Progressive Movement Essay

Published: 2020-02-02 13:21:56
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The Progressive Movement was a movement that came about due to changes in society after the Civil War. The Movement was a political response to industrialization and social imperfection. The Progressives were able to bring about successful reform in the areas of political and social reform, womens suffrage, and worker and child labor. The black movement was not considered part of the Progressive Movement, because so many people consider that it was a limitation of the Progressives. The goal of Progressives in the political reform was to make the government more democratic.

They made many structural changes in city government, such as hiring managers and administrators instead of having mayors. Electoral reforms were starting to be made by the Progressive Movement like stopping secret balloting, which led to the percent of voters going down. The political machines could no longer control the outcome of elections. Political machines had controlling the elections for many years but now because of electoral reforms, the elections were fair.

Teddy Roosevelt believed in the direct election of U. S. enators, instead of by indirect vote through what he believed was an untrammeled electoral college. He thought the senators should be elected like the presidents are elected. He belief in these things led to the passing of the 17th Amendment, which states the direct election of U. S. senators. President Roosevelt also promised that he would break up the bad trusts of companies running railroads, and the power of Standard Oil. He passed the Elkins Act which led to the Interstate Commerce Commission having the authority to stop railroads from giving rebates to favored customers.

He also passed the Hepburn Act which allowed the ICC to set max railroad rates and examine the railroad records. During Woodrow Wilsons presidency the Clayton Anti-trust act was passed to specifically list illegal activity since the Sherman Anti-trust act was unclear about what constituted illegal activity. Because of the Clayton Anti-trust act, more antitrust suits were filed. The act reformed and emphasized concepts of the Sherman Anti-trust Act that are still active today in a growing market and merging of the industries. Wilson also passed the Underwood Act which reduced tariff, and started graduated income tax.

Hebert Croly believed that President Wilsons passing of these different acts casts suspicion on his grasp of the realities of social and industrial life. By 1914, women had the right to vote in 15 states. The womens involvement with the Progressive Movement helped fuel the cause of womens suffrage. The National American Women Suffrage Association was organized by Susan B. Anthony and Carrie Chapman Catt to help lobby state legislators, pass out literature, and organize parade and rallies to help womens suffrage. Alice Paul formed the radical National Womens Party which put direct pressure on the federal government for suffrage.

A political cartoon made it seem that Woodrow Wilson cared more about Germans than women. Because of womens effort in WWI, the 19th Amendment was passed which allowed women to vote. (Doc A, D, E, F, J, H) Many moral reforms were made during the Progressive Era. They wanted to impose morality by law against gambling, alcohol, amusement parks, dance halls, movies, and prostitution. The Mann Act was passed to state that it was a federal crime to bring a woman across state lines for immoral purposes. This act used the governments authority to regulate interstate commission as a basis for controlling morality.

Francis Willard formed the Womens Christian Temperance Union to emphasize the legal prohibition of alcohol which led to the 18th Amendment of prohibition of alcohol. This Amendment was later repealed in 1933. The condition of workers in factories was a major problem in the 1900s. The Neill-Reynolds Report shows how the meat packing industry was a disgusting and horrible place to work and how it was unsanitary and unsafe. Upton Sinclair described these horrible conditions of the meat packing industry in his novel, The Jungle.

Teddy Roosevelt read this novel and was so disturbed by it that he immediately passed the Meat Inspection Act and Pure Food and Drug Act. Workers at this time were facing long hard hours and unfair treatment. Woodrow Wilson administration passed the Adamson Act which advocated an 8 hour workday for RR workers. When workers were injured on the job, they could be fired or replaced and not receive any money. Wilson had the Workmens Compensation Act passed which protected against accident and injury. Many children were also working in factories just as hard as adults.

Children as young as 4 years old were working 12-14 hour work days. In 1904, the National Child Labor Committee began an investigation into child labor. Some states began to set a minimum age for employment, forbid dangerous jobs and set education requirements. Jane Addams and other settlement workers did not want children working but believed they should be educated. She argues that people are so caught up in the modern achievements that they are forgetting that children need an education. The Keating-Owen Act banned interstate commerce of products produced by child labor.

In response to the act, the Supreme Court case of Hammer v. Dagenhart held regulation of child labor in purely internal manufacturing, the products of which may never enter interstate commerce. (Doc B, C, G) The black movement was not included in the Progressive Era, but it was prominent in this time. This was not a successful movement like those stated earlier because of the racism going on. Booker T. Washington was a prominent black leader during this time, and he believed that blacks should acquire skills and improve their economic value to society.

He wanted them to accept the racism and be patient. He shared his views during his Atlanta Conference which was also called the Atlanta Compromise. Another black leader, W. E. B. DuBois, shared a different view than Washington. He demanded that all blacks should have full access to the same opportunities like those of whites. He paved the way for black activism. DuBois created the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People or NAACP for short. He created this to end all racial discrimination and rejected Washingtons accommodation policy.

DuBois argued that blacks should be treated like whites, especially since they fought in WWI and bled for America, but instead of being treated equally, they returned to a country full of racial discrimination. The black movement was a major failure for the Progressives, as they failed to really address the problems of racism and discrimination. (Doc I) The Progressive Movement was a time of reform in the country. In many ways it was very successful but the one flaw of the movement was its failure to address the wrongs of the treatment of blacks. The movement left a lasting impact on the country that can still be seen today.

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