The Progressive Movement Essay Research Paper Tom

The Progressive Movement Essay, Research Paper

Tom Bellini


The Progressive Movement

In 1905 American Social reformers began to call themselves Progressives. The philosophy of progressivism welcomed innovations and reforms in government to alleviate ills of society and wanted people to have more control over the government. The Progressives and, this movement, to get away from problems such as business monopolies, dishonest politics, city slums, and poor working conditions in factories and mines. From 1890 to 1900 reformers helped bring about laws aimed at relieving these problems. The Progressive Movement had three reforms which included economic, political, and social.

This paper will also include individuals who were very influential during the Progressive Movement. Upton Sinclair wrote ?The Jungle?, which exposed the meat packing industry. Ida Tarbell wrote ?A History Of The Standard Oil Company?. There was also Samuel H. Adams who exposed the medicine industry. Progressive State governors at this time included Robert M. LaFollette, of Wisconsin, Hiram Johnson, of California, and Charles Evans Hughes, of New York.

At the beginning of the Progressive Movement, many goals were set. The goals consisted of economic, social, and political reforms. The economic reforms were going to be pointed more in the direction of taxes and Big Business. The Progressives wanted more government control of business and tax reform. For too long businesses had been too influential in the government, and the progressives felt that it was time that the government stepped in. Another economic reform that the Progressives pushed was having taxes based on income rather than property holdings. To avoid high taxes people would put there property into bonds so that it would not be taxed. The third economic reform goal was to get the government responsible for the social welfare of its citizens.

At the time of the Progressive Movement there were also many social problems that faced America. One goal that was set was to have housing regulations. Another goal was to establish a minimum wage. The reason for that was that in the factories and mines workers were working an eight hour day, and they were not receiving a fair wage. The Progressives also wanted safety requirements in the workplace. In some factories the conditions were very hazardous and haphazard. By the way of the media, the Progressives wanted to increase public awareness of corruption and other problems in the businesses and the government. There were many advantages such as free passes on railroads that were given to government officials to influence their actions. The Progressives also wanted to increase popular participation in the American system.

The Progressives also wanted to make many political reforms. They pushed the goal for the rights of the citizens to govern themselves. The Progressives felt that the government should be able to control big business however, they believed that the people should have more freedom in the government. The Progressives also wanted to decrease the role of special interest groups in the government. They felt that they had too much power in government decisions. The Progressives also wanted to make the government more honest and responsive to the needs of the citizens. The Progressives felt that the government had been ignoring the needs of the people and were too engaged in political problems. The Progressive Movement also wanted to create more of an active, stronger role for the Federal government to protect the public interests.

During The Progressive Movement, there were many influential individuals who helped keep the movement running. Part of the movement came from a group of journalists known as muckrakers. They were given this name by Theodore Roosevelt because he felt that the muckrakers were making people discontented by pointing out what was wrong with society. The muckrakers felt that unless people got angry about society wrongs, then they would not fight for change. One of the most influential muckrakers of this time was Ida Tarbell. She spent five years of her life researching her expose of the Standard Oil Company. In the book ?The History Of The Standard Oil Company? she describes the firm?s cut-throat methods of eliminating competition. The McClure?s, who were the publishers of the book, were so worried that there would be lawsuits that they payed 3,000 dollars to verify each piece of information on which she wrote. No lawsuits were ever filed. Another influential Muckraker at this time was Upton Sinclair. He wrote the book The Jungle. In this book he describes in graphic detail the lives of stockyard workers and the operations of the meat packing industry. Along with being a muckraker, he was also an on and off member of the Socialist Party.

During this time there were also influential governors who supported the Progressive Movement. One was Robert M. LaFollete of Wisconsin. He was first elected as governer in the early 1900?s and served three terms before entering the U.S. Senate in 1906. His nickname was ?Fighting Bob?, his goal was ?Not to smash corporations, but to drive them out of politics, and then treat them exactly the same as other people are treated.? (World History, pg. 541). LaFollete also taxed railroad property the same rate as other business property. He set up a railroad commission to regulate rates and forbade free passes to state officials. Some of these reforms helped industries and the people too well. In spite of the railroad?s opposition, these reforms created enough new traffic to increase the railroads? income.

The Progressive Movement made many economic, social, and political reforms between 1890 to 1917. Economic reforms increased government regulations of business and established a series of tax reforms. Before The Progressive Movement, taxes were based on property. Progressives demanded that the taxes be based on income rather than land, because wealthy people tried to hide land as stocks and bonds, so they did not have to pay taxes on them.

Social reforms consisted of improvements in living conditions of the poor. Settlement houses were set up. In factories and mines people worked for long hours, low wages, and operated unsafe machinery. Progressives helped pass laws stating that there had to be safety precautions taken in factories, and that money would be given to employees if they were injured on the job.

The Progressives also made political reforms. The Progressives worked to end corruption in law enforcement, public transportation, and other city services. They also worked to increase the political power of the voters. In 1904, the Direct Primary Law was passed. This law allowed voters to nominate candidates.


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