Ideological dissention in the Progressive Era: Uncovering the challengers to direct democracy reforms
This dissertation attempts to expand our understanding of the most important political reform period in American history---the Progressive Era. Academic literature on the Progressive Era has focused almost exclusively on the reformers of the time and has ignored the question, "With whom were the Progressives arguing?" By attempting to answer this question, we can develop a better understanding of the intellectual and ideological conflict that gave rise to the direct democracy reforms of the time and extend our understanding of the development of the American state.
What this research reveals is the existence of a dynamic and lively resistance to the direct democracy reforms of the Progressive movement. This Anti-progressive voice provides intellectual and political arguments against a variety of direct democracy reforms including the direct primary, initiative and referendum, judicial recall, and the direct election of senators. These voices of dissent come from a variety of sources that represent different ideological backgrounds, various professions, and a range of geographic origins. Together, these dissenters to Progressive reform include academics, politicians, public servants, and socialists. Those identified for this dissertation include: Henry Jones Ford, Nicholas Murray Butler, William Howard Taft, Emanuel Philipp, Elihu Root, Bernard Freyd, Charles Hollingsworth, and Victor Berger. Analysis of their arguments and of the debates of the time reveals several central themes that offer a way to initially define the claims of the Anti-progressives. These included a belief in representative institutions, constitutionalism, a strongly independent judiciary, and the primacy of politics and political parties.
0337: American history