The Progressive Era and World War I

  1. A Desire for Change
    1. New industrial society brought with it many complications
      1. Increasingly large cities had serious problems with sewage, garbage, pollutions, crime, etc.
      2. Harsh and unsafe working conditions
        1. below subsistence wages required all family members to work
        2. lack of safety regulations resulted in very high number of deaths and injuries
        3. 16 hour day common
        4.  increasingly dehumanized working conditions with the rise of "scientific" management and loss of need for skilled workers
      3. Very poor housing conditions in cities
      4. Large immigrant groups - some feared them, others wanted to acculturate and educate them
    2. Muckrakers create a growing awareness of social problems and corruption
      1. A new breed of journalism devoted to exposing government corruption and social problems, peaked 1903-1909
      2. Also exposed need for  reforms in industry
        1. Upton Sinclair's The Jungle - described the horrifying conditions in meatpacking plants
        2. Public outcry led Teddy Roosevelt to demand investigations
        3. Resulted in 1906  in the The Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act, which demanded greater sanitation and health controls
    3. A new professional class sought to reform itself and use its expertise to reform the lower classes
      1. Many professions created national organizations, set professional standards, required rigorous education and licensing
      2.  In turn, these groups (like the American Medical Association) lobbied government for reform in their areas
      3. New professions appeared specifically to address social problems: public health, social work
    4. Social Gospel
      1. In the 1890s, a new religious movement developed that emphasized social awareness and responsibility
      2. Social Gospel pastors rejected traditional idea that poverty came from sin and was intended by God
      3. Social Gospel pastors encouraged congregants to work to improve social problems
    5. Progressives saw problems as social, not individual, that required societal changes
      1. Poverty, prostitution, alcoholism, and other problems had traditionally been seen as product of sin, personal choice
      2. Muckrakers and the new professional increasingly used their expertise to show that the social environment created many of these problems
      3. Thus they emphasized more the need for government action and regulation
    6. Temperance and the Purity Crusade
      1. Both progressives and conservative evangelicals saw alcohol at the root of many social problems
      2. By 1916, 19 states had banned alcohol
      3. In 1920, the Eighteenth Amendment banned alcohol, introducing Prohibition
      4. Along the same lines, most states had banned bordellos by 1915, for similar reasons
  2. Progressivism and Politics
    1. Local politics
      1. Because many social issues were local issues, progressives had a major impact on city government
      2. Government itself was reformed, in an effort to bring in professional expertise and end corruption
      3. Key on the local level was the "city beautiful movement"
        1. Large urban centers were unhealthy, polluted, lacked proper sewage treatment  and trash collection
        2. Urban planners redesigned streets, built new water systems and public buildings, planted trees, etc.
        3. These reforms, however, rarely affected the slums
    2. State politics
      1. Many issues, however, could not be addressed on a local level
      2. Many of the most important progressive reforms began on the state level: regulation of factory safety and workmen's compensation, for example
      3. The best known progressive Governor was Robert M. La Follete, R-Wisconsin (1901-06)
      4. The 17th Amendment (1913) mandated popular election of Senators
  3. Theodore Roosevelt
    1. Became president in 1901, after McKinley was assassinated
    2. Pursued his own version of Progressivism
    3. Trust Busting ("Antitrust")
      1. A number of "trusts" - alliances between companies in a given industry - controlled several important industries
      2. TR used the Sherman Antitrust Act and the new Dept. of Commerce and Labor to break apart some of the more powerful ones
      3. However, despite his reputation as a trustbuster, his successor Taft was even more aggressive
    4. Labor conflicts
      1. TR intervened in important strikes, forcing business and labor to accept government as an "honest broker" in their disputes
      2. Most evident  in 1902 coal strike, when he threatened to seize the coal mines to force owners to accept arbitration
    5. Succeeded in getting legislation (Hepburn Act of 1906) giving government power to regulate the railroads
    6. Was also a proponent of government regulation of drugs and food industry
    7. Conservation
      1. While not a modern environmentalist, TR established national parks and greatly increased federally protected lands
      2. TR's administration promoted resource management, as opposed to unregulated exploitation of wilderness resources
      3. Opposed at times by people like John Muir, who wanted to preserve the wilderness untouched
    8. Towards the end of his presidency, became increasingly strident in calls for reform, criticism of the ultra wealthy
  4. William Taft, TR, and the Bull Moose Party
    1. TR regarded his hand picked successor, Taft, to be a weak president too closely allied with business
    2. TR decided to run against him in 1912, in a new party made up of progressive Republicans, called the Progressive or Bull Moose Party
    3. TR promoted something called the "New Nationalism" in the 1912 campaign
      1. social justice reforms to help workers
      2. a strong president to lead aggressive national policies to address nation's needs
      3. an acceptance of good trusts
      4. an active federal government directing labor and capital in the nation's interests
    4. While both TR and Taft would lose to Woodrow Wilson in 1912, New Nationalism greatly influenced Wilson and later presidents
  5. Progressivism under Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921)
    1. Though he campaigned on states' rights and smaller government, much of Wilson's policies were progressive
    2. Lowered the tariff, introduced a graduated income tax
    3. Created the Federal Reserve Board, the first national bank since Andrew Jackson
    4. Expanded government power to regulate and break up the trusts
    5. Backed unions efforts to gain recognition and collective bargaining rights
    6. Established workman's compensation for federal employees
    7. After waffling, backed a federal child labor law, which Supreme Court struck down
    8. Appointed a noted progressive (Louis Brandeis) to Supreme Court (Brandeis was the Court's first Jew)
    9. However, backtracked on on race relations for fear of alienating white Southerners
    10. The advent of World War I would slow down much of Wilson's progressive program
      1. Wilson re-elected in 1916 on a platform to keep USA out of World War I in Europe, which had started in 1914
      2. Germany's policy of sinking American ships taking goods to Britain, however, forced Wilson into war
      3. Congress declares war on April 6, 1917
  6. Propaganda and civil liberties in wartime

    1. Propaganda

      1. Wilson formed the Creel Committee (The Committee on Public Information) to promote the war

      2. headed by progressive journalist George Creel

      3. Coordinated propaganda and organized voluntary censorship of the news

    2. Anti-German campaigns begin against all element of German culture in the United States

    3. German-Americans and anti-war protestors came under violent attack

    4. Espionage Act, 1917 - besides cracking down on spies, criminalized obstructing recruitment of soldiers and encouraging disloyalty

    5. Sedition Act of 1918

      1. Criminalized "disloyal,  profane, scurrilous, or abusive language" about the government, flag, or military

      2. Would result in numerous arrest for mild criticism of the war and the government

    6. Socialists, most of whom remained committed to pacifism, were a frequent target for arrest

  7. War transforms America

    1. Government bureaucracy expanded exponentially to muster resources for the war

    2. Selective Service - first draft since the Civil War.

      1. 4 million men registered, of which 2.4 million were inducted, making up 75% of the troops

      2. Some protests, and some opponents were jailed, but compliance was high

    3. Links between government and business expanded

    4. Labor unions and government cooperated, helping to gain advances such as the eight-hour day

    5. As millions of men were drafted, women, women, Blacks, and Mexicans filled the gap in industry

    6. The African American migration

      1. Responding to organized calls to fill empty factory jobs, 450,000 southern Blacks moved North

      2. Pushed also by sharecropping and the worsening civil rights situation in the South

      3. Rapid increases of Black populations in northern cities sometimes led to racial tension, violence

  8. Wilson seeks a new kind of peace - and fails

    1. The Fourteen Points

      1. Wilson wanted the war to about something other than competition between empires

      2. January, 1918 - Wilson goes to Congress with a plan for peace - the Fourteen Points

        1. a non-punitive peace - no one would be punished

        2. sought self-determination for the people of Europe and the Ottoman Empire

        3. strong limitations on territorial gains and concessions

    2. Wilson heads to Paris to negotiate personally - no U.S. president had done this before

    3. The Treaty of Versailles, 1919

      1. Wilson got many things he wanted, but had to make important concessions

      2. Germany forced to accept blame for the war and pay reparations

      3. New countries carved out of Austrian and German territory, German colonies divided among Allies

      4. League of Nations created

        1. Designed to prevent war through negotiation and arbitration

        2. Members pledged to defend each other's independence and territorial integrity

    4. Political defeat at home

      1. Wilson was in Europe for a year, and his political position weakened while he was gone

      2. While most American supported the League of Nations, there was much resistance in the Senate

      3. Wilson set out on a train tour to promote the treaty, but a stroke forced him home and greatly limited his ability to govern

      4. Senate opponents spent months on hearings, working to build opposition, largely on isolationist grounds

      5. After a series of votes, the treaty was met its final defeat in March, 1920