Believed the government should be used to address illiteracy, poverty,and poor working conditions.
Jean and Kate Gordon were two sisters who believed in the progressive movement.
Jean was devoted to protecting child laborers and workers safety. In 1906, she helped to pass the first child labor law in the state.
Kate spent her life campaigning for women’s suffrage (right to vote).
Governors in the early twentieth century agreed with some progressive ideas.
Many still believed in white supremacy, but they also sought to improve quality of life and the reputation of the state.
Governor William Heard was trained as an accountant and worked to improve Louisiana’s financial procedures as well as education.
Newton Blanchard, who was trained as a lawyer, tried to improve conditions for state prisoners. He was the first to create a juvenile justice system, which separated children from adult prisoners.
Jared Sanders was the first governor to place a tax on companies that profited from cutting down timber and extracting petroleum.
Lumber and Oil
Lumber became a chief resource within the state.
Lumber mills in southern Louisiana processed cypress trees from the swamps.
In forests near Shreveport, pine was the main kind of tree.
Between 1880 and 1920, lumbering jobs were plentiful and they paid well, but they were very dangerous.
Often, those who worked for lumber companies lived in business-run camps and had to buy goods from the company store. In fact, some companies paid their workers in scrip, which was a type of currency that was only good in the company’s stores.
When oil was discovered near Jennings in 1901, people had the opportunity to do something besides agriculture.
New Ways to Shop
Shopping was a new form of entertainment.
In rural communities, catalogs made it possible for consumers to purchase clothing, tools, and farm equipment.
Canal Street became the location of many department stores in New Orleans and many traveled there by train to shop.
Electric lights in businesses made it possible to continue shopping into the evening hours.
Rise of the Automobile
Although the quality of roads in Louisiana were still terrible, cars were becoming more common.
Louisiana began to regulate automobiles, and in 1915, it required those driving cars to have licenses.
Henry Ford boosted automobile production using an assembly line, which took less time and reduced the cost of each car, making it much more affordable.
Ford also established a credit plan, so his cars could be purchased more easily.
Trains and Streetcars
The majority of Louisianans still relied on trains for travel between cities.
Although Louisiana built railroads a little later than other states, it had 5,000 miles of track by the early 1900s.
In Shreveport and New Orleans, carriages and streetcars were being replaced by electric ones.
The Birth of Jazz
Jazz developed in Louisiana in the early 1900s.
At first, it was only played in small, rough bars in New Orleans, but soon its popularity grew.
By the 1920s, jazz was a part of the mainstream.
Many African American jazz musicians left Louisiana to escape life under Jim Crow laws.
One of the most famous jazz musicians is Louisiana-born Louis Armstrong.
He learned to play coronet in a juvenile detention center and eventually helped to shape the development of jazz.
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