American History II: Note Set #11: The Presidents of the Progressive Era Theodore Roosevelt

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American History II: Note Set #11: The Presidents of the Progressive Era

  • Theodore Roosevelt (1858 – 1919), 26th President (1901-09), Republican

    • Promoted his “Square Deal” - a promise to treat both citizens and businesses fairly; Roosevelt wanted to protect consumers from “bad” trusts, but also protect businesses from unreasonable labor demands

    • The Anthracite Coal Mine Strike

      • 1902: 150,000 Pennsylvania coal miners went on strike, leaving the nation without coal for heat

      • Roosevelt threatened to nationalize the mines, forcing the owners to negotiate with the strikers

    • The Elkins Act (1903) & Hepburn Act (1906)

      • Required railroads to charge everyone the same shipping rates

      • Laws strengthened the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) by giving it the ability to impose fines and even to set railroad rates

    • US v. Northern Securities (1901)

      • Three major railroads merged under a holding company called Northern Securities, creating a monopoly

      • Roosevelt sued, claiming Northern Securities violated the Sherman Antitrust Act

      • The Supreme Court ruled in Roosevelt’s favor, ordering the breakup of Northern Securities

    • Creation of the U.S. Department of Commerce & Labor (1903)

      • Even while opposing trusts, Roosevelt knew that supporting business was good for the nation

      • Roosevelt created the Dept. of Commerce & Labor, including the Bureau of Corporations, a branch designed to monitor businesses and advised them when their practices might force government action

    • The Meat Inspection Act (1906) & Pure Food & Drug Act (1906)

      • In 1906, Upton Sinclair wrote The Jungle, an exposé of the disgusting conditions within the meat-packing industry

      • Public outcry afterwards prompted Roosevelt to seek food inspection reforms

      • New laws required the inspection of meat by the United States Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) and prohibited the manufacture, sale, or shipment of impure or falsely labeled food and drugs

      • Products containing drugs like alcohol, caffeine, or cocaine also had to be labeled

    • Land Conservation Efforts

      • Roosevelt supported conservation of the nation’s natural resources and set aside millions of acres of public lands for national parks, forests, and wildlife preserves

  • William Howard Taft (1857 – 1930), 27th President (1909-13), Republican

    • Strongly supported by Roosevelt during the election of 1908

    • The Payne-Aldrich Tariff (1909)

      • Taft tried to get tariffs lowered, but ended up being forced to accept the Payne-Aldrich Tariff which actually raised tariffs on most goods

      • This angered & disappointed Progressives, including Roosevelt, and badly hurt Taft’s reputation

    • Ballinger-Pinchot Controversy (1909)

      • Taft’s Secretary of the Interior, Richard Ballinger, was accused by head of the US Forest Service (and close friend of Roosevelt) Gifford Pinchot of corruption

      • Taft’s Attorney General dismissed the charges due to lack of evidence, so Pinchot leaked his story to the press

      • Taft fired the popular Pinchot, angering Progressives

    • The Mann-Elkins Act (1910)

      • Increased the powers of the Interstate Commerce Commission by adding communications (telegraph & telephone companies) to the industries overseen by the ICC

    • Taft the “Trustbuster

      • Roosevelt was perceived as being a more efficient trustbuster than Taft, but Taft actually prosecuted twice as many antitrust cases in his 1 term as president as Roosevelt did in 2 terms!

    • US v. American Tobacco (1911)

      • US Supreme Court ruled that James Duke’s American Tobacco Co. had violated the Sherman Antitrust Act by establishing an illegal monopoly on the cigarette industry

    • The Children’s Bureau (created in 1912)

      • Designed to protect children from abuse, both at home and in the workplace and to monitor orphanages, foster care, and adoptions

      • First federal agency to be headed by a woman (Julia Lathrop)

    • The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire (March 25, 1911)

      • Exit doors to a New York textile factory were kept locked from the outside to prevent employees from stealing

      • When a fire broke out, the workers could not escape and 146 died

      • Public outrage led to major reforms in factory working conditions and building codes

  • The Election of 1912

    • Disappointed in Taft, Roosevelt decided to run for president once again in 1912

    • The Republican Party stuck with Taft, so Roosevelt formed his own Progressive Party, better known as the “Bull Moose” Party

    • The Bull Moose platform of “New Nationalism” supported making the federal government powerful enough to regulate corporations

    • Roosevelt was shot while campaigning, limiting his ability to appear in public over the last several weeks of the election

    • The Democratic Party nominated Progressive NJ governor (and political newcomer) Woodrow Wilson

    • With the Republicans split between Taft and Roosevelt, Wilson won the election fairly easily

  • Woodrow Wilson (1856 – 1924), 28th President (1913-21), Democrat

    • Ran on the “New Freedom” platform: rather than empower government to regulate monopolies and trusts, simply destroy monopolies to ensure fair competition

    • Believed in limited government, especially where the economy was concerned

    • 16th Amendment (1913): Created a federal income tax

    • 17th Amendment (1913): To eliminate corruption in the Senate, the Constitution was amended to require US senators to be publicly elected rather than appointed by state legislatures

    • The Underwood Tariff (1913): Cut tariffs in half, down to about 30%

      • Wilson believed that competition with European companies would force American companies to produce better products more efficiently (cheaper)

    • The Federal Reserve Act (1913)

      • Required private banks to keep a portion of their deposits on reserve in federally run banks to act as a cushion against unexpected losses; federal reserve banks then set national interest rates and regulated the amount of money in circulation, allowing them to control inflation and prevent recessions

    • The Federal Trade Commission (1914)

      • Had the authority to investigate and penalize businesses using unfair trade practices

      • FTC was not designed to breakup trusts, but rather to make companies play fair

    • The Clayton Antitrust Act (1914)

      • Banned “tying” agreements which required retailers who bought products from one company to stop selling products from competing companies

      • Required businesses to charge all customers the same price for a product

      • Banned manufacturers from giving price discounts to retailers who bought larger volumes

      • Declared labor unions to be exempt from antitrust laws

    • The Keating-Owen Child Labor Act (1916)

      • Prohibited the employment of children under 14 in factories producing goods sold through interstate commerce, but was later declared unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court

    • The Adamson Act (1916): Passed by Congress to avoid a national railroad strike

      • Established an 8-hour workday for railroad workers, created overtime pay

      • First US law to regulate the hours of workers in private industry

    • Federal Farm Loan Act (1916)

      • Created special federal banks to provide loans to farmers and small businesses

      • Encouraged small businesses to compete with bigger rivals to prevent trusts and monopolies

    • 18th Amendment (1919)

      • Growing support for temperance (anti-alcohol) led to a ban on the manufacture, transport or sale of alcoholic beverages anywhere in the US

      • 18th Amendment was repealed by the 21st Amendment in 1933

    • 19th Amendment (1920): Gave women the right to vote in federal elections

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