21 Urban America and the Progressive Era 1900-1917
Urban America and the Progressive Era 1900-1917 • The Origins of Progressivism • Progressive Politics in Cities and States • Social Control and Its Limits • Challenges to Progressivism • Women’s Movements and Black Activism • National Progressivism • Conclusion
Chapter Focus Questions • What were the social and intellectual roots of progressive reform? • How did tensions between social justice and social control divide progressives? • How did the impact of new immigration transform America? • What new forms of activism emerged among the working class, women, and African Americans?
Chapter Focus Questions (cont’d) • How did progressivism become a central force in national politics?
The Henry Street Settlement House • The Henry Street Settlement House: Women Settlement House Workers Create a Community of Reform • Lillian Wald’s Henry Street Settlement began as a visiting nurse service. • Wald created a community of college-educated women who lived among the urban poor working to improve their lives. • Several of the women went on to become influential political reformers.
The Henry Street Settlement House (cont'd) • The workers promoted health care, cultural activities, and by promoting reform legislation.
The Origins of Progressivism • The depression of the 1890s, labor unrest and the populist revolt led many Americans to seek new answers to society’s ills, turning to citizen organizations and government for action. • Progressivism drew from deep roots in American communities and spread, becoming a national movement, peaking in the election of 1912.
Unifying Themes • Three basic themes underlay the Progressive movement: • Anger over the excesses of industrial capitalism, urban growth; • Faith in social cohesion and common bonds as a way to understand modern society; • Belief in the need for citizens to take an active social and political role to improve society.
Unifying Themes (cont'd) • Progressivism was also inspired by evangelical Protestantism and modern sciences, often in tension with each other.
New Journalism: Muckraking • A new breed of investigative journalist began exposing the public to the plight of slum life, pioneered by McClure’s Magazine. • Muckrakers published accounts of urban poverty, and unsafe labor conditions, as well as corruption in government and business.
New Journalism: Muckraking (cont’d) • Muckraking mobilized national opinion. • Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle • unsanitary conditions in Chicago’s meatpacking industry. • Ida Tarbell • unfair business practices by John D. Rockefeller in her History of the Standard Oil Company. • Lincoln Steffen • urban political corruption in a series titled The Shame of the Cities.
New Journalism: Muckraking (cont'd) • Muckraking mobilized national opinion. • David Graham Phillips’ “The Treason of the Senate” • inspired Theodore Roosevelt to coin the term “muckraker”
Intellectual Trends Promoting Reform • Social sciences provided empirical studies used by reformers to push for reforms. • Lester Frank Ward challenged some of the intellectual supports for the prevailing social Darwinism. • Dewey, Commons, Ely • education and labor
Intellectual Trends Promoting Reform (cont'd) • Social sciences provided empirical studies used by reformers to push for reforms. • Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. • attacked constitutional interpretations that had prevented states from passing legislation that protected public interests. • Social realities instead of abstract legal arguments
The Female Dominion • Jane Addams—Hull House (Chicago,1889) • Alternative to marriage for educated women who provided crucial services for slum dwellers • Florence Kelley • Her reports pushed legislation for the eight-hour work day for women and child labor laws in Illinois.
The Female Dominion (cont'd) • Women began to dominate new positions such as social workers, public health nursing, and home economics.
A portrait of the young Jane Addams, probably taken around the time she founded Hull House in Chicago, in 1889.
Progressive Politics in City and State • Much of Progressives’ energy went into local political battles. • Addressing corruption and attacking corporate power, Progressives called for more responsive and activist government.
The Urban Machine • Urban political machines were a closed and corrupt system that: • offered jobs and other services to immigrants in exchange for votes • drew support from businesses • Though corrupt, politicians like Tammany Hall’s “Big Tim” Sullivan were popular and admired by constituents
The Urban Machine (cont'd) • By the early twentieth century, machines began promoting welfare legislation, often allying themselves with progressive reformers.
Progressives and Urban Reform • Reformers blamed machines on many urban ills. • Political progressivism arose in cities to combat machines and address deteriorating conditions, such as impure water. • They sought professional, nonpartisan administration to improve government efficiency.
Progressives and Urban Reform (cont’d) • Some business leader, like Cleveland’s Thomas Johnson, moved into politics as Progressives. • Following a tidal wave in Galveston, Texas, reformers pushed through a commissioner system. • Other cities adopted city manager plans and the commissioner system.
Statehouse Progressives • Governor and then Senator Robert La Follette of Wisconsin forged a farmer-labor small business alliance to push through statewide reforms. • Oregon passed referendum and initiative amendments that allowed voters to bypass legislatures and enact laws themselves.
Statehouse Progressives (cont'd) • In New York, Theodore Roosevelt was a popular activist.
Statehouse Progressives (cont’d) • Western progressives like California’s Hiram Johnson targeted railroad influence.
Statehouse Progressives (cont’d) • Southern progressives pushed through various reforms such as improved educational facilities, but supported discriminatory laws against African Americans. • Southern progressives pushed for a completely segregated public sphere.
Social Control and Its Limits • Middle class urban WASPs saw new immigrants as a threat to democracy. • Through “social control,” Progressives hoped both to restrain and reform immigrants, industrial workers and African Americans. • This moralistic xenophobia was a powerful source of support for Progressive policies.
The Prohibition Movement • Groups developed to end the production, sale, and consumption of alcohol. • The Women’s Christian Temperance Union • Pushed for temperance laws as well as non-temperance laws such as women suffrage, homeless shelters, and prison reform. • The Anti-Saloon League • They played on anti-urban and anti-immigrant sentiments.
The Prohibition Movement (cont'd) • Native-born, small town and rural Protestants generally supported prohibition while recent immigrants opposed it.
The Social Evil • Reformers also attacked prostitution. • A national movement used the media to try to ban the “white slave” traffic allegedly promoted by foreigners. • Progressives investigated prostitution and documented its dangers, though they were unable to understand why women took it up.
The Social Evil (cont'd) • Progressive reform helped close down brothels, but they were replaced by more vulnerable street-walkers.
The Redemption of Leisure • Reformers were aghast at the new urban commercial amusements, such as amusement parks, vaudeville, and the most popular venue, the movies. • Replaced municipal parks, libraries, museums, YMCAs, and school recreation centers
The Redemption of Leisure (cont'd) • Movies • Popular in tenement districts • Became sophisticated, attracted middle class • National Board of Censorship
Standardizing Education • Progressives: School was the key agency to break down the parochial ethnic neighborhood and “Americanize” immigrants. • Expansion and bureaucratization characterized educational development.
Standardizing Education (cont'd) • High school evolved as comprehensive institutions that offered college preparatory and vocational education, supported by the 1917 Smith-Hughes Act.
Challenges to Progressivism • While middle class Protestants promoted their vision of Progressivism, other challenged them. • Growing organization of industrial workers led to demands for more control over their wages and working conditions. • Race, class and varying skill levels all limited the political influence of workers.
Newly landed European immigrant families on the dock at Ellis Island in New York Harbor, 1900.
The New Global Immigration • The early twentieth century saw a tremendous growth in the size of the working class. • Sixty percent of the industrial labor force were foreign-born, mostly unskilled workers from southern and eastern Europe.
The New Global Immigration (cont'd) • Driven out by the collapse of peasant agriculture and persecution, the new immigrants depended on family and friends to help them get situated.
The New Global Immigration (cont’d) • Many worked long hours for pay that failed to keep them out of poverty.