Exam preparation materials

The United States at Home and Abroad, 1896-1920

Things to Know

1. Overview of the Progressive movement: political, economic, and social programs — direct democracy and government efficiency, regulation of big business, social justice (women’s rights, child labor, temperance).

2. Roosevelt, Taft, Wilson as Progressives: Roosevelt’s Square Deal — “trust-buster,” conservation, consumer protection; Taft — tariff policy, business regulation, income tax; election of 1912 — New Nationalism vs. New Freedom.

3. United States becomes a world power: foreign policy before Spanish-American War (1898) — relations with Great Britain, Latin America, and Pacific; causes and consequences of Spanish-American War — extent of American empire, Caribbean policy, Panama Canal, Philippine insurrection, relations with China and Japan, Mexico.

4. United States in World War I: background to the war in Europe; American neutrality and immediate causes of U.S. entry in the war; war and the home front — mobilizing economy and public opinion; Wilson and the peace — Paris Peace Conference, Fourteen Points, battle over ratification.

Key Terms and Concepts

Robert M. La Follette

Ida Tarbell

Lincoln Steffens

Upton Sinclair

Frank Norris

progressive constitutional amendments: Sixteenth-Nineteenth Amendments

Gifford Pinchot

Northern Securities case

Flepburn Act

Meat Inspection Act

Pure Food and Drug Act

Payne-Aldrich Tariff

Eugene Debs

Bull Moose party

Underwood Tariff

Clayton Anti-Trust Act

Federal Reserve Act

Federal Trade Commission

Josiah Strong

Alfred Thayer Mahan

De Lome Letter

Teller Resolution

Emilio Aguinaldo

Open Door Policy

Boxer Rebellion

Treaty of Portsmouth

Gentlemen’s Agreement

Platt Amendment

Roosevelt Corollary

Pancho Villa

General John J. Pershing


Sussex pledge

Zimmermann telegram

unrestricted submarine warfare

Treaty of Brest-Litovsk

Selective Service Act

War Industries Board

Creel Committee

Fourteen Points

Paris Peace Conference

Treaty of Versailles

Henry Cabot Lodge

Important Definitions

The Big Four: Refers to the allied leaders at the Paris Peace Conference: Wilson (United States), Georges Clemenceau (France),

David Lloyd George (Great Britain), Vittorio Orlando (Italy).

Dollar Diplomacy: President Taft's policy of promoting U.S. interests overseas by encouraging American business to invest in foreign countries, particularly in the Caribbean and Central America.

Insular Cases: The Supreme Court cases (1901-1903) that dealt with the constitutional rights in the newly acquired overseas territories. The Court ruled that the Constitution did not necessarily follow the flag, and therefore Congress was to determine how to administer the territories.

Irreconcilables: Senators opposed to ratification of the Treaty of Versailles on any grounds; lead by isolationists William Borah, Hiram Johnson, and Robert La Follette.

Muckrakers: A group of investigative reporters who pointed out the abuses of big business and the corruption of urban politics; included Frank Norris (The Octopus), Ida Tarbell (A History of the Standard Oil Company), Lincoln Steffens (The Shame of the Cities), and Upton Sinclair (The Jungle).

New Freedom: Woodrow Wilson’s program put forward during the election of 1912; business competition could be restored by breaking up the trusts, but Wilson did not believe in having the federal government control the economy.

New Nationalism: Program that Theodore Roosevelt ran on in the election of 1912; large corporations had to be controlled and regulated by a strong President and the federal government that would protect the rights of women, labor, and children.

referendum, recall, direct primary: Ways in which the Progressives hoped to bring about direct democracy; referendum gives the voters the right to accept or reject a piece of legislation; recall is a mechanism for removing an officeholder before the end of his or her term; direct primary allows the voters rather than the political bosses to nominate a party’s candidate for office.

Reservationists: Members of the Senate who were ready to ratify the Treaty of Versailles with modifications; the group is often divided into the “mild” Reservationists, who wanted only minor changes, and the “strong” Reservationists, who favored the significant changes advocated by Henry Cabot Lodge.

yellow journalism: Refers to the treatment of the Cuban Revolution that exaggerated the Spanish atrocities; the sensational stories in William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal and Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World were a factor in the U.S. declaration of war against Spain in 1898.

Readings on the United States at Home and Abroad, 1896-1920

Bailey, Thomas A. Woodrow Wilson and the Great Betrayal (1972).

Beale, Howard K. Theodore Roosevelt and the Rise of America to World Power (1956). Freidel, Frank. The Splendid Little War (1958).

Link, Arthur S. Woodrow Wilson and the Progressive Era, 1900-1917 (1954).

Mowry, George. The Era of Theodore Roosevelt, 1900-1912 (1958).

Murphy, Paul L. World War I and the Origin of Civil Liberties (1979).

You can support our site by clicking on this link and watching the advertisement.

If you find an error or have any questions, please email us at admin@erenow.org. Thank you!