Unit 8 - The Progressive Era (1890’s to late 1910’s/early 1920’s) The Progressive Era is a period of reform in which many of the problems that the U.S. faced during industrialization were addressed or solved. During industrialization, it was common for children to work in unsafe factories alongside their parents who would work 70-80 hours a week. Life at home wasn’t any better as most American were poor, ate spoiled food and lived in crowded, dirty tenements. During The Progressive Era, the U.S. government moved away from its Laissez-faire policy and began to regulate businesses. The movement grew from the Granger Movement and Populist Party that organized farmers in an attempt to break up the railroad monopoly that had been exploiting (taking advantage of) farmers by overcharging them for shipping. The Populist Platform called for more popular involvement in government such as direct election of senators, initiative, referendum and recall. Even though they lost, they paved the way for many reforms.
The Progressives were a political, social and economic movement, which fought for the poor and working class people that were being exploited during industrialization. Many writers, reporters, and social activists like Upton Sinclair and Jacob Riis contributed to solving the many problems that developed during industrialization. Workers began to group together in labor unions in order to fight for better wages, shorter work hours, and safer working conditions. The public and government did not support unions at first but key events like the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fireeventually made people realize that workers' rights were being violated by big businesses. Presidents read the works of the Progressive writers and made reforms based on their writings; they became known as The Progressive Presidents. President Theodore Roosevelt is considered to be the American President at this time most responsible for protecting Americans from the abuses of business. Roosevelt worked tirelessly to pass Anti Trust Acts, improve health and safety conditions in factories and make sure the food we eat is safe. President William Howard Taft and Woodrow Wilson were also Progressive Presidents who passed reforms.
The Progressive movement continued to 1920 when women received the right to vote with the passing of the Nineteenth Amendment. However, the Progressive Movement ends when America enters World War I.