The Progressive Era Essay

668 words - 3 pages

The period of time between the Spanish-American War and World War I is knownas the Progressive Era. It was a period marked by idealism, reform, and significanteconomic growth. Progressivism was a movement designed to correct the abuses whichreformers felt had crept into American society and government, as a result ofindustrialization and urbanization.Progressivism was the outcome of a number of forces in American life. Thereform spirit of the 1880's and 1890's was still strong, despite the collapse of the PopulistParty after the election of 1896. After the hard times of the 1890's, many Americans wereanxious for a better life and supported reforms intended to achieve this. The middle class,frightened by the economic unrest of the 1890's and the actions of giant businessorganizations, was more willing to accept progressive reforms than it had b ...view middle of the document...

Progressives came from both major parties, as well as from minor or third parties.Important political leaders in the movement included Presidents Theodore Roosevelt andWoodrow Wilson, and Governors Robert La Follette, Charles Evans Hughes, and HiramJohnson. Support came from the farm, because the farmers wanted their problems to berecognized. Support came from artists and writers, who wrote stories about social ills.These sensationalists, known as Amuckrakers@, wrote about many different societalproblems. Lincoln Steffens wrote AA Shame of Cities.@ Ida Tarbell wrote, AHistory ofStandard Oil Co.@ Other writers, such as Upton Sinclair, wrote about bad workingconditions and unhygienic procedure in his book AThe Jungle.@ There was much supportfrom urban middle-class members. They were in fear of big business, and wanted to join amovement which would strive to protect them. There were many achievementsaccomplished by the Progressive Movement.Progressivism accomplished many things. Political democracy was extended byinitiative, referendum, recall, and the short ballot. The Seventeenth Amendment waspassed and provided for the direct election of U.S. Senators. The Nineteenth Amendmentgave the franchise to women to permit the selection of party candidates by registeredvoters. Many limitations and restrictions were placed on trusts. Monopolies wereprosecuted and the Clayton Act was passed. The Federal Trade Commission Act waspassed as well. Many laws which safeguarded labor and the public were enacted. Moreadequate factory and building inspection codes were adopted, greater provisions weremade for sanitation and public health, and Congress enacted the Pure Food and Drug Actand the Meat Inspection Act which further improved the quality of foods.The Progressive Era did many great things for society. It improved the quality oflife, and of living. Through the support of many different types of people, Progressivismwas a major success.


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