Table of Contents Overview The Gilded Age and the first years of the twentieth century were a time of great social change and economic growth in the United States. Roughly spanning the years between Reconstruction and the dawn of the new century, the Gilded Age saw rapid industrialization, urbanization, the construction of great transcontinental railroads, innovations in science and technology, and the rise of big business. Afterward, the first years of the new century that followed were dominated by progressivism, a forward-looking political movement that attempted to redress some of the ills that had arisen during the Gilded Age. Progressives passed legislation to rein in big business, combat corruption, free the government from special interests, and protect the rights of consumers, workers, immigrants, and the poor.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is one of America's favorite pieces of juvenile literature. Children like it because it is a good story, full of fun characters and exciting adventures.
Adults--especially those of us in history and related fields--like it because we can read between L. Frank Baum's lines and see various images of the United States at the turn of the century. That has been true sincewhen American Quarterly published Henry M.
Littlefield's "The Wizard of Oz: According to Littlefield, Baum, a reform-minded Democrat who supported William Jennings Bryan's pro-silver candidacy, wrote the book as a parable of the Populists, an allegory of their failed efforts to reform the nation in Richard Jensen, in a study of Midwestern politics and culture, devoted two pages to Baum's story.
He implicitly qualified Littlefield by pointing out that not all pro-Bryan silverites were Populists. But Jensen then proceeded to add two new points to the standard Littlefield interpretation, finding analogies for Toto and Oz itself: Dorothy's faithful dog represented the teetotaling Prohibitionists, an important part of the silverite coalition, and anyone familiar with the silverites' slogan "16 to 1"--that is, the ratio of sixteen ounces of silver to one ounce of gold--would have instantly recognized "Oz" as the abbreviation for "ounce.
Rockoff, who saw in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz "a sophisticated commentary on the political and economic debates of the Populist Era," discovered a surprising number of new analogies. The Deadly Poppy Field, where the Cowardly Lion fell asleep and could not move forward, was the anti-imperialism that threatened to make Bryan forget the main issue of silver note the Oriental connotation of poppies and opium.
Once in the Emerald Palace, Dorothy had to pass through seven halls and climb three flights of stairs; seven and three make seventy-three, which stands for the Crime of '73, the congressional act that eliminated the coinage of silver and that proved to all Populists the collusion between congress and bankers.
The enslavement of the yellow Winkies was "a not very well disguised reference to McKinley's decision to deny immediate independence to the Philippines" after the Spanish-American War.
The Wizard himself was Mark Hanna, McKinley's campaign manager, although Rockoff noted that "this is one of the few points at which the allegory does not work straightforwardly. Clanton explained as had Jensen that not all pro-Bryan silverites were Populists.
A number of reform Democrats shared the Populists' distrust of railroads and bankers,their support for inflation, and so forth, but the Democrats disagreed with the Populists' call for a strong and active government to solve those problems, and in fact they tended to see Populists as dangerous socialist radicals.
Clanton suggested that if the Wicked Witch of the East was the forces of industrial capitalism, then Baum's Wicked Witch of the West was Populism itself. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz "mirrored perfectly the middle-ground ideology that was fundamental among those who favored reform yet opposed Populism," wrote Clanton.
Perhaps the best example was a widely-reprinted essay, first published in the Los Angeles Times inin which Michael A. Genovese described The Wonderful Wizard of Oz as "the story of the sad collapse of Populism and the issues upon which the movement was based.
But there was one notable and somewhat disturbing aspect of Genovese's piece: Littlefield's name was never mentioned. The phrase "according to one scholar" never appeared.
Less than a quarter century after his article appeared, Littlefield had entered the public domain. First, he produced an overwhelming number of correspondences, and others have added to the list.
One would be hard pressed to find any character, setting, or event in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz that does not have a "Populist parable" analogy.
Second, educators discovered Littlefield's usefulness in teaching Populism and related topics. This was the reason Littlefield, at the time a high school teacher, developed his analysis in the first place; the correspondences between Populism and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, he wrote, "furnish a teaching mechanism which is guaranteed to reach any level of student.
Hence in the Utne Reader praised a newspaper article for "expos[ing] Oz as a parable on Populism," a movement that had been critical of "Eastern banks and railroads, which [Populists] charged with oppressing farmers and industrial workers.
The best statement of this revisionist view is William R. Leach's two essays in a new edition of the book. Baum's masterpiece was popular, Leach explained, "because it met--almost perfectly--the particular ethical and emotional needs of people living in a new urban, industrial society.
The Emerald City, with its prosperous homes and luxurious stores, resembled nothing as much as it did the "White City" of Chicago's Columbian Exposition ofwhich Baum had visited several times. Specifically, the book emphasized an aspect of theosophy that Norman Vincent Peale would later call "the power of positive thinking": Before he became a professional writer, Baum worked as a traveling salesman and owned a dry goods store.
Inhe founded The Show Window, the first journal ever devoted to decorating store windows, and in the same year as The Wonderful Wizard of Ozhe published The Art of Decorating Dry Goods Windows and Interiors, the first book on the subject.
Furthermore, Baum's involvement in the theater, as everything from actor to producer and writer, taught him to appreciate the artistic lifestyle that only the big cities could offer. Leach's essays did not necessarily overturn Littlefield, however.
Baum might have been "a shopkeeper, a traveling salesman, an actor, a playwright, a windowdresser," 15 but he was also a reform-minded Democrat who supported Bryan's pro-silver campaign in Given this, Littlefield's thesis still seems plausible. For years after Baum's death inthe best biography of him was a twenty-five-page sketch written by Martin Gardner for a new edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in Progressivism was a political movement that encouraged the exposure of corruption in America in order to reshape it for the better.
This time period became known for the social and political changes that took place as a result of the progressives. New Deal Era IssuesUnemployment and poverty due to the Great Depression -Any available jobs went mostly to men in the belief that men were the sole supporters of families.
Single women or mothers were at the greatest disadvantage. The promise and failure of populism. April 27, Nancy MacLean tells the story of the Populist movement of the s--when it briefly challenged the hold of white supremacy in the U.S.
The Trump movement is a giant white flag surrender to Big Government that effectively substitutes the Tea Party/libertarian-infused brief against Leviathan with factional populism demanding its share from “ Daddy ” Government.
In response to numerous social, political, and economic developments at the end of the nineteenth century, Progressivism in Alabama arose from multiple motivations and created a variety of reforms.
More an era than a unified movement, Progressivism was based on the belief that government could be mobilized to enact social change. Populism is a discourse which supports "the people" versus "the elites". Populism may involve either a political philosophy urging social and political system changes and/or a rhetorical style, deployed by members of political or social movements competing for advantage within the existing party system.