Progressivism Essay

1891 Words8 Pages

The Progressive Movement in the late nineteenth century, early twentieth century presented quite a situation for historians to conquer. At the turn of the twentieth century political questioning was the norm. Practically every historian that writes about this time period has a different opinion of what made up “Progressive Movement,” some even going so far to beg the question if it was actually a movement or if it was more of an “era.” The two are interchanged so often that they have in many ways come to mean the same thing although according to some they are distinctly different.
The four works, Richard Hofstadter's The Age of Reform, Peter Filene's "An Obituary for the Progressive Movement," Richard McCormick's "The
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He discusses the agrarian myth in some depth and argues that the agrarian populism eventually evolves into part of the progressive movement. His book is one of the main sources that Peter Filene argues against in his article questioning the existence progressivism as a movement.
Peter Filene's article presents the idea that Progressivism was not a movement at all but more of a jumbled mess of similar ideas that occurred around the same period in history. Filene “seeks to prove that ‘the progressive movement’ never existed.” (Article 1, p. 20) He believed that there are too many discrepancies between the ideas of different historians and that if it were an actual movement that the definitions of the progressive movement/era would be consistent with each other. The only real agreement that Filene finds between the many differing opinions is the goals of the time period. He includes as the “standard list of progressive objectives… constraints on monopolies, trusts and big banking interests; regulation of railroad rates; lower tariffs; the direct primary; initiative, referendum and recall; direct election of U.S. Senators; women’s suffrage; child- and female- labor laws; pure food and drug laws and conservation.” (Article 1, p. 21) Filene explains the discrepancies between the many historians’ views. He then asks the question, with so many different initiatives and so many different groups working towards similar goals how it can be considered
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