The Decline of the Progressive Movement in Wisconsin, 1890-1920

The Decline of the Progressive Movement in Wisconsin, 1890-1920

The Decline of the Progressive Movement in Wisconsin, 1890-1920

The Decline of the Progressive Movement in Wisconsin, 1890-1920

Excerpt

Reform movements have been accorded a prominent place in American history; none more so than the progressive movement.Much of progressivism's achievement occurred on the national level, where the movement is associated with men like Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Robert M. La Follette.Yet it is a suggestive coincidence that each of these three served first as a reform governor before moving on to the White House or the Senate chambers.The fountainhead for the progressive movement was the state. When that source of vitality ran dry, the national movement withered.

While the progressive movement was expressed in greater or lesser degree in every state of the union, La Follette's Wisconsin won the greatest reputation as the pioneer progressive state and showcase of the movement.This honor, first conferred by journalists such as Lincoln Steffens and Frederic C. Howe, has been confirmed by historians. During the La Follette administrations, 1901 through 1905, the Wisconsin legislature passed thoroughgoing and effective railroad taxation and regulation laws, created a comprehensive system of direct primary elections, and adopted a model civil service law.After a period of quiescence through 1909, reform experienced a renaissance in the years 1911 through 1914, during the administrations of Francis E. McGovern, and a host of progressive measures were passed, including a state income tax law, a workmen's compensation . . .

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