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Did the Great War further or undermine the Progressive agenda?

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zeren | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 30, 2011 at 9:05 AM via web

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Did the Great War further or undermine the Progressive agenda?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 13, 2013 at 8:16 PM (Answer #1)

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For the most part, World War I helped to undermine the Progressive agenda.

There are ways in which the war can be said to have advanced the Progressive agenda.  This is mainly the case because the war helped to bring about Prohibition.  It was easier for Prohibition to get passed into law because of the anti-German sentiment that arose around the war.  The biggest brewers in the United States were German immigrants and this helped to get people to equate alcohol with the enemy. 

However, the war did more to move Americans away from Progressivism than it did to promote that ideology.  By the early 1920s, Americans had grown weary of Progressive changes.  Historians argue that the war helped to make Americans want “normalcy” again.  Because of the disruptions of the war, people wanted to get back to a lifestyle that would be more relaxed.  Historians say that this included a loss of the sort of moral, reforming fervor that went along with Progressivism.

Thus, the Great War did more to undermine Progressivism than to move its agenda forward.

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