At the turn of the twentieth century, there was a lot of concerns from the middle-class. These concerns involved labor and living conditions which then led to strikes and appeal of socialism. The concerns of the middle-class turned into an ideology called Progressivism. Middle-class workers wanted the US government to take action on issues such as the welfare of the public and the control of big businesses. This new ideology attracted three consecutive presidents, Theodore Roosevelt, William Taft, and Woodrow Wilson. With the political support Progressives actually formed their own political party.
Women played an important role in the Progressive movement. The Progressives said that women could not properly protect their children without the help from the government. Female union workers agreed with this ideology, but they also wanted to improve working conditions and wages for females. During this movement, it become clear that in order for women to have a voice in society they would have to be able to vote. The National Woman Suffrage Association worked hard to earn woman the right to vote and succeeded in 1920 when the 19th Amendment was formed.
“In a general sense the Progressives wanted to turn America into a middle-class paradise where economic security, education, health, and civility flourished” (Keene, 538). Christian charity helped to aid the idea of this “middle class paradise”. Progressives followed the teachings of Josiah Strong who believed that Christians had a responsibility to create a society with good ethics and morals. They also believed that the poor working and living conditions attributed to the poor environment Americans had to live in.
There was a large amount of overcrowding, disease, and crime in working class neighborhoods. In order to create healthier environment in these neighborhoods, Progressives wanted the government to improve sanitation and garbage collection, build playgrounds for children, limit the hours spent at work, and get rid of saloons. In addition to this, they also wanted government regulations to protect workers and take down big business. The Progressives felt that the government always sided with the industrialists at times where there was conflict between the industrialists and unions.
The government should in fact set laws for length of hours employees can work, regulate safety, prohibit child labor, set a minimum wage, and institute other work laws. Having federal regulations over all of these things is important to society. It is important to create safe work environments for workers with fair wages and hours. Also, children should never have to experience poor working conditions with low pay. Big businesses liked children working for them because children could be easily manipulated and paid less. Minimum wage is also important because it does not allow businesses to underpay their employees.