News from
Office of Communications
Stanhope Hall
Princeton, New Jersey 08544-5264
Telephone 609-258-3601; Fax 609-258-1301 

Contact: Marilyn Marks, 609-258-3601

Sept. 12, 2000

President Clinton to speak at conference on Progressive Era

Princeton, N.J. -- President Bill Clinton will present the keynote address at an academic conference on "The Progressive Tradition: Politics, Culture and History" to be held at Princeton University Oct. 5 and 6.

The conference will be the occasion for a major scholarly re-evaluation of the Progressive Era, the two-decade period of political and social reform that began in 1900. There will be panels on the presidencies of Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, a Princeton graduate who served as the University's president, as well as on the era's long-term historical legacy.

The conference marks the centenary of Roosevelt's election to the vice-presidency in 1900 and his ascension to the White House a year later, following the assassination of President William McKinley.

"Theodore Roosevelt was really the first modern activist American president," said Sean Wilentz, a Princeton University history professor and conference co-organizer. Woodrow Wilson, though from a different political party and with a different political philosophy, also used the presidency vigorously to meet the enormous domestic and foreign challenges of a new industrializing world."

The discussion will not be limited to debate over the presidents. "To understand the Progressive Era requires coming to terms with many great Americans, including settlement-house workers such as Jane Addams, labor leaders such as Samuel Gompers, financiers such as J.P. Morgan, and civil-rights pioneers such as W.E.B. Du Bois," Wilentz said. "It also requires coming to terms with the broader political, social, and cultural currents which all these figures represented."

The conference will begin with President Clinton's address at about 2 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 5 in Richardson Auditorium on the Princeton campus.

The scholarly panels will take place on Friday, Oct. 6 in Helm Auditorium (Room 50) in McCosh Hall on the Princeton campus. Speakers and commentators include renowned senior scholars as well as younger historians and writers. Among those scheduled to appear are John Morton Blum, Alan Brinkley, John Milton Cooper, Richard Epstein, Hendrik Hartog, Jackson Lears, Michael Lind, Eric Love, Nell Irvin Painter, Daniel Rodgers, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Christine Stansell, and Henry Yu.

Although the panel discussions are open to the public, admission to President Clinton's address is limited to Princeton students, faculty and staff. Members of the public and the University community may view the address at simulcast locations or on the Web at

Information about the conference schedule, participants and simulcast locations for President Clinton's address will be available at as it becomes final.

"The Progressive Tradition: Politics, Culture and History" is co-sponsored by the Princeton Program in American Studies and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Admission is free.