Populism and progressivism were two big movements that caused major transformation in the history of the United States. Both movements participated in creating reforms in order to help making the overall conditions of the United States better in variety of domains. Populism and Progressivism were similar in some ways but different in other ways. Populism stated in the 1892s in St. Louis by a group of farmers and poor white people. Populists demanded the improvement of the farmer’s conditions and came up with a platform to protect their rights.
In the banking area and industry, populists believed that the whole system of banking and currency was unfair and served only the wealthy people. For this reason they asked for a reform in the banking system and currency. In addition, they hoped for more government control over the money, industry, and communication systems including telegraph and railroads.
Politically, populists called for a reform in terms of elections “populist platform called for the direct election of senators (then chose by state legislators) and for other electoral reforms, including the secret ballot and the right to initiate legislation, to recall elected officials, and to submit issues to the people by means of referendum.
”(Roak et al. 591).meanwhile, they wanted to shorten the work hours to eight hours a day, they asked for a graduated income tax and for a land reform through the subtreasury “a plan that would allow farmers to store their nonperishable crop until prices rose and to receive commodity credit from the federal government to obtain needed supplies” (Roak et al 590). Populists succeed in changing The United States in term of economy, banking, industry and politics an achieved many goals such as the eight hours of labor and the ratification of the 16th and the 17th amendments. In the beginning of the 20th century known as the, “Gilded Age”, under Theodore Roosevelt presidency, The United State condition were very troubled. The corruption, lack of democracy in between the poor and the rich and the unfair labor system gave birth the progressive movement.
Progressivism was supported and founded by middle class people, including both genders who hoped to repair the vices that were spread in the society. Meanwhile, Progressivism was defeated by rich people. The movement reflected the dissatisfaction of the progressive Party, so they fought to bring their reform into life. The progressive movement designed a platform that is very similar the Populist Party. In other words, most of the demands of the Populist Party were similar to those of the progressive party and they all were hoping for democracy. For example, distracting the power of the banks and corporations that works only for the wealthy citizens, protecting the right of laborers and arrange better conditions for work including fighting child labor, in addition they had the same reform concerning the graduating the income tax, the direct election to United States senators and they also hoped for more control of the government over banks, railroads and utilities.
However, populism and progressivism differs in terms of interests. Populist hoped to improve the conditions of farmers and poor white people, while progressives served namely the middle class people and the urban community. In addition, progressives focused on a bigger reform that included the populist reform and added a lot more to it. For example, progressivism tried to change the political process as a whole rather than trying to change only the economic situation. Progressivism focused on other domains such as fighting for women’s rights and suffrage.
While populist were mainly men who cared more about the conditions of farming. Progressivism also merged to education in general and women education in particular “women, particularly college-educated women like Jane Addams and Lillian Wald, formed the backbone of the settlement house movement and stood in the vanguard of the progressive movement” (Roak et al.620). In conclusion, Populism and Progressivism had more similarities and difference in terms of demands and reforms; however each movement targeted certain people and interests. Also, both movements differ in terms of achieving their goals. I personally think that populist were more successful in pushing their platform and achieving their agenda.