Twentieth century began issues – industrialization, immigration, urbanization, rise of corporate capitalism
It was an era of political, social, and economic reform By WW1, the US had adopted policies to intervene in the workings of the economy and to regulate the behavior of individuals and corporations that would have been inconceivable 25 years earlier. In l890, the main body of employees of the federal government worked in the Post Office or in the armed services. The primary task of the 25,000 man army was to guard the frontier. There was no federal income tax and no large federal bureaucracy.
Roots of Progressive Change
The Populists wanted to meet the needs of the farmers. Since railroads could grant rebates, favor sections, and influence legislators, they became the subject of criticism, particularly in the South and West. Another concern to the South and West was the tariff which favored the industrial Northeast. Southern and western farmers felt they had to buy in a protected market and sell in an unprotected one. The banking and currency systems seemed to help the Northeast as well. In l890, the Populist Party rose from these sections and challenged the major parties
In the 1890’s, prices for wheat and cotton plummeted and farmers found themselves in debt. Farmers wanted the government to raise crop prices and inflate the currency to make their debts easier to pay. They also wanted government to control or tighten regulation of railroads and monopolies. The Populist platform called for postal savings banks, graduated income tax, direct election of senators, and regulation of railroads and monopolies. The Populists nominated James Weaver in l892, but supported the Democratic candidate, William Jennings Bryan, in l896 because Bryan advocated free coinage of silver and other policies that Populists supported. His “Cross of Gold” speech won their support.
Settlement houses –To address the ills of the...