Progressive Era Politics

Progressive Era Politics
Ms. Jerome
Progressives in Politics
Rejected laissez-faire capitalism
Why did they reject laissez-faire?
Viewed government as a potentially positive force
for change and reform—used to combat
monopolies and corruption in government
Wanted to bring respectability back into politics
Progressive Era Presidents
State Reforms: Improving
Secret Ballot
Privacy at the ballot box ensures that
citizens can cast votes without party bosses knowing how they
Initiative Allows voters to petition state legislatures in order
to consider a bill desired by citizens. Voters create (Prop 8)
Allows voters to decide if a bill or
proposed amendment should be passed. Lawmakers create
Allows voters to petition to have an elected
representative removed from office. Mayor Walter Jones
Direct Primary
Ensures that voters select candidates to
run for office, rather than party bosses.
Federal Reforms
Government Intervention
Constitutional Amendments
Pendleton Act 1881/Civil Service Reform
III. Sherman Anti Trust Act 1890
IV. Interstate Commerce Act 1887
Elkins Act 1903
II. Hepburn Act 1906
III. Pure Food and Drug Act 1906
IV. Meat Inspection Act 1906
VI. Clayton Anti Trust Act 1914
I. Progressive Era Amendments
16th (1913)
Granted Congress the power to tax
17th (1913)
U.S. Senators.
Provided for the direct election of
18th (1919)
Prohibited making, selling, or
transporting alcohol.
19th (1920)
Provided women suffrage (voting).
II. Pendleton Act Background:
Issue: Government Corruption
For over 80 years presidents and federal
politicians had “rewarded” their supporters
with government jobs.
Patronage or “Spoils System” *
 This is what got Jim McGreevey into trouble
An end to political patronage
Date: 1881
Victim: President James
Villain: Charles Guiteau
Reason: Garfield refused
to hire him for a
government position
Aftermath: outcry to end
Pendleton Civil Service
Reform Act
Passed under President
Chester Alan Arthur
Pendleton Act was a
“federal civil service”
appointing government
employees on the basis
of competitive
examinations, rather
than by political
What did it say?
Federal workers would
now be hired based on
competitive exams
rather than political
Interstate Commerce Act
Particularly targeting railroad industry:
Shipping rates had to be "reasonable and just"
Rates had to be published
Secret rebates were outlawed
Price discrimination against small markets was made illegal.
Gave the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) the power
to set maximum railroad rates.
Led to the discontinuation of free passes to loyal shippers
In addition, the ICC could view the railroads' financial
Sherman Anti-Trust Act
The President's weapon vs business.
• The Sherman Antitrust Act, passed by Congress in 1890.
This law declared illegal all combinations "in restraint
of trade” (i.e. a monopoly)
Did little initially
United States courts routinely sided with business
when any enforcement of the Act was attempted.
Teddy Roosevelt would use it to break up TRUSTS
Robert LaFolette
Wisconsin Senator
“Fighting Bob”
One of the most notable politicians of
the Progressive movement
Advocated Women's suffrage.
Father of the American Progressive
Movement and he spoke passionately
for the "common man."
Man who knew no fear.
La Follette
Robert M. La Follette -- governor of Wisconsin in
Helped Wisconsin establish a railroad regulation
commission to set fair freight rates.
Advocated graduated state income tax
A pure food law was voted in Wisconsin.
A direct primary system was enacted
Teddy Roosevelt:
Believed a president should take an active role as an
arbiter between the demands of laborers and profitdriven businesses
Square Deal—Corporate Control, Conservation,
Hepburn Act:1906 under TR
The Hepburn Act is a 1906
Gave the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) the
power to set maximum railroad rates.
Led to the discontinuation of free passes to loyal
In addition, the ICC could view the railroads' financial
Good vs. Bad Trusts
This was the core of Theodore Roosevelt's leadership. He boiled
everything down to a case of right versus wrong and good versus
If a trust controlled an entire industry but provided good service
at reasonable rates, it was a "good" trust to be left alone.
Only the "bad" trusts that jacked up rates and exploited consumers
would come under attack.
Who would decide the difference between right and wrong?
Teddy himself
Notably –broke up Standard Oil
Roosevelt became known as a
“trust buster”
Objective was to break up bad trusts
Environment and the
Industrial Revolution
Forests throughout the country were depleted; some
estimates indicated that only about 20 percent of the
original woodlands remained in 1900
Establishes the National Parks System to preserve the
land for future generations
Roosevelt on Conservation
"We have fallen heirs to the most glorious heritage a people
ever received, and each one must do his part if we wish to
show that the nation is worthy of its good
fortune." Theodore Roosevelt

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