Essay about The Progressive Era: Conflicting Viewpoints

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The Progressive Era: Conflicting Viewpoints
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Two people witnessing the same event can have very different views on it depending on their information and perspective. The presentation of history also changes depending on the resources and prior prejudices and personal views of the historian. Four historian’s interpretations on the Progressive Era and Progressivism were reviewed to determine whether their arguments and use of evidence were sound. Also, the particular known views of the historian were occasionally taken into account. Each of these works has its own particular view on the Progressive Era and its importance in history.

In The Age of Reform, Richard Hofstadter reviews both the Populist and
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Populism was a narrow movement, confined mostly to the western and southern farmers, and was a movement of small- town ignorance lashing out against progress and espoused many ideas which simply could be categorized as fear of the other, a sort of “conspiratorial theory and… suspicion of the stranger that haunted, and still tragically haunts, the nativist American mind”(82). Hofstadter quotes editorials and poems from farmers’ magazines which display their state of mind, and their suspicion of cities and city- life. Progressivism, however, took some of the issues of the Populists and made a genteel, nation- wide movement of reform. The Progressives, according to Hofstadter, were the long- established wealthy professionals who were losing in status and prestige in comparison with the nouveau riche robber barons and railroaders and losing political clout to the ‘bosses’ who controlled the immigrant populations of the cities. Hofstadter refers to the Progressives as ‘gentry’ and they took a stance of liberal, well- intentioned, noblesse oblige, which had the final goal as putting the country back on the right track. Of course, the right path for the country was the one that placed them in prominence once again, and limited the power of the big businesses and eradicated the political bosses of the cities. As with the Populist movement, Hofstadter reviews literature, editorials, and

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