2-14-14 Notes - Progressivism

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University of California - Berkeley
Robin Einhorn

Progressivism • Meant to make you think of the period of major economic, social, political reform; evokes a kind of broad revolt against the business domination (classical liberalism), and it was indeed the origin of major policy and ways of thinking that we associate with modern liberalism • Range of efforts to movilize public opinion and achieve social justice • Two separate narratives from the 1890s to the 1910s, AA’s not call it the navier era (the worst), and whites o racism at aas expanded, racist terms for blacks were applied to Filipinos • jim crowe was formally adopted in southern states • Also the period that was the height of lynching in the south (See pics of segregation and NAACP poster slide) • If we agree with what the AAs call it, how can we possibly call it the progressive era?! • On one level, it’s a movement, and it sort of overlaps with populism (which was rural) but progressivism was urban (prototypical = lewis hyne, jane Addams, etc) • They weren’t just interested in the problems of the cities though. There were way fewer farmers, more lawyers, journalists, and business types. Often called made up of “middle class” people (not labor and not capital). The presidents of this era are also “progressive” Roosevelt, Taft, Wilson. I. Muckraking • New kind of journalism characterized by a faith in investigative reporting and fact-finding • If you can tell the people the truth, they will cry out for reform. • Appeared in mass circulating magazines and newspapers • EG. Bosses of the senate, health stuff, etc. • Most famous: novel: The Jungle by Upton Sinclair – meant to reveal the meatpacking industry in Chicago. o One result was a federal meat inspection act and the FDA • Key point is that if you expose antisocial criminal behavior, it will inspire outrage and demand reform II. Reform • Four constitutional amendments since the civil war. (16 thfed income tax, 17th direct election of senators, 18 th& 19th prohibition and women’s sufferage) A. Business • Workman’s compensation o Passed at the state, not federal level o Every industrial state had a workmans comp law o Without this, a person injured on the job had to sue • 1911 – triangle Shirtwaist fire o Big fire, the doors were locked (og to prevent workers from stealing materials) 146 workers killed, flimsy fireescapes broke, people fell to their death o Two months later NY passed a whole bunch of laws (yay) • Signature progressive reform: Anti-Trust Laws! o Aiming at trusts like Rockefellers Standard Oil, Tobacco Trust, what anti trust was a way to stop this o Trusts = complex business arrangements that allowed you to create huge monopolies o Sherman Anti-Trust Act 1890  Made it impossible to operate a trust in restraint of trade  Aimed at monopolies that restrained trade  Enforced at organized laborers (unions)  Until Theodore Roosevelt became president, he had a different attitude, he was the Trust Buster. (see slide)
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