The Progressive Era Unit Progressive Era Standard: Understand the concerns, success and limitations of the Progressive Era

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The Progressive Era Unit

Progressive Era Standard: Understand the concerns, success and limitations of the Progressive Era

Progressive Era was a broad-based campaign for economic, political and social reforms. The movement addressed the power of big business and the corruption in government and advocated aid for those left behind – the poor, laborers, minorities, women, farmers and protection for consumers. Those advocating change believed that government has a legitimate role in making economic rules to protect individuals from abuse.

In order to understand the efforts behind the progressive movement, one needs to be familiar with what is called the Gilded Age. The Gilded Age is that period from 1865 – 1900, post-Civil War or time of Reconstruction. During this time of great wealth, large fortunes were made as a result of industrial expansion. The name, a derogatory one, was derived from a novel by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner in 1873.

Who: Muckrakers (Journalists) like Upton Sinclair, Lincoln Steffens, Ida Tarbell, Jacob Riis and others

Presidents Grant, Hayes, Garfield, Arthur, Cleveland, Harrison, McKinley, T. Roosevelt, Taft and Wilson

Reformers like Robert La Follette, John Dewey, Eugene Debs, George Norris, Fredrick Jackson Turner, Jane Addams, Ellen Gates Starr, Frank Lloyd Wright, Francis Willard, Carrie Nation, Carrie Chapman Catt, Alice Paul, Margaret Sanger, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Staton, Helen Keller, W.E.B. DuBois, Ida Wells, Booker T. Washington, Emma Goldman, Industrial Workers of the World (Wobblies)and others

What: A political, economic and social reform movement

A reactionary response to challenges facing the United States

An effort to make America safer and better

An effort to spread and strengthen democracy

When: Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt (1901) to U.S. entry to World War I (1917)

Where: Though national in scope, the progressive reform movement was strongest in the Northeast and Midwest

Why: Immigration – between 1900 and 1910, 8.8 million immigrants came to the U.S. which further strained social services and too many immigrants lacked education and Americanization

Business growth and consolidation – in 1899 alone there were 1,208 mergers and 73 trusts held more than &100 billion in assets

Belief in “Christian Social Justice”

Unbalanced political power between business and labor

Specific problems dealing with living conditions, working conditions, a lack of democracy, race and other problems that led to change

How: Changes to society sometimes through laws and other times through individual’s efforts that occurred in the Progressive Era as a response to these problems.


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