The 1890s are a thriving era for the United States. The industrial era is still in full swing and Americans are working harder than ever, however; With all that hard work comes multiple consequences. Working conditions are still harsh, pay is still insignificant, citizens are working themselves to the bone just to feed their families and the government is doing nothing to set up basic regulations for the safety of workers. The Unions can only do so much before a more impactful source is needed to make change, that is where the Progressives came in. They are named rightfully so as their reforms and ideals paved the way for progress in workers’ rights as well as progress in politics and society. Without the Progressives, who knows what would have become of the work industry, modern day politics, and societal ideals.
The Progressives formed their own political party and based their values and beliefs off Progressivism which according to Visions of America is “a broad term used to describe a shared philosophical approach rather than a formal organized movement, provided an answer to this threat.” They made a name for themselves by extending their political party to all classes of society and allowing women to play focal roles in their party. This is a significant change to the existing political and societal ideals that have been set in stone since the formation of our country. Change is a superb way of describing the Progressives, they brought much needed change to the country and that change was for the better. It was this change that led to “the creation of a socially just, capitalist America.” (Keene, Cornell, O’Donnell, 538)
With the Progressives allowing women to have roles, this gave the women the inspiration and confidence to know they deserved to play a bigger role in the country other than mothers and laborers. This newfound power and confidence gave women the idea they had the right to vote which led to the formation of the National Woman Suffrage Association. Imagine the United States without women having the right to vote, it would be a completely different society and we may have more conflict over gender roles and gender equality than we already have. The Progressives are a substantial reason as to why women have the right to vote and broke the first barrier in gender equality. For a political party to not only fight for labor rights but societal rights as well, is exactly what the country needed.
Regulation is a controversial word associated with controversial concepts. Often regulation is associated with negatives and do not always work in the favor of the people. In the case of the Progressives regulation was a positive. They worked to regulate the working conditions in factories, hours an employee could work, and child labor laws. Through these regulations they sought to establish equality between employees and employers and perhaps that would establish equality between the social classes.
The government should most definitely establish laws that regulate hours and child labor, which is what the Progressives worked for, “their notion that governmental regulation should protect workers and curtail the excesses of big business.” (Keene, Cornell, O’Donnell 538) Though this may seem great their ideals rivaled against those who believed in the laissez-faire system. Despite the disagreement between the Progressives and opposing parties, we must realize without regulations conditions for employers would not have improved and the country would be stuck in an era of divide and conflict. For once regulation worked in the favor of minorities. Dr. Keene said it best when she said in Visions of America “Progressives transformed the role of government in American society and laid the foundation for the liberal reform movements of the twentieth century.”
Keene, Jennifer D., et al. Visions of America: a History of the United States. Vol. 2, Pearson, 2017.