The Party of Reform: Democrats in the Progressive Era

David Sarasohn, Author University Press of Mississippi $39 (265p) ISBN 978-0-87805-367-4
This exciting study dramatically re-creates a time when progressivism was a major force on the American political scene. Sarasohn refutes the longtime image of Democrats of the Progressive era as a bumbling, divided band limping behind their insurgent wing and largely passive during the administrations of Theodore Roosevelt and Taft. He offers in its place a levelheaded appraisal of three-time presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan, ``the man who largely created the modern Democratic Party,'' a firebrand vilified by his opponents as a dangerous, wild-eyed populist. Woodrow Wilson, portrayed by some historians as ``president-prime minister,'' master of his party, emerges here as a shrewdly calculating politician who saw that a progressive aura was essential to his winning the White House. Yet Sarasohn (co-editor of American Negro Slavery ) finds the Wilson coalition of 1916 ``proto-New Deal,'' welding the old Dem o cratic alliance of urban machines and the South to Western progressives, renegade Bull Moosers, organized labor and liberal intel lectualsa coalition that reshaped the Democratic party's attitudes and made it a force during the 1920s. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/01/1989
Release date: 02/01/1989
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