250Brief 4 - Dr Welch Political Thought in America...

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Dr. Welch Political Thought in America 5/4/2007 Important Ideas in American Thought 1865-Present Following the evolving American thought, America had righted itself as a true industrial nation worthy of international attention and worthy of respect. However, it still wasn’t ‘perfect.’ Many things had changed the face of America. The Industrial Revolution, wars, party politics, and intra-fighting led to many new issues to arise within its shores. The Industrial Revolution created new classes, and brought about more strife between those classes. William Graham Sumner pioneered the idea of Social Darwinism, “the belief that nature ordained the ‘survival of the fittest.’” He believed that those who made it in America deserved to make it. And that those that were screwed by the system, deserved to be. It was nature at its finest in Sumner’s mind. Andrew Carnegie took a more moderate approach. He believed that those who had become wealthy, had a sort of obligation to the lower people. “The problem of our age is the proper administration of wealth, so that the ties of brotherhood may still bind together the rich and poor in harmonious relationship.” He believed those who had become rich should help the lower man by giving to “charities and civic and educational institutions” instead of giving them money directly. The Populist party rose in defiance of these newly wealthy, the new businessmen who would trample all over the working class and put them through hard labor for little pay. They firmly believed that “Corruption dominates the ballot-box, the Legislatures,
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and the Congress, and touches even the ermine of the bench.” No party was truly looking out for the little guy, so the little guy stepped up himself. William Jennings Bryan also eloquently voiced his concerns. In his famous Cross of Gold speech, he rallied for the working man. He used biblical allegory and appealing prose to get the attention of those listening. “You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns, you will not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold” he said. Using the debate over a gold standard, he used this issue to raise concerns for the little guy. Following the line of intellectual evolution that the individualists had done, so too did politicians evolve their platforms. Some became “progressives.’ Being of the theoretical approach to solving problems, progressives looked to make the world a better place. Theodore Roosevelt claimed that “each one of you carries on your shoulders not
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250Brief 4 - Dr Welch Political Thought in America...

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