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The white progressives in the 20th century - Essay Example

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The present essay "The white progressives in the 20th century" deals with the movement of white progressives. Admittedly, the white progressives fought for solutions to the many social and economic problems that bedeviled the country…
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The white progressives in the 20th century
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Early 20th Century white progressives favored policies rooted in racist and imperialist ideas The white progressives of the early twentieth century fought for solutions to the many social and economic problems that bedeviled the country. That notwithstanding, a closer look at their actions shows that the policies that they supported were based on racist and imperialist ideas.
White progressives’ support for policies rooted in racist ideas
One of the things that can account for the fact that the white progressives of early 20th Century favored polices rooted in racist ideas is the fact that their prohibition for child labor did not cater for the Italian children who were recruited by their parents in the guise of helping them with homework. For example, Kleeck found that the laws of 1908 did not prohibit a New York City artificial rose-flower maker from giving his Italian employees a lot of work that made these employees to require their children to work in order to help them reduce the workload.
Additionally, the progressives did not ensure that Italian children went to school even after attaining school-going age. For example, Farah M. was an Italian child who missed school for so long because she was helping her parents work from home. The unfair access to health protection in the workplace is another thing that shows the racist inclination of these progressives. This is seen in Kleeck’s account of an Italian family that worked in an environment where one of the members was suffering from tuberculosis and the Department of Labor and the Health Department were doing nothing about it (Kleeck p3).
The labor law of early 20th Century discriminated people based on race especially during licensing. Before licensing tenement, the Department of Labor was required to ensure that the premise is clean and sanitary. However, Kleeck found that Mario and Louis were two Italian boys who worked from their home that was unlicensed. This was because the two boys were from a household that was poor and that could not produce the required articles for licensing (Kleeck p34).
White progressives’ support for policies rooted in imperialist ideas
The imperialist inclination of the white progressives of the early 20th Century is seen in their support for acquisition of territories. One such territory according to Pestritto and Atto was the Territory of Alaska. This territory was bought from Russia, a move that was strongly rejected by many citizens. The progressives supported imperialist ideologies because they advocated for the repeal of the Canadian Reciprocity Act. This act sought to establish free trade between the United States and Canada. In its place, they demanded for the instigation of tariffs that would strengthen the competitiveness of the United States. According to them, the present tariff policy was hindering the industrial and commercial advancement of the United States (Ronald and William 273).
White progressives’ support for imperialist ideas is also exemplified in their emphasis for declining any treaty between the United States and any other country that did not recognize the superiority of America or expatriation. This demonstrates their amplified perception of the country and their unfair view of other nations (Ronald and William 274). Finally, the conceit of the progressive party is another proof of their imperialism. In its search for support from citizens, it invited affiliation with outright disregard for potential supporters’ affiliation to other parties. Its spoke in a way to show that all other parties were flawed and there was no implication that the party could cooperate with other parties in its quest to execute the principles it popularized.
In conclusion, progressives had racist inclinations because their laws did not stop the cunningness of New York employers giving their employees too much work in order to force them to recruit their children. Their labor laws denied some Italian fair access to licensing. The imperialist roots of their policies can be seen in how they supported acquisition of territories, opposed free trade policies and regarded themselves with self-conceit.
Works Cited
Ronald J. Pestritto and William J. Atto. American Progressivism: A Reader. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2008, 273-287. Print. Retrieved June 30, 2014 from
Kleeck, Mary. Child Labor in New York City Tenements. Charities and the Commons, January 18, 1908. Print. Retrieved June 30, 2014 from Read More
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