Exam preparation materials

URBAN REFORMS

Many of the early successes of progressivism were actions taken against urban political machines. Yet again, some reforms supported by progressives put more power in the hands of those machines. Certain “reform mayors,” such as Tom Johnson in Cleveland and Mark Fagan in Jersey City, were legitimately interested in improving the living and working conditions of the lower classes and improving education. In cities such as Cleveland, municipal utilities were taken over by the city to provide more efficient service. Some reform mayors also pushed citywide relief programs and established shelters for the homeless.

Other progressive reformers wanted to professionalize the administrations of various cities and to enact measures so that mere “political hacks” could not get municipal jobs. It should be noted that some of these reforms appeared to be antidemocratic in nature. By attacking the system of political machines and ward politics, reformers were attacking a system that had given a degree of assistance and influence to the urban working classes. The new “professionals” who reformers envisioned getting municipals jobs would be almost exclusively from the middle class, the same class as the reformers themselves.

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