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The Progressive Movement

             The essay, written by Richard Hofstadter, attempts to summarize the Progressive Movement starting in the late 1890's and going full fledge into the twentieth century. Initially, the progressive attitude expounded on the traditional populist way of thought, usually very rural and very territorial and definitely Anglo-Saxon conservative. But now, with the changing of the landscape of small town America to the vast new age of huge cities, feeding off large factories, the progressive thinking person was from the urban, middle class, and from all over America. They tended to be in their early thirties, better educated, first-generation Americans, and much more aware of the social complexities facing our nation. The first problem with this picture is that the progressive movement came at a time when America was doing quite well economically. Their goal was to achieve social rights and reforms, although not many in the movement had any of these issues to face. Hofstadter then clearly lays out what he believes is the real reason behind this movement. These Anglo-Saxons were losing their influence, their social grip on everything, from business ventures, to social clubs, at church, and eventually, at the voting booth. The power shift started shortly after the Civil War, and this gave birth to the super-rich. The leaders of these massive conglomerate corporations were built by the money from the huge expansion after the war. The likes of the Vanderbuilts, Harrimans, Goulds, Carnegies, Rockerfellers and Morgans were now the new order in America. They found themselves stopped at every opportunity by these agents of the corporations. They were not poorer than they had been. But now, they were being dwarfed by this immense wealth, and heavily corrupted. Again at odds with each other, the immigrant was opposed to most of the progressive movements" political ideas. The immigrant was a lot better economically and lived a richer life by the turn of the twentieth century.

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