Various Interpretations of the Progressive Era Essays

Various Interpretations of the Progressive Era Essays

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“What was the Progressive Movement?”[1] Historian Peter G. Filene presents this question in his article, “An Obituary for ‘The Progressive Movement’”, in order to introduce the reality that for decades scholars struggled to propose an answer to this question. They have and still do struggle because there are many ways to consider this question and qualify the Progressive Era: such as its definition, time frame, significant turning points and important people, goals, successes, and failures. Given these ways of explaining the Progressive Era expressing its ideas appears to be a daunting task.

However, the first historian to successfully define and explain the Progressive Movement was historian Richard Hofstadter. With his 1954 book Pulitzer Prize winning book, The Age of Reform, Hofstadter links the major reform movements before and after the turn of the twentieth century. Instead of citing specific reforms or leaders, Hofstadter deals with the ideas connecting Populism, Progressivism and the New Deal, while examining the differences and similarities between them. Other historians subsequently conduct their own research and formulate their own opinions in response to Hofstadter’s book. Peter G. Filene writes in 1970, “An Obituary for ‘The Progressive Movement’”, which proposes the Progressive Movement cannot be considered a movement at all because of its disunity and lack of identity. Richard L. McCormick writes “The Discovery that Business Corrupts Politics: A Reappraisal of the Origins of Progressivism” in 1980 to offer the corruption of business was the driving force behind Progressivism. Finally, Paula Baker argues in the Progressive era government adopted the domestication role and social policies previously hel...


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[26] Paula Baker, 640.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Paula Baker, 641-642.




Works Cited

Peter G. Filene, “An Obituary for the Progressive Movement,” American Quarterly 22 Spring 1970. Web. 2 June 2015.
http://bhsecprogressivism2.omeka.net/items/show/267

Richard Hofstadter, The Age of Reform (New York: Vintage Books, A Division of Random House, 1955. Web. 1 June 2015.
http://www2.fiu.edu/~lichtens/syllabi/brinkley.pdf

Richard L. McCormick. “The Discovery that Business Corrupts Politics: A Reappraisal of the Origins of Progressivism,” American Historical Review, 86. April 1981. Web. 4 June 2015.
http://www.nyu.edu/classes/gmoran/MCCORMICK.pdf

Paula Baker, “The Domestication of Politics: Women and American Political Society, 1780-1920,” American Historical Review, 89 (June 1984). Web. 26 May 2015.
https://bhsecamericas2.omeka.net/items/show/15

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