Progressives: people who wanted to fix many of the problems in society that had been caused by the rapid industrialization and urbanization of the late 1800s. Progressives worked to create child labor laws, provide better working conditions for laborers, regulate corrupt corporations, provide better public education, gain women’s right to vote, and tackled many other problems.
Populist Party: also known as the “People’s Party”, it was a political party created by farmers in the South and the Midwest. The party’s platform highlighted the need for reforms that would help the common people of America (farmers, factory workers, laborers) by regulating the corrupt corporations (railroads, banks, etc.) that many populists believed were taking advantage of the common people and getting rich because of it.
Suffrage: the right to vote; originally reserved for only white male landowners, suffrage was slowly expanded to others such as African American males (15th Amendment, 1870) and women (19th Amendment, 1920).
Agrarian Labor: labor that involves agriculture (farmers, cowboys, farm workers, etc.) Agrarian laborers banded together to form groups such as The Grange and the Farmers Alliance that pushed for better agricultural policies.
Labor Unions: groups of workers from a specific company or industry that band together in order to negotiate for better working conditions, higher pay, etc. Banding together they were able to use their collective bargaining power (power in numbers), going on strikes to get what they wanted from the heads of their companies. Having hundreds of employees going on strike at the same time was much harder for a company to ignore than just a few individual employees.
Controversy: a prolonged public dispute or debate usually involving the accusation of wrongdoing or scandal. Most well-known controversies involve people/groups in the public eye such as politicians, large corporations, etc.
Regulate: to control or direct by making laws or rules which those being regulated must follow. Regulation occurs in order to hold the regulated party to a specific standard. In the early 1900s, progressives and populists pushed to regulate a variety of different industries (railroads, factories, etc.) by getting laws passed that forced those industries to adhere to certain standards (not charging some customers more than others, not using child labor, maintaining safe working conditions for employees, etc.)
Prohibition: an official ban on something; in the early 1900s there was a push by many women’s groups to create a prohibition on alcohol which they believed caused men to neglect their families. The 18th Amendment was added to the U.S. Constitution in 1920 which officially prohibited the manufacture, transport, and sale of alcoholic beverages. Eventually this prohibition ended when the 21st Amendment was ratified in 1933, repealing the 18th Amendment. This time period is often referred to as “Prohibition”.
Unethical: lacking moral principles (or “ethics”), unwilling to adhere to proper rules of conduct. Essentially when someone behaves contrary to what society believes to be the right or proper way to act.
Impeachment: to accuse a public official of misconduct in office. To impeach an elected official in Texas, the Texas House of Representatives must make the formal accusation and the Texas Senate will hold the trial and decide the verdict. Texas Governor James “Pa” Ferguson was impeached in 1917 for misusing public funds in a controversy regarding the budget of the University of Texas.
Pardon: to be released from the penalty of an offense. The Texas State Constitution originally gave the Texas Governor the power to pardon people convicted of breaking Texas law, however after Governor Miriam “Ma” Ferguson’s terms in office (1925-27, 1933-35) the law was changed to only allow a governor to pardon someone if the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles recommends it. The change was due to Governor Ferguson granting almost 4,000 pardons during her terms in office, and accusations that they could be bought…the controversy led to her defeat in the next election.