HIS271Y1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: American Frontier, Economic Democracy, Populism

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18 Apr 2012
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Semester 2, Lecture 3: Wednesday January 25th, 2012
Empire Abroad, Progressivism at Home
I. Anxieties of Modernization
Concerns About…
o Industrialization
It was creating a vast and impersonal society in the US
The distribution of wealth was being skewed increasing
concentration of more wealth in the hands of few people
o Urbanization
Loss of the rural South
Huge agricultural lands are being bought up by businessmen
for corporate farms and/or mines
Moral decline of the US cities are the sites of dancehalls,
taverns, brothels, etc.
o Immigration
Concern that America’s Anglo-Saxon ways of life will be
undone by the new immigrants
o The Closing of the American Frontier
Frederick Jackson Turner’s “Frontier Thesis” – the frontier was
the region that had created freedom in the US; with the
closing of the frontier, an era of the US was passing
II. The Crisis of the 1890s
The People’s Party (Populism)
o Populists believed that the current parties weren’t doing anything
about the American economic situation
o Agrarian Revolt
Farmers to revolt against conditions that keep them down in
the US
o Populism’s Platform
Economic democracy level the playing field between the
wealthy and poor
Called for government subsidies for farmers
Want the government to set up silos and granaries so farmers
can store their non-perishable crops in government buildings
Government ownership of railway and telegraph lines in the
US
8-hour work day put in to place
More offices in the US directly elected
Depression 1893-1897
o Banks and business are failing across the board
o Over half of the workers are fired
o Worst depression America has seen up to this time
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