Sources of Freedom Exercises

This chapter concentrates on the history of the Progressive Era, an age when political and economic freedoms expanded for many. The tragic 1911 fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company demonstrated the prevailing feeling in America that the government had to be more responsible for the well being of its people. The chapter continues with a look at growing urbanization and immigration, muckrakers’ responses to these forces, and the emergence of a consumer society that brought a new meaning to freedom - consumer freedom. As industry continued to prosper through Fordism and the principles of scientific management, the promise of abundance encouraged workers to fight for higher wages.

Freedom’s many meanings is explored next, looking specifically at the Socialist Party, labor unions such as the AFL and Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), civil liberties, and a new feminism. Believing that economic freedom was the key to true liberation, Charlotte Perkins Gilman is highlighted in Voices of Freedom.

The politics of progressivism is discussed next. Progressives assumed that the Modern era required a fundamental rethinking of the functions of political authority. Out of this belief came the idea of "effective freedom." Enlarging democracy, governing by experts, and spearheading reform were all characteristic of the era.

Finally, the chapter examines each of the progressive presidents. Theodore Roosevelt identified "good" and "bad" trusts and began a federal conservation program. William Howard Taft expanded upon Roosevelt’s policies, but lost his reelection campaign to Woodrow Wilson. Wilson continued the trend of increasing federal regulation over the economy and general welfare of the country.

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