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Riassunto esame United States in the 20th and 21 century, prof. Fiorentino, libro consigliato Age of Reform, Hofstadter

Riassunto per l'esame di Fiorentino, basato su appunti personali e studio autonomo del testo consigliato dal docente: The Age of Reform, Richard Hofstadter. Gli argomenti trattati sono i seguenti: Populism, Progressivism, Wilson, T.Roosevelt, Muckracker, New Deal

Esame di United States in the 20th and 21 century docente Prof. D. Fiorentino



serving their time as a cheap labor. The firms themselves grew larger, the work of the independent

practitioner was taken from him by real-estate, trust, and insurance companies and banks.

- From Mugwump to Progressive: Progressive leaders were the spiritual sons of the Mugwumps.

Mugwumps had been committed to aristocracy, the Progressive spoke of returning government to the

people. Mugwumps had clung desperately to liberal economics and the cliché of laissez faire, the

Progressive were prepared to make use of state intervention wherever it suited their purpose. Mugwumps

had lacked a consistent support among the public at large, the Progressive had an almost rabidly

enthusiastic following. Mugwumps had not allies, Progressives had reliable allies in the very agrarian rebels.

Last chapter: enemies of Progressives like trusts, unions, and political machines. Leaders expressed the

need for entrepreneurship, individualism, and moral responsibility, rather than organization. The

American tradition had been one of unusually widespread participation of the citizen in the management of

affairs, both political and economic. Now with the growth of the large corporation, the central theme in

Progressivism was this revolt against the industrial discipline: Progressive movement was the complaint of

the unorganized against the consequences of organization.

The Progressives were trying to keep the benefits of the emerging organization of life (modern technology

and machine industry) and yet to retain the scheme of individualistic values that this organization was

destroying. Progressivism appealed powerfully to small businessmen who were being overwhelmed or

outdistanced by great competitors. It also appealed to the new middle class of technicians and salaried

professionals, clerical workers and public-service personnel. A large and significant political public had

emerged that was for the most part well educated, full of aspiration, and almost completely devoid of

economic organization. Wilson’s speech appealed to individual Opportunity, free opportunity where no

man is supposed to be under any limitations except the limitations of his character and of his mind. Wilson

saw that Americans were living under “a new organization of society”, in which the individual had been

submerged and human relations were pervasively impersonal. There was a common fear among Americans

that the great business combinations, being the only centers of wealth and power, and that would put an

end to traditional American democracy.

By the close of his 1912 campaign there was no doubt left in Wilson’s mind that a great part if the public

considered an attack on business monopoly necessary to political freedom. He engaged a “Crusade” against

the power that have limited American development.

The Progressives stood for a dual program of economic remedies designed to minimize the dangers from

the extreme left and right. On one side they feared the power of the plutocracy, on the other the poverty

and restlessness of the masses. The first line of action was to reform the business order, to restore or

maintain competition and expand credit in the interests of the consumer, the farmer, and the small

businessman. The second was to minimize the most outrageous and indefensible exploitation of the

working population. The relations of capital and labor, the condition of the masses in the slums, the

exploitation of the labor of women and children, the necessity of establishing certain minimal standards of

social decency.

Both Wilson and Roosevelt ran on platforms so generally Progressive that only their difference on the trust

issue clearly marked them off from each other. The issue was: regulated competition versus regulated

monopoly. Wilson believed deeply in the little entrepreneur and in competition, he rested his hope in “free

competition”, he had a different temperament than Roosevelt. The relations of the reform movement to

business were not limited to the effort to restore competition or check monopoly. There were other more

pragmatic reforms under consideration; and it was the effect of all the monitory writing and speaking, and

all the heated agitation over the trust and their threat to democracy and enterprise and liberty. The

Progressives adopted many initiatives: Hepburn Act; regulation of the railroads; the creation of the Federal

Reserve System; Underwood tariff.

The Progressive Era: a period of widespread social activism and political reform across the United States,

from the 1890s to 1920s.

Main goals:

1) eliminating corruption in government. The movement primarily targeted political machines

and their bosses. Direct democracy would be established.

2) They also sought regulation of monopolies (Trust

Busting) and corporations through antitrust laws to promote equal competition for the advantage of

legitimate competitors.

3) From 1860 to 1910, towns and cities sprouted up with miraculous rapidity all over the United States.

Large cities grew into great metropolises, small towns grew into large cities, and new towns sprang into

existence on vacant land. While the rural population almost doubled during this half century, the urban

population multiplied almost seven times. The urban boss became a more important and more powerful

figure. In the city the native Yankee-Protestant American encountered the immigrant. Between the close of

the Civil War and the outbreak of the first World War, the rise of the American Industry and the absence of

restrictions drew a steady stream of immigrants. . New political bosses accepted immigrants and protected

them in exchange of votes. The immigrants formed a potent mass that limited the range and the

achievements of Progressivism. The loyalty of immigrant voters to the bosses was one of the signal reasons

why the local reform victories were so short-lived. The immigrants looked to politics not for the realization

of high principles but for concrete and personal gains. And here the boss, particularly the Irish boss, who

could see things from the immigrant’s angle but could also manipulate the American environment, became

a specialist in personal relations and personal loyalties. The boss himself encouraged immigrant to think of

politics as a filed in which one could legitimately pursue one’s interests. So many progressives supported

Prohibition in the United States in order to destroy the political power of local bosses based in saloons,

manufactured and alcohol.

4) Women's suffrage was promoted to bring a "purer" female vote. The most important leaders of the

National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA, 1890) were Elizabeth Candy Stantan and Carrie

Chapman Catt. The women’s suffrage was achieved after the WWI with Wilson (1920).

5) building an Efficiency Movement in every sector: needed modernizing, scientific, medical and

engineering solutions; a key part of the efficiency movement was scientific management, or “Taylorism".

- Many activists joined efforts to reform local government, public education, medicine, finance,

insurance, industry, railroads, churches, and many other areas. Progressives transformed,

professionalized and made "scientific" the social sciences, especially history, economics, and political


- The national political leaders included Theodore Roosevelt, Robert M. La Follette, Sr., and Charles Evans

Hughes on the Republican side, and William Jennings Bryan, Woodrow Wilson and Al Smith on the

Democratic side.

- Initially the movement operated chiefly at local levels; later, it expanded to state and national levels

thanks to the support derived from the middle class: lawyers, teachers, physicians, ministers and business


- policies, such as a major transformation of the banking system by creating the Federal Reserve System in


- Political reform: Disturbed by the waste, inefficiency, stubbornness, corruption and injustices of

the Gilded Age, the Progressives were committed to changing and reforming every aspect of the state,

society and economy. Significant changes: the imposition of an income tax with the Sixteenth

Amendment; direct election of Senators with the Seventeenth Amendment; Prohibition with the

Eighteenth Amendment; women's suffrage through the Nineteenth Amendment

to the U.S. Constitution


The work of the Progressive movement rested upon its journalism. The fundamental critical achievement of

American Progressivism was the business of exposure, and journalism was the chief occupational source of

creative writers. The muckraker was a central figure. It was muckraking that brought the diffuse malaise of

the public into focus.

During the last three decades of the nineteenth century, dozens of novels were published which have been




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Corso di laurea: Corso di laurea magistrale in international studies
A.A.: 2018-2019

I contenuti di questa pagina costituiscono rielaborazioni personali del Publisher sciencespolitics di informazioni apprese con la frequenza delle lezioni di United States in the 20th and 21 century e studio autonomo di eventuali libri di riferimento in preparazione dell'esame finale o della tesi. Non devono intendersi come materiale ufficiale dell'università Roma Tre - Uniroma3 o del prof Fiorentino Daniele.

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