Progressive Era 1900 -1920 Origins ●Populist Movementof the 1880s and 1890 ●Growth of large industries (Trusts) and their influence on government policy ●Unfair labor policies ●Rapid Industrialization and Urbanization and problems of urban poor Core beliefs ●Challenged the status quoand believed that corruption & inefficiencyhad infected most of society (political, economic, and social). ●Progressives believed that their opponents were either ignorant or if not, then corrupt. ●Wanted to reform most aspects of society at all levels(local, state and national) ●Believed that most of society’s problems could be solved using a disinterested, scientific analysis of problems and creating solutions to solve those problems. Tactics ●Used the mass media especially newspapers and nationally read magazines(McClure's) to uncover issues formiddle-class Americans. ●The use of investigative journalism(going undercover) to expose societal problems. ●Use of photography (Riis) or photojournalism so people could see poor working conditions or the slums people were living in. ●Looked to pass state laws (Initiative, Referendum) that would enable more democratic reforms often going around the state assemblies. ●Recalling unpopular or corrupt politicians. ●Passage of Amendments (16, 17, 18 & 19) Terms Muckrakers– was a pejorative term coined by Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 used to describe journalists or writers that attacked the status quo and looked to expose corruption or inefficiency in American institutions. The Progressive Movement and Political Reform ●Lincoln Steffens, “Shame of the Cities” exposed widespread corruption of big city political machinesat the turn of the century. ●Blamed politicians and big business but placed the lion’s share of blame on the voting electorate for apathy and a failure to do its job. ●Robert LaFollette, a Wisconsin politician will look to address many of the issues to address more government regulations on business as well as providing democratic voting reforms such as recall and referendum (Wisconsin Idea). ●As a result of Steffens and others many Americans enacted local political reform with most states adopting some of these reforms:
A) Initiative– a way to get laws passed circumventing state legislatures. Initiative allowed people to put laws directly on the ballot that would be decided by the state legislature. Initiative forced politicians to take a stand on political issues that they had avoided for years. B) Referendum- a direct vote on a single issue is sometimes called plebiscite, ballot measure or proposition. A good example of direct democracy. C) Recall Elections – allowed voters recall elected officials before their terms expired if they were unhappy with their performance. Did not need illegal behavior (impeachment) to recall.