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Progressivism: Ideology, Biography & Geography Who were the Progressives? Where did they come from? What motivated them? What did they achieve?

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Presentation on theme: "Progressivism: Ideology, Biography & Geography Who were the Progressives? Where did they come from? What motivated them? What did they achieve?"— Presentation transcript:

1 Progressivism: Ideology, Biography & Geography Who were the Progressives? Where did they come from? What motivated them? What did they achieve?

2 Ideological Foundations Pragmatism Reform Darwinism Social Gospel Optimism (faith in the “People) Populism Dualism--Conflict: People V Interests Moralism Social Control

3 The Varieties of Reform Humanize Industrial Capitalism: Reform of industrial and urban conditions Make American politics less corrupt and more democratic Direct Democracy reforms: initiative, referendum, recall, direct election of senators; WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE Moral Reform Prohibition, Prostitution Race-Based Reforms Immigration Restriction, Eugenics, Segregation & Disenfranchisement Social Control Americanization, Birth Control NOW DEFINE PROGRESSIVISM!

4 Chronology of Progressivism Chronology: 1877-1920 1890-1914 1892-1916 1900-1917 1890-1920 1900-1920 1890-1938 The Progressive Presidents: Theodore Roosevelt, 1901-1909 William Howard Taft, 1909-1913 Woodrow Wilson, 1913-1921

5 Who Were the Progressives? Supporters of Progressivism: Rural Interests Urban Working Class Urban Middle Class Progressive Reformers: What Were Their Motivations? Old M/C: Richard Hofstadfter, The Age of Reform (1955) New M/C: Robert Wiebe, The Search for Order (1967) Business: Gabriel Kolko, The Triumph of Conservatism (1963)

6 Representative Progressive Reformers Muckrakers: Lincoln Steffens, The Shame of the Cities (1902) Upton Sinclair, The Jungle (1906) Frank Norris, The Octopus (1901) Social Settlement House Workers: Jane Addams, Hull House (1889) Legal Pragmatists: Louis Brandeis, Muller V Oregon (1908) Black Progressives: Ida B. Wells W.E.B. DuBois Booker T. Washington Southern “Progressives” James K. Vardaman “Pitchfork” Ben Tillman





11 Women’s Factory Labor, c1908


13 Trusts Controlling Government


15 Aiming for the public’s heart… There were the men in the pickle-rooms…; scarce a one of these that had not some spot of horror on his person. Let a man so much as scrape his finger pushing a truck in the pickle- rooms, and he might have a sore that would put him out of the world; all the joints in his fingers might be eaten by the acid, one by one. Of the butchers and floorsmen, the beef- boners and trimmers, and all those who used knives, you could scarcely find a person who had the use of his thumb; time and time again the base of it had been slashed, till it was a mere lump of flesh against which the man pressed the knife to hold it. The hands of these men would be criss-crossed with cuts until you could no longer pretend to count them or to trace them. They would have no nails,--they had worn them off pulling hides; their knuckles were swollen so that their fingers spread out like a fan.

16 There were the wool-pluckers, whose hands went to pieces even sooner than the hands of the pickle-men; for the pelts of the sheep had to be painted with acid to loosen the wool, and then the pluckers had to pull out this wool with their bare hands, till the acid had eaten their fingers off…. There were the “hoisters”…[who] at every few feet would have to stoop under a beam, say four feet above the one they ran on; which got them into the habit of stooping, so that in a few years they would be walking like chimpanzees. Worst of any, however, were the fertilizer-men, and those who served in the cooking-rooms. Twhese people could not be shown to the visitor,--for the odor of a fertilizer-man would scare any ordinary visitor at a hundred yards. [Some of the men] fell into the [open] vats; and when they were fished out, there was never enough of them left to be worth exhibiting,--sometimes they would be overlooked for days, till all but the bones of them had gone out into the world as Durham’s Pure Beef Lard!


18 Hitting the public in the stomach There was never the least attention paid to what was cut up for sausage; there would come all the way back from Europe old sausage that had been rejected, and that was mouldy and white—it would be dosed with borax and glycerine, and dumped into the hoppers, and made over again for home consumption. There would be meat that had tumbled out onto the floor, in the dirt and sawdust, where the workers had tramped and spit uncounted billions of consumption germs. There would be meat stored in great piles in rooms; and the water from leaky roofs would drip over it, and thousands of rats would race about on it. It was too dark in these storage places to see well, but a man could run his hand over these piles of meat and sweep off handfuls of the dried dung of rats. These rats were nuisances, and the packers would put poisoned bread out for them; they would die, and then rats, bread, and meat would go into the hoppers together.

19 This is no fairy story and no joke; the meat would be shovelled into carts, and the man who did the shovelling would not trouble to lift out a rat even when he saw one—there were things that went into the sausage in comparison with which a poisoned rat was a tidbit. There was no place for the men to wash their hands before they ate their dinner, and so they made a practice of washing them in the water that was to be ladled into the sausage. Upton Sinclair, The Jungle (NY: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2005), pp. 133-34 and 167.





24 Southern “Progressivism” Link with Populism Jim Crow Laws Segregation Disenfranchisement Poll Taxes Literacy Tests Outright Intimidation “Grandfather Clause” (Louisiana) James K. Vardaman, Governor of Mississippi (1902), later Senator and supporter of Woodrow Wilson Wilson segregates federal buildings in Washington, D.C. & screens The Birth of a Nation (D. W. Griffith, 1915)


26 Progressivism in the States & Cities Regions: South West, Northeast, Midwest Progressive States: e.g.: WI, NJ, CA, NY, OR Progressive Cities: e.g.: Toledo, Cleveland, Portland Progressive Leaders: Robert LaFollette (WI)

27 Reflections on Progressivism Who was a Progressive? What reforms were Progressive? Was Prohibition Progressive? Was Immigration Restriction Progressive? Was Eugenic Policy Progressive? Was Empire Progressive? Is there a contemporary parallel term for Progressive?

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