Flehinger’s "The 1912 Election and the Power of Progressivism"

| April 9, 2015

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Question 3: Each of the following quotations is taken from a document in Flehinger’s “The 1912 Election and the Power of Progressivism.” Your job is to write an essay about it.

In your first paragraph, you should identify who said (or wrote) it; who the audience(s) were whom they had in mind, and how you know; and what the intent or purpose of the document probably was. (What was it hoped that would be accomplished?) In succeeding paragraphs, discuss the nature of the Gilded Age problem or situation to which the quotation alludes — i.e., trace the Gilded Age origins of the issue the quotation addresses and explain the position of the speaker on that issue. Be sure in your answer to mention the most important counterarguments of the time with which the author was contending.

• “The absence of effective State, and especially, national, restraint upon unfair money-getting has tended to create a small class of enormously wealthy and economically powerful men, whose chief object is to hold and increase their power. The prime need is to change the conditions which enable these men to accumulate power which it is not for the general welfare that they should hold or exercise.”

• “What does this platform propose to do? Break up the monopolies? Not at all. It proposes to legalize them. It says in effect: You can’t break them up, the only thing you can do is put them in charge of the federal government. It proposes that they shall be adopted and regulated. And that looks to me like a consummation of the partnership between monopoly and government.”
• “Government is for the purpose of securing the greatest good to the greatest number and also the greatest happiness and an opportunity for the pursuit of happiness to every individual. What we are striving for is not equality of condition. It is the socialists that want to force that division of property that they think it is possible to maintain and still have a motive for effort in the community. We disagree with them. We believe that if you take away the right of property you cannot substitute anything to take its place. We do not believe that you can substitute anything for private property that will elevate human nature to what it is. Therefore I believe in the right of property, but I also believe that it is the business of the Government in so far as it may, to create an equality of opportunity so that everybody striving under the motive of private property and the freedom of liberty that is given in this country may have nearly as equal an opportunity to raise himself from a humble position to one high and comfortable. . . “

• “There is one infallible test that fixes the status of a political party and its candidates. Who finances them?”

• “We have the form of the government just as the [fathers] made it for us, but the soul, the life, of representative [government] is fast being lost to the people of this country. What does it matter if you have the ballot, if that ballot does not insure representative government?”

 

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