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“Governor Of California, Hiram Johnson” Essay

1292 words - 6 pages

Supreet S Bindra November 15, 2001 Bindra 1 California?s Progressive movement peaked in 1911 when Hiram Johnson took the oath of office as Governor. California was overwhelmed by corruption and public protest was rising rapidly. Hiram Johnson, supported by the Progressives, was expected to be the public advocate and clean up corruption in the state, just as he had done in San Francisco as the Mayor. By the end of Johnson?s two terms as Governor, California had become a leading example of progressivism. His administration passed a number of progressive measures, including state constitutional amendments, greater rights for women, and tighter control of the power trust. Hiram Johnson, a ...view middle of the document...

Although Johnson and Roosevelt can be seen as cohorts for change, Johnson was a stark contrast to Roosevelt because he was dull and annoying. Revolution seemed to follow Johnson even as early as his childhood, so it comes as no surprise he was one of the key leaders of the Progressive movement. (Mowry 369-374 and Cherny 265-268) When Mr. Johnson took the oath to office in 1911, the state of California was overwhelmed by corruption; misgovernment and public displeasure of the status quo was rising hastily. Hiram Johnson, a progressive republican, was elected by a landslide and immediately picked chose to bicker with a giant. The progressive?s were a group that sought to improve the conditions of life and labor and to create as much social stability as possible by passing numerous laws. Since 1880, the powerful Southern Pacific Railroad Company controlled politics at many levels. People demanded protection against the rates fixed by the company. As a result, the company protected its gluttonous earnings by bribing politicians and eventually took over the government of the state. This is a prime example that a commission can only be effective if the people in charge want it to be. Another example of public displeasure is that of the long ballot in which people cast their vote even for simple clerical jobs or ministerial ones. More often then not candidates were elected that were neither fit for the job or deserving of it. An additional reason for public discontent is that during this time the employer is not responsible for the injury of an employee. Therefore, inhumane conditions that led to disease or death could not be blamed on the employer. One can see that reforms were definitely necessary Bindra 3 and Governor Johnson, the people?s advocate, was ready to provide it to them. (Starr 254-259) The public expected Hiram Johnson to clean up corruption in the state, just as he had done in San Francisco when he was the Mayor. They also hoped that Johnson would help reform labor laws and the long ballot. Johnson wanted to deal with the railroad question by providing the current Railroad Commission more power and money so that they can fix the railroad rates. He also wanted to amend the line ?or shall charge rates in excess thereof? in the state Constitution to more clearly reflect that Railroads are not allowed to give rebates or charge anyone extra. Secondly Johnson wanted to get rid of the long ballot or direct voting for offices that are minor, such as clerical and ministerial posts. The Californian people and Hiram Johnson felt that such offices should either be taken of the ballot and appointed or must be increased in importance so that the general public is aware of the responsibilities. Finally, the people and Johnson also wanted labor reform. Johnson felt risks of...

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