Progressive Movement (2010).
* The "Upper-10's: The richest Americans, especially the top 1 - 2%
* Middle Class: The 2nd-Fastest-Growing social class during the Progressive Era;
the vast majority of Progressives were from this class, including
the "Radical Center"
* Working Class: Fastest-Growing social class during the Progressive Era, due
mostly to immigration
* The Agrarian Class: Historians tend to separate those involved in agriculture
from those involved in industry in the working class
* The "Submerged-Tenth": The poorest 10% of Americans
* "Victorian": A reference to the very conservative, behavior-centric code of conduct that dominated the Middle Class and the "Upper-10s" at the dawn of the
*Chautauqua: Popular education & entertainment programs that featured historical
role-playing and dramatic reading
* Individualism: For "Upper-10s", it was the relentless pursuit of power & profit
* Mutualism: A person's identity is through the group, and power is achieved
through "strength in numbers" (e.g. Labor Unions)
* Association: The theory that "class conflict" could at least be significantly
diminished by having the various classes "mix" together
* "Wildcat Strike": A strike that affects an entire industry; even non-Union workers
are involved (e.g. The Pullman Strike of 1894 in the Railroad Industry)
* Panic of 1893: A panic was the name for the initial stage of a depression; the
depression that started in 1893 was the most severe in U.S. History to
The “Upper-Ten” and the working class (and the agrarian class) had significant “chinks in their collective armor”, in that each had internal divisions and little-or-no organizational apparatus. The middle class was able to capitalize and gain traction in the national conversation, because they were able to become more organized, less fractured, and also had numerous goals of reform with at least a few ways to achieve each reform. Add to that the reality that in the middle class, there was much less direct internal competition compared to the “Upper-Tens” and the working class, the “seeds were sown” in terms of the Victorian middle class becoming a “radical center” advocating social change in the late-19th Century.
In particular, it was the women of the Victorian middle class that basically “ran point” in this transformation. In general, middle class women were educated (or becoming so), had increased leisure time, but also had a reduced sense of overall purpose with which to contend. While McGerr discussed eliminating the “double standard” in terms of the behavior of middle class men, and reducing the domestic burden, he also focused on the desire of middle class women for increased public opportunities to satisfy their yearning for a purpose in their lives. In pursuing opportunities in politics, work, charity, and involvement in such activities as Chautauqua, an interesting development started to occur: a growing sense that individualism and mutualism were at odds with each other, and too much divisiveness and polarization ("Class Conflict") was the result.
So, one may ask, which was more responsible for the class conflict in America in the late-19th Century: Individualism or Mutualism? The Pullman Strike of 1894 convinced such middle class reformers such as Jane Addams that individualism was more responsible; specifically George Pullman’s individualism. In his desire to increase profit margins at the expense of his laborers in Chicago, the working class responded with the first major “wildcat” strike of the era, involving far more workers than Pullman employed. While Addams thought the working class should shoulder a good deal of the responsibility for the strike and its impact, she mostly blamed Pullman and his individualistic orientation for the conflict (At the start of the Panic of 1893, Pullman lowered wages, but kept rents the same for his workers' housing). In short, Jane Addams, and many others in the middle class, thought the “Upper-Tens” were a major threat to our nation’s social order due to its focus on individualism.
By the end of the 19th Century, the middle class had become a “radical center”, in that with its advantages in terms of organization, leadership, and relative unity, plans had started to formulate to try and end class conflict; most of them seemed to center around some form of socialism. A philosophy started to develop called “Association”, which tried to address how to best bring together different classes to reduce or end conflict. To many in this “radical center”, association seemed to be the antidote to the individualism of the “Upper Ten”, and the mutualism of the working class. The hoped-for and expected result of association, implemented with the guidance, assistance, or even the insistence of government, was that class conflict would at least be drastically reduced.
In the span of about thirty years, America’s Victorian middle class transformed itself into a “radical center”. Not only did the middle class transform itself into a mix of individualism and mutualism by “association”, it wanted to use its framework to protect and strengthen America’s social order.