The Progressives were a diverse group of middle-class reformers in the United States who sought to address the problems caused by industrialization, urbanization, and political corruption (Rodgers,2017). The movement primarily took place from the 1890s to the 1920s, leading to the creation of numerous public and private institutions, including the Federal Reserve, the Food and Drug Administration, and the National Park Service. The Progressives believed that the government should play a more active role in solving social and economic problems, and they pushed for various reforms at the local, state, and federal levels. Among other things, they supported the regulation of businesses, the introduction of progressive income taxes, the expansion of social welfare programs, and the direct election of senators. The Progressives were a diverse group, and there was no single cause that united them all. However, many reformers were motivated by a belief that the government should play a more active role in solving social and economic problems.
The Progressives were spurred to action by several factors, including the growth of big businesses, the rise of labor unions, the growth of cities, and the corruption of politics. They believed that the government should play a more active role in solving these problems, and they pushed for various reforms at the local, state, and federal levels (Rodgers,2017). The Gilded Age was a time of great wealth and poverty in the United States (Thelen,1969). The rich were getting richer, and the poor were getting poorer. There was much corruption in government and business. People were moving from the countryside to the cities in search of work. The crime was a problem in the cities. There was much social tension during the Gilded Age. According to Rodgers (2017), the United States during the Gilded Age was a time of great prosperity and technological advances. However, it was also a time of great inequality, as the wealthy elite controlled most of the country’s resources. This led to a growing movement for social and economic reform, which came to be known as progressivism. Progressives believed that the government should take a more active role in solving social problems, and they worked to pass laws and regulations that would improve the lives of all Americans.
The first proposal was a “national minimum wage,” which was supposed to help workers make low wages. The problem with this proposal is that it would make it harder for low-wage workers to find a job. The second proposal was “national health insurance,” which was supposed to help people who could not afford health care. The problem with this proposal is that it would make it harder for people to get health care. The third proposal was a “national retirement system,” which was supposed to help people who could not afford to retire. The problem with this proposal is that it would make it harder for people to retire.
The Progressive Era proposals significantly altered the United States. The proposals led to several reforms, including the Pure Food and Drug Act, the Meat Inspection Act, the Federal Reserve Act, and the graduated income tax. These reforms helped improve the United States overall functioning and made it a more equitable and just society. According to Lemons (1969), the nation was altered significantly by the proposals of the Sheppard-Towner Act. The act was designed to promote the health and well-being of mothers and children, and it did so by providing funding for maternal and child health care services. The act also helped standardize medicine practice in the United States and promote the concept of preventative medicine.
The United States did not become a “kinder, gentler nation” due to the Progressive movement (Lemons, 1969). The Progressive movement was a response to the problems of industrialization and urbanization, and it sought to address the inequities and abuses that had arisen from these processes. However, the movement did not fundamentally change American society’s nature. The United States remained a capitalist country, and the wealthy continued to wield great power. The Progressive movement did bring about some changes, such as the passage of laws regulating child labor and the food and drug industries. However, these changes did not fundamentally alter the nature of American society.
Some historians assess Progressives as idealists who were naïve about human nature and the possibilities for change. They believed that the Progressives were too optimistic about the potential for human beings to change and improve society (Lemons, 1969). They also argue that the Progressives did not fully understand the complexities of human nature and the limitations of government power. Others see the Progressives as pragmatic reformers who made significant changes in American society. These historians believe that the Progressives could achieve many of their goals because they were willing to compromise and work within the existing political system. They also argue that the Progressives were successful because they clearly understood the problems they were trying to solve and the changes they wanted to make.
The progressive era was a time of great social and political reform in the United States. The progressive movement responded to the Industrial Revolution, which led to widespread poverty and inequality. Progressives believed that government should play a role in solving social problems, and they pushed for reforms such as regulating businesses, protecting workers, and developing social welfare programs. Today, there are still many problems that progressives are fighting to solve, such as income inequality, racism, and environmental pollution.
Rodgers, Daniel T. “In search of progressivism.” The Progressive Era in the USA: 1890–1921. Routledge, 2017. 1–20.
Thelen, David P. “Social tensions and the origins of Progressivism.” The Journal of American History 56.2 1969: 323–341.
Lemons, J. Stanley. “The Sheppard-towner act: Progressivism in the 1920s.” The Journal of American History 55.4 (1969): 776-786.