Historiography Paper: The Progressive Era

1079 words - 5 pages

The Progressive Era is defined as the period of social activism and political reform in the United States that took place from the 1890s to the 1920s. Historians George Mowry, Gabriel Kolko, and Joseph Huthmacher all have different opinions and reasons as to whom the most influential Progressives were and what they reformed. Mowry does an excellent job explaining how the “solid middle-class” was the most impactful Progressives and how they reformed in attempt to create a classless society. Kolko expressed some good points as to why the big businesses were the majority Progressives, but only focused on business-government relations and didn’t look into social-justice. Huthmacher thoroughly ...view middle of the document...

Darrow said, “the struggle for life has changed from a free fight to an encounter of disciplined forces, and the free fighters that are left get ground to pieces between organized labor and organized capital” (Mowry 262). The very rich and the very poor were two most dangerous classes to be apart of.
Mowry was brilliant in describing why the middle-class was the Progressives. He explained why farmers and laborers in the West and Midwest quested to reform big businesses power in society and improves the poverty competition in society. The “rags-to-riches” scheme seems ever more possible with the enactment of the Progressive’s reforms. Overall, Mowry was the most persuasive because of his ability to list political, economic, and social reforms.
In Triumph of Conservation, Kolko discusses how the big businesses were the Progressives. Key business owners and wealthy, luxurious people were those who represented the Progressives. Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson were received significant support from business that gave to their reforms.
Kolko says, “It is business control over politics rather than political regulation of the economy that is the significant phenomenon of the Progressive Era” (Kolko 21). The goal of these key business owners was to achieve political capitalism. This meant achieving rationalization, which is defined by Kolko as “the organization of the economy and the larger political and social spheres in a matter that will allow corporations to function in a predictable and secure environment permitting reasonable profits over the long run.” Kolko believes big business were what kept the government in check. Kolko also states, “the federal government was always involved in the economy in various crucial ways, and that laissez faire never existed in an economy where local and federal governments financed the construction of a significant part of the railroad system, and provided lucrative means of obtaining fortunes” (Kolko 22).
Kolko makes great points on the business side as to why big businesses were the Progressives. Numerous of people are shared who support the claim. However, Kolko doesn’t at all mention social reforms brought upon by big businesses. Nor does he mention the economic structure and the actually impact of big businesses on the economy. Overall, Kolko was the least persuasive of the three historians because he was only able...

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