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The Progressive Era
The Gilded Age
• Gilded age lasted from 1870s-1890s
• Two concerns shaped politics during the
Gilded Age
– Americans feared that industrialists were
enriching themselves at the expense of the public
– Belief that the government was corrupt and
Reforming the Gilded Age
• Key source of corruption was the spoils system
– The practice of rewarding political supporters with
Reforming the Gilded Age
• 1883 President Chester A. Arthur signed the
Pendleton Act in order to end the spoils
– Created the civil service
Reforming the Gilded Age
• Big business exerted strong influence over
• Americans wanted to limit the power of big
Reforming the Gilded Age
• Interstates Commerce Act-1887
• Sherman Antitrust Act-1890
– Stopped businesses from trying to limit or destroy
competition (end monopolies)
Corruption in the Cities
• Politicians would accept money to award city
jobs to friends (building roads, collecting
garbage, expanding sewers)
Corruption in the Cities
• Boss Tweed carried corruption to new
extremes in the 1860s and 1870s
– Cheated NYC out of more than $100 million
• Journalists exposed Tweed’s crimes through
political cartoons
• Progressives were a diverse group of
reformers united by a belief in the public
interest, or the good of all people
• States instituted many reforms to put more
power in the hands of voters
– Recall
– Initiative
• Two Constitutional Amendments
– 16th-Congress has the power to pass income tax
– 17th direct election of senators
• Muckrakers
– Targeted big business in order to force changes
• Jacob Riis-How the Other Half Lives
• Upton Sinclair-The Jungle
Progressive Era
• 1906 Congress passed the Pure Food and Drug
– Allowed closer inspection of meatpacking houses
– Stopped drug companies from making false claims
about medicines and adding harmful chemicals to
canned foods
– Required food and drug makers to list all
ingredients to packages
First Progressive President
• Theodore Roosevelt
– Gained reputation as a trustbuster
– Started lawsuits to break up trust and monopolies
like Northern Securities, American Tobacco
Company, and Standard Oil
First Progressive President
• 1902-Pennsylvania coal miners went on strike
for better pay and shorter work hours
• Roosevelt threatened to send in troops to run
the mines, which forced the mine owners to
negotiate with the union
• First President ever to side with strikers
First Progressive President
• Roosevelt passed legislation dealing with
– U.S. Forest Service was formed in 1905
– Created national parks
• Yosemite National Park
• Yellow Stone Park
Progressive Era
• William Taft won election of 1908
– Passed a lot of Progressive Legislation
• New safety rules for mines
• Government workers started an 8 hour work day
• Created new child labor laws
Election of 1912
Wilson and the New Freedom
• Wilson created the Federal Trade Commission
to stop unfair business practices
• Passed Clayton Antitrust Act
Women Win the Vote
• Seneca Falls Convention of 1848 started an
organized women’s rights movement in the
United States
– Led by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B.
Women Win the Vote
• In the early 1900s support for women’s
suffrage grew
– Women were in the workforce and demanded a
say in making laws
Women Win the Vote
• Strategies
– Carrie Chapman Catt wanted to win suffrage state
by state.
– Alice Paul took a more forceful approach and
wanted a national amendment passed
Women Win the Vote
• 1919 Congress passed the 19th Amendment
giving women the right to vote
New Opportunities for Women
• Women had more opportunity to achieve a
higher education (by 1900 the nation had
1,000 women lawyers and 7,000 women
• Started new clubs and entered new fields of
work (social work)
Crusade Against Alcohol
Crusade Against Alcohol
• Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU)
was formed in 1874 and led by Frances Willard
– Group wanted to ban the sale of liquor and close
all saloons
Crusade Against Alcohol
• In 1919 temperance leaders succeeded in
getting Congress to pass the 18th Amendment
– The amendment enforced prohibition
Struggles for Justice
• African Americans
– Faced discrimination in the North as well as in the
• Landlords refused to rent homes in white areas, they
were restricted to the worst housing, and received the
poorest jobs
Struggles for Justice
• Booker T. Washington
– Founded the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama
• School offered training in industrial and agricultural
– Believed African Americans needed to learn trades
and gradually move up in society
Struggles for Justices
• W.E.B. Du Bois
– Urged African Americans to fight discrimination
rather than submit to it
– Created the National Association for the
Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
• Tried to achieve equal rights for African Americans
Struggles for Justices
• Lynching
Struggles for Justices
• Successes
– George Washington Carver discovered new uses
for crops in the south to help feed families
(peanuts, soy beans, sweet potatoes)
– Sarah Walker became the first American woman
to earn more than $1 million
Struggles for Justices
• Mexican Americans
– Also faced legal segregation
• Paid less than white workers and were forced to live in
separate areas and attended different schools
Struggles for Justice
• Asian Americans
– Face discrimination in the United States
– U.S. wanted to stop immigrants from coming in
from Asia
• 1906-San Francisco forced all Asian students to attend
separate schools.
– Japan took this as an insult and the issue threatened to cause
in international crisis
Struggles for Justice
• Gentlemen’s Agreement
– Roosevelt and Japan agreed that Japan would stop
workers from going to the U.S. and the U.S. would
allow Japanese women to join their husbands in
the U.S.
Struggles for Justice
• Religious Minorities
– Catholics, Jews and other religions faced prejudice
• Anti-Semitism
– Leo Frank
• A Jewish man that was falsely accused of murdering a
young girl. His conviction was overturned and he was
the lynched