Wisconsin: The Badger State In The Progressive Era

Submitted By jakecully
Words: 612
Pages: 3

Jake Cullinane
Prof. Hartzell
Paper #3

At the forefront of the Progressive Movement, Wisconsin led the way in many areas according to the scholarly essay “Why Wisconsin? The Badger State in the Progressive Era” written by John Milton Cooper, Jr. Widely regarded as one of the “laboratories of democracy” stemming from its massive reforms as a state. Such reforms refer to the direct primary election, a taxation system considered to be extremely progressive at the time, and innovative regulations put in place for the railroads. In this essay, Cooper Jr. delves into the progressive era and how Wisconsin set groundbreaking legislations and showed the rest of the country that it was the correct way to move forward. The Progressive Movement, also known as Progressivism, stemmed from two main areas of reform in the United States. These reform movements are attributed to urban reform and agrarian reform. Urban reform began in the urban centers such as cities, and revolved mainly around a few things. Utilities and the regulation thereof were at the forefront of the movement. In addition, public transportation for citizens and the social and economic welfare were also major concerns for urban reformers of the time. Around the same time as the urban reform, agrarian reform was a movement that branched off of the Populism movement, led by Democratic presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan, and the idea that the interests of the common person was more important than the interests of the elite and privileged members of society. Agrarian reform demanded changes such as restructuring of railroad policies and the prosecution of businesses with trusts in place with the exponential rise of inflation. The agrarian reformers also called for tariffs to be placed on the income of households and inheritances of wealthy citizens. But to add a face to the progressive movement in Wisconsin, Governor Robert M. La Follette led the way and took the responsibility of heading the movement upon himself with the interests of the people he governed at the vanguard. Governor La Follette accepted his newly bestowed power in the state government and used it to benefit the citizens he governed over. La Follette, on the frontline of the Republican reform movement, co-wrote legislations that brought to light numerous issues. He was a heavy advocate for reform in areas such as the direct primary and taxation and regulations regarding