The Progressive Era in America by nikeborome



                          The Progressive Era in America
                                          Fall, 2004

Mondays, 6:00 – 8:30                                        Shelton Stromquist
40 Schaeffer Hall                                           162 Schaeffer Hall
                                                            Office Hours: M 3:30-5 pm,
                                                               T 12:30-2 pm

Required books (all are available for purchase at Prairie Lights Bookstore, 15 S.
Dubuque, 337-2681)

Jane Addams, Twenty Years at Hull House
David Brody, Steelworkers in America: the Nonunion Era
W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk
Glenda Gilmore, ed., Who were the Progressives?
Hutchins Hapgood, The Spirit of Labor
Upton Sinclair, The Jungle
Robert Zieger, America’s Great War: World War I and the American Experience

Course Overview and Goals

This course seeks to provide students with an intimate knowledge of a volatile historical
period (roughly 1890 to 1920) in which Americans in varied ways came to grips with the
social and political consequences of industrial transformation. However imperfectly,
―progressives‖ lay the foundations for twentieth-century liberalism. Having witnessed
the massive labor and class conflict of the late nineteenth century and the political
mobilization of aggrieved farmers and workers in the 1890s, a generation of reformers
and political activists skeptical of the political partisanship of the old party system turned
their attention to rebuilding cities, modernizing state governance, and using government
at the federal level to regulate the unbridled power of large corporations. But the period
also brought other challenges in the form of racial polarization and the stirrings of a new,
assertive rights-oriented African American movement; it witnessed unprecedented
immigration and the massive influx of so-called ―new immigrants‖ from southern and
eastern Europe that stirred nativist and racial exclusionist sentiment, even among would-
be reformers; and class war reared its head again in the form of massive strikes in the
West and in mass production centers of the East. These strikes provided powerful
evidence that America had not yet solved its ―class problem.‖ World War I brought
reformist impulses into collision with national, patriotic imperatives that revealed both
the best and worst in American society. By the war’s end women stood on the verge of
achieving suffrage; African Americans in unprecedented numbers had broken free of the
constraints of the Jim Crow South to establish themselves in large urban centers of the

North, ready to begin a new era of community building and cultural self-definition. But
in other respects the achievements of reform seemed substantially less than the ambitious
programs ―the progressive movement’ had promised. Nonetheless, ―progressivism‖ had
defined the outlines of twentieth-century liberalism in ways that profoundly shaped
public policy and reform for the rest of the twentieth century.

         Students will have an opportunity to work on critical thinking and analytical
skills, as well as writing clear and persuasive prose that draws on specific documentation
to support historical arguments.

Course Requirements

   1) Attendance and participation. Regular attendance and participation in class
      discussions is required. Because this class meets only once a week, students
      missing more than two class sessions without prior permission will get no credit
      for this portion of the final grade. (A class sign-in list will be circulated each
      week.) Beyond attendance, students’ participation grade will be based on in-class
      discussion, preparation of a written (1-2 pp) response to one discussion question,
      a quiz (9/13) and contributions to the discussion page on the course web site.
      (15% of final grade.)

   2) First paper. Students will write a short (5-6 pp) essay on either Jane Addams’
      autobiography (Twenty Years at Hull House) or Anton Johannson’s biography
      (The Spirit of Labor). I will distribute a paper assignment with specific
      instructions on 9/13. The paper is due 9/27 in class. (15% of final grade.)

   3) Term Paper. This paper (8-10 pp) will require use of web-based document
      collections and some secondary sources beyond those required for the course.
      You will select a topic based on one of a number of document collections at web
      sites to which I will introduce you. You must provide a brief description of your
      paper topic and the sources you intend to use by 10/26 (1-2 pp). Failure to do so
      will make final paper unacceptable. The paper itself will be due the last class,
      12/6. (25% of final grade.)

   4) Exams. A midterm exam (15%) is scheduled for the first hour of class on
      Monday, 10/11. The final exam (30%) will be held at our regularly scheduled
      class meeting time and place (6:00 pm, 12/13 in 40 SH.)

Graduate Students
   1) A 6-8 page paper comparing Jane Addams’ autobiography with that of another
      settlement house worker. Due 9/27. (15% of final grade.)

   2) An 8-10 page historiographical paper on progressivism. Due 10/26. (20% of
      final grade.

   3) A final paper (12-15 pp) on a topic to be chosen with approval of instructor. Due
      12/6. (35% of final grade.)

   4) Take home final. Question available 12/10; exam due 12/13. (30% of final

Organizational and Procedural Matters
        Class meetings are organized around lectures, discussions and presentation of
other material (films, photographs, etc.) The success of discussions in a class of this size
will depend on whether students have read the required material and thought in advance
about the discussion questions. I expect all students to keep up with the reading
assignments and to come to class prepared to discuss them.

        Regular class attendance and close attention to the required readings, lectures and
films, as well as participation in class discussions, will have a direct bearing on how well
students do in this course. Since the lectures do not duplicate material covered in the
readings, I assume that all students will have complete and detailed notes for all class
sessions. For each assignment you will be given a letter and a percentage grade: A 92-
100%, A- 90-91%, B+ 88-89%, B 82-87%, B- 80-81%, C+ 78-79%, C 72-77%, C- 70-
71%, D+ 68-69%, D 62-67%, D- 60-61%, F below 60%.

       Students with disabilities should make an appointment to see me at the
beginning of the semester to discuss whatever accommodations may be needed.

       If you must miss class because of illness or family emergency, you must inform
me in advance. Email is fine:

        Be certain to keep copies of all work submitted and all graded work received at
least until final grades for the course have been awarded. THIS IS YOUR

        You should feel free to raise any concerns about the conduct of this class with me
or with the chair of the History Department, 280 SH: Linda K. Kerber, 335-2302 (linda-

       Plagiarism will be strictly punished. If you have questions about how to use and
appropriately cite material from other sources, see me or consult the ―Tools‖ page of the
course web site for references to proper citation methods.

        For further information about the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences procedures
for student complaints and plagiarism see the CLAS Student Academic Handbook,

Course Web Site
        This course has a web site: consisting of several
features, some of which will require a password (your Hawkid and password will get you
into these pages, if you are registered for the course.) If you require instruction about

how to access the web site or require need assistance, please contact me. The web site
consists of:
             Syllabus page. This provides a readily available copy of the syllabus and
               other handouts regarding assignments, exams, etc.
             Lecture outlines. I will post outlines for all lectures.
             Readings page. This page is password protected and will include a few
               short readings or documents not otherwise available.
             Tools page. Here you will find a guide with links to a variety of
               bibliographical and web-based library tools.
             Resources page. On this page you will find links to a wide variety of web
               sites and documentary sources for use on the final paper.
             Announcements page. This is a password protected place to find
               announcements pertaining to the course, assignments, deadlines or related
               events. Be certain to check regularly.
             Discussion page. This password protected page offers the opportunity to
               carry on discussion of questions or issues raised in class. This is not an
               alternative to in-class participation but another means of participation.

The password protected pages can be accessed through the ―blackboard‖ portal on the
web site.

Class Schedule and Reading Assignments

8/23   Introduction and Organization

       The Problem of Progressivism

8/30   Looking Backward—Gilded Age Society and the Origins of Reform

         Addams, Twenty Years at Hull House, chpts. 1-6
         Gilmore, Who were the Progressives? Introduction

       Discussion question: What was the ―subjective necessity‖ of settlements,
              according to Jane Addams?

9/6    LABOR DAY (no class)

          Reading: Hutchins Hapgood, The Spirit of Labor

9/13   The Crises of the 1890s—Labor conflict, populism and political realignment
         Quiz (20 minute essay question)
         Reading: Addams, chpts. 7-11

          Discussion question: In what ways was Anton Johannson’s life typical or
              exceptional compared to other workers of his generation?

9/20   The Problem of the Trusts—Management, Workers, and the Public

          Reading: Sinclair, The Jungle (begin)

                   Brody, The Steelworkers, 1-95

         Film: Charlie Chaplin, ―Modern Times‖

9/27   The ―new‖ immigrants and their communities

          Reading: Sinclair, The Jungle (continue)

                     Brody, The Steelworkers, 96-124

          Film: Charlie Chaplin, ―The Italian‖

       Undergrads & Grads: 1st Paper Due

10/4   Wobblies, Socialists and the revolt of the laborers

          Reading: Sinclair, The Jungle (finish)

                     Brody, The Steelworkers, 125-179

                     Hapgood, Spirit of Labor (review)

          Document: Howe, ―The Socialist Victory in Milwaukee‖
             [see web site]

       Discussion question: Was the U.S. a ―class‖ society in the Progressive Era?
              Is it today?

10/11 Undergraduate MIDTERM EXAM (first hour of class)

       2nd Hour: A ―Splendid Little War‖ and the new American Empire

          Reading: Howard Gillette, Jr., ―The Military Occupation of Cuba,
             1899-1902: Workshop for American Progressivism,‖[see web site]

          Discussion question: Was ―empire‖ a ―progressive‖ project?

10/18 Boundaries of Difference—Progressivism and Race

          Reading: W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk

          Film: ―W.E.B. Du Bois: A Biography in Four Voices‖

          Discussion question: To whom was Souls addressed and what was its

10/26 A Progressive movement—urban life and the reform impulse

          Grad Historiographical paper due

          Reading: Gilmore, Who were the Progressives? (Hofstadter, Sanders, Wiebe
             and McCormick), 25-139

          Film: ―America and Lewis Hine‖

11/1   The politics of municipal reform, the fight for suffrage, and the ―laboratory of the

          Reading: Gilmore, (Stromquist, Connolly, Flanagan and Gilmore essays)

                   Addams, chpts. 13,14

          Discussion: What variety of forms did municipal progressivism take?

11/8   Republican progressivism—TR, Taft and regulated capitalism

          Reading: Review Wiebe and McCormick in Gilmore, Who were the

          Discussion question: How did TR’s policies reflect his particular notion of
              ―regulated capitalism‖?

11/15 1st hour: Election of 1912 and Wilson’s ―New Freedom‖

          Document: The Platform of the Progressive Party [see web site]

          Discussion question: In what ways did the Progressive Party represent an
              ideological break with Republicans and Democrats?

       2nd hour: World at War

          Reading: Zieger, America’s Great War, 1-84

          Film: ―The Killing Floor‖ (excerpts)

          Discussion question: Why did some progressives (and socialists) believe
             that war was an opportunity to further their goals?


11/29 War and American Society

          Reading, Zieger, 85-185

                   Brody, 180-213

          Film: Killing Floor (more excerpts)

          Discussion question: Did war make American society more progressive? In
              what ways?

12/6   Postwar and the eclipse of progressivism?

          Reading: Zieger, 187-237

                   Brody, 214-278

          Undergrad and Grad final papers due

12/13 Undergrad Final Exam, 6 – 8 pm, 40 SH.

To top