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Archive for the 'USH: Progressive Era' Category

The Presidential Debates Of ’08 — 1908, That Is

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016

“It seems almost impossible to get away from the presidential campaign these days. The candidates are arguing on the radio in your car, plopping down in your living room on the TV, and even popping up on your computer.

For all that, you can thank William Jennings Bryan and William Howard Taft. Those two kicked off the era of the mass-media presidential campaign a century ago. And the modern parallels are uncanny….

They may sound a little long and drawn out to us today, but I would argue that the 20th century’s march to the sound bite begins with these recordings”

TR Speech: Who is a Progressive? April 1912

Sunday, January 31st, 2016

“In his recent speech at Philadelphia President Taft stated that he was a Progressive, and this raises the question as to what a Progressive is. More is involved than any man’s say-so as to himself.

A well-meaning man may vaguely think of himself as a Progressive without having even the faintest conception of what a Progressive is. Both vision and intensity of conviction must go to the make-up of any man who is to lead the forward movement, and mildly good intentions are utterly useless as substitutes.”

TR throws down the gauntlet. Take that Taft.

Then goes on…, “We of to-day who stand for the Progressive movement here in the United States are not wedded to any particular kind of machinery, save solely as means to the end desired. Our aim is to secure the real and not the nominal rule of the people. With this purpose in view, we propose to do away with whatever in our government tends to secure to privilege, and to the great sinister special interests, a rampart from behind which they can beat back the forces that strive for social and industrial justice, and frustrate the will of the people.”

Full text here

Obama: Progressive?

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

Early Friday, President Obama announced that he will designate three new national monuments, permanently protecting more than one million acres of public lands. He designated pristine wilderness landscapes in Nevada as Basin and Range National Monument, scenic mountains in California as Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument, and a fossil-rich site in Texas as Waco Mammoth National Monument.

With these designations, President Obama is adding to the 16 national monuments he has already created with his authority under the Antiquities Act, setting aside “more public lands and waters than any administration in history.”

Obama. Progressive? Maybe not. But TR would be proud.

Where Are Muckraking Journalists Today?

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

In its heyday, between 1903 and 1906, muckraking journalism was ubiquitous, urgent, influential. The “interests” (what we call today “special interests”) threatened the commonweal; the press attacked the interests. Even in the wake of TR’s tongue-lashing, investigative journalism continued to power Progressive reforms. Where have all the muckrakers gone?

Jessica Dorman, a former president of The Harvard Crimson, is an assistant professor of American Studies at Pennsylvania State University at Harrisburg.

Teddy Roosevelt Would Never Get Elected in 2014

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

Ken Burns on why he fell in love with TR and FDR, and what the presidential cousins would make of our own political moment.

Child Labor Laws Before Federal Regulation

Sunday, March 16th, 2014

These maps, which come from a 1933 Department of Labor report on child labor,document the uneven effects of state laws regulating the employment of children and teenagers.

During the first decades of the 20th century, progressives sought to regulate what they saw as exploitative employment of poor and immigrant children. Photographers such as Lewis Hine documented impossibly tiny newsboys, textile workers, and field hands, making a visual appeal to middle-class Americans, who were properly horrified.


NPR Fresh Air Interview: Woodrow Wilson Brought New Executive Style To The White House

Sunday, October 27th, 2013

Woodrow Wilson, America’s 28th president, left the White House in 1921 after serving two terms. But today he remains a divisive figure.

He’s associated with a progressive income tax and the creation of the Federal Reserve. During his re-election bid, he campaigned on his efforts to keep us out of World War I, but in his second term, he led the country into that war, saying the U.S. had to make the world safe for democracy. The move ended America’s isolationism and ushered in a new era of American military and foreign policy.

A. Scott Berg is the first scholar to have access to two sets of Wilson-related papers: hundreds of the president’s personal letters; and the papers of his doctor and close friend, Cary Grayson. Berg’s new book, Wilson, uses those papers to fill in missing pieces of the president’s life.

He joins Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross to discuss how Wilson changed the role of president, and his groundbreaking decision to enter World War I.

How the Other Half Lives: Studies Among the Tenements of New York

Sunday, February 17th, 2013

How the Other Half Lives together with its sequel Battle with the Slum reveal through Riis’s sensationalist prose and photography the appalling living conditions in the Lower East Side of turn-of-the-century New York City.

Full text here

PC not his forte. I’ve heard more flattering depictions of my peeps:

Thrift is the watchword of Jewtown, as of its people the world over. It is at once its strength and its fatal weakness, its cardinal virtue and its foul disgrace.

Penury and poverty are wedded everywhere to dirt and disease, and Jewtown is no exception. It could not well be otherwise in such crowds, considering especially their low intellectual status.

He is as ready to fight for his rights, or what he considers his rights, in a business transaction—synonymous generally with his advantage—as if he had not been robbed of them for eighteen hundred years. One strong impression survives with him from his days of bondage: the power of the law. On the slightest provocation he rushes off to invoke it for his protection. Doubtless the sensation is novel to him, and therefore pleasing.

Bitter as are his private feuds, it is not until his religious life is invaded that a real inside view is obtained of this Jew, whom the history of Christian civilization has taught nothing but fear and hatred.

As scholars, the children of the most ignorant Polish Jew keep fairly abreast of their more favored playmates, until it comes to mental arithmetic, when they leave them behind with a bound. It is surprising to see how strong the instinct of dollars and cents is in them. They can count, and correctly, almost before they can talk.

PBS American Experience: Triangle Fire

Sunday, February 17th, 2013

It was the deadliest workplace accident in New York City’s history. A dropped match on the 8th floor of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory sparked a fire that killed over a hundred innocent people trapped inside. The private industry of the American factory would never be the same.

Radical Solutions to Economic Inequality

Saturday, September 8th, 2012

If only Americans today were as open-minded about leveling the playing field as we were 100 years ago.