header by Emerson Taymor, 2005

1. The Colonial Era: 1607-1763

2. The Revolutionary Era: 1763-1789

3. The Early National Period: 1789-1824

4. Jacksonian America: 1824-1848

5. Antebellum America: 1848-1860

6. The Civil War Era: 1861-1877

7. The Gilded Age: 1877-1901

8. Progressivism: 1901-1920

9. The Twenties

10. Depression and New Deal: 1929-1939

11. World War II: 1939-1945

12. Early Cold War: 1945-1963

13. Social Ferment: 1945-1960

14. The Sixties

15. The Seventies and After




Woodrow Wilson, speech in Buffalo, Sept. 2, 1912

Why is it that the people of this country are in danger of being discontented with the parties that have pretended to serve them? It [is] because in too many instances their promises were not matched by their performances and men began to say to themselves, “What is the use of going to the polls and voting? Nothing happens after the election.” Is there any man within the hearing of my voice who can challenge the statement that any party that has forfeited the public confidence, has forfeited it by its own nonperformance….I want to speak upon this occasion, of course, on the interests of the workingman, of the wage earner, not because I regard the wage earners of this country as a special class, for they are not. After you have made a catalogue of the wage earners of this country, how many of us are left? The wage earners of this country, in the broad sense, constitute the country. And the most fatal thing we can do in politics is to imagine that we belong to a special class, and that we have an interest which isn’t the interest of the whole community. Half of the difficulties, half of the injustices of our politics have been due to the fact that men regarded themselves as having separate interests which they must serve even though other men were done a great disservice by their promoting them. We are not afraid of those who pursue legitimate pursuits provided they link those pursuits at every turn with the interest of the community as a whole; and no man can conduct a legitimate business, if he conducts it in the interest of a single class. I want, therefore, to look at the nation as a whole today. I would like always to look at it as a whole, not divide it up into sections and classes….We now complain that the men who control monopolies control the government, and it is in turn proposed that the government should control them [by the Progressive party]. I am perfectly willing to be controlled if it is I, myself, who control me….These monopolies that the government, it is proposed, should adopt are [run by] the men who have made your independent action most difficult. They have made it most difficult that you should take care of yourselves; and let me tell you that the old adage that God takes care of those who take care of themselves is not gone out of date. No federal legislation can change that thing. The minute you are taken care of by the government, you are wards, not independent men….Because the working-men of this country as perfectly aware that they sell their commodity, that is to say labor, in a perfectly open market. There is free trade in labor in the United States. The laboring men of all the world are free to come and offer their labor here and you are similarly free to go and offer your labor in most parts of the world. And the world demand is what establishes for the most part the rate of wages….What has created these monopolies? Unregulated competition. It has permitted these men to do anything that they chose to do to squeeze their rivals out and crush their rivals to the earth. We know the processes by which they have done these things. We can prevent those processes by remedial legislation, and that remedial legislation will so restrict the wrong use of competition that the right use of competition will destroy monopoly….Ours is a program of liberty…by which we find we know the wrongs that have been committed and we can stop those wrongs.