Progressive era influence on West Coast political reform, 1937-1942

Swan, Peter (2013) Progressive era influence on West Coast political reform, 1937-1942. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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For many year after the almost proximate Progressive and New Deal eras, historians accepted strong ‘continuity’ between these reformist periods. However, in 1955 Hofstadter’s The Age of Reform advanced a hypothesis of ‘discontinuity.’ He emphasized backward-looking morality in the Progressive era and the forward-oriented pragmatism of the New Deal. My thesis challenges this discontinuity school of thought, and is a contribution to scholarship because Hofstadter’s theory established a dominant paradigm about these eras. Historians as diverse as Graham Jr., Weinstein, Worster, and Katznelson have further stressed the differences between the Progressive and New Deal eras.

Yet, while the discontinuity message articulated many truths, it obscures an alternative vision of the New Deal. This work demonstrates on the West Coast during the later New Deal, 1937-1942, Progressive era influence was substantial. General chapters focus on: the Progressive era; the 1920s; the early New Deal. Detailed chapters about the West Coast, 1937-1942, look at three policy areas, and include: conservation and national parks; monopoly reform and distribution of electricity from West Coast dams; social justice and responses to Dust Bowl migration. An ideological re-appraisal of the West Coast in the late New Deal is attempted.

Firstly, from a Progressive era ideological viewpoint, issues conventionally judged peripheral in the three policy areas are re-conceptualized as significant policy successes. Secondly individuals and organizations shaping and implementing policies locally and nationally were either survivors of the earlier era or steeped in its beliefs. Thirdly, events on the West Coast, 1939-1940, which reproduced conditions in the Progressive era, tested whether New Dealers had learned from their predecessors’ mistakes. Consequently, the West Coast region is particularly apposite in a considered questioning of Hofstadter’s philosophical divide between the two reform eras.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Political, Social and International Studies (former - to 2014)
Depositing User: Users 5605 not found.
Date Deposited: 08 May 2014 15:38
Last Modified: 31 May 2017 00:38


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