Progressivism Essay, Research Paper
The Progressive Era – Federal Legislation
The Progressive Era was a period in which the federal government increased its legislation and its grasp of the nation. There were three distinct pieces of federal legislation that seem to stick out, The Meat Inspection Act The Federal Reserve Act,, and The Hepburn Act. All of this legislation gave the government an extremely large amount of power to regulate business and industry as well as the people of the United States of America.
The first of the legislation of the federal government in this time was the Meat Inspection Act of 1906. The Meat Inspection Act required the federal inspection of meats that were headed for interstate commerce and this gave much power to the big bosses of the Agriculture Department. The powers that this act endowed to the big bosses of the Department of Agriculture was to set the standards or the sanitary conditions. This Act basically gives the government the power to say what is sanitary and safe and what is vile and rank. The Meat Inspection Act was brought to the attention of the political hierarchy in great part to the novel written by Upton Sinclair. Upton portrayed the meat packing industry of Chicago as vile and disgusting. He expressed hideous images of rats and feces and other things very unfit for the food that they were eating. President Roosevelt read the book, The Jungle, and was totally convinced and he acted very quickly. In this, he sent a few federal agent to go investigate this convincing claim to see if it existed, they reiterated his disgusting results. Thus the Meat Inspection Act of 1906 was passed by the Congress and by Roosevelt on its way to becoming a part of the incredible regulations of the Progressive Era.
Another federal legislation that was passed into law during the period was the Federal Reserve Act. The Federal Reserve Act of 1913, focused its energies on creating a new banking system with twelve regional Federal Reserve Banks, and each of whom were owned by member banks in its district. Also, all of the national banks automatically were members while state banks could join if they wished. However, any bank that joined was required to donate six percent of its capital to the Federal Reserve. This system is the basis for the system of today. The Federal Reserve Act basically recognized the need for an acting body to monitor and evaluate the money supply in the United States. The Federal Reserve Act set the way for a board of directors and a way of changing the money supply, through interest rates to the member banks. This legislation was pushed for heavily by Wilson. He wanted to regulate the country’s’ money supply, but he also wanted a more flexible and decentralized system that could expand or contract based on the countries fluctuating economic and financial needs. This was the first banking and economic reform since the Civil War and it was quite necessary because the big New York banks controlled everything, which the Populists had pointed out earlier. Never the less, the Federal Reserve Act paved the way for the system of today and has led the country on the correct economic path due to the money supply regulation.
The last federal regulation that is prevalent is the Hepburn Act. The Hepburn Act which was enacted in 1906 set a precedent for the power of the federal government. The Hepburn Act set a maximum price for the freight rates on the railroads. It also extended the reach of the Interstate Commerce Commission to regulation of pipelines, freight companies, sleeping-car companies, bridges and ferries. As well, the Hepburn Act did not make the ICC go to the court to enforce its regulation decisions. This act was passed mainly under the dedication of President Roosevelt. After 1905, he dedicated his efforts to the greater regulation of and control over the big businesses. His regulations over them angered his corporate sponsors. But that really did not matter to the President because this act set a precedent for the quality of big business as well as setting a fairness level so that the little guy could survive and live the American Dream.
During this period the federal government passed an incredible amount of legislation that mainly regulated the problems in the society. In the period, the people needed a greater sense of regulation and protection. The societal problems such as overbearing freight prices, vile food preparation and inconsistent economic status were issues that needed to be amended. Thus, the government was not overstepping its bounds in passing superior amounts of regulation in this period. This period just was a step forward and the people needed things prescribed out for them. Then, more than any other time in history the economic and social conditions were booming and the state of affairs just could not handle them. So, the government was justified in its increased regulations because it was imperative to the way the nation developed and it shaped our country to the way that it is today without ever drowning out the ideals of the little guy.