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Populism vs. Progressivism - Essay Example

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Towards the end of the 19th century, it was widespread belief in America that bankers and industrialists controlled the government through both republican and democratic politicians. Widespread corruption was present too. Farmers in the western side of the country and joined…
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Populism vs. Progressivism
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Populism vs. Progressivism Towards the end of the 19th century, it was widespread belief in America that bankers and industrialists controlled the government through both republican and democratic politicians. Widespread corruption was present too. Farmers in the western side of the country and joined together in what is known as the agrarian movement. At the Omaha Platform in Omaha, Nebraska in 1892 they formed the Populist Party and James B. Weaver contested in the Presidential Election and even though he lost, he secured more than one million votes and 22 electoral votes. The demands of the populist movement were direct election of the senators, graduated income tax, Secret Australian ballot, regulation of the railroad and something to do with the ratio of gold and silver in currency notes. The movement failed and dispersed in 1896 when William Jennings Bryan lost the Presidential election.
During the 1890s, novelists, journalists and critics investigated and voiced political and social corruption. The educated class of the urban population responded and it slowly grew into the Progressive era. The Progressive era significantly transformed the political structure of the country by bringing the urban population to the central attention of politicians. Reforms sought by the populist movement were attained during the Progressive era and a few other reforms took place too. The 16th Amendment to the constitution brought graduated income tax, 17th brought direct election of senators. Secret Australian ballot was also provisioned and railroads became more regulated. Other reforms include prohibition of alcohol and women’s suffrage by the 18th and 19th amendments respectively. (Hofstadter, 2011)
The Progressive era was far more successful than the populist movement. A far better reach and deep penetration into the society are visible reasons behind this phenomenon. Populism was a movement backed by farmers while Progressive movement consisted of educated elites in cities. Internal divisions and divided factions was also a prominent reason why the populist movement did not last long.
Hofstadter, Richard. The Age of Reform Knopf. Doubleday Publishing group 2011 Read More
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