Article Review: Atlantic Crossings
In the Atlantic Crossings, Daniel Rodger explores the American socio-political factors beginning from the Gilded Age to the New Deal. Through his discussion he uncovers international roots including various social reforms that happened during this period including the municipal transportation, workplace regulation, public housing, city planning as well as rural cooperatives. Rodgers argues that these ideas were important in shaping the progressive social politics as individuals carried the ideas back and forth to the Atlantic. There are several sources that have been utilized including magazines, newspapers, dissertations, as well as public documents. In this book, Rodgers aim is to understand the trans-Atlantic socio-politics during this period in America’s past.
According to Rodgers, the U.S social policy from the period of 1870 to the World War II resulted from Atlantic internationalism. He argued that America thought it was the best country and the only one that mattered. This may have been contributed but journalist such as Ray Stannard Baker who posed a question “Was there a world outside of America”. This statement is a perfect example that most Americans during the Progressive Era lived in a world of tunnel vision. Rogers, however points out that American Progressivism was not born in America but rather was built in Europe. It was as a result of the concern on best ways that human welfare can be promoted in the industrialized world. The American wanted to be at pare with the European government that they considered to be good especially for Germany and retain.
There were several factors that improved the trans-Atlantic connection including journals such as Nation and New Republic that ran account on the social reforms in both Europe and United States. There were also international conferences, official inquiry commissions. Rogers points our emergence of American Academic social scientist in the 1880s was an important factor for the creation of Atlantic politics. Most of these American traveled to European countries such as German to enhance their education discovering new ideas that challenged the previous perspectives that they had. Young scholars begun challenging American policy of exceptionalism (Rodgers, pg. 159).
Rogers points out several movements that shaped Progressive Era in America but started in Europe. These movements included the Settlement house movement that begun in London and was led by Toynbee Hall and Jane Addams (Rodgers, pg. 160). The women suffrage movement began in the U.S but Alice Paul Walker who was among the founder was trained in Britain on non-violent tactics as well as civil disobedience. Progressive was English before it was American. It was born in Municipal politics around the 1900s before it crossed to America during the Atlantic.
In his book, Rodgers also talks about the industrial evolution and how it created an Atlantic economy where individuals were able to design reforms and the international market place game them a platform. The economic needs were able to erode local differences that existed and now they had a common goal on the societies in the Atlantic region. Aside from the market need being a common factor, there were other uniting factors including labor violence that took place between 1880 and 1890s which was as a result of Atlantic Internationalism. The labor violence as well as other social and economic factors helped America realize that previous notions on American autonomy as well as distinctiveness setting a stage for anti0exceptionalism.
In conclusion, Rodgers work is a great addition on history of progressivism. He brings t light individuals as well as institutions that were able to help in movement of ideas across the borders. His analysis shows advantages of looking into the transnational; connections. His arguments are well backed by an array of research and other supporting documents showing America participated in exchange of ideas from late 1800s to the end of World War II
Rodgers, Daniel T. Atlantic crossings. Harvard University Press, 1998.