NYC Triangle Shirtwaist Company. As they rose from their crowded work tables and started to leave, a fire erupted in a rag bin. Within moments the entire eighth floor of the 10-story building was ablaze.  There were only two stairways, and because managers were afraid would steal fabric, most of the fire doors were kept locked. Desperate for a way out, some 60 workers leaped from the windows resulting in 140 deaths. Rose Schneiderman, a Women’s Trade Union League organizer, argued that only a strong working-class movement could bring real change to the workplace. As a result NYC legislature would enact the nation’s toughest fire-safety codes.
Moral Reform: The Passage of Prohibition
Progressives wanted to “clean up” what they considered to be immoral behavior. They called for prohibition- a ban on the manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcoholic beverages- and the closing of the nation’s saloons. Reformers believed that prohibition would reduce crime and the breakup of families (caused exactly the opposite!). Progressives recognized that saloons were often the neighborhood headquarters of political machines, who generally had little sympathy for the temperance movement. By 1902, The Anti- Saloon League (ASL) and the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) led the crusade against alcohol. Even during WWI, prohibitionists drew on Americans’ spirit of patriotic sacrifice. In 1917 Congress proposed the Eighteenth Amendment, which barred the manufacture sale, and distribution of alcoholic beverages. That states ratified it by 1919; although it would be repealed in 1933.

African Americans Organize
In 1909, W.E.B. Du Bois (graduate from Harvard) and a group of African Americans and white progressives met in NYC to discuss the lynching of two African American men in Springfield, Illinois, the previous year. Out of this meeting came the NAACP (The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), which was an organization dedicated to ending racial discrimination. Du Bois edited the monthly magazine, The Crisis criticizing cases of racial inequality and social reform to improve voting rights for African Americans. Du Bois also believed that African Americans should be politically active in the struggle for racial equality and maintain a passionate interest in Africa. (Souls of Black Folk) This sharply contrasted the ideology of Booker T Washington who believed that an education was the key to political freedom. The National Urban League also fought for racial equality. Founded in 1911, the league worked to improve job opportunities and housing for African Americans. The NAACP and National Urban League made huge gains for African American citizens.
Immigration and Assimilation
Many progressives supported Americanization, a process of preparing foreign-born residents for full US citizenship. These efforts to assimilate immigrants, or to make them more like native-born Americans, focused on education. In school voluntary associations, and public programs, immigrants were taught to read, write, and speak English. They also learned about US history and government.

Political Reform at the State & National Level
Municipal Reform
City bosses and their corrupt alliance with local businesses (trolley lines and utility companies, for example) were the first target of Progressive leaders. In Toledo, Ohio, in 1897, a self-made millionaire with strong memories of his origins as a workingman became the Republican mayor. Adopting "golden rule" as both his policy and his middle name, Mayor Samuel M. "Golden Rule" Jones delighted Toledo's citizens by introducing a comprehensive program of municipal reform; including free kindergartens, night schools, and public playgrounds. Another Ohioan, Tom L. Johnson, devoted himself to the cause of tax reform and three-cent trolley fares for the people of Cleveland. As Cleveland's mayor from 1901-1909, Johnson fought valiantly-but without success-for public ownership and operation of the city's public utilities and services (water, electricity, and trolleys).

Controlling public utilities
Reform leaders arose in other cities through­out the nation seeking to break the power of the city bosses and take utilities out of the hands of private companies. By 1915 fully two-thirds of the nation's cities owned their own water systems. As a result of the Progressives' efforts, many cities also came to own and operate gas lines, electric power plants, and urban transportation systems.

Commissions and city managers
New types of municipal government were another Progressive innovation. In 1900, Galveston, Texas, was the first city to adopt a commission plan of government, in which voters elected the heads of city departments (fire, police, sanitation), not just the mayor. Ultimately proving itself more effective than the commission plan was a system first tried in Dayton, Ohio, in 1913, in which an expert manager was hired by an elected city council to direct the work of the various departments of city government. By 1923, more than 300 cities had adopted the manager-council plan of municipal government.

State Reform
At the state level, reform governors battled corporate interests and championed such measures as the initiative, the referendum, and the direct primaryto give the common people control of their own government. In New York, Charles Evans Hughes battled fraudulent insurance companies. In California Hiram Johnson successfully fought against the economic and political power of the Southern Pacific Railroad. In Wisconsin, Robert La Follette established a strong personal following as the governor (1900-1904) who won passage of  the "Wisconsin Idea"-a series of Progressive measures that included a direct primary law, tax reform, and regulation of railroad rates.
While Progressive governors and mayors were battling conservative forces in the state houses and city halls, three presidents-Roosevelt, Taft, and Wilson-sought broad reforms and regulations at the national level.

Theodore Roosevelt's Square Deal
Following President McKinley's assassination in September 1901, Theodore Roosevelt went to the White House at the age of 42, the youngest president in U.S. history and also the most athletic. He was unusual not simply because of his age and vigor but also because he believed that the president should do much more than lead the executive departments. He thought it was the president's job to set the legislative agenda for Congress as well. Thus, by the accident of McKinley's death, the Progressive movement suddenly shot into high gear under the dynamic leadership of an activist, reform-minded president.

Square Deal for Labor
Presidents in the 19th century had consistently taken the side of business in its conflicts with labor-Hayes in the railroad strike of 1877, and Cleveland in the Pullman strike of 1894. Roosevelt, however, in the first economic crisis of his presidency, demonstrated that he favored neither business nor labor but insisted on a Square Dealfor both. The crisis involved a strike of anthracite coal miners through much of 1902 (Coal Strike of 1902). If the strike continued, many Americans feared that-without coal-they would freeze to death when winter came. Roosevelt took the unusual step of trying to mediate the labor dispute by calling a union leader and coal mine owners to the White House. The mine owners' stubborn refusal to compromise angered the president (although he was sympathetic to their needs-higher wages and recognition of their Unite Mine Workers Union). To ensure the delivery of coal to consumers, he threatened to take over the mines with federal troops. The owners finally agreed to accept the findings of a special commission, which granted a 10 percent wage increase and a nine­ hour day to the miners (but did not grant union recognition). Voters overwhelmingly approved Roosevelt and his Square Deal by elect­ing him president by a landslide in 1904.

Roosevelt further increased his popularity by being the first president since the passage of the Sherman Antitrust Act in 1890 to enforce that poorly written law. The trust that he most wanted to bust was a combination of railroads known as the Northern Securities Company. Reversing its position in earlier cases, the Supreme Court in 1904 upheld Roosevelt's action in breaking up the railroad monopoly. Roosevelt later directed his attorney general to take antitrust action against Standard Oil and more than 40 other large corporations. Roosevelt did make a distinction between breaking up "bad trusts,” which harmed the public and stifled competition, and regulating "good trusts," which through efficiency and low prices dominated a market.
Railroad regulation
President Roosevelt also took the initiative in per­suading a Republican majority in Congress to pass two laws that significantly strengthened the regulatory powers of the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC). Under the Elkins Act (1903), the ICC had greater authority to stop railroads from granting rebates to favored customers. Under the Hepburn Act (1906), the commission could fix "just and reasonable" rates for railroads (authorized the ICC to set railroad rates and to regulate other companies to do the same such s as ferries).
Consumer protection
The Jungle, a muckraking book by Upton Sinclair, described in horrifying detail the conditions in the Chicago stockyards and meat packing industry. The public outcry following the publication of Sinclair's novel caused Congress to enact two regulatory laws in 1906:

(1) The Pure Food and Drug Actforbade the manufacture, sale, and trans­portation of adulterated or mislabeled foods and drugs.
(2) The Meat Inspection Actprovided that federal inspectors visit meatpacking plants to ensure that they met minimum standards of sanitation.

As a lover of the wilderness and the outdoor life, Roosevelt made an enthusiastic champion of the cause of conservation, In fact, Roosevelt’s most original and lasting contribution in domestic policy may have been his efforts to protect the nation’s natural resources.
Three actions stood out as particularly important:
1. During his presidency, Roosevelt made repeated use of the Forest Reserve Act of 1891 to set aside 150 million acres of federal land as a national reserve that could not be sold to private interests.
2. In 1902, Roosevelt won passage of the Newlands Reclamation Act, a law providing money from the sale of public land for irrigation projects ­in western states.
3. In 1908, the president publicized the need for conservation by hosting a White House conference on the subject. Following this conference, a National Conservation Commission was established under Gifford Pinchot of Pennsylvania, whom Roosevelt had earlier appointed to be first director of the U.S. Forest Service.
4. To help supervise the parks and monuments, the National Park Service was created in 1916. The National Park system has continued to grow, adding new lands and services.
The Struggle for Women’s Suffrage
Another part of the progressive agenda-the campaign for women’s suffrage. The Progressive era was a time of increased activism and optimism for a new generation of feminists. By 1900, the older generation of suffrage crusad­ers led by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton had passed the torch to younger women. Although the younger generation of men were generally more liberal than their elders, not all male Progressives enthusiastically endorsed the women's movement. President Wilson, for example, refused to support the suffragists' call for a national amendment until late in his presidency (during WWI).Carrie Chapman Catt, an energetic reformer from Iowa became the new president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) in 1900. Catt argued for the vote as a broadening of democracy which would empower women, thus enabling them to more actively care for their families in an industrial society. At first, Catt continued NAWSA's drive to win votes for women at the state level before changing strategies and seeking a suffrage amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In 1914 Alice Paul started a second suffrage organization the National Women’s Party. Paul lead suffragist in round the clock protest outside the White House in 1917.Paul and NAWSA leader Carrie Chapman Catt continued their struggle until in 1920 the Nineteenth Amendment gave women the right to vote. Nineteenth Amendment (1920). The dedicated efforts of women on the home front in World War I finally persuaded a majority in Congress and President Wilson to adopt a women's suffrage amendment. Its ratification as the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920 guaranteed women's right to vote in all elections at the local, state, and national levels. Following the victory of her cause, Carrie Chapman Catt organized the League of Women Voters, a civic organization dedicated to keeping voters informed about candidates and issues.


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The Progressive Era study guide chapter summary