Progressivism Essay Research Paper History Blk 6February

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

consumer care.

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.