Thomas C. Leonard of Princeton University has compiled a terrific power point presentation on the Progressive Era. The presentation is very comprehensive, yet explains in very easy to understand terms why understanding this crucial period is important. This is definitely NOT Glenn Beck at his blackboard superficial stuff. This is the real deal.
Many of Leonard's explorations and insights are very compatible with the synthesis of analysis developed by economist/historian Murray N. Rothbard:
"The Progressive Era and the Family": The Progressive Era was the incubation period of the welfare-warfare state – and of all the malevolence that follows.
"World War I as Fulfillment: Power and the Intellectuals": The Great War was not the end of Progressive "reform" but its fulfillment.
"Origins of the Welfare State in America": Here Rothbard provides the Rosetta Stone to understanding the origins of the welfare state in America: the role of post-millennial Protestant pietistic intellectuals and evangelical activists born in the crucial decade surrounding the events of the Civil War who, because of the seductive influence of the evolutionary naturalism of Darwinism, came of age increasingly secularized, but who did not forsake their faith in statism and elitist social control.Until the 1890s, American history was essentially presented as the development of the Eastern seaboard states, seen as an extension overseas of English history or an episode in European overseas expansion. The origins of American ethnopolitical culture were Teutonic (or Germanic) in nature. This type of analysis focused upon the thirteen colonies of the United States, and explained the evolution of America westward through the development of these political communities. This racist Teutonic Germ Theory of History was dominant among the academic and governing elites at the close of the Nineteenth Century in the United States and Great Britain.
Senator Albert J. Beveridge spoke for this generation when he stated in support of an American Empire:
Mr. President, this question is deeper than any question of party politics; deeper than any question of the isolated policy of our country even; deeper even than any question of constitutional power. It is elemental. It is racial. God has not been preparing the English-speaking and Teutonic peoples for a thousand years for nothing but vain and idle self-contemplation and self-admiration.
No! He has made us the master organizers of the world to establish system where chaos reigns. He has given us the spirit of progress to overwhelm the forces of reaction throughout the earth. He has made us adepts in government that we may administer government among savage and senile peoples. Were it not for such a force as this the world would relapse into barbarism and night. And of all our race He has marked the American people as His chosen nation to finally lead in the regeneration of the world. This is the divine mission of America, and it holds for us all the profit, all the glory, all the happiness possible to man. We are trustees of the world's progress, guardians of its righteous peace. The judgment of the Master is upon us: "Ye have been faithful over a few things; I will make you ruler over many things."This was a crucial time in American intellectual history. Scholars as divergent as Murray N. Rothbard and G. William Domhoff have documented the impact of thousands of key academics such as Richard T. Ely, Herbert Baxter Adams, and John W. Burgess who received their graduate training in Germany during this period, dominated by the rise of Bismarck's welfare-warfare state. They returned home imbued with these ideas, which their apt pupils such as Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson transformed into hard reality.
This worship of the newly-discovered wonders of statism, combined with the influx of Darwinian evolutionary naturalism,"social imperialism," Fabian socialism imported from Great Britain, the increasing secularization of postmillennial evangelical pietism, all provided the satanic breeding ground for the incubus that emerged as progressivism – complete with its elite notions of centralized political/economic planning, aggressive nationalism, eugenics and the idea of "race suicide."
Ideas truly have consequences.
Charles A. Burris [send him mail] teaches history in the Murray N. Rothbard Room at Memorial High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma.