Old Virginia Restored: An Interpretation of the Progressive Impulse, 1870-1930

Old Virginia Restored: An Interpretation of the Progressive Impulse, 1870-1930

Old Virginia Restored: An Interpretation of the Progressive Impulse, 1870-1930

Old Virginia Restored: An Interpretation of the Progressive Impulse, 1870-1930

Excerpt

America's progressive era was born out of a period of intense internal stress and convulsion. By the beginning of the twentieth century many people feared that the revolutionary changes in traditional patterns of life wrought by the emerging urban-industrial order after the Civil War would alter the basic fabric of the country's political, social, and economic institutions. During the freewheeling Gilded Age, American political leaders and professional groups gave themselves over completely to the aims and goals of the rapidly expanding business interests of the country. Indeed, politicians often became the servants of vast industrial complexes rather than of the community at large. With immense fortunes won and boundless commercial empires carved out by a few captains of capitalist enterprise, the nation's heritage of political and economic freedom seemed to be threatened with extinction.

As a consequence of the rapid consolidation of big business and the resulting sacrifice of individuality to organization, the United States was beset with the eruption of domestic disorders of a type heretofore unknown in the country's history. Such forces as a militant labor movement with the attending strikes and riots, an outbreak of alarming economic dislocations in 1873 and 1893, and the politician's apparent loss of independence to the centralizing tendencies of the new economic system all conspired to lead many Americans to fear that the accustomed patterns of life were about to be altered by the materialistic gospel of wealth.

In response to the challenges posed to traditional American values during the Gilded Age, a broad reform movement appeared at the turn of the century. Progressivism, as this reform impulse has come to be known, had its origin in a desire on the part of the country's substantial social and . . .

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