Progressivism in America – Part 5

Enter the Progressives!

John Dewey and Lester Ward placed universal, compulsory, public education at the top of the top of the Progressive agenda. Even against the will of the parents, the child must attend school.

Samuel Gompers said monopolies supressed the competition needed for progress and that the federal government should break them up into smaller companies. – However, the government should then withdraw and permit market place forces to regulate the economy. – Progressives like Benjamin Park De Witt said monopolies were desirable with their massive resources, but that the government should regulate them to prevent abuses. Teddy Roosevelt agreed.

Progressives set up training programs to ensure that welfare and charity work would be done by trained professionals. Settlement houses were established (such as Hull House in Chicago) to help raise the standard of living of urban slum dwellers. Adult education and cultural enrichment programs were offered.

Labor Unions were supported by legal reforms. Child labor laws were enacted. The 8 hour work day was legally established as the norm. Safety and health standards were established in factories. Workmens compensation was enacted. Minimum wage for women was set in place.

Crusading Progressive  journalists called “muckrakers” exposed intolerable conditions in Mc Clures Magazine and other reform periodicals. Notable muckrakers included Lincoln Stephens, Ida Tarbel, Upton Sinclair.

Progressives decreased corruption in politics and increased municipal efficiency in so doing.

Progressive under Teddy Roosevelt (1901-1909) established government-funded Conservation projects, and National Parks and Wildlife Refuges that reached an area of 42 million acres by 1909. The New Lands Reclamation Act gave government subsidies for irrigation in 16 western states in 1902. Large areas of land were were Protected by the Antiquities Act of 1906.

Later would come civil rights legislation and other important Progressive  contributions.

But, mingled with the enormous good Progressives have done, is grave cruelty as with the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision making abortion legal. Another equally cruel move is the enactment of laws permitting new born infants with severe handicaps to be left to die unattended. This is is the dark side of Progressivism that early Progressives would, doubtlessly, have found horrific. It is the original humane intent of the Progressive movement reversed to inhumanity in its worst forms. It must end! We must end it and we must do it now!

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