Chapter 31 ~ Progressivism and the Republican Roosevelt ~ 1901 – 1912
I. Progressive Roots
In the beginning of the 1900s, America had 76 million people, mostly in good condition. Then before
the first decade of the 20th century, the U.S. would be influenced by a “
fought against monopolies, corruption, inefficiency, and social injustice.
The purpose of the Progressives was to use the government as an agency of human welfare.
The Progressives had their roots in the
Greenback Labor Party
of the 1870s and 1880s and the
Populist (or People's) Party
of the 1890s.
Henry Demarest Lloyd
exposed the corruption of the monopoly of the Standard Oil Company
with his book
Wealth Against Commonwealth
criticized the new rich (those
who made money from the trusts) in
The Theory of the Leisure Class
Other exposers of the corruption of trusts, or “
,” as Theodore Roosevelt called them, were
Jacob A. Riis
, writer of
How the Other Half Lives
, a book about the New York slums and its
inhabitants, and novelist
, who wrote
Socialists and feminists gained strength, and with people like
entered the Progressive fight.
II. Raking Muck with the Muckrakers
Beginning about 1902, a group of aggressive ten and fifteen-cent popular magazines, such as
, began flinging the dirt about the trusts.
Despite criticism, reformer-writers ranged far and wide to lay bare the muck on the back of American
launched a series of articles in
The Shame of the
,” in which he unmasked the corrupt alliance between big business and the government.
Ida M. Tarbell
launched a devastating exposé against Standard Oil and its ruthlessness.
These writers exposed the mean trust, the “money trust,” the railroad barons, and the corrupt amassing
of American fortunes, this last part done by Thomas W. Lawson.
David G. Phillips charged that 75 of the 90 U.S. Senators did not represent the people, but actually the
railroads and trusts.
Ray Stannard Baker
Following the Color Line
was about the illiteracy of Blacks.
The Bitter Cry of the Children
exposed child labor.
Dr. Harvey W. Wiley exposed the frauds that sold potent patent medicines by experimenting on himself.
The muckrakers sincerely believed that cures for the ills of American democracy, was more democracy.
III. Political Progressivism
Progressives were mostly middle-class citizens who felt squeezed by both the big trusts above and the
restless immigrant hordes working for cheap labor that came from below.