Progressive Era = Progress ?

Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) was the 28th President of the United States.

President Wilson, argued towards a stronger central government. He also was fighting for anti-legislation and labor rights for all workers. One of his first and many accomplishments was him singing  the underwood tariff. The underwood Tariff provided substantial reduction rates on imported goods and was further moved into reduction of cost of living.





The rise of the students in politics

During the 1950 college students and young people were largely not involved in politics, they were called a “silent generation”. Colleges and universities had been very conservative institutions with wealthy people attending them. That changed in 1960. By 1968 students became one huge sector of the population, due to the generation of the baby-boomers, with over 7 million attending colleges. These people, even though raised in affluence, were discontent with existing social mainstream, created by their parents, as it did not provide for authenticity, which they viewed as a crucial element of personal freedom. Thus the children of middle class became part of what came to be called the New Left. They called for democracy and equality for everyone, using rhetoric based on discontent with the “establishment” which generates things like loneliness, isolation, alienation, powerlessness, unification. Their main inspiration was the black freedom movement which intensified in 50s.
The above processes that came about within the growing population of students led to the emergence of organisations like SDS, the phenomena of the counter-culture of the sixties and laid the foundation of the left political ideas for decades to come.

SDSers gather outside the Smithsonian in Washington (Photo: Thomas Good)


Milwaukee Sewer Socialism




Sewer Socialism is a term described the American socialist movement that centered in Milwaukee Wisconsin. With the creation of the Socialist Party of America, this group deemphased social theory and revolutionary rhetoric and in favor of honest government and efforts to improve public health.  The Sewer Socialists fought to clean up what they saw as “the dirty and polluted legacy of the Industrial Revolution,” cleaning up neighborhoods and factories with new sanitation systems, city-owned water and power systems, and improved education.









In 1910, the Socialists won most of the seats in the Milwaukee city council and county board. This included the first Socialist mayor in the United States, Emil Seidel, who also received the nomination for Vice-President on the Socialist Party ticket in the 1912 election with Eugene Debs.

This movement ended in 1960 when Frank P. Zeidler left his office as Milwaukee mayor. 


The Standard of Living

An image of John A. Ryan

In 1906 John A. Ryan published an influential book A Living Wage,  based on economic and moral argument of minimum wage legislation. He believed that in the consumer economy it’s a “natural and absolute” right of citizenship to making a standard living wage. John A. Ryan also criticized the inequality of the wealth and power in the Progressive America. The lower class is being taking advantages of whereas the upper class were controling the economy wealth. Based on his political thoughts in moral theology; he translated the Rerum Novarum of Pope Leo XIII in 1894 in English stated that the  endorement of  the right to labor union is necessary.


Herbert Hoover

When United States voters elected Herbert Hoover, who had established a worldwide reputation as mining engineer, writer, and war-relief administrator, 31st president in 1928, the country was enjoying an industrial and financial boom.


Don’t “hog” up the line!

In a time where demands of cheap and avaible meat far exceeds what the local butcher could put out, slaughterhouses have become the only option. Eating meat is a part of daily life, and people barely wonder where it came from before it was sold off on the shelter of supermarkets with their nicely wrapped packages.

It wasn’t until 1906, when the novel “The Jungle” was published that people began to question and become aware of what actually happens behind the scenes. Due to the public outcray cause by the book, the government immediately took action and form the Food and Drug Administration also known as the FDA.

In the photo above, Ford’s perfection in the assembly line was efficiently adopted to “eliminate loss of time between each operation and the next, and to reduce the energy expended by the worker on the manipulation of heavy carcasse.”


Big Brother FTC


The Federal Trade Commission was established by the U.S. Congress.  Five members are joined together for a seven year term to police businesses.  The main goal of this board is to promote and protect the rights of consumers.  This includes identity theft, false advertising, monopolies, any kind of unfair business competition and price-fixing.  Finally citizens were protected from market abuse and enjoyed ‘industrial freedom.’



Yellowstone national park, the first national park

During the progressive era, economic development and special interest groups would deplete the resources of the environmentand cause irreversible damages to the landscape. In reponse to this, Roosevelt began to turn federal lands into national parks in order to conserve national resoures and to protect the environment. Although land was set aside to preserve nature, activities suchs as logging, mining, and construction were not come to a complete halt but was  limited.


McKinley’s Last Show

President McKinley was shot by Leon Czolgosz on September 6, 1901 but did not pass away until September 14, 1901. He was shot twice, one causing minor damage while the other pierced through his abdomen, pancreas, kidney and stomach. Only one of the bullets were taken out because the other couldn’t be found. Shortly after McKinley was shot, it look liked his health was improving and would live, but he ultimately didn’t make it. McKinley’s assassinations led to Roosevelt to succeed him


Jacob Riis

Jacob Riis was a muckraking journalist. A Danish American immigrant, he went through poverty himself, and as a photo journalist he was primarily interested in bringing up the issues of poverty in his pictures. The main subject of his pictures were the awful conditions in which poor people had to live, he photographed slums, tenement houses, lodging houses in the city. His first major work published in 1889 called “How the other half lives” generated a lot of public attention. It was an illustrated account about life in the city. After the book came out NYC Police Commissioner had to close down the lodging houses that were featured in the book.


Difficult to get drunk

In 1917, US Congress passed the prohibition act which prohibits the manufacture, transportation and sales of alcohol.  However, drinking alcohol is not prohibited.  The following picture depicted an alcohol retailer is closed because of violation of National Prohibition Act.  The alcohol beverage is prohibited in public.

Although alcoholic beverage is prohibit for manufacture, transportation and sale, drinking alcohol is not prohibited which created opportunities for alcohol smugglers.  After the Prohibition Act is enforced, many people started to sell alcohol as bootleggers.


Woodrow Wilson and Progressivism

Woodrow Wilson; 28th President of the United States of America

Republican candidate Woodrow Wilson was elected as the new President in 1913.  The former governor of New Jersey won a staggering 42 percent of the popular vote, beating out Teddy Roosevelt and Howard Taft in rankings, who had 27% and 23% respectively.  Wilson set up regular press conferences to inform the public on issues of legislation and to try to raise the publics’ opinion of him.  He also personally delivered messages to congress believing that it was more noble that writing them on a piece of paper.  He passed the Underwood tariff which vastly reduced tariffs on imported goods, and also implemented an income tax of the richest 5% of Americans.  He also passed the Clayton act of 1914 which “exempted labor unions from antitrust laws”.  To help out the lower and middle classes, Wilson also passed the Keating-Owen Act which outlawed child labor; the Adamson Act which created an 8 hour work day on all American railroads, and the Warehouse Act which gave credit to farmers who stored their crops in federally licensed warehouses.


Settlement House Movement

This was social movement aimed for reform in the United States. The goal of this movement was to bring unity in a community amongst the rich and the poor. This in action would promote a more interdependent community. One of the more famous settlement house’s was founded by a woman by the name of Jane Adams in Chicago. This movement encouraged the diffusion of culture, knowledge and education in poverty stricken and low-income neighborhhoods.

picture traced back to www.uic.edu


The strike being identified as the “Bread and Roses”

In 1912 immigrant textile workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts, led by the Industrial Workers of the World, went on strike when their wages were lowered in response to a law shortening the work week. The courage of the female workers, who were willing to brave frigid weather as well as police and militia in order to march on picket lines, led to the strike being identified as the “bread and roses” strike.
I.W.W. leaders Bill Haywood and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn moved in and helped organized the strike, which was opposed by the AFL as being revolutionary.


Muller v. Oregon

In 1908, Louis D. Brandeis, the associate justice on the Supreme Court of the United States filed a brief citing scientific and sociological studies to demonstrate that because women had less strength and endurance than men, long hours of labor were dangerous for them. So the landmark decision, Muller v. Oregon was  made by the Supreme Court, which justifies on sex discrimination, women’s working condition and limitation on their maximum working hour to protect  women’s safety and health.


Preserve and Reserve…We might appreciate it later!

John Muir was a naturalist whose love of nature, led to the conservation of national resources.  His organization of the Sierra Club, was formed to help preseve forest.  His camping trip with Theodore Roosevelt was an important for the Progressive Era.  He convinced the president to preserve Yosemite, Grand Canyon,  Sequoia, and Mt. Rainier as National Parks.


Women’s suffrage

First of all, suffrage means the right to vote. The Women Suffrage Association, which only had about 3000 members in 1893,  had more then 2 million members in1917.  It brought women freedom and more public space. Finally this movement won the protection of women and gave them the right to vote.


William Taft: The Man with Substance

William Howard Taft won the presidential election in 1908 quite easily with the backing from the preceding president Theodore Roosevelt. He practiced what he preached of his progressive view by going after monopolistic industries (using anti-trust act) and even got the Supreme court to declare Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Co. in violation of Sherman Anti-trust Act.  He exemplified the progressive era by ratifying the 16th amendment, which allowed the federal government to impose a marginal tax rate (higher tax rate for higher income individuals). Income taxation has been and continues to be a major political factor and has tremendous effects on the economic behavior of both the government and it’s citizens.


The Birth of the Federal Reserve System

The Panic of 1907 was a financial crisis, which almost left the nation’s banks in ruins. Therefore, on December 23, 1913, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Federal Reserve Act. This act established the Federal Reserve System, the nation’s very own bank that would overlook and monitor the nation’s monetary policy. The president has the power to nominate the central board, which in turn would monitor the 12 regional banks spanned across the country. The Federal Reserve has the abillity to issue money, control interest rates, and bail out banks in slump.


Child labor or child slavery?

Child labor existed prior to the Progressive Era. After industrialization, many poor families sent their children to factories to work. Many children died from poor working conditions and hazardous equipments. The average age of child labor was four to sixteen years old. Many of these children did not go to school at all. During the progressive era four constitutional amendments were passed. One of these amendments outlawed child labor. The Progressive movement did succeed in creating safer work standards for all, and enacting age limits and work hour limits.