Period 2

The Problem(s)

  • In the early 1900’s, many urban cities had bosses.
  • These bosses tried to please a group of people known as political machines.
  • The political machines helped poor immigrants by giving them jobs, food and other help and asked for their support in elections in return.
  • By doing this, the political machines were gaining more power and money.
  • Political machines bribed the government to do what they wanted because they had the money and many city governments were not organized or strong enough to stop them.
  • The government did not have a initiative and so the government could add a constitutional amendment without a public vote.
  • A major problem was that people's vote's were recorded and made public, and because of this, employers forced employees to vote for certain people or else the workers would lose their job.

The Solution(s)

The Solution to Government Corruption
  • Giving the people more control over the government will help control fraud.
  • Voters will have more say in nominations.
  • Direct primary elections must be held before conventions.
  • Candidates who win primaries will be given a greater chance at nominations.
  • The state and local government who go against the public will can be removed and replaced.
  • Laws the people want can be put before the legislator or decided by a ballot.
  • The legislature can ask the voters to approve or disapprove an action, this is called a referendum.
  • People should vote for their own senators. This would be a direct election of senators.
  • We should consider single term presidency so as to remove the reelection pressure from the president.
  • Political parties must announce where they get their financial support.
  • Use of a secret ballot during voting should be essential.
  • The idea of a initiative was put to use and in this it was stated that ofa certain number of registered voters can force a public vote on a proposed statute, constitutional amendment, charter amendment or ordinance. It is a form of direct democracy.
  • Few important public offices should be elective instead of almost all so as to limit the difficulty of navigating an election ballet.
  • More jobs should be given on state and national level where qualification and/or passing a test is required.
  • The Seventeenth Amendment

The Images

external image 13%20Can%20the%20Law%20Reach%20Him.jpg
This is a political cartoon from the progressive era. It represents Boss Tweed and how the government couldn't stop him.
external image 08%20Wholesale%20and%20Retail.jpg
This is a political cartoon from the progressive movement. In the top part of the cartoon, Boss Tweed and other high level thieves are being saluted by the New York police and on the bottom part of the cartoon, a low-level thief who stole bread to feed his family is getting beaten by the New York police.

The Primary Sources

“One of a series of legislative victories for Progressive reformers, the Seventeenth Amendment was adopted by the U.S. Congress on May 16, 1912 and received the requisite number of state endorsements on May 31, 1913.”
“The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.”
“When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, that the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.”
“This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the constitution.”
  • Excerpt from Lincoln Steffen's "The Shame of Cities"
If we would leave parties to the politicians, and would vote not for the party, not even for men, but for the city, and the State, and the nation, we should rule parties, and cities, and States, and nation. If we would vote in mass on the more promising ticket, or, if the two are equally bad, would throw out the party that is in, and wait till the next election and then throw out the other parry that is in—then, I say, the commercial politician would feel a demand for good government and he would supply it. That process would take a generation or more to complete, for the politicians now really do not know what good government is. But it has taken as long to develop bad government, and the politicians know what that is. If it would not "go," they would offer something else, and, if the demand were steady, they, being so commercial, would "deliver the goods."

The Citations

"Goverment Corruption." ABC-CLIO History. 21 Feb. 2007 <[[

Wingate, Kate. Political Reforms : American Citizens Gain More Control Over Their Government. New York: Rosen Central Primary Source, 2006.

Nast, Thomas. 21 Feb. 2007 <>.