Progressivism Essay, Research Paper
History Blk. 6
February 12, 1998
Who were the Progressives and how did they propose to reform America?
Can we speak of a single ?Progressive Movement??
The ?Progressive Movement? was very complex and had many different areas of
reform including, social, economical, and political. The Progressive Movement was a
combination of reforms and cannot be restricted to one transition. The Progressives were
made up of middle and upper class idealists who were concerned about the welfare of
those below them, as well as the world they lived in. For the first time in American history
the United States citizens felt that it was their moral obligation to help others around
Women played a major role in the Progressive Movement. Moving into the
twentieth century women stopped depending on their husband?s wages and began to
develop more self-worth and move out of the house into the workplace. Along with their
fight into the business world, women were busy campaigning for their voting rights.
Domestic science, which had previously isolated women, was being replaced with
scientific management which helped employers find the best and easiest way to complete a
At this time the Progressives were also trying to help the hourly wage worker and
increase support for organized labor. Through ?muckraking? journalists the public became
aware of the unsafe working conditions in mills, fought for a standardized minimum wage,
and lobbied for a decrease in hours. The Progressive Movement was lead by a strong
leader called Theodore Roosevelt. He tried to improve America?s economy by dissolving
many monopolies and trusts. Roosevelt also tried to concentrate his progressive efforts on
With the corruption in American cities and the bad working conditions came bad
products. Upton Sinclair?s novel The Jungle was written to illustrate the common
worker?s daily strife, but ended up turning most people away from meat. This novel?s
gruesome description of meat production and packaging turned people?s stomachs instead
of their feelings on capitalism. The Progressive government passed many laws to secure
the rights of consumers including, the Meat Act and the Pure Food Act.
During the Progressive era America had problems, but to an outsider living in rural
Europe, the United States was still considered the land of opportunity. Because America
was considered luxurious the immigrants kept pouring in. Many of these foreign people
could not speak English and had very little experience with democracy. Many reformers,
such as Jane Addams, established settlement houses to help Americanize these immigrants.
Another Progressive idea that came about at this time was to rationalize spelling.
They wanted to spell everything phonetically because they felt that the English language
was too chaotic with silent letters and weird combinations. With this new invention the
Progressives thought that they could save money on dictionaries. This idea was thrown
out when they realized that there was too many acceptable phonetic spellings of the
words. This was just another example of how radical the Progressives were.
Environmental concerns were also on the Progressives list of reforms. Gifford
Pinchot, a middle-of-the-road conservationist helped to establish many new laws and acts
to protect our environment. With urbanization in full swing the United States government
had to enact new laws to prevent the rapid decrease in natural resources. One of the
Progressive reforms was the New Lands Reservation Act, which established national and
state parks. This had a profound effect on the United States because it was the first time
government actually got involved in protecting natural resources, providing adequate
irrigation, and forest preservation.
The Progressive Movement had a extreme effect on America and it included
various reforms focused on bettering the America life. The Progressive Movement was
exactly what it is called. It was a progression, in which a majority of the people wanted to
help others to move forward and change for the good of the country. Some of the
Progressive ideals are still relevant in today?s society. Women are still gaining more
equality in the workplace and the government is still working for the people.