We Know We Belong to the Land - A Hundred Years of Oklahoma and the Congress
The Progressive Era (part 2)
Oklahoma's constitution largely mirrored the era's Progressivism. Anti-monopoly and campaign contribution provisions restricted the power of corporations. Some workers enjoyed an eight-hour day a graduated income and inheritance taxes helped place the cost of government on the broadest shoulders. Child labor was restricted, and a Department of Charities and Corrections was created. The constitution also allowed for initiative and referendum (but not recall), municipal home rule charters, and a preponderance of elective public offices.
African-American suffrage brochure
Not all of the constitution was Progressive in nature. Delegates sidestepped the politically dangerous issue of prohibition. Women's suffrage suffered in debate from the perceived threat of African-American voting. Democratic delegates viewed such voting with caution not only because of their largely Southern heritage but also because such voting was overwhelmingly Republican. Delegates drafted articles segregating most public facilities and education, but were forced to retreat somewhat in the face of President Theodore Roosevelt's threat to withhold his approval and thus postpone statehood.
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Copyright © 2007 Carl Albert Center at the University of Oklahoma
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