Peter C. Holloran - Historical Dictionary of the Progressive Era
The Scarecrow Press | 2009 | ISBN: 0810853493 081086293X | Pages: 696 | PDF | 3.33 MB
Why study the Progressive Era? Although they disagreed about much
else, the two most memorable political figures of the early 20th century
concurred on the view that the country in these years wrestled with
momentous issues. “When the Constitution was adopted,” Theodore
Roosevelt noted in his first annual message as president in December
1901, “no human wisdom could foretell the sweeping changes, alike
in industrial and political conditions, which were to take place by the
beginning of the twentieth century.” “This is nothing short of a new social
age,” Woodrow Wilson observed in a 1912 presidential campaign
speech, “a new era of human relationships, a new stage-setting for the
drama of life.” Unusually thoughtful politicians, Roosevelt and Wilson
excelled at articulating in understandable terms the country’s situation
and its options. Yet the thoughts they expressed about the significance
of their age were common currency. The rhetoric of William Jennings
Bryan, Robert La Follette, and other major politicians all began with
the premise that the United States had entered a dramatically new era
whose hazards and possibilities Americans needed to understand in
order to build a better society. Similar thoughts animated the “muckraking”
journalism, social reform, and public policy writing that count
among the memorable products of these years.
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