The faming movement that started making the major parties responsible was the populist movement. It existed in the early 1890s and it was mainly comprised of farmers from the west and south who came together with an aim of taking charge of the state so that they could use the power to protect their farms and improve their way of lives. It was formed due to dissatisfaction of the rural population that was mainly farmers with the fall of prices of their farm produce and was out to challenge the major political parties.
The party needed to convince black and white farmers, small businessmen, industrial workers, and women to support them in order to gain victory over the two parties. They went out to the poor rural population telling them that they should support them and put aside their traditional racial differences so that they could come together and challenge the influence of the corporate rich that did not care about their future but instead put their own interests at heart. They tried to convince the American public to vote for their presidential candidate but were not successful.
Although they managed to bring forward stellar ideas, they became victims of free silver, an issue that did not go well with the urban poor population whose votes were very crucial. Despite the efforts they put into the campaign, they did not succeed to convince masses and therefore were doomed . How successful was that movement? Although the movement did not succeed to take power, they were able to run a successful campaign in 1892. They managed to pull more than a million votes and elected several of their members to Congress.
They also participated in the elections that followed like the 1896 one in which they had succeeded to control the Democratic Party but were not able to get the support of the populist and ended up losing the elections. This is because most of the time, the silver issue could come their way and they could not be able to prove their independence. The party’s last candidate ran for the 1908 elections could only manage to secure less than 30,000 votes which effectively ended the party’s short life. Progressive Movement
This was a wide campaign for reforms in the social, economic and political structures that reached its climax in the early 20th century. The movement started after the end of America’s civil war of 1861 to 1865. It was in response to vast change that had been brought forward by industrialization and economic depression. The movement moved to cities and established settlement in slums in which they build institutions that could provide various services to the community. The movement was headed by activists like Lillian Ward of New York City, Addams Jane of Chicago and many others.
They attacked corruption in the local government and opposed the government policies of noninterference that gave way to business monopolies . This movement was an effort to look for a solution to the many ills that had taken root in the American society. It came to exist as part of a second reform because there had been previous attempts to bring reforms by the farmers under the umbrella of the populist part which was aimed at improving the working condition and humanize treatment of mentally handicapped but did not succeed.
The progressive movement believed that it was possible to change the way society operated. It faced a lot of opposition from the rich. Their goals were: to eradicate corruption from the government and do away with the undue influence it had on the political arena, they needed people to be included directly in politics and also they wanted the government to take responsibility of addressing the social problems that faced common citizens and administer fairness in matters concerning economy .
The movement became successful mainly because of the publicity that was brought about by the muckrakers and writers who managed to make people understand the negative effects of poverty, dangerous working conditions, urban slums, and child labor among a wide range of other evils. The successes of the movement became evident. From the interstate commercial act to Sherman antitrust act that were put in place. Legislation of rail road, food and drug laws were put in place and new amendments were added into the constitution that provided for new ways of electing senators, protecting the public by prohibiting and extending suffrage to women .
An example of how progressive legislation regulated the government The movement concentrated on the city and state government in which they looked for areas where there was waste and means in which they could provide better services to the ever growing population of the city. This brought about a more structured system of governance such that power shifted from the old system in which it was centralized at the legislature and became more locally oriented system of power. These changes were made in order effectively manage the legal process, bureaucratic administration, market transactions, and democracy .
They were all put under the “Municipal Administration”. Authority was also changed such that the one that was believed to be disorganized was replaced with the new type that was mainly comprised of professionals, bureaucrats and experts. The changes brought a more solid municipal administration as compared to the old administration that was poorly constructed and undeveloped. Efficiency in government: many of the progressives who took control were out to address the needs of people by ensuring that government operations were rational and more efficient in providing services.
An example is the argument against the ten hour working day in which they used scientific data that had been compiled by social scientists which managed to bring out the high cost that was incurred when working for long hours to both the society and individuals . Although the quest for efficiency sometimes contradicted the quest for democracy in which it placed power in the hands of professional rather than politicians who were the voice of the people. Centralized decision making made local governments less corrupt.
Progressives believed that professionals could be in a better position to make better decisions as compared to politicians. An example is the rise of city manager system which was run by paid professionals under guidelines from elected city councils. The numbers of officials in government were reduced and overlapping authorities removed making the government more efficient . The precedent that personified progressive movement was President Theodore Roosevelt. He was accidentally elected to presidency and managed to be reelected as president. He was a talented man with huge appetites and a range of interests.
He had admiration of many people, was feared, hated and loved. He could bore people to tears but also could make them happy. He was committed to the progressive movement such that he could use his power to ensure that Americans had a “square deal”. He launched a campaign to do away with monopolistic trusts, persuaded congress to pass Elkin’s act of 1903, he protected labor workers like when he supported striking coal miners in Pennsylvania in 1902 and pushed for environmental conservation where he set aside millions of acres for forests and passed the New Lands Act .
The movement was important to the masses of the 20th century because it was able to bring the much needed reforms in both the government and other sectors. The movement was a success because it managed to reduce corruption that had been deep rooted and made rendering of service more efficient. It changed the business sector and helped reduce monopoly. Works cited. Chip Berlet, Matthew Nemiroff Lyons. Right-wing populism in America: too close for comfort. Guilford Press, 2000.
ISBN 1572305622, 9781572305625 Curt Lader,. Painless American History. Barron’s Educational Series, 1999. ISBN 0764106201, 9780764106200 Jim Bissett. Agrarian Socialism in America: Marx, Jefferson, and Jesus in the Oklahoma Countryside, 1904-1920. University of Oklahoma Press, 2002. ISBN 0806134275, 9780806134277 Lewis L. Gould. America in the progressive era, 1890-1914. Longman, 2001. ISBN 0582356717, 9780582356719 Flanagan A. Maureen. America reformed: Progressives and progressivisms, 1890s-1920s.
Oxford University Press, 2007. ISBN 0195172205, 9780195172201 Michael McGerr. A fierce discontent: the rise and fall of the Progressive movement in America, 1870-1920. Oxford University Press US, 2005. ISBN 0195183657, 9780195183658 Noralee Frankel, Nancy S. Dye. Gender, Class, Race, and Reform in the Progressive Era, Part 3. University Press of Kentucky, 1994. ISBN 0813108411, 9780813108414 Robert A. Divine, T. H. Breen, George M. Fredrickson, R. Hal Williams. America, past and present. Longman, 2002Sample Essay of Eduzaurus.com