“Widespread dissatisfaction with new trends in American society spurred the Progressive Era, named for the various progressive movements that attracted various constituencies around various reforms. Americans had many different ideas about how the country’s development should be managed and whose interests required the greatest protection. Reformers sought to clean up politics; Black Americans continued their long struggle for civil rights; women demanded the vote with greater intensity while also demanding a more equal role in society at large; and workers demanded higher wages, safer workplaces, and the union recognition that would guarantee these rights. Whatever their goals, reform became the word of the age, and the sum of their efforts, whatever their ultimate impact or original intentions, gave the era its name.” –Mary Anne Henderson, ed., Chapter 20: The Progressive Era, American Yawp [WEB]
- How should historians distinguish late 19th-century populists from early 20th-century progressives?
Progressives, Trust-Busting, and Economic Reform
Gifford Pinchot, former head of the US Forest Service, was actually the chief author of the Theodore Roosevelt’s 1910 “New Nationalism” speech, described above by the Wall Street Journal. Ex-president Roosevelt’s startling break with the Republican establishment helped lead to a four-way presidential contest in 1912.