Progressivism was a movement in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Whatever its different iterations, progressivism was rooted in the belief that the natural rights principles of the American founding were fine for an earlier age but no longer relevant in a mass, industrial society. The modern age, as the Progressives saw it, was characterized by great inequality and concentrations of wealth. The “interests” controlled the masses for their own self-interest rather than the public good. Read more
Wilson makes clear in this article the consequences of rejecting the idea of inherent natural rights for the idea that rights are a positive grant from government.
August 22, 1887
Is it possible that in practical America we are becoming sentimentalists? To judge by much of our periodical literature, one would think so. All resolution about great affairs seems now “sicklied o’er with a pale cast of thought.” Our magazine writers smile sadly at the old-time optimism of their country; are themselves full of forebodings; expend much force and enthusiasm and strong (as well as weak) English style in disclosing social evils and economic bugbears; are moved by a fine sympathy for the unfortunate and a fine anger against those who bring wrong upon their fellows: but where amidst all these themes for the conscience is there a theme for the courage of the reader? Where are the brave plans of reform which should follow such prologues? Read more