Progressive Era

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  • The Progressive Era 1901-1917
    • 'Progressives' --> a collection of groups who worked to address social problems. 3 main aims....
      • 1. Protect Social Welfare
        • industrialisation was largely unregulated, employers felt little responsibility towards their workers  as a result private charities and churched served the community
        • YMCA and salvation army took on welfare roles, little help from the government for the poor, homeless or unemployed.
      • 2. Promote Moral Development
        • Reformers felt the answer to social issues was personal behaviour. Preposed reforms e.g. A ban on the sale of alcohol.
          • Groups wishing to ban alcohol included Women's Christian Temperance Union
      • 3. Create Economic Reform
        • Financial panic of 1893 prompted some to question the capitalist economic system
        • Some workers embraced socialism
        • Eugen Debs organised the American Social Party 1901
      • A direct response to the power of big business. I was strongest within the Republican Party but also influenced Democrats
    • Things they fought for
      • Protecting working children
        • Number of child workers has risen so reformers worked to end child labour
        • Children more prone to accidents caused by fatigue
        • Nearly every state limited/banned child labour by 1918
      • Effort to limit hours
        • The supreme court and the state strengthened laws reducing women's hours of work.
        • Progressives also succeeded in winning 'workers compensation' to aid families of injured workers
      • Voting reforms
        • Citizens fought for and won measures e.g. secret ballots, referendum votes and the recall of politicians
        • Citizens could petition and get initiatives on the ballot
        • In 1899, Minnesota passes first statewide primary system
      • Direct election of senators
        • Before 1913 each states legislature had chosen it's own US senators
        • To force senators to be more responsive to the public  reformers pushed for election of senators
        • As a result congress passed 17th amendment (1913) making the election of senators directly elected by the voters.
    • Socialism
      • Industrialisation and the rise of big businesses aroused opposition from those group in society who were adversely affected. Industrial expansion meant the emergence of mass labour in the new factories- the breeding group for socialism
        • growth in organised labour= growing strength of trade unions, but there was no breakthrough of socialism as a political party
          • This was surprising as in 1890s when trade union's power was increasing rapidly, the expansion of big factories and the influx of immigrants from Europe seemed to strengthen American socialism
      • Trade Unions
        • in late 19th century trade union membership increased rapidly and there was a number of high-profile strikes that cause alarm amongst the conservatives and big business
        • AFL  (American Federation of Labour) founded 1886 by Samuel Gompers. Membership grew quickly to 300,000 gaining most support from skilled workers
          • Concentrated on improving working conditions rather than radical socialist politics. Gompers did not align himself with Eugene Debs (socialist leader) but in 1907 established strong links with the Democrats, this became one of the key features of American Politics for generations
          • Perceived by many workers as too moderate and having little concern for unskilled workers.
          • This led to the formation of the more radical Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)
        • UMWA (united Mine Workers of America) was formed in Ohio in 1890
        • IWW (Industrial Workers of the World)  founded 1905 by 'Big Bill' Haywood and Eugene Bills although Bills broke away in 1908.
          • By 1912 membership was above 50,000. 'The Wobblies' openly supported socialist ideas and saw no room for compromise between workers and employers.
          • Regarded as dangerously revoluitinary by big business and conservatives especially during a wave of strikes that were often accompainedby violent such as the McKees Rocks Strikes of 1912
            • Employers used the courts to suppress the 'socialist threat' with legal injunctions against strikes and many prosecutions of socialist leaders.
          • Attacked during WW1 as being unpatriotic. In 1919 and 1920 it was a major target of the 'Red Scare'
    • A direct response to the power of big business. I was strongest within the Republican Party but also influenced Democrats
    • President Theodore Roosevelt supported the movement by embracing environmental conservation and busting monopolies that were harmful to the public
      • Key Social Reformers
        • Margret Sanger- Educated urban poor about the benefits of family planning through birth control. She founded the organisation the became Planned Parenthood
        • Booker T. Washington- Former slave who founded the Tuskegee Institute that focused on teaching African-Americans trade skills to ear a living and to gain the trust of White society
    • Muckrakers
      • Members of the press that investigated corruption in order to expose problems to the American people. They had a great amount of influence and usually resulted in the passage of laws designed to reform the abuse they reported
      • Key Muckrakers
        • Jacob Riis- 'How the other half lives' photographers that was a immigrant, exposed bad living conditions of the poor the crime, disease and squalor of urban slums
          • Resulted in NYC passing building codes to promote health and safety
        • Upton Sinclair- 'The jungle' 1906 novel which exposed disgusting conditions in the meat packing industry in Chicago,
          • It cut meat sales overnight and forced industry to accept federal meat inspection and it lead to the passage of the PUre Food and Drug Act 1906 and the Meat Inspection Act
    • City Reforms
      • Progressive reforms began at local/city level because it was easier to implement than at national level. Urban corruption from political machines was a major focus, resulting in the reorganisation of local government using the commissioner and city manager style of management
        • City Commissioner Plan- Cities hired experts to run a single aspect of city government e.g sanitation commissioner to be in charge of garbage and sewage removal
        • City Manager Plan- A professional city manager is hired to run each department of city and report directly to the city council
    • State  Reforms
      • Secret Ballot- Privacy at ballot box ensures that citizens can cast votes without party bosses knowing how they voted
      • Initiative- Allows voters to petition state legislation in order to consider a bill desired by citizens
      • Referendum- Allows voters to decide if a bill or preposed amendment should be passed
      • Recall- allows voters to petition to have and elected representative removed from office
    • Federal Reforms
      • F gov. passes an enormous amount of legislation to conserve the environment, tighten past economic regulations, preserve the health and safety of American citizens
        • Newlands Reclamation Act 1902- Encouraged conservation by allowing the construction of dams and irrigation systems using the money from the sales of public lands.
        • Pure Drugs and Food Act 1906- Required that companies accurately labelled the ingredients contained in processed foods.
        • Meat Inspection Act 1906- Indirect response to Upton  Sinclair's The jungle, required that meat processing plants to be inspected to ensure the use of good meat and health-minded procedures
        • Clayton Antitrust Act 1914- Strengthened the Sherman Antitrust Act by outlawing the creation of monopolies through any means, and stated that unions were not subject to antitrust legislation

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