Discussion What sort of social problems can you identify in these images? Child labor, overcrowding, poverty,unsafe working conditions What do these images have in common? All of these images show the need for reform at the local, state, and national levels. Why might it be difficult for the people in the photographs to effect change on their own behalf? They had no political voice. Women could not vote, children could not vote or speak out, and the poor were marginalized or manipulated by those in power.
Background “Muckraker” journalists took varied approaches. Some journalists promoted progressive ideals in their writing. Investigative journalists examined various social conditions and political corruption, exposing the negatives they observed. Some muckrakers concentrated on exposing injustice within large corporations. Others uncovered government and social problems. Increased public awareness of these problems motivated reform movements.
Discussion How do you think business leaders, politicians, and tenement owners felt about muckrakers? They disliked the muckrakers for calling attention to the problems they had caused. Why do you think the muckrakers’ reporting style was so popular? People have always been interested in reading about crime, scandal, and corruption. Also, some were probably glad to see that their problems were finally being addressed.
Social Problems and Progressive Solutions Poverty In 1890 more than 90 percent of the nation’s 12 million families earned less than $1,200 per year. The average annual income was $380, which was below the poverty line. Many of those were working-class families. About 40 percent of those families lived on less than $400 a year, and most family members worked. The modern poverty line in the United States is $10,830 for a single person, while the average income is $50,000 per household. Labor Progressives pushed for child labor laws, minimum wages, and maximum working hours. Worker safety was another vital issue that resulted in new safety standards. Crime Many Progressives saw alcohol as a leading cause of crime and worked to prohibit its sale and use. Government Progressives developed two proposals in which experts ran city government—a commission plan and a council-manager system. Three reforms—the initiative, the referendum, and the recall—were the focuses of the progressives’ political agenda. To eliminate corruption in the U.S. Senate, progressives called for a direct election of senators by each state’s voters.
Background Women were at the forefront of the Prohibition movement, and the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) was the flagship organization of the cause. By 1911, the WCTU had more than 250,000 members. They, and other like-minded organizations, promoted prohibition with the eventual passage of the Eighteenth Amendment, which prohibited the manufacture, sale, or consumption of alcohol.
Discussion Which issue caused progressives to look to government to regulate social behavior? the sale and use of alcohol Why do you think progressives wanted to change the management of local governments? Cities were rife with corruption, disease, and poverty at that time. Many of the social issues that concerned progressives were directly tied to urban problems.
Background on Woman Suffrage NWSA The National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA), founded in 1869, wanted to focus on passing a constitutional amendment to secure women’s voting rights. The American Woman Suffrage Association wanted state governments to give women voting rights before trying to amend the Constitution. NAWSA The groups joined in 1890, forming the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). NWP Alice Paul wanted to directly confront President Wilson on suffrage. Some members of NAWSA were alarmed. Paul left NAWSA, forming the National Woman’s Party (NWP). Suffrage As more states granted women suffrage, Congress began favoring a constitutional amendment. After passage through the House and a year later by the Senate, the bill went to the states. On August 26, 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified.
Discussion What was the advantage of a state-by-state suffrage campaign? These women could hope to convince people a little at a time, gaining momentum as they went, rather than seeking a national consensus at a time they knew they did not have one. Additionally, they might hope to show the nation how responsible and effective woman voters could be, allaying fears that others might have.
Discussion What trends do you notice about the map? The West and the Midwest were very supportive of woman suffrage. The East Coast and the South opposed suffrage.
Discussion What reason can you offer for the trends you notice on the map? Eastern and Southern states tended to hold on to long-standing traditional beliefs that had been passed down through generations. People who moved west had an unconventional streak about them. Women on the frontier were given more of the day-to-day responsibilities, thus earning a more prominent role in society. The West also had more women with land and property.
Predictable Misunderstanding You may confuse suffrage with “suffer,” and think that suffrage is pain felt by women. Actually, suffragemeans the right to vote. The word suffrage derives from the Latin word suffragium, meaning “vote."
Discussion What would a progressive muckraker try to reform today? The need to address issues such as privacy rights, limits on government, money in politics, strengthening civil liberties, and continued urban and rural poverty.