Then & Now
20th and 21st Century Politics
The “Progressive Era” of the early 20th century focused on fixing corruption and social problems associated with explosive industrial and urban growth. Pennsylvania Governor Gifford Pinchot, a close ally and friend of Theodore Roosevelt, oversaw the restructuring of state government and other reforms.
During the Great Depression, Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt initiated an aggressive “New Deal” that was furthered in Pennsylvania by the 1936 election of the state’s first Democratic governor of the 20th century, George Earle.
Since then, Pennsylvania has elected both Republican and Democratic governors and legislators and continues to reflect public reactions to national issues. The 2008 election of the nation’s first African American president, Democrat Barack Obama, is the most recent example of Pennsylvania’s role as a weathervane in American politics.
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