The Age of Reform

The Age of Reform

Language: English

Pages: 352

ISBN: 0394700953

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


This book is a landmark in American political thought. It examines the passion for progress and reform that colored the entire period from 1890 to 1940 -- with startling and stimulating results. it searches out the moral and emotional motives of the reformers the myths and dreams in which they believed, and the realities with which they had to compromise.

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize.

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62, 114, 125-6, and chapter vi passim. 5 Charles William Eliot: American Contributions to Civilization (New York, 1907), pp. 85-6. Eliot was not so much in fear of corporate power as some of the Progressives came to be, but he was concerned to make the observation that “the activity of corporations, great and small, penetrates every part of the industrial and social body, and their daily maintenance brings into play more mental and moral force than the maintenance of all the governments on the

and nationalism, jingoism, or war. Periodically war has written the last scene to some drama begun by the popular side of the party struggle. In the age of Jefferson and Madison it was the Jeffersonian Republican Party, and particularly that faction of the Republican Party associated with the democratic hinterland and the frontier, that did most to bring on the War of 1812, and it was the war that finally liquidated the Jeffersonian policies and caused their reversal. Jacksonian democracy, the

Freidel’s Franklin D. Roosevelt: the Ordeal (Boston, 1954), and his forthcoming volume on F. D. R.’s governorship. 4 Characteristically, also, Hoover accepted what might be called the nativist view of the Great Depression: it came from abroad; it was the product, not of any deficiencies in the American economy, but of repercussions of the unsound institutions of Europe. 5 As the counsel for the National Association of Manufacturers put it: “Regulation has passed from the negative stage of

1892 had been decisive enough for solid control of the legislature, the Populists had been lured by the Republicans into a futile “legislative war” and had failed to enact any important legislation.8 Experience elsewhere—in Minnesota, for example, and Nebraska—made it clear that where the Populists had programs designed to cope with major local grievances of the farmers, their issues were either appropriated by the major parties in sufficient measure to drain off their strength or incorporated by

class, and a matter of indifference to the shortsighted professional classes with whom immigrants could not compete, but it was disastrous for native American workers. Immigrants were strike-breakers and scabs, who lowered wage levels and reduced living standards toward their “pigsty mode of life,” just as they brought social standards down to “their brawls and their animal pleasures.” They were unhygienic and alcoholic, they raised the rate of illiteracy and insanity, they fostered crime and bad

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