The Progressive Era - Liberal or Conservative

1811 Words May 7th, 2004 8 Pages
The Progressive Era - Liberal or Conservative

During the latter part of the nineteenth century, presumably around the 1890's, it became known as the Progressive Era, a time of change, reform, and adaptation. As Vernon L. Parrignton put it, it was a "democratic renaissance" (Vernon L. Parrington in The Progressive Movement: Liberal or Conservative). So what was Progressivism? Well, its main goals were to curb corporate power, to end business monopolies, and to wipe out political corruption. They also wanted to democratize electoral procedures, protect working people, and bridge the gap between social classes. They called for reforms such as the referendum, initiative, and the recall. They wanted the Americanization of the immigrant and the
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It is clear here that he supported that the Progressive Movement was liberal.

The term conservative is used to describe someone or something that favors traditional views and values, and tends to oppose change (Dictionary.com: Conservative). Unlike the historians like Hicks and Parrington, others, such as John Chamberlain and Richard Hofstadter believed that the Progressive Movement was that of a conservative one. Instead of seeing progressivism as a movement to correct American society, John Chamberlain saw it as a complete and abysmal failure, nothing but a bunch of people who "were motivated by an escapist desire to return to a golden past where honesty and virtue had dominated over egoism and evil" (The Progressive Movement: Liberal or Conservative). If the Progressive Movement is looked at as a conservative movement, one can concur that it was just a cover up for a moral crusade. During the latter part of the nineteenth century people of high status such as lawyers, professors, and clergymen were being ousted out of power. In response, these people went on a moral crusade to restore individualistic values based on the idea that only men of character should rule. (Richard Hofstadter in The Progressive Movement: Liberal or Conservative). According to George E. Mowry, progressivism was nothing but a "movement by a particular class aimed at reasserting its declining position of leadership" (George E.
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