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  • Tiffany Jones Miller (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 17 July 2012

Scholarly discussions of the turn of the 20th century progressive movement frequently ignore or give but glancing attention to the progressives’ racial views and policies. Those who do pay greater attention to them nonetheless tend to dismiss them as being somehow “paradoxical” or inconsistent with what they regard as the movement’s core, “democratic” principles. The purpose of this paper, accordingly, is to explain the origin and nature of the movement’s core principles, and to show how the reformers’ racial views and policies, far from being inconsistent with these principles, were in fact their natural outgrowth. The progressives’ support for the colonial subjugation of the Filipinos, as well as the disfranchisement and segregation of American blacks, reflects, in other words, the transformation in the character or content of public policy necessitated by the reformers’ rejection of the “individualism” of the American founding in favor of a new conception of “individualism” chiefly inspired by early 19th century German idealism.

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Thomas C. Leonard , “Mistaking Eugenics for Social Darwinism: Why Eugenics is Missing from the History of American Economics,” History of Political Economy 37 supplement (2005): 203

Leonard, “American Economic Reform in the Progressive Era: Its Foundational Beliefs and Their Relation to Eugenics,” History of Political Economy 41:1 (2009): 110

Sylvia Fries , “Staatstheorie and the New American Science of Politics,” Journal of the History of Ideas 34, no. 3 (1973): 392

Axel Schafer , “W. E. B. Du Bois, German Social Thought, and the Racial Divide in American Progressivism, 1892–1909,” Journal of American History, 88 (Dec., 2001): 930

Charlotte Perkins Gilman , “A Suggestion on the Negro Problem,” American Journal of Sociology 14, 1 (July, 1908): 7980

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Social Philosophy and Policy
  • ISSN: 0265-0525
  • EISSN: 1471-6437
  • URL: /core/journals/social-philosophy-and-policy
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