HISTORY 124A Lecture Notes - Lecture 19: Robert La Follette, Standard Oil, Upton Sinclair

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9 Oct 2016
School
Department
Lecture 19: The Progressive Tide 09/10/2016
06:04:00
Announcements and Recap
Midquiz:
oFriday, October 14th in class
oBring blue or green book(s) and pen
oFormat: essay question with a few fill-in-the-blank or
multiple choice questions
Essay 1 Returned:
oBy Monday, Oct 17th
No Class:
oWed Nov 23rd
oFri Nov 25th
Background and Definition
1893—Panic and depression that lasts for the rest of the decade
oforces people to think about the role of big business
1895-1904—Great Merger Movement results in smaller firms
disappearing into consolidated corporations, which ended up
representing 20% of American GDP
1900-1910—American economic output increased by 85% with
farms and cities growing for the last time in American history
1901—US Steel, created by J.P. Morgan, becomes the first billion
dollar economic enterprise
1900-1914—13 million immigrants arrive in the US
1908—Ford Model T developed
1910—Some 2 million children under the age of 15 working for
wages
1913—Ford develops the assembly line. In 1910 Ford sold 34,000
Model T’s for $700 each and in 1916 he told 730,000 for $316
1910-1920—the US population exceeds 100 million
1920—More Americans now live in cities or towns than in rural
areas
Views on the progressive era:
oThe “people” triumphed over the “interests” by passing
legislation that reined in Big Business
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oThe progressive movement grew out of a status anxiety of
the middle class. The 1% began to pull away from the middle
class in wealth and as immigrants began to flood into the
United States, the urban middle class feared their power was
declining and responded by supposedly cleaning up municipal
politics, getting rid of the boss system, and breaking up a few
trusts
o“The people” didn’t triumph over “the interests” it was the
other way around! The legislation that supposedly constrained
Big Business was actually passed at the behest of Big
Business and protected Big Business from any real threats!
oThe Progressive Era wasn’t this good vs. bad morality play at
all. It was a consensual process of reform that included both
consumers and business leaders who together sought to
adapt to the demise of the “island communities” (isolated
small towns) and create order amidst the modern realities of
technology and business
oAll of the above interpretations have some truth to them, but
what ties all the diverse and sometimes contradictory reform
groups together is that they were all responding to
industrialization
Muckrakers
Lincoln Steffens (1866-1936)
Journalism made a lot of strides during the Progressive Era
oWould expose the “muck” of society
oMade the point that the middle class needed to realize that
the world was not peachy keen and that they needed to take
back their cities from corruption
Upton Sinclair and the Jungle are excellent examples of muckraking
about the meat packing industry
oLeads to the passage of two 1906 food acts
Ida Tarbell writing about the Standard Oil Company was also a
muckraker
oWas respected as a woman for writing a well-researched book
Progressive Political Insurgents
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