Lecture Notes From Summer Institutes



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SESSION III –Progressive Movement (continued)

III. Third Session: “The Progressive Movement (continued).

A. Both the Populists and the Progressives organized in response to the effects of the Industrial Revolution in the United States. Major question: How to respond to the changes with reform rather than revolution.

B. McGeer correctly stated that “all historical truth is going to be challenged,” and his views are no exception.

C. What was Progressivism or the Progressive Movement?

1. It flowed from middle-class recognition that American individualism and complete personal independence were at times harmful to many people. Desire to make America more social by finding ways to adjust. “Making society more social.”

2. Progressives did believe in progress; they were optimistic.

a. They believed people and society could be changed and improved.

b. They believed in the necessity of regulation—typically by government—of the peoples’ environment to create change.

c. Believed external stimuli could assist in change. Accepted the concept that if you change peoples’ environment, you can change or improve their lives.



  • The city playground movement is an example. Put children in the outdoors with physical activities, and it would improve children’s lives.

  • Progressives believed they knew best.

  • There was disagreement among Progressive on how best to change environment. For example, regulate saloons to limit consumption of alcohol or complete prohibition of alcohol divided Progressives.

  • Pushed for literacy programs, cooking classes to teach immigrants to cook American food and thus, more fully assimilate, and demanded laws to keep children in school longer.

  • They focused on children, to make certain they would grow up with middle-class values.

3. Progressive efforts to reform the upper class were more of a problem, but most agreed that by taking away some of their wealth through income taxes and inheritance taxes, a small leveling effort.

a. They maintained an attack on the wealthy Americans’ spending habits, practices, and opulence.

b. Tax the rich to publicly embarrass them.

4. Progressives desired to reform American farmers by changing them into a more middle-class mentality. Establish and improve “mechanized farming” and establish rural mail delivery.

5. Progressive reformers also had a very pessimistic view and ideas concerning American race issues concerning African Americans.

a. Recognized race could not be changed by environment, and did believe racial characteristics were set and could not be changed.

b. Progressives favored continued segregation since racial characteristics could not be changed, it would do no good to integrate the races.

c. Most believed whites and blacks were incompatible and could not live together in peace.

d. Progressives typically considered segregation desirable because it protected African Americans from racial extermination.

6. Progressives also had a dark side concerning American Indians.

a. The Dawes Plan for Native Americans was an attempt supported by Progressives to make them middle-class farmers.

b. Reservations physically segregated Indians.

c. Progressives believed that segregation for African Americans and reservations for Native Americans was the only logical choice to avoid a race war that would annihilate the two minorities.

7. Progressives supported the de facto segregation of lower from middle-class areas.

8. Progressives supported revision of immigration laws that restricted numbers of immigrants.

9. Progressives attempted to deal with the effects of the Industrial Revolution through regulation of big business.

a. They never gave up on private property rights, capitalism, and they consistently shunned the ideals of socialism.

b. In the end, Progressives could not answer all the questions or come close to solving all the problems.

c. They had to deal with socialism, but remember, they were reformers, not radicals or revolutionaries.

d. Progressives understood the American political system was corrupted by big business and needed reform.

D. History is not arranged or intentional; people who view history tend to see conspiracies to explain many events that are actually an accident, bumbling, or coincidence—smart people do dumb things at times.

E. The First World War ended the Progressive Movement and swept away the new ideals and politics. Attempts to return to the pre-war movement failed miserably.

1. The United State did become and regulated society, during World War I.

a. Prohibition.

b. Government censorship.

c. Railroads and industry were regulated.

d. Public health became much more regulated.

e. The income tax was established.

f. The Sabotage and Espionage Acts restricted and regulated individual behavior.

2. Americans looked at life and their society during the First World War and they were appalled at the extent of government regulation. They asked what had happened to individual freedom, the economy, and society.

F. When industrialization overwhelmed America, it called into question some traditional American values and principles. Progressives as a group desired to regulate every aspect of American society with the intention to benefit all Americans. With Progressivism, the modern views of liberalism began with liberal’s obsession with the power of government to supposedly do good for the American people by government regulation or intervention.
AP U.S. History - SEMINAR NOTES

July 28, 2005

Dr. David M. Kennedy—Stanford University


Ph D – Yale University

Session I



Lecture 1: The Great Depression


  • A child of the Depression

    • Parents married in 1930

    • Born in 1941, instead of 1931

    • Dad worked in mining camp in Leavenworth, WA

    • Mother was to be the first woman to spend winter in Campbell Hall

    • Company went bankrupt

    • Parents stayed for 8 years without income

    • Father finally got another job in 1938 and eventually got a job with the government

  • Great Depression must be understood as a psychological dilemma

    • National Income=Consumption+Investment+

    • Y = C + I + G

    • 1929 = $81b $24b constant 15% of GNP

    • 1933 = (-40%) (-90%)

    • traditionally, if economy went down, then interest rates were reduced to increase investment

    • Keynes saw a liquidity trap, when nobody would use the available credit

      • Equal to pushing on a string when a great depression

      • Keynes said government should fuel consumption function

    • Roosevelt focused on balance

      • Farmworkers were 20% in 1920s, and 44% lived rurally

      • Both Hoover and Roosevelt focused on agricultural crisis

      • Government had no mechanism to track the numbers of unemployed, Wagner had no numbers when he

      • 13 million out of work in 1933, 25% unemployed

      • overwhelmingly male workforce, women were transient workers who would leave workforce 12-20%

      • effectively, it meant that 13 million households were out of income

      • Stalin said to kill millions of men is just a statistic, to kill one man is murder and much more meaningful

      • Stanford Stadium holds about 80,000 people

        • First Saturday in January of 1930 for heads of household fills the stadium

          • At end of the day, an announcement is made that each of them have no job

            • Two of every three are told that they will not have a job for at least four years

        • Same thing happens every Saturday through the early months of 1933 (160x80,000)

    • Would people get upset? Not so much. The public was relatively placid

      • FDR said, “There had never been a time, the Civil War excepted, when such a large percentage of the country was unemployed, yet the public dealt with it so peaceably.” (paraphrase of Tugwell)

      • FDR was not responding to public demands for action

      • Mira Kamorovsky, The Unemployed Man and His Family

        • Similar research methods to Lynds’ Middletown

        • She found that unemployed man was not feeling anger but shame and guilt and failure

        • Highlights individualism, first articulated by de Tocqueville in 1830s as being uniquely American

        • Our individualistic autonomy were primary values

        • Offers perspective on Roosevelt’s task – had to convince Americans that his solutions were legitimate given our overall value structure – made FDR’s job tougher

        • After Newberry lecture, a man approached Kennedy and told him that his father shut himself in a room for 2 years

          • Small insurance brokerage firm went bust in GD, and kept looking for 2 years

          • Finally went to a food line and saw a former business associate, which sent him into depression

    • Chinese etymology: the Chinese character for crisis is a combination of the characters of danger and opportunity = historiographical point: most standard accounts (like Schlesinger) of the Great Depression and New Deal focused on the danger of the crisis and depression and absolute focus on solving problems

      • New Deal is a flop in terms of addressing employment issues

      • New Deal was better is promoting opportunity

        • Freedom from Fear uses letters from Marina Hickock to Harry Hopkins, who eventually worked for Hopkins in various administrations, driving around country, reporting on programs and sending letters back to Harry and Eleanor

        • Best descriptive documents about what was happening

        • If read chronologically, she reveals not just the transient crisis, but also the accumulation of problems related to the industrial revolution (James Paterson’s old poverty) structural poverty built into society

          • Paterson’s figure in 1940 is 45% of white households and 95% of black households lived below the poverty line

        • Victims of deeper problem

        • When reading FDR’s second inaugural address, he makes the comment on the premise that everything is improving

          • But these signs of economic recovery are portents of possible economic disaster – 1/3 of the nation unclad, unnourished, unemployed – systemic problem that would undo positive gains

      • Lynd study grapples with the class structure of Middletown

        • Two-class structure based on security of employment

          • Working class could not plan on steady employment and could not plan for future

          • Annual unemployment rate was 9% in 1920s

      • Great goal of New Deal and accomplishment to bring more people from working class into business class

        • Lasting and durable programs of New Deal was to make life less risky for banks, stock investors, housing buyers

        • “We want to reduce the vagaries of life.”

        • Social Security Act is premier emblem in making life less risky: old-age pensions and unemployment insurance

        • Securities and Exchange Commission

        • Before the 1930s, the minority of Americans were homeowners

          • 1929: 30% 1960: 60% 2000: 70%

          • Homeowners Loan Corporation

          • FHA

          • Fannie Mae formed in 1934

            • More homeownership

            • South and West become investment opportunities

    • Compare FDR (the most consequential president of 20th) with Reagan (the second most consequential president) outrageous as it may be, same height 6’2”, 190 pounds, served as governor of most populous state of their times, Roosevelt named first woman to cabinet, Reagan name SDO to supreme Court, both mastered communication mediums, both made central part of their campaign to balance budget despite failure to do so

      • Both turned economic policy failures into enduring political triumphs

      • Reagan racked up 2 trillion in debt but served his highest goal, which was to prevent expansion of welfare state

      • FDR failed to balance budget or lick the depression, but in allowing the Depression to go on, he had the ability to achieve lasting reform in banking, securities, home ownership, social security, labor, TVA

      • What is the relationship between Depression and New Deal? Not immediately solving the Depression worked for FDR because solving it too soon would have limited his chances to achieve lasting reforms, which he planned

      • Frances Perkins wrote “The Roosevelt I Knew” and said “I will take the job only if you move to get through your plan for Social Security.”

      • FDR had an agenda for social security well before he became president – visionary

      • FDR was a visionary, not necessarily pragmatic or experimenter, definitely not haphazard

  • Any explanation of the depression that does not focus on worldwide causes is suspect

  • Hoover tried to set up international cooperation, but FDR wanted to change society


Session II

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