Louis D. Brandeis and the Progressive Tradition

Louis D. Brandeis and the Progressive Tradition

Louis D. Brandeis and the Progressive Tradition

Louis D. Brandeis and the Progressive Tradition

Excerpt

The several careers of Louis D. Brandeis spanned a perilous transition in the life of the American people. In the years between his birth and his death a rural society became urban. Industry displaced agriculture as the basis of the country's wealth. A massive wage labor force in manufacturing differed in character and in ethnic origin from the farmers and artisans who had earlier composed the bulk of the population. The effects of these developments rippled outward to reorient municipal, state, and national politics, and in a way of which few were conscious transformed the practice of law.

The social, economic, and political issues raised by these changes troubled many citizens. But men and women accustomed to growth as a constant of their history did not surrender their traditional optimism. A firm belief in progress persuaded them that humanity was capable of indefinite improvement, and a variety of movements took form to achieve that end. After 1900, they became known collectively as progressives. Although the progressives never formed a homogeneous party subscribing to a uniform platform, they shared intellectual features. They insisted that policy had to rest on knowledge and on the use of rational methods, and . . .

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