Progressive Era
Overview
The Progressive Era in the United States was a period of social activism and political reform that flourished from the 1890s to the 1920s. One main goal of the Progressive movement was purification of government, as Progressives tried to eliminate corruption by exposing and undercutting political machine
Political machine
A political machine is a political organization in which an authoritative boss or small group commands the support of a corps of supporters and businesses , who receive rewards for their efforts...

s and bosses. Many (but not all) Progressives supported prohibition
Prohibition in the United States
Prohibition in the United States was a national ban on the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol, in place from 1920 to 1933. The ban was mandated by the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution, and the Volstead Act set down the rules for enforcing the ban, as well as defining which...

 in order to destroy the political power of local bosses based in saloon
Bar (establishment)
A bar is a business establishment that serves alcoholic drinks — beer, wine, liquor, and cocktails — for consumption on the premises.Bars provide stools or chairs that are placed at tables or counters for their patrons. Some bars have entertainment on a stage, such as a live band, comedians, go-go...

s.
Encyclopedia
The Progressive Era in the United States was a period of social activism and political reform that flourished from the 1890s to the 1920s. One main goal of the Progressive movement was purification of government, as Progressives tried to eliminate corruption by exposing and undercutting political machine
Political machine
A political machine is a political organization in which an authoritative boss or small group commands the support of a corps of supporters and businesses , who receive rewards for their efforts...

s and bosses. Many (but not all) Progressives supported prohibition
Prohibition in the United States
Prohibition in the United States was a national ban on the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol, in place from 1920 to 1933. The ban was mandated by the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution, and the Volstead Act set down the rules for enforcing the ban, as well as defining which...

 in order to destroy the political power of local bosses based in saloon
Bar (establishment)
A bar is a business establishment that serves alcoholic drinks — beer, wine, liquor, and cocktails — for consumption on the premises.Bars provide stools or chairs that are placed at tables or counters for their patrons. Some bars have entertainment on a stage, such as a live band, comedians, go-go...

s. At the same time, women's suffrage was promoted to bring a "purer" female vote into the arena. A second theme was achieving efficiency
Efficiency Movement
The Efficiency Movement was a major movement in the United States, Britain and other industrial nations in the early 20th century that sought to identify and eliminate waste in all areas of the economy and society, and to develop and implement best practices. The concept covered mechanical,...

 in every sector by identifying old ways that needed modernizing, and emphasizing scientific, medical and engineering solutions.

Many people led efforts to reform local government, education, medicine, finance, insurance, industry, railroads, churches, and many other areas. Progressives transformed, professionalized and made "scientific" the social sciences, especially history, economics, and political science. In academic fields the day of the amateur author gave way to the research professor who published in the new scholarly journals and presses. The national political leaders included Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States . He is noted for his exuberant personality, range of interests and achievements, and his leadership of the Progressive Movement, as well as his "cowboy" persona and robust masculinity...

, Robert M. La Follette, Sr.
Robert M. La Follette, Sr.
Robert Marion "Fighting Bob" La Follette, Sr. , was an American Republican politician. He served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, was the Governor of Wisconsin, and was also a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin...

, Charles Evans Hughes
Charles Evans Hughes
Charles Evans Hughes, Sr. was an American statesman, lawyer and Republican politician from New York. He served as the 36th Governor of New York , Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States , United States Secretary of State , a judge on the Court of International Justice , and...

 and Herbert Hoover
Herbert Hoover
Herbert Clark Hoover was the 31st President of the United States . Hoover was originally a professional mining engineer and author. As the United States Secretary of Commerce in the 1920s under Presidents Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge, he promoted partnerships between government and business...

 on the Republican side, and William Jennings Bryan
William Jennings Bryan
William Jennings Bryan was an American politician in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. He was a dominant force in the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, standing three times as its candidate for President of the United States...

, Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913...

 and Al Smith
Al Smith
Alfred Emanuel Smith. , known in private and public life as Al Smith, was an American statesman who was elected the 42nd Governor of New York three times, and was the Democratic U.S. presidential candidate in 1928...

 on the Democratic side.

Initially the movement operated chiefly at local levels; later it expanded to state and national levels. Progressives drew support from the middle class, and supporters included many lawyers, teachers, physicians, ministers and business people. The Progressives strongly supported scientific method
Scientific method
Scientific method refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of...

s as applied to economics, government, industry, finance, medicine, schooling, theology, education, and even the family. They closely followed advances underway at the time in Western Europe and adopted numerous policies, such as the banking laws which became the Federal Reserve System
Federal Reserve System
The Federal Reserve System is the central banking system of the United States. It was created on December 23, 1913 with the enactment of the Federal Reserve Act, largely in response to a series of financial panics, particularly a severe panic in 1907...

 in 1914. They felt that old-fashioned ways meant waste and inefficiency, and eagerly sought out the "one best system".

Political reform

Disturbed by the inefficiencies and injustices of the Gilded Age
Gilded Age
In United States history, the Gilded Age refers to the era of rapid economic and population growth in the United States during the post–Civil War and post-Reconstruction eras of the late 19th century. The term "Gilded Age" was coined by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner in their book The Gilded...

, the progressives were committed to changing and reforming the country. Significant changes enacted at the national levels included the imposition of an income tax
Income tax
An income tax is a tax levied on the income of individuals or businesses . Various income tax systems exist, with varying degrees of tax incidence. Income taxation can be progressive, proportional, or regressive. When the tax is levied on the income of companies, it is often called a corporate...

 with the Sixteenth Amendment
Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution allows the Congress to levy an income tax without apportioning it among the states or basing it on Census results...

, direct election of Senators with the Seventeenth Amendment
Seventeenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Seventeenth Amendment to the United States Constitution established direct election of United States Senators by popular vote. The amendment supersedes Article I, § 3, Clauses 1 and 2 of the Constitution, under which senators were elected by state legislatures...

, Prohibition
Prohibition
Prohibition of alcohol, often referred to simply as prohibition, is the practice of prohibiting the manufacture, transportation, import, export, sale, and consumption of alcohol and alcoholic beverages. The term can also apply to the periods in the histories of the countries during which the...

 with the Eighteenth Amendment
Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Eighteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution established Prohibition in the United States. The separate Volstead Act set down methods of enforcing the Eighteenth Amendment, and defined which "intoxicating liquors" were prohibited, and which were excluded from prohibition...

, and women's suffrage
Women's suffrage
Women's suffrage or woman suffrage is the right of women to vote and to run for office. The expression is also used for the economic and political reform movement aimed at extending these rights to women and without any restrictions or qualifications such as property ownership, payment of tax, or...

 through the Nineteenth Amendment
Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits any United States citizen to be denied the right to vote based on sex. It was ratified on August 18, 1920....

 to the U.S. Constitution.

Exposing corruption

Muckraker
Muckraker
The term muckraker is closely associated with reform-oriented journalists who wrote largely for popular magazines, continued a tradition of investigative journalism reporting, and emerged in the United States after 1900 and continued to be influential until World War I, when through a combination...

s were journalists who exposed waste, corruption, and scandal in the highly influential new medium of national magazines, such as McClure's
McClure's
McClure's or McClure's Magazine was an American illustrated monthly periodical popular at the turn of the 20th century. The magazine is credited with creating muckraking journalism. Ida Tarbell's series in 1902 exposing the monopoly abuses of John D...

 Magazine. Ray Stannard Baker
Ray Stannard Baker
Ray Stannard Baker , also known by his pen name David Grayson, was an American journalist and author born in Lansing, Michigan...

, George Creel
George Creel
George Creel was an investigative journalist, a politician, and, most famously, the head of the United States Committee on Public Information, a propaganda organization created by President Woodrow Wilson during World War I. He said of himself that "an open mind is not part of my inheritance...

 and Brand Whitlock
Brand Whitlock
Brand Whitlock , an American municipal reformer, diplomat, journalist, and author. Born Joseph Brand Whitlock at Urbana, Ohio, son of the Rev. Elias and Mollie Lavinia Whitlock, he was educated in the public schools and by private tutors. He also studied law under Senator J. M...

 were active at the state and local level, while Lincoln Steffens
Lincoln Steffens
-Biography:Steffens was born April 6, 1866, in San Francisco. He grew up in a wealthy family and attended a military academy. He studied in France and Germany after graduating from the University of California....

 exposed political corruption in many large cities; Ida Tarbell went after Rockefeller's Standard Oil Company. Samuel Hopkins Adams
Samuel Hopkins Adams
Samuel Hopkins Adams was an American writer, best known for his investigative journalism.-Biography:Adams was born in Dunkirk, New York...

 in 1905 showed the fraud involved in many patent medicines, Upton Sinclair's The Jungle
The Jungle
The Jungle is a 1906 novel written by journalist Upton Sinclair. Sinclair wrote the novel with the intention of portraying the life of the immigrant in the United States, but readers were more concerned with the large portion of the book pertaining to the corruption of the American meatpacking...

 (1906) was a novel that gave a horrid portrayal of how meat was packed, and David Graham Phillips
David Graham Phillips
David Graham Phillips was an American journalist of the muckraker tradition and novelist.-Early life and career:Phillips was born in Madison, Indiana...

 unleashed a blistering indictment of the U.S. Senate in 1906. Roosevelt gave these journalists their nickname when he complained they were not being helpful by raking up all the muck.

Modernization

The progressives were avid modernizers. They believed in science, technology, expertise—and especially education—as the grand solution to society's weaknesses. Characteristics of progressivism included a favorable attitude toward urban-industrial society, belief in mankind's ability to improve the environment and conditions of life, belief in obligation to intervene in economic and social affairs, and a belief in the ability of experts and in efficiency of government intervention.

Democracy

Progressives sought to enable the citizenry to rule more directly and circumvent political bosses. Thanks to the efforts of Oregon Populist Party
Populist Party (United States)
The People's Party, also known as the "Populists", was a short-lived political party in the United States established in 1891. It was most important in 1892-96, then rapidly faded away...

 State Representative William S. U'Ren and his Direct Legislation League
Direct Legislation League
The Oregon Direct Legislation League was an organization of political activists founded by William S. U'Ren in the U.S. state of Oregon in 1898. U'Ren had been politically activated by reading the influential 1893 book Direct Legislation Through the Initiative and Referendum, and the group's...

, voters in Oregon overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure in 1902 that created the initiative
Initiative
In political science, an initiative is a means by which a petition signed by a certain minimum number of registered voters can force a public vote...

 and referendum
Referendum
A referendum is a direct vote in which an entire electorate is asked to either accept or reject a particular proposal. This may result in the adoption of a new constitution, a constitutional amendment, a law, the recall of an elected official or simply a specific government policy. It is a form of...

 processes for citizens to directly introduce or approve proposed laws or amendments to the state constitution, making Oregon the first state to adopt such a system. U'Ren also helped in the passage of an amendment in 1908 that gave voters power to recall
Recall election
A recall election is a procedure by which voters can remove an elected official from office through a direct vote before his or her term has ended...

 elected officials, and would go on to establish, at the state level, popular election of U.S. Senators
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 and the first presidential primary in the United States. In 1911, California governor Hiram Johnson
Hiram Johnson
Hiram Warren Johnson was a leading American progressive and later isolationist politician from California; he served as the 23rd Governor from 1911 to 1917, and as a United States Senator from 1917 to 1945.-Early life:...

 established the Oregon System of "Initiative, Referendum, and Recall" in his state, viewing them as good influences for citizen participation against the historic influence of large corporations on state assembly including job reform. These Progressive reforms were soon replicated in other states, including Idaho
Idaho
Idaho is a state in the Rocky Mountain area of the United States. The state's largest city and capital is Boise. Residents are called "Idahoans". Idaho was admitted to the Union on July 3, 1890, as the 43rd state....

, Washington, and Wisconsin
Wisconsin
Wisconsin is a U.S. state located in the north-central United States and is part of the Midwest. It is bordered by Minnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Michigan to the northeast, and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsin's capital is...

, and today roughly half of U.S. states have these reforms.

About 16 states began using primary election
Primary election
A primary election is an election in which party members or voters select candidates for a subsequent election. Primary elections are one means by which a political party nominates candidates for the next general election....

s to reduce the power of bosses and machines. The Seventeenth Amendment was ratified in 1913, requiring that all senators be elected by the people (instead of the state legislature). The main motivation was to reduce the power of political bosses, who controlled the Senate seats by virtue of their control of the state legislature. The result, according to political scientist [Henry Ford Jones, was that the United States Senate had become a "Diet of party lords, wielding their power without scruple or restraint, in behalf of those particular interests" that put them in office.

Municipal reform

Many cities set up municipal reference bureaus to study the budgets and administrative structures of local governments. Progressive mayors were important in many cities, such as Cleveland, Ohio (especially Mayor Tom Johnson); Toledo, Ohio; Jersey City, New Jersey; Los Angeles; Memphis, Tennessee; Louisville, Kentucky; and many other cities, especially in the western states. In Illinois
History of Illinois
The history of Illinois may be defined by several broad historical periods, namely, the pre-Columbian period, the Era of European Exploration and Colonization, its development as part of the American frontier, and finally, its growth into one of the most populous and economically powerful states of...

, Governor Frank Lowden undertook a major reorganization of state government. In Wisconsin, the stronghold of Robert LaFollette, the Wisconsin Idea
Wisconsin Idea
The Wisconsin Idea is the political philosophy developed in the American state of Wisconsin that fosters public universities' contributions to the state: "to the government in the forms of serving in office, offering advice about public policy, providing information and exercising technical skill,...

, used the state university as the source of ideas and expertise.

Family and food

Progressives believed that the family was the foundation stone of American society, and the government, especially municipal government, must work to strengthen and enhance the family. Local public assistance programs were reformed to try and keep families together. Inspired by crusading Judge Ben Lindsey of Denver, cities established juvenile courts to deal with disruptive teenagers without sending them to adult prisons. Special emphasis was put on pure milk and water supplies. At the state and national levels new food and drug laws strengthened local efforts to guarantee the safety of the food system. The 1906 federal Pure Food and Drug Act
Pure Food and Drug Act
The Pure Food and Drug Act of June 30, 1906, is a United States federal law that provided federal inspection of meat products and forbade the manufacture, sale, or transportation of adulterated food products and poisonous patent medicines...

, which was pushed by drug companies and providers of medical services, removed from the market patent medicines that had never been scientifically tested. In addition, with the increase in technology use and creation of standard working hours, families had more leisure time. Many spent this leisure time at movie theaters. Progressives advocated for censorship of motion pictures as it was believed that patrons (especially children) viewing movies in dark, unclean, potentially unsafe theaters, might be negatively influenced in witnessing actors portraying crimes, violence, and sexually suggestive situations. Progressives across the country influenced municipal governments of large urban cities, to build numerous parks where it was believed that leisure time for children and families could be spent in a healthy, wholesome environment, thereby fostering good morals and citizenship.

The Sheppard–Towner Act
Sheppard–Towner Act
The Sheppard–Towner Maternity and Infancy Protection Act of 1921 was a U.S. Act of Congress providing federal funding for maternity and child care. It was sponsored by Senator Morris Sheppard of Texas and Representative Horace Mann Towner of Iowa, and signed by President Warren G...

 of 1921 provided federal funding for maternity and child care, especially federally-financed instruction in maternal and infant health care. It provided 50–50 matching funds to individual states to build women’s health care clinics.

Eugenics

Some progressives, especially among economists, sponsored eugenics
Eugenics
Eugenics is the "applied science or the bio-social movement which advocates the use of practices aimed at improving the genetic composition of a population", usually referring to human populations. The origins of the concept of eugenics began with certain interpretations of Mendelian inheritance,...

 as a collectivist solution to excessively large or underperforming families, hoping that birth control would enable parents to focus their resources on fewer, better children. However, most Progressives insisted on individual solutions, and there were no major national, state or local programs along eugenics lines. Progressive leaders like Herbert Croly and Walter Lippmann indicated their classically liberal concern over the danger posed to the individual by collectivism and statism. The Catholics, although favoring collectivism, strongly opposed eugenics proposals such as birth control.

Constitutional change

The Progressives tried to permanently fix their reforms into law by constitutional amendments, included Prohibition
Prohibition
Prohibition of alcohol, often referred to simply as prohibition, is the practice of prohibiting the manufacture, transportation, import, export, sale, and consumption of alcohol and alcoholic beverages. The term can also apply to the periods in the histories of the countries during which the...

 with the 18th Amendment and women's suffrage
Women's suffrage
Women's suffrage or woman suffrage is the right of women to vote and to run for office. The expression is also used for the economic and political reform movement aimed at extending these rights to women and without any restrictions or qualifications such as property ownership, payment of tax, or...

 by the 19th amendment, both in 1920 as well as the federal income tax with the 16th amendment and direct election of senators with the 17th amendment. After Progressivism collapsed, the 18th amendment was repealed (in 1933).

Prohibition

Prohibition was the outlawing of the manufacture, sale and transport of alcohol. Drinking itself was never prohibited. Throughout the Progressive Era, it remained one of the main causes at the local, state and national level. It achieved national success with the passage of the 18th Amendment by Congress in late 1917, and the ratification by three-fourths of the states in 1919. Prohibition was essentially a religious movement backed by the Methodists, Baptists, Congregationalists, Scandinavian Lutherans and other evangelical churches. Activists were mobilized by the highly effective Anti-Saloon League
Anti-Saloon League
The Anti-Saloon League was the leading organization lobbying for prohibition in the United States in the early 20th century. It was a key component of the Progressive Era, and was strongest in the South and rural North, drawing heavy support from pietistic Protestant ministers and their...

. Timberlake (1963) argues the dries sought to break the liquor trust, weaken the saloon base of big-city machines, enhance industrial efficiency, and reduce the level of wife beating, child abuse, and poverty caused by alcoholism.

Agitation for prohibition began during the Second Great Awakening
Second Great Awakening
The Second Great Awakening was a Christian revival movement during the early 19th century in the United States. The movement began around 1800, had begun to gain momentum by 1820, and was in decline by 1870. The Second Great Awakening expressed Arminian theology, by which every person could be...

 in the 1840s when Crusades against drinking originated from evangelical Protestants. Evangelicals precipitated the second wave of prohibition legislation during the 1880s, which had as its aim local and state prohibition. During the 1880s, referendums were held at the state level to enact prohibition amendments. Two important groups were formed during this period. The Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) was formed in 1874. The Anti-Saloon League was formed in 1893, uniting activists from different religious groups.

The third wave of prohibition legislation, of which national prohibition was the grand climax, began in 1907, when Georgia passed a state-wide prohibition law. By 1917, two thirds of the states had some form of prohibition laws and roughly three quarters of the population lived in dry areas. In 1913, the Anti-Saloon League first publicly appealed for a prohibition amendment. They preferred a constitutional amendment over a federal statute because although harder to achieve, they felt it would be harder to change. In 1913, Congress passed the Webb-Kenyon Act forbade the transport of liquor into dry states. As the United States entered World War I, the Conscription Act banned the sale of liquor near military bases. In August 1917, the Lever Food and Fuel Control Act
Food and Fuel Control Act
The Food and Fuel Control Act, , also called the Lever Act or the Lever Food Act was a World War I era US law that among other things created the United States Food Administration and the Federal Fuel Administration.-Legislative history:...

 banned production of distilled spirits for the duration of the war. The War Prohibition Act, November, 1918, forbade the manufacture and sale of intoxicating beverages (more than 2.75% alcohol content) until the end of demobilization.

The drys worked energetically to secure two-third majority of both houses of Congress and the support of three quarters of the states needed for an amendment to the federal constitution. Thirty-six states were needed, and organizations were set up at all 48 states to seek ratification. In late 1917, Congress passed the Eighteenth Amendment; it was ratified in 1919 and took effect in January 1920. It prohibited the manufacturing, sale or transport of intoxicating beverages within the United States, as well as import and export. The Volstead Act, 1919, defined intoxicating as having alcohol content greater than 0.5% and established the procedures for enforcement of the Act.

Consumer demand, however, led to a variety of illegal sources for alcohol, especially illegal distilleries and smuggling from Canada and other countries. It is difficult to determine the level of compliance, and although the media at the time portrayed the law as highly ineffective, even if it did not eradicate the use of alcohol, it certainly decreased alcohol consumption during the period.

The Eighteenth Amendment was repealed in 1930, with the passage of the Twenty-First Amendment, thanks to a well organized repeal campaign led by Catholics (who stressed personal liberty) and businessmen (who stressed the lost tax revenue).

Education

The Progressives worked hard to reform and modernize the schools at the local level. The era was notable for a dramatic expansion in the number of schools and students served, especially in the fast-growing metropolitan cities. After 1910 that smaller cities began building high schools. By 1940, 50% of young adults had earned a high school diploma. The result was the rapid growth of the educated middle class, who typically were the grass roots supporters of progressive measures. During the Progressive Era, many states began passing compulsory schooling laws An emphasis on hygiene
School hygiene
School hygiene or school hygiene education is a healthcare science, a form of the wider school health education. School hygiene is a study of school environment influence it explores influence of schooling to mental and physical health of students....

 and health was made in education, with physical
Physical education
Physical education or gymnastics is a course taken during primary and secondary education that encourages psychomotor learning in a play or movement exploration setting....

 and health education
School health education
School Health Education see also: Health Promotion is the process of transferring health knowledge during a student's school years...

 becoming more important and widespread.

Medicine and law

The "Flexner Report" of 1910, sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation, professionalized American medicine by discarding the scores of local small medical schools and focusing national funds, resources, and prestige on larger, professionalized medical schools associated with universities. Prominent leaders included the Mayo Brothers
William James Mayo
William James Mayo, M.D. was a physician in the United States and one of the seven founders of the Mayo Clinic. He and his brother, Charles Horace Mayo, both joined their father's private medical practice in Rochester, Minnesota, USA, after graduating from medical school in the 1880s...

 whose Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit medical practice and medical research group specializing in treating difficult patients . Patients are referred to Mayo Clinic from across the U.S. and the world, and it is known for innovative and effective treatments. Mayo Clinic is known for being at the top of...

 in Rochester, Minnesota, became world famous for innovative surgery.

In the legal profession, the American Bar Association set up in 1900 the Association of American Law Schools (AALS). It established national standards for law schools, which led to the replacement of the old system of young men studying law privately with established lawyers by the new system of accredited law schools associated with universities.

Social sciences

Progressive scholars, based at the emerging research universities such as Harvard, Columbia, Johns Hopkins, Chicago, Michigan, Wisconsin and California, worked to modernize their disciplines. The heyday of the amateur expert gave way to the research professor who published in the new scholarly journals and presses. Their explicit goal was to professionalize and make "scientific" the social sciences, especially as history, economics, and political science. Professionalization meant creating new career tracks in the universities, with hiring and promotion dependent on meeting international models of scholarship.

Economic policy

The Progressive Era was one of general prosperity after the Panic of 1893
Panic of 1893
The Panic of 1893 was a serious economic depression in the United States that began in 1893. Similar to the Panic of 1873, this panic was marked by the collapse of railroad overbuilding and shaky railroad financing which set off a series of bank failures...

—a severe depression—ended in 1897. The Panic of 1907
Panic of 1907
The Panic of 1907, also known as the 1907 Bankers' Panic, was a financial crisis that occurred in the United States when the New York Stock Exchange fell almost 50% from its peak the previous year. Panic occurred, as this was during a time of economic recession, and there were numerous runs on...

 was short and mostly affected financiers. However, Campbell (2005) stresses the weak points of the economy in 1907–1914, linking them to public demands for more Progressive interventions. The Panic of 1907 was followed by a small decline in real wages and increased unemployment, with both trends continuing until World War I. Campbell emphasizes the resulting stress on public finance and the impact on the Wilson administration's policies. The weakened economy and persistent federal deficits led to changes in fiscal policy, including the imposition of federal income taxes on businesses and individuals and the creation of the Federal Reserve System. Government agencies were also transformed in an effort to improve administrative efficiency.

In the Gilded Age
Gilded Age
In United States history, the Gilded Age refers to the era of rapid economic and population growth in the United States during the post–Civil War and post-Reconstruction eras of the late 19th century. The term "Gilded Age" was coined by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner in their book The Gilded...

 (late 19th century) the parties were reluctant to involve the federal government too heavily in the private sector, except in the area of railroads and tariffs. In general, they accepted the concept of laissez-faire
Laissez-faire
In economics, laissez-faire describes an environment in which transactions between private parties are free from state intervention, including restrictive regulations, taxes, tariffs and enforced monopolies....

, a doctrine opposing government interference in the economy except to maintain law and order. This attitude started to change during the depression of the 1890s
Panic of 1893
The Panic of 1893 was a serious economic depression in the United States that began in 1893. Similar to the Panic of 1873, this panic was marked by the collapse of railroad overbuilding and shaky railroad financing which set off a series of bank failures...

 when small business, farm, and labor movements began asking the government to intercede on their behalf.

By the turn of the century, a middle class had developed that was leery of both the business elite and the radical political movements of farmers and laborers in the Midwest and West. The progressives argued the need for government regulation of business practices to ensure competition and free enterprise. Congress enacted a law regulating railroads in 1887 (the Interstate Commerce Act), and one preventing large firms from controlling a single industry in 1890 (the Sherman Antitrust Act
Sherman Antitrust Act
The Sherman Antitrust Act requires the United States federal government to investigate and pursue trusts, companies, and organizations suspected of violating the Act. It was the first Federal statute to limit cartels and monopolies, and today still forms the basis for most antitrust litigation by...

). These laws were not rigorously enforced, however, until the years between 1900 and 1920, when Republican President Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States . He is noted for his exuberant personality, range of interests and achievements, and his leadership of the Progressive Movement, as well as his "cowboy" persona and robust masculinity...

 (1901–1909), Democratic President Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913...

 (1913–1921), and others sympathetic to the views of the Progressives came to power. Many of today's U.S. regulatory agencies were created during these years, including the Interstate Commerce Commission
Interstate Commerce Commission
The Interstate Commerce Commission was a regulatory body in the United States created by the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887. The agency's original purpose was to regulate railroads to ensure fair rates, to eliminate rate discrimination, and to regulate other aspects of common carriers, including...

 and the Federal Trade Commission
Federal Trade Commission
The Federal Trade Commission is an independent agency of the United States government, established in 1914 by the Federal Trade Commission Act...

. Muckrakers were journalists who encouraged readers to demand more regulation of business. Upton Sinclair
Upton Sinclair
Upton Beall Sinclair Jr. , was an American author who wrote close to one hundred books in many genres. He achieved popularity in the first half of the twentieth century, acquiring particular fame for his classic muckraking novel, The Jungle . It exposed conditions in the U.S...

's The Jungle
The Jungle
The Jungle is a 1906 novel written by journalist Upton Sinclair. Sinclair wrote the novel with the intention of portraying the life of the immigrant in the United States, but readers were more concerned with the large portion of the book pertaining to the corruption of the American meatpacking...

 (1906) was influential and persuaded America about the supposed horrors of the Chicago Union Stock Yards
Union Stock Yards
The Union Stock Yard & Transit Co., or The Yards, was the meat packing district in Chicago for over a century starting in 1865. The district was operated by a group of railroad companies that acquired swampland, and turned it to a centralized processing area...

 (though Sinclair himself never visited the site), a giant complex of meat processing that developed in the 1870s. The federal government responded to Sinclair's book and The Neill-Reynolds Report with the new regulatory Food and Drug Administration
Food and Drug Administration
The Food and Drug Administration is an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, one of the United States federal executive departments...

. Ida M. Tarbell
Ida M. Tarbell
Ida Minerva Tarbell was an American teacher, author and journalist. She was known as one of the leading "muckrakers" of the progressive era, work known in modern times as "investigative journalism". She wrote many notable magazine series and biographies...

 wrote a series of articles against Standard Oil
Standard Oil
Standard Oil was a predominant American integrated oil producing, transporting, refining, and marketing company. Established in 1870 as a corporation in Ohio, it was the largest oil refiner in the world and operated as a major company trust and was one of the world's first and largest multinational...

, which was perceived to be a monopoly. This affected both the government and the public reformers. Attacks by Tarbell and others helped pave the way for public acceptance of the breakup of the company by the Supreme Court in 1911.

When Democrat Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913...

 was elected President with a Democratic Congress in 1912 he implemented a series of progressive policies in economics. In 1913, the Sixteenth Amendment
Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution allows the Congress to levy an income tax without apportioning it among the states or basing it on Census results...

 was ratified, and a small income tax
Income tax
An income tax is a tax levied on the income of individuals or businesses . Various income tax systems exist, with varying degrees of tax incidence. Income taxation can be progressive, proportional, or regressive. When the tax is levied on the income of companies, it is often called a corporate...

 was imposed on high incomes. The Democrats lowered tariffs with the Underwood Tariff
Revenue Act of 1913
The United States Revenue Act of 1913 also known as the Tariff Act, Underwood Tariff, Underwood Tariff Act, or Underwood-Simmons Act , re-imposed the federal income tax following the ratification of the Sixteenth Amendment and lowered basic tariff rates from 40% to 25%, well below the Payne-Aldrich...

 in 1913, though its effects were overwhelmed by the changes in trade cause by the World War that broke out in 1914. Wilson proved especially effective in mobilizing public opinion behind tariff changes by denouncing corporate lobbyists, addressing Congress in person in highly dramatic fashion, and staging an elaborate ceremony when he signed the bill into law. Wilson helped end the long battles over the trusts with the Clayton Antitrust Act
Clayton Antitrust Act
The Clayton Antitrust Act of 1914 , was enacted in the United States to add further substance to the U.S. antitrust law regime by seeking to prevent anticompetitive practices in their incipiency. That regime started with the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890, the first Federal law outlawing practices...

 of 1914. He managed to convince lawmakers on the issues of money and banking by the creation in 1913 of the Federal Reserve System
Federal Reserve System
The Federal Reserve System is the central banking system of the United States. It was created on December 23, 1913 with the enactment of the Federal Reserve Act, largely in response to a series of financial panics, particularly a severe panic in 1907...

, a complex business-government partnership that to this day dominates the financial world.

In 1913, Henry Ford
Henry Ford
Henry Ford was an American industrialist, the founder of the Ford Motor Company, and sponsor of the development of the assembly line technique of mass production. His introduction of the Model T automobile revolutionized transportation and American industry...

, adopted the moving assembly line, with each worker doing one simple task in the production of automobiles. Taking his cue from developments during the progressive era , Ford offered a very generous wage—$5 a day—to his (male) workers, arguing that a mass production
Mass production
Mass production is the production of large amounts of standardized products, including and especially on assembly lines...

 enterprise could not survive if average workers could not buy the goods.

Labor unions

Labor unions, especially the American Federation of Labor
American Federation of Labor
The American Federation of Labor was one of the first federations of labor unions in the United States. It was founded in 1886 by an alliance of craft unions disaffected from the Knights of Labor, a national labor association. Samuel Gompers was elected president of the Federation at its...

 (AFL) grew rapidly in the early 20th century, and had a progressive agenda as well. After experimenting in the early 20th century with cooperation with business in the National Civic Federation
National Civic Federation
The National Civic Federation, was a federation of American businesses and labor leaders founded in 1900. It favoured moderate progressive reform and sought to resolve disputes arising between industry and organized labor. It emerged first in 1893 as the Chicago Civic Federation , which was also...

, it turned after 1906 to a working political alliance with the Democratic party. The alliance was especially important in the larger industrial cities. The unions wanted restrictions on judges who intervened in labor disputes, usually on the side of the employer. They finally achieve that goal with the Norris-LaGuardia Act
Norris-LaGuardia Act
The Norris–La Guardia Act was a 1932 United States federal law that banned yellow-dog contracts, barred federal courts from issuing injunctions against nonviolent labor disputes, and created a positive right of noninterference by employers against workers joining trade unions...

 of 1932.

Immigration

The level of immigration grew steadily after 1896, with most new arrivals unskilled workers from eastern and southern Europe, who found jobs working in the steel mills, slaughterhouses and construction crews in the mill towns and industrial cities. The start of World War I in 1914 suddenly stopped most international movement, which only resumed after 1919. Starting in the 1880s, the labor unions aggressively promoted restrictions on immigration, especially restrictions on Chinese and other Asians. The basic fear was that large numbers of unskilled, low-paid workers would defeat the union's efforts to raise wages through collective bargaining. Other groups, such as the prohibitionists, opposed immigration because it was the base of strength of the saloon power, and the West generally. Rural Protestants distrusted the urban Catholics and Jews who comprised most of the immigrants after 1890. On the other hand, the rapid growth of the industry called for large numbers of new workers, so large corporations generally opposed immigration restriction. By the early 1920s the consensus had been reached and that the total influx of immigration had to be restricted, and a series of laws in the 1920s accomplish that purpose. A handful of eugenics advocates were also involved in immigration restriction. Immigration restriction continued to be a national policy until after World War II.0

During World War I, the progressives strongly promoted Americanization
Americanization (immigration)
Americanization is the process of an immigrant to the United States of America becoming a person who shares American values, beliefs and customs and is assimilated into American society...

 programs, designed to modernize the recent immigrants and turn them into model American citizens, with diminishing loyalties to the old country. These programs often operated through the public school system, which expanded dramatically.

Dating

In the 1940s typically historians saw the Progressive Era as a prelude to the New Deal
New Deal
The New Deal was a series of economic programs implemented in the United States between 1933 and 1936. They were passed by the U.S. Congress during the first term of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The programs were Roosevelt's responses to the Great Depression, and focused on what historians call...

 and dated it from 1901 (when Roosevelt became president) to the start of World War I in 1914 or 1917. Historians have moved back in time emphasizing the progressive reformers at the municipal and state levels in the 1890s.

End of the era?

Much less settled is the question of when the era ended. Historians on the left who emphasize civil liberties decry their suppression during World War I and do not consider the war progressive. Most historians, however, see the "war to end all wars" as a globalized expression of the American movement, with Wilson's fight for the League of Nations as the climax.

The politics of the 1920s was unfriendly toward the labor unions and liberal crusaders against business, so many if not most historians who emphasize those themes write off the decade. Urban cosmopolitan scholars recoiled at the moralism of prohibition and the intolerance of the nativists of the KKK, and denounced the era. Richard Hofstadter
Richard Hofstadter
Richard Hofstadter was an American public intellectual of the 1950s, a historian and DeWitt Clinton Professor of American History at Columbia University...

, for example, in 1955 wrote that prohibition, "was a pseudo-reform, a pinched, parochial substitute for reform" that "was carried about America by the rural-evangelical virus". However as Arthur S. Link
Arthur S. Link
Arthur S. Link was a leading American historian and a scholarly authority on Woodrow Wilson.-Biography:Born in New Market, Virginia, to a German Lutheran family, he graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he received a B.A. in 1941 and a Ph.D. in 1945...

 emphasized, the progressives did not simply roll over and play dead. Link's argument for continuity through the twenties stimulated a historiography that found Progressivism to be a potent force. Palmer, pointing to leaders like George Norris, says, "It is worth noting that progressivism, whilst temporarily losing the political initiative, remained popular in many western states and made its presence felt in Washington during both the Harding and Coolidge presidencies." Gerster and Cords argue that, "Since progressivism was a 'spirit' or an 'enthusiasm' rather than an easily definable force with common goals, it seems more accurate to argue that it produced a climate for reform which lasted well into the 1920s, if not beyond." Even the Klan has been seen in a new light, as numerous social historians reported that Klansmen were "ordinary white Protestants" primarily interested in purification of the system, which had long been a core progressive goal.

While some progressive leaders became reactionaries, that usually happened in the 1930s, not in the 1920s, as shown by William Randolph Hearst
William Randolph Hearst
William Randolph Hearst was an American business magnate and leading newspaper publisher. Hearst entered the publishing business in 1887, after taking control of The San Francisco Examiner from his father...

, Herbert Hoover
Herbert Hoover
Herbert Clark Hoover was the 31st President of the United States . Hoover was originally a professional mining engineer and author. As the United States Secretary of Commerce in the 1920s under Presidents Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge, he promoted partnerships between government and business...

, Al Smith
Al Smith
Alfred Emanuel Smith. , known in private and public life as Al Smith, was an American statesman who was elected the 42nd Governor of New York three times, and was the Democratic U.S. presidential candidate in 1928...

 and Henry Ford.

Business Progressivism in 1920s

What historians have identified as "business progressivism", with its emphasis on efficiency and typified by Henry Ford and Herbert Hoover
Herbert Hoover
Herbert Clark Hoover was the 31st President of the United States . Hoover was originally a professional mining engineer and author. As the United States Secretary of Commerce in the 1920s under Presidents Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge, he promoted partnerships between government and business...

 reached an apogee in the 1920s. Wik, for example, argues that Ford's "views on technology and the mechanization of rural America were generally enlightened, progressive, and often far ahead of his times."

Tindall stresses the continuing importance of the Progressive movement in the South in the 1920s involving increased democracy, efficient government, corporate regulation, social justice, and governmental public service. William Link finds political progressivism dominant in most of the South in the 1920s. Likewise it was influential in Midwest.

Historians of women and of youth emphasize the strength of the progressive impulse in the 1920s. Women consolidated their gains after the success of the suffrage movement, and moved into causes such as world peace, good government, maternal care (the Sheppard–Towner Act
Sheppard–Towner Act
The Sheppard–Towner Maternity and Infancy Protection Act of 1921 was a U.S. Act of Congress providing federal funding for maternity and child care. It was sponsored by Senator Morris Sheppard of Texas and Representative Horace Mann Towner of Iowa, and signed by President Warren G...

 of 1921), and local support for education and public health. The work was not nearly as dramatic as the suffrage crusade, but women voted and operated quietly and effectively. Paul Fass, speaking of youth, says "Progressivism as an angle of vision, as an optimistic approach to social problems, was very much alive." The international influences which had sparked a great many reform ideas likewise continued into the 1920s, as American ideas of modernity began to influence Europe.

There is general agreement that that the era was over by 1932, especially since a majority of the remaining progressives opposed the New Deal.

Overviews

  • Buenker, John D., John C. Burnham, and Robert M. Crunden. Progressivism (1986)
  • Buenker, John D. and Joseph Buenker, Eds. Encyclopedia of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. Sharpe Reference, 2005. xxxii + 1256 pp. in three volumes. ISBN 0-7656-8051-3. 900 articles by 200 scholars
  • Buenker, John D., ed. Dictionary of the Progressive Era (1980)
  • Cocks, Catherine, Peter C. Holloran and Alan Lessoff. Historical Dictionary of the Progressive Era (2009)
  • Diner, Steven J. A Very Different Age: Americans of the Progressive Era (1998)
  • Glad, Paul W. "Progressives and the Business Culture of the 1920s," Journal of American History, Vol. 53, No. 1. (June 1966), pp. 75–89. in JSTOR
  • Gould, Lewis L. America in the Progressive Era, 1890–1914" (2000)
  • Gould Lewis L. ed., The Progressive Era (1974)
  • Hays, Samuel D. The Response to Industrialization, 1885–1914 (1957),
  • Hofstadter, Richard
    Richard Hofstadter
    Richard Hofstadter was an American public intellectual of the 1950s, a historian and DeWitt Clinton Professor of American History at Columbia University...

    , The Age of Reform
    The Age of Reform
    The Age of Reform is a 1955 Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Richard Hofstadter. It is an American history that traces events from the Populist Movement of the 1890s through the Progressive Era ending with the New Deal in the 1930s...

     (1954), Pulitzer Prize
  • Jensen, Richard. "Democracy, Republicanism and Efficiency: The Values of American Politics, 1885–1930," in Byron Shafer and Anthony Badger, eds, Contesting Democracy: Substance and Structure in American Political History, 1775–2000 (U of Kansas Press, 2001) pp 149–180; online version
  • Kennedy, David M
    David M. Kennedy (historian)
    David M. Kennedy is an American Pulitzer Prize-winning historian specializing in American history. He is the Donald J. McLachlan Professor of History at Stanford University and the Director of the Bill Lane Center for the American West...

    . ed., Progressivism: The Critical Issues (1971), readings
  • Lasch, Christopher. The True and Only Heaven: Progress and its Critics (1991)
  • Leuchtenburg, William E.
    William Leuchtenburg
    William E. Leuchtenburg is William Rand Kenan Jr. professor emeritus of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill at Chapel Hill and a leading scholar of the life and career of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He is the author of more than a dozen books on 20th century history ,...

     "Progressivism and Imperialism: The Progressive Movement and American Foreign Policy, 1898–1916," The Mississippi Valley Historical Review, Vol. 39, No. 3. (Dec., 1952), pp. 483–504. JSTOR
  • Mann, Arthur. ed., The Progressive Era (1975)
  • McGerr, Michael. A Fierce Discontent: The Rise and Fall of the Progressive Movement in America, 1870–1920 (2003)
  • Mowry, George. The Era of Theodore Roosevelt and the Birth of Modern America, 1900–1912. (1954) general survey of era
  • Burl Noggle, "The Twenties: A New Historiographical Frontier," The Journal of American History, Vol. 53, No. 2. (Sep., 1966), pp. 299–314. in JSTOR
  • Pease, Otis, ed. The Progressive Years: The Spirit and Achievement of American Reform (1962), primary documents
  • Rodgers, Daniel T. Atlantic Crossings: Social Politics in a Progressive Age (2000). stresses links with Europe online edition
  • Thelen, David P. "Social Tensions and the Origins of Progressivism," Journal of American History 56 (1969), 323–341 online at JSTOR
  • Wiebe, Robert
    Robert Wiebe
    Robert Henry Wiebe was a municipal and provincial politician from Alberta, Canada. He served as a member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta from 1967 to 1971 sitting with the governing Social Credit caucus.-Political career:...

    . The Search For Order, 1877–1920 (1967).

Presidents and politics

  • Beale Howard K.
    Howard K. Beale
    Howard Kennedy Beale was an American historian. He specialized in nineteenth and twentieth-century American history, particularly the Reconstruction Era. He also wrote biographies of Theodore Roosevelt, Edward Bates, and Charles A. Beard. Beale was born in Chicago to Frank A. and Nellie Kennedy...

     Theodore Roosevelt and the Rise of America to World Power. (1956).
  • Blum, John Morton.
    John Morton Blum
    John Morton Blum was an American political historian, active from the 1950 to 1991. He lived in New Haven, Connecticut and died at the age of 90.-Life:...

     The Republican Roosevelt. (1954). Series of essays that examine how TR did politics
  • Brands, H.W. Theodore Roosevelt (2001).
  • Clements, Kendrick A. The Presidency of Woodrow Wilson (1992).
  • Coletta, Paolo. The Presidency of William Howard Taft (1990).
  • Cooper, John Milton The Warrior and the Priest: Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt. (1983).
  • Cooper, John Milton Woodrow Wilson: A Biography (2009)
  • Gould, Lewis L. The Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt (1991).
  • Harbaugh, William Henry. The Life and Times of Theodore Roosevelt. (1963).
  • Harrison, Robert. Congress, Progressive Reform, and the New American State (2004).
  • Hofstadter, Richard
    Richard Hofstadter
    Richard Hofstadter was an American public intellectual of the 1950s, a historian and DeWitt Clinton Professor of American History at Columbia University...

    . The American Political Tradition (1948), ch. 8–9–10.
  • Kolko, Gabriel
    Gabriel Kolko
    Gabriel Kolko is an American historian and author.Kolko was born in Paterson, New Jersey, attended Kent State University and the University of Wisconsin , married Joyce Manning in 1955, and received his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1962. Following graduation he taught at the University of Pennsylvania...

    . "The Triumph of Conservatism" (1963).
  • Link, Arthur Stanley
    Arthur S. Link
    Arthur S. Link was a leading American historian and a scholarly authority on Woodrow Wilson.-Biography:Born in New Market, Virginia, to a German Lutheran family, he graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he received a B.A. in 1941 and a Ph.D. in 1945...

    . Woodrow Wilson and the Progressive Era, 1910–1917 (1954).
  • Morris, Edmund Theodore Rex. (2001), biography of T. Roosevelt covers 1901–1909
  • Mowry, George E. Theodore Roosevelt and the Progressive Movement. (2001).
  • Pestritto, R.J. "Woodrow Wilson and the Roots of Modern Liberalism." (2005).
  • Sanders, Elizabeth. Roots of Reform: Farmers, Workers and the American State, 1877–1917 (1999).
  • Wilson, Joan Hoff. Herbert Hoover, Forgotten Progressive (1965).

State, local, ethnic, gender, business, labor, religion

  • Abell, Aaron I. American Catholicism and Social Action: A Search for Social Justice, 1865–1950 (1960).
  • Bruce, Kyle and Chris Nyland. "Scientific Management, Institutionalism, and Business Stabilization: 1903–1923" Journal of Economic Issues, Vol. 35, 2001. in JSTOR
  • Buenker, John D. Urban Liberalism and Progressive Reform (1973).
  • Buenker, John D. The History of Wisconsin, Vol. 4: The Progressive Era, 1893–1914 (1998).
  • Feffer, Andrew. The Chicago Pragmatists and American Progressivism (1993).
  • Frankel, Noralee and Nancy S. Dye, eds. Gender, Class, Race, and Reform in the Progressive Era (1991).
  • Hahn, Steven. A Nation under Our Feet: Black Political Struggles in the Rural South from Slavery to the Great Migration (2003).
  • Huthmacher, J. Joseph. "Urban Liberalism and the Age of Reform" Mississippi Valley Historical Review 49 (1962): 231–241, in JSTOR; emphasized urban, ethnic, working class support for reform
  • Link, William A. The Paradox of Southern Progressivism, 1880–1930 (1992).
  • Montgomery, David. The Fall of the House of Labor: The workplace, the state, and American labor activism, 1865–1925 (1987).
  • Muncy, Robyn. Creating A Feminine Dominion in American Reform, 1890–1935 (1991).
  • Lubove, Roy. The Progressives and the Slums: Tenement House Reform in New York City, 1890–1917 Greenwood Press: 1974.
  • Recchiuti, John Louis. Civic Engagement: Social Science and Progressive-Era Reform in New York City (2007).
  • Stromquist, Shelton. Reinventing 'The People': The Progressive Movement, the Class Problem, and the Origins of Modern Liberalism, (U. of Illinois Press, 2006). ISBN 0-252-07269-3.
  • Thelen, David. The New Citizenship, Origins of Progressivism in Wisconsin, 1885–1900 (1972).
  • Wesser, Robert F. Charles Evans Hughes: politics and reform in New York, 1905–1910 (1967).
  • Wiebe, Robert. "Business Disunity and the Progressive Movement, 1901–1914," The Mississippi Valley Historical Review, Vol. 44, No. 4. (Mar., 1958), pp. 664–685. in JSTOR
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