Reforms Who Were the Progressives and What Essay

  • Length: 8 pages
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  • Subject: Economics
  • Type: Essay
  • Paper: #77252285

Excerpt from Essay :


Who were the Progressives and what were they trying to reform? How and why did the Progressive era end?

Several different Progressives include: Upton Sinclair, Teddy Roosevelt, David Thelen, Richard McCormick and Samuel Hayes just to name a few. Their basic goals were to rectify many the social ills that were occurring from the rapid industrialization of the nation. This was creating a tremendous shift in the population, with more people leaving the country and moving to the cities. As a result, there were a number of different problems that emerged in the wake of these transformations. Most notably: unsafe working conditions, the use of child labor, wages and the number of working hours. The combination of these objectives was to give the people a voice in issues of government and society. This would limit the influence of the special interests during this process. (Sage) (Gilmore F-42 -- F-68) (Devine)

What methods did they use?

The basic methods that they used were civil disobedience to force some kind of changes within society. This means that when there were labor related issues within a particular workplace, the progressives would play an important part in helping to support strikes (by working in collaboration with unions). Moreover, they would use these events to show how the country was becoming an oligarchy that was losing touch with the people. (Sage) (Devine)

A good example of this occurred during the 1912 textile workers strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts. At first, the management of the company called the police and special security forces to end the strike. However, the workers continued to remain untied (effectively shutting down production for several days). Once this took places, is when the workers were able to slowly negotiate better conditions with their employer. This is illustrating how the Progressives were often using strikes and other forms of civil disobedience to highlight the injustices that were occurring. (Sage) (Devine)

Another tactic they were using, involved finding politicians and journalists who supported the basic ideas of the movement. This helped to identify key stakeholders that are influential in changing the system from the inside. As the Progressives were actively supporting candidates, who shared their beliefs about: dealing with the negative social economic challenges from industrialization. In the future, this approach created laws and regulations that addressed many of the issues that were impacting workers across the country. (Sage) (Devine)

How did the rise of mass production, assembly lines, and the culture of the 1920s change American economics, politics, gender, race, and social divisions?

By the 1920s, many of the reforms that Progressives were seeking had been enacted. However, despite these changes, there was transformation in the mood of voters following the election of Woodrow Wilson (in 1912). What happened, is Roosevelt and Taft had split the Republican Party and the divisions made it difficult to discuss issues that were impacting the movement. At the same time, the nation would eventually enter World War I (which overshadowed many of these debates). Instead, there was an emphasis on having various businesses meet the demands of the war effort. This created a change in the discussion about labor related issues. (Sage) (Harris 182 -- 184) (Devine)

During the 1920s, the mood of the nation had shifted. In this case, the people were tired of Wilson pushing the country to become involved in international politics. Instead, they wanted to see the U.S. experience periods of strong economic growth. Moreover, the technological innovations were continuing to change daily life. Some good examples of this include: the automobile and the use of radio). The process of producing these products was streamlined through innovations such as the assembly lines and mass production. This reduced the number of workers and created even more divisions inside organizations. (Sage) (Harris 182 -- 184) (Devine)

These transformations led to changes in social norms and attitudes about: economics, politics, gender and social divisions. The way economics evolved is the strong periods of economic growth, meant that more Americans were becoming wealthier. This made it difficult to highlight any kind of potential abuses. At the same time, this impacted politics with voters wanting someone who was experienced in handling the nation's affairs (i.e. business professionals). As a result, the decade saw several former executives elected as President to include: Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge and Hebert Hoover. (Sage) (Harris 182 -- 184) (Devine)

However, issues of gender equality were addressed with a Constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote. The problem was that many of the old social attitudes existed. This made it difficult for women to find work and live independent lives. Moreover, many of the social divisions still existed during this time. In some cases, this was occurring based upon racial lines. While at other times, this was taking place through economic classes in society. These elements are showing how despite the tremendous amounts of changes, there were select improvements from the Progressive movement. The problem is that their reforms did not go far enough to deal with these issues. Instead, they only addressed with select areas. This made it difficult to invite any kind of long-term social changes. As a result, one could argue that the unaddressed challenges from the Progressive movement, helped to spark the civil rights debate throughout the 1960s and 1970s. (Sage) (Harris 182 -- 184) (Devine)

How and why did the Progressive era end?

The way the Progressive era ended was with the election of Woodrow Wilson. This signaled a change in the direction of the country with: a focus on the World War I and new innovations. The combination of these factors made it difficult for Progressives to continue with their message. As their criticisms, were viewed as un-American and communist leaning. (Harris 182 -- 184) (Devine)

After World War I ended, is when these ideas were cemented in place, with the nation going through a Red Scare in 1920 (which was coupled with recession). These elements created an environment, which caused many public officials to fear that the nation was about to experience a communist revolution. This concern meant that the Progressive era died before the start of World War I. (Harris 182 -- 184) (Devine)

When the war was over, nobody was willing to discuss the social inequalities. This is because they did not want to be arrested and classified as communist sympathizer. Instead, these individuals remained quit, due to the fact that several of their objectives had been met. The combination of these factors is showing how the Progressive era ended based upon: the election of an idealist President, World War I and the changes in social attitudes from the war. This made it challenging for the Progressive to continue to promote their idea. It is at this point, that the movement was unable to build of its successes from the past (with many of these ideas accepted and not enforced during this time). As a result, the Progressive era died because of changes in social attitudes and series of events that overshadowed many of these improvements. Once this occurred, is when there were limited transformations in society. While, there was simultaneously a sense of caution about speaking out against possible issues (as the nation had become more conservative). (Harris 182 -- 184) (Devine)

How and why did the economy collapse in 1929 and how did the depression spread? How did the New Deal differ from the Progressive Era?

The way that the economy was able to collapse in 1929, was based upon a lack of regulations for the banking sector and financial markets. Moreover, the Federal Reserve has limited amounts of power in providing any kind of liquidity when the economy needed it. Through the 1920s, this allowed a large asset bubble to develop in the stock market. As it was going up, more and more Americans were investing a large portion of their life savings in this asset class. In some case, the banks were using the depositors' money to help increase their overall returns. During the course of the 1920s, this gave investors larger percentage gains with the market continually moving higher. (Devine) (Murphy 27 -- 63)

At the same time, the banks were engaging in irresponsible lending practices (i.e. balloon loans). Through the 1920s, these kinds of loans were given to wide variety of consumers to purchase property. The problem was that at some point in the future, there is a large payment that is due. This created a situation where most individuals did not have the funds to make these payments (which resulted in wave of foreclosures). (Devine) (Murphy 27 -- 63)

Once the stock market crashed, is when the situation became worse with most individuals and banks unable to have access to cash. This created fears about the solvency of banks (which sparked a wave of runs on these institutions). To raise more revenues for the federal government, Herbert Hoover supported policies that limited any kind of intervention during the crisis. Instead, he believed that raising…

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