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> Chapter 28 > Prepare for Class
Prepare For Class

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Chapter Summary


The progressive movement of the early twentieth century became the greatest reform crusade since abolitionism. Inaugurated by Populists, socialists, social gospelers, female reformers, and muckraking journalists, progressivism attempted to use governmental power to correct the many social and economic problems associated with industrialization.

Progressivism began at the city and state level, and first focused on political reforms before turning to correct a host of social and economic evils. Women played a particularly important role in galvanizing progressive social concern. Seeing involvement in such issues as reforming child labor, poor tenement housing, and consumer causes as a wider extension of their traditional roles as wives and mothers, female activists brought significant changes in both law and public attitudes in these areas.

At the national level, Roosevelts Square Deal used the federal government as an agent of the public interest in the conflicts between labor and corporate trusts. Rooseveltian progressivism also acted on behalf of consumer and environmental concerns. Conservatism became an important public crusade under Roosevelt, although sharp disagreements divided preservationists from those who favored the multiple use of nature. The federal emphasis on rational use of public resources generally worked to benefit large enterprises and to inhibit action by the smaller users.

Roosevelt personally selected Taft as his political successor, expecting him to carry out my policies. But Taft proved to be a poor politician who was captured by the conservative Republican Old Guard and rapidly lost public support. The conflict between Taft and pro-Roosevelt progressives finally split the Republican party, with Roosevelt leading a third-party crusade in the 1912 election.



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