Let's examine where everybody is at this moment.
The farmers got land under the Homestead Act, but the best lands went to the Railroads. They had to worry about prices which were still determined by eastern interests. Railroads had monopolies. The eternal circle was still inflicting them—if they worked hard, used the latest tools and fertilizers, they grew more food. If they grew a lot of food and so did their neighbors, the prices went down. Let us not forget the weather. It could easily change and hurt an entire year's work.
They fought back in various ways. They formed the Grange which was the first fraternal organization to accept women on an equal basis. The Grangers, as they called themselves tried to change State legislation to fix minimum freight and passenger rates, forbid discrimination between places or shippers, and attempt to regulate the natural monopolies of grain elevators and warehouses. The railroads believed that the enforcement of rates was a violation of their property rights, the Grangers argued that railroads were natural monopolies with no competition. The Grangers were also the first to support mail order catalogs to cut out other middlemen. In the course of the next few years, the Grange would turn into the Alliance and finally the Populist party.
Unions were being broken up by various methods--force, yellow dog contracts, and closed shops. Immigrants were coming into the country at a great rate which increased the ability for employers to care little for the need for their unskilled workers.
Settlement House Workers were a group of people that built kindergartens, recreation halls, and showed decent living to the new immigrants and the poor. They took as their example Jane Addams, a wealthy woman who built Hull House in the slums of Chicago to alleviate some of the suffering of the poor.
Writers began to indicate the problems in their works. Because of all the things they were "digging up" they were called Muckrakers. These works included The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair, History o/Standard Oil, by Ida Tarbell, and The Octopus, by Frank Norris.
These groups: the unions, farmers, settlement house workers, and muckrakers were working to change the corruption. Together they formed a group called the Progressives. They aimed to destroy privilege or the corrupt partnership of private interests and political bosses.
The middle class demand for Moral Reform coincides with the Paternalism of the corporate liberals.
The Goals of the corporate liberals were
· to protect the privileged position within the system reduce labor disrest (economic stability)
· improve labor satisfaction (and productivity) undermine left wing appeal (social unrest)
Corporate liberals adapted to middle class demand for increased government rule to protect public interests (not private or business interests) Ironically, the corporate liberals were quite willing to make some of the changes that the Progressives called for. They readily accepted the National Quality Standards/Regulations because they would increase the competitiveness of the United States products overseas; and increase costs to small producers in the industry thereby eliminating competition.
In this way the industry essentially regulated itself through the government and at Federal/public expense. It kept production and prices centrally and prevented overproduction.
McKinley, a Republican, became president in 1896. He is known for his support of the progressive movement. He is reelected in 1900 and is assassinated in September of 1901, and his Vice President, Theodore Roosevelt becomes president. Roosevelt is known for his conservation efforts. Under his administration the Forest Reserves grew from 45 million acres to 195 million acres by 1908. He was known as a "trustbuster" in his efforts to eliminate business monopolies. Ironically, he did not bring as many cases to trial as his predecessor.