I think that Progressives did not meet all their goals, but their failures paved a path for the future reform movements. So, if an employee had his leg crushed by a coal car when he fell under it while working, it was completely his fault and the company he worked for only paid the hospital bill for the employee. Employers had traditionally held employees responsible for workplace accidents. (Keene, pg. 547) Progressive organizations undertook detailed sociological studies to refute these self-serving generalizations. (Keene, pg. 547) Lewis Hine’s photographic investigation into the lives of injured Pittsburgh workers suggested that few were responsible for their accidents. (Keene, pg. 547-548) Studies like Hine’s convinced many states to establish worker compensation programs that provided employer-funded disability payments and medical care to injured workers. (Keene, pg. 548)
The drive to limit hours for male workers was less successful, employers had traditionally maintained that as property owners they had the sole power to decide the terms of employment. (Keene, pg. 548) President Roosevelt helped the miners in Pennsylvania that wanted an eight-hour work day, and a twenty percent wage increase, and recognition of their United Mine Workers union. (Keene, pg. 539) President Roosevelt threatened to use troops to take over the mines unless there was a compromise. In the end of it they got a ten percent pay raise and the hours spent at work per day went from ten to nine. So, I think that the Progressives were successful when it came to some pay raises and hours in a work day for a few lucky workers.
Progressives believed that poor living and working environments created most of the social problems troubling the nation and I agree with their thinking. Addams and Kelley came up with statistics of diseases, crime and overcrowding, they got from their Hull House in Chicago and they came up with solutions to these problems. Improving sanitation and garbage collection, creating playgrounds for children, eliminating saloons, limiting the hours spent at work, reducing workplace accidents- these were all ways to improve the environment in working-class neighborhoods so that individuals could flourish. (Keene, pg. 538) I think that without women having a right to vote they lacked an essential tool they needed to keep themselves and their family safe. The NWSA achieved notable success between 1910 and 1917, winning the right to vote in Washington, California, Arizona, Kansas, Oregon, and New York. (Keene, 538)
I think that the Progressives succeeded eventually when it came to getting rid of child labor, unsafe working conditions and eight-hour work days for men and women, I mean look where we are at today. Child labor decreased as schools started making attendance necessary. (Keene, 553) It took the progressives longer when it came to eight-hour work days and unsafe working conditions. Lochner vs. New York court ruled that unless long work hours directly jeopardized workers health, the government could not abide an employer’s freedom to negotiate it with his employers. (Keene, 548) The Progressives were successful when it came to establishing eight-hour work days for women before men in the Supreme Court case Muller vs. Oregon because protecting women’s reproductive health served the public good, I think that the progressives bettered the country by that but I can definitely see where feminists could get offended.
Keene, Jennifer, et.al. Visions of America: A History of the United States. Volume 2, Boston: Pearson Education, 2015