The Progressive Era The Progressive Era

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					The Progressive Era

            The Election of 1896
• The Republicans selected William McKinley who
  ran on a platform of the gold-standard
  The Democrats, and supporters of silver,
  nominated William Jennings Bryan who had
  campaigned strongly against Cleveland's
  inactivity during the depression
• Bryan, from Nebraska and a staunch free-silver
  advocate, won the nomination with his “cross of
  gold” speech at the Democratic convention
• In nominating Bryan the Democratic party
• The pro-Cleveland Democrats nominated their
  own candidate – Senator John Palmer – who then
  said he would not be disappointed if the
  Republicans won!
• The Populists could nominate their own
  candidate or support Bryan – they chose Bryan
  but selected their own vice-president (Bryan
• McKinley conducted a “front porch campaign”
  talking only to certain groups with pre-arranged
  answers. They also portrayed Bryan as a radical
  who sympathized with communists
          William Jennings Bryan
• In the end Bryan lost to a better organized and
  financed Republican party
• He was successful in the South and West, but
  very unsuccessful in the North and East
• His defeat signaled the end of the Populist party,
  but most of their agenda was actually
  implemented by others during the Progressive
• The Democratic party became a party more
  dedicated to reform and against big business
              William McKinley
• The election of 1896 proved that big business
  really controlled politics
• One of McKinley fist acts was to pass the Dingley
  Tariff of 1897 which raised tariffs to a new high
• In 1900 the government passed the Gold
  Standard Act, which ended any threat from the
• But it was not internal problems that were going
  to beset McKinley – it was foreign events and
  even though the Populist movement had died
  away there was still a different way of looking at
  old problems
           The Election of 1900
• The Democrats once again nominated William
  Jennings Bryan who wanted to make imperialism
  the main issue of the election
• The Democrats condemned American action in
  the Philippines
• The Republicans supported imperialism and re-
  nominated McKinley and named Theodore
  Roosevelt as his running mate
• After Cuba, Roosevelt was a national hero
• The Republicans won (292-155)
            The Progressive Era
• Much of Roosevelt’s tenure became known as the
  Progressive Era
• It was a time of social, political, and economic
  change when people believed the government
  should be an agent for human welfare
• The reform movement had actually started after
  the Civil War with the Greenback labor party,
  but it had gained the most with the Populists
• In 1894 Henry Demarest Lloyd attacked
  Standard Oil with his book, Wealth Against
                 Social Gospel
• People were getting tired of unrestrained big
  business and the richer getting richer
• Jacob Riis showed people how Americans really
  lived in his book How the Other Half Lives
  published in 1890. The book was focused on the
  dirt and squalor of the New York slums
• Thorstein Veblen wrote The Theory of the Leisure
  Class in 1899 and attacked the conspicuous
  wealth of the robber barons
• This social gospel caused people to demand better
  housing and care for the poor
              The Square Deal
• Roosevelt’s agenda for the country – “a Square
  Deal for all” involved progressive legislation:
  control corporations
  consumer protection
  conservation of natural resources
• In 1902 Roosevelt ordered the break up of the
  massive Northern Securities Company and in
  1904 he was supported by the Supreme Court
  which ordered the company dissolved
• When coal miners in Pennsylvania went on strike
  in 1902 Roosevelt called both sides to a
  conference at the White House
• Roosevelt was not going to let the coal shortage
  affect the country
• The mine owners refused to talk to the unions – a
  move which only angered the president
• Nothing was decided at the meeting so Roosevelt
  threatened to take over the mines and run them
  with the army
• It is questionable if Roosevelt had the authority
  to use the army, but the threat was more than
  enough to break the impasse
• The strike ended later that year
• Exposing social problems became a common
  practice after the turn of the century especially in
  magazines like Collier’s and Cosmopolitan
• These writers were dubbed muckrakers
• Despite criticism from the White House the sale
  of books and magazines that exposed filth, crime,
  and corruption boomed
• In 1902 a reporter, Lincoln Steffens wrote in
  McClure’s about the seedy connections between
  big business and local government in “The
  Shame of the Cities”
• The majority of Progressive were middle-class
  people who felt stuck between the rich and the
• They represented all political affiliations and all
  regions of the country
• One of their first moves was to take the political
  power away from the party bosses
• They demanded voter referendums so legislation
  could be passed without input from the often-
  corrupt legislatures
• The Seventeenth Amendment (1913) established
  direct elections for the Senate to eliminate the
  influence of big business
             Robert La Follette
• A leading figure in the Progressive movement
  was Robert La Follette of Wisconsin
• As governor La Follette had made the state a
  ‘laboratory of reform”
• He took on the lumber and railroad companies
  and created the “Wisconsin Idea”
• His main aim was to create a government of
  experts who would then run the state based on
  progressive principles
             Regulating Industry
• The Interstate Commerce Commission (1887)
  had proved inadequate to regulate the railroads
• Equally the Sherman Anti-Trust Act (1890) did
  little to stop the power of the major industries
• Roosevelt created the Department of Commerce
  in 1903, which was authorized to investigate
  businesses which involved interstate commerce
• In 1903 the Elkins Act imposed fines on railroads
  that gave and offered rebates and special deals
• The Hepburn Act of 1906 removed the free
• In 1881 Congress created the Division of Forestry
  as part of the Department of agriculture
• Roosevelt appointed Gifford Pinchot as forestry
• To help protect the environment and maintain
  the forests Roosevelt added fifty wildlife refuges
  and five national parks
• Roosevelt vehemently opposed industrialists who
  wanted to strip the country of natural resources
                Upton Sinclair
• In 1906 Upton Sinclair published The Jungle
  which exposed the atrocious problems faced by
  the workers and the unsanitary conditions in the
• When Roosevelt read the book he was sickened
  and appointed a special commission to investigate
  the meatpacking plants
• In 1906 he passed the Meat Inspection Act, which
  required meat that was shipped over state line to
  be inspected before shipping
• The Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 was to
  prevent mislabeling of foods and drugs
                 Panic of 1907
• As Roosevelt called for more legislation against
  big business so he became less desirable as a
  presidential candidate for the Republicans
• In 1907 an economic crisis hit Wall Street as
  banks closed and people defaulted on their loans
• The crisis was blamed on Roosevelt who had
  interfered with the workings of Wall Street
• In return Roosevelt blamed wealthy individuals
  who, he said, had manipulated the situation
• Thankfully the crisis was short but it did allow
  some fiscal reform
• The crisis made everyone aware that money
  needed to be available to prevent future panics
• In 1908 Congress passed the Aldrich-Vreeland
  Act, which gave the national banks the power to
  issue emergency currency
            The Election of 1908
• Roosevelt probably would have won in 1908 if he
  had chosen to run, but he had promised in 1904
  to step aside
• Roosevelt selected William Howard Taft as his
  successor, confident in the fact that Taft would
  simply continue his agenda
• The Democrats nominated the twice-beaten
  William Jennings Bryan
• Both men tried to persuade the public that they
  were progressives
• The Socialist picked Eugene V. Debs who came
  third but gained nearly half a million votes
           Progressive Legislation
• Social justice was a main thrust of the
  Progressive movement
• Social justice including helping children and
  women workers, establishing settlement houses,
  and fighting the evils of liquor
• In the Muller v. Oregon (1908) case the Supreme
  Court upheld a ten-hour day for women
• In Bunting v. Oregon (1917) the Courts accepted
  a ten-hour day for men and women
• In 1911 the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Company
  fire in New York, in which 146 people died led to
  the enforcement of stricter building codes
            William Howard Taft
• Taft was Roosevelt’s handpicked successor
• Once out of office and still young – only 50 –
  Roosevelt went big game hunting in Africa
• A big problem was that Taft did not like politics.
  Most of his advice came from his energetic wife,
  but she suffered a stroke after the election and
  couldn’t help her husband
• Taft’s policies split the Republican party
  especially over the Ballinger-Pinchot controversy
• Secretary of the Interior Richard Ballinger
  wanted to allow industrialists access to resources
  in the northwest
• Roosevelt had placed the millions of acres of
  water off-limits by making them part of ranger
• Ballinger and Taft both agreed that Roosevelt
  had gone too far
• Ballinger gave federal coal reserves in Alaska to
  a Seattle business group who were then going to
  resell the land
• When Chief of Forestry Pinchot reported the
  dealings to Taft he was ignored. In 1910 when he
  went public he was fired
• A congressional committee found Ballinger not
  guilty of collusion, but he resigned soon after
• In 1910 Roosevelt returned to the United States
  to hear reports of what Taft had, or had not done
• Roosevelt felt betrayed
• Roosevelt started addressing the public and
  advocating his policy of New Nationalism
  demanding more regulatory reform, social
  welfare, and direct democracy
• Many Republicans were willing to back
  Roosevelt if he entered the race in 1912, but
  others supported La Follette
            The Election of 1912
• Roosevelt won most of the presidential primaries,
  even in Taft’s own state of Ohio
• But the Republican nominating committee
  selected Taft, who was after all still president
• Roosevelt was outraged and turned to the
  Progressive party (Bull Moose party) and pushed
  La Follette aside
• The Democrats nominated governor of New
  Jersey and former president of Princeton
  University, Woodrow Wilson
• The Socialists nominated Eugene Debs
• During the campaign Roosevelt was shot by a
  fanatic, but continued to campaign
• The issue was Roosevelt’s New Nationalism or
  Wilson’s New Freedom
• Wilson won the election, Roosevelt came second,
  and Taft came third
• Wilson won the election with slightly more than 6
  million votes. Taft and Roosevelt together had
  7.5 million votes
• The electoral college vote was a landslide 435-88-
• Taft left politics to teach law at Yale before being
  selected chief justice of the Supreme Court in
               Woodrow Wilson
• After the election of 1912 – in which all the
  candidates had expressed some progressive
  sentiment - the idea of progressivism started to
• It was also the first time the Democrats had held
  the White House and Congress since the
  Cleveland administration
• Wilson was not the political force of Roosevelt,
  but he was knew how to be a politician and how
  to talk to the people and Congress
• He rewarded his friends with appointments
• His first big issue was the tariff
• He called Congress to a special session and
  addressed them himself and asked for tariff
• In 1913 the Underwood-Simmons Tariff became
  law and reduced import tariffs from 37% to
  29%, the tariff did not include some 300 products
  – mostly natural resources
• Congress also approved the Sixteenth
  Amendment (1913) which implemented the first
  income tax
• The Glass-Owen Federal Reserve Act created a
  new national banking system with Federal
  Reserve Banks
       Clayton Antitrust Act (1914)
• Breaking the trust was a major part of the New
  Freedom plan, which had continued to grow
  despite the Sherman Anti-Trust Act
• Wilson made the Federal Trade Commission the
  watchdog over trusts and empowered the
  Commission to act
• The Clayton Antitrust Act (1914) prohibited
  price discrimination, interlocking directorates of
  large companies, and companies from purchasing
  stock in competing industries
                Foreign Policy
• Wilson lacked international experience, yet
  ironically his tenure would be dominated by
  foreign affairs
• Wilson did believe that the United States had a
  moral obligation to protect and spread
• Prior to 1914 Secretary of State Bryan was busy
  negotiating with countries to avoid conflict
• In 1914 two conflicts exploded that changed
• President Porfirio Díaz dominated the politics of
  Mexico, but the country had been on the verge of
  revolution for several years
• In 1911 a revolutionary army led by Francisco
  Madero captured Mexico City and the president
• Madero proved weak and in 1913 he lost power
  to General Victoriano Huerta
• In response to the dictator, Wilson announced
  the United States would not recognize his
• In 1914 Wilson sent weapons to insurgents led by
  Venustiano Carranza and placed American ships
  off Vera Cruz
• In April 1914 a group of American sailors were
  arrested in Tampico. Although they were
  quickly released and an apology issued the
  American government demanded the Mexican
  salute the American flag
• Wilson persuaded Congress to grant him the
  authority to make Huerta comply
• Wilson sent a small force to Vera Cruz and on
  April 21, the Americans occupied the town – 19
  Americans and over 200 Mexicans were killed
• Most countries disapproved of the American
  occupation and Huerta tried to organize
  opposition from allies
• Wilson accepted an offer from the ABC powers
  (Argentina, Brazil, and Chile) to mediate
• The ABC power proposed the United States
  remove its soldiers, the removal of Huerta, and
  the establishment of a provisional government
• Huerta refused
• Trouble in Mexico allowed bandits like Pancho
  Villa to gain power
• In 1915 Villa began fighting the American-
  backed insurgents known as the Carranzistas
• In 1916 Villa captured a train and killed 16
• In March he crossed into new Mexico and
  murder more Americans
• Wilson had grown tired of waiting and ordered
  General John Pershing to capture Villa
• For almost a year Pershing chased Villa across
  northern Mexico, before being ordered home in
• The Carranzistas continued fighting the rebels
  and in 1917 they passed a liberal constitution
• Mexico eventually settled down as other issues
  loomed on the horizon
               World War One
• In August 1914 World War One erupted in
  Europe with the assassination of the heir to the
  Austro-Hungarian Empire by a Serb patriot in
• The Austrians with the support of their German
  allies declared war on Serbia
• Within weeks most of Europe was at war
• Germany, Austria-Hungary, Turkey, and
  Bulgaria faced Britain, France, Russia and later
• But this war involved other counties not just
• Russia joined Britain as did Japan
• Wilson called on Americans to be neutral in
  thought and deed
• Britain expected the United States to become an
  ally because of their shared tradition
• Germany expected the United States to become
  an ally based on the number of immigrants from
  Eastern and Southern Europe
• Most Americans favored the British
• In 1914 the United States was in a recession so
  war orders from Britain and France helped
  relieve some of the problems
• The Germans protested the trade between the
  two countries as violating the neutrality
• Since the British controlled the Atlantic Ocean
  any trade between Germany and America would
  have been very risky
• In 1915 Germany announced it would use
  submarines to sink ships that violated the laws of
  neutrality, they promised to try and not sink
  American ships
• Wilson continued to claim neutrality while
  hoping American ships would not be sunk
• The German U-boats proved deadly
• At the start of 1915 almost 100 ships were sunk
• On May 7, they sank the British passenger liner
  Lusitania with the loss of over a thousand lives –
  128 Americans
• The ship did have some ammunition on board
  which the Germans used as justification
• The American people demanded war and
  revenge but Wilson stood firm and remained
• After another passenger ship was sunk the
  Germans promised not to sink passenger ships
  without warning
                  Sussex Pledge
• In 1916 the Germans sank the French passenger
  ship Sussex
• Wilson was furious and said that if the Germans
  did not stop sinking merchant ships immediately,
  he would break off diplomatic relations – the first
  step on the road to war
• The Germans agreed not to sink merchant ships
  without warning, but America would have to
  persuade Britain to change its naval blockade
• Wilson accepted the pledge but without the
  strings attached
            The Election of 1916
• The Progressives re-nominated Teddy Roosevelt,
  but he did not want to split the Republican vote
  again and give the election to the man he hated –
• The Republicans nominated Charles Evans
  Hughes, the liberal Supreme Court justice from
  New York
• Hughes was anti-German in anti-German regions
  of the country, but in other regions he portrayed
  himself as an isolationist
• Wilson was re-nominated on the slogan “He Kept
  us Out of War”
• After the election it looked like Hughes would
  win – he was even proclaimed the winner by
  some New York newspapers
• In the West and Mid-west Wilson gained ground
  – the final result depended upon California
• Wilson barely won (277-254)
• In January 1917 Germany announced
  unrestricted submarine warfare – all ships in the
  war zone would be targets
• Now the man who kept America from war would
  have no choice but war
• Wilson called for the arming of merchant ships to
  try an keep America neutral
• But in March 1917 a telegram from Germany to
  Mexico was discovered
• The Zimmermann note was from German
  foreign secretary Arthur Zimmermann and
  included vague promises of returning Texas and
  Arizona back to Mexico if there could be a
  German-Mexican alliance
• With the overthrow of the Tsar in Russia the
  American government could now claim to be
  fighting for democracy
• In 1917 Wilson asked Congress for a declaration
  of war
      American Expeditionary Force
• In 1917 the Bolshevik Revolution succeeded and
  Russia dropped out the war
• Now the Germans and their allies were free to
  focus all their power against the tired Allies in on
  the Western front
• Early in 1918 the Germans launched a series of
• But by May there were over 1 million American
  “doughboys” in Europe led by General Pershing
• By July the Germans were exhausted
• The end of the war was in sight
                War Legislation
• Selective Service Act (1917) - Required all males
  between 21 and 30 to register for military service
• Committee on Public Information (1917) -
  Created by Congress under the control of
  George Creel to mobilize public support for the
  war effort
• War Industries Board (1917) - Created to the
  economic effort. Developed new industries and
  controlled prices. Companies that cooperated
  were exempt from antitrust legislation
• Espionage Act (1917) - A $10,000 fine or 20 years
  imprisonment for those interfering with the draft
  or encouraging disloyalty
• Sedition Act (1918) – increased the penalties for
  people who tried to stop or said anything
  negative about the sale of Liberty Bonds and for
  saying, writing, or printing anything disloyal
  about the government, the Constitution, or the
  armed forces
• Schenck v. United States (1919) – The Supreme
  Court upheld the conviction of a man charged
  anti-draft leaflets to members of the armed
  services. The man had claimed free speech.
  Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes stated that free
  speech does not protect a man from falsely
  shouting “fire!” in a theatre – the act applied
  when there was a “clear and present danger”
• In Abrams vs. United States (1919) the Court
  confirmed the conviction of a man for passing out
  leaflets opposing American intervention in the
  Bolshevik Revolution

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