Progressivism was the wide spectrum of social movements that include environmentalism, labor, women’s rights, animal rights, social justice and political ideologies such as anarchism, communism, socialism liberalism and social democracy. As we all know progressives wanted change. They wanted to see a change in the great divide of the classes of society. Poverty was the catalyst for this strong movement. Long days and an unsafe working environment, coupled with a small wage, drove the working class to a hope for change.
It can be considered somewhat of an oxymoron to use the terms “progressivism” and “regulation” in the same sentence, however it was the lack of regulation that drove the Progressive Movement. Laborers were sentenced to long working hours, unsafe working condition and minimal pay. Many could not live on the wage of a husband and wife, and therefore had to send their children into the work force. This allowed the power of the business owner to grow exponentially. Children were paid even less than their adult counterparts, therefore more work got done, the business owner got richer, but the working conditions remained unsafe and unfair. The Progressives worked to limit the age of the workforce, safer working conditions and higher pay.
Due to horrible working conditions, long work hours and low pay, the government should set working hours laws, regulate safety, prohibit child labor, set a minimum wage, and institute other work laws. This would limit business owners from abusing their powers over the employees and the government from being corrupt in dealing with the businesses. This also protected women and children from bad working conditions. Government regulations were key essentials to the working class.
The Progressive Movement played a very big and important role in the United States. It now what makes up safe working laws with organizations like OSHA. They mandate the safety in work places. The government also mandates fair pay and regulates hours worked. It also governs the work age laws as well. Children now have to be a certain age to enter the work force. Most of all business owners and big corporate organizations can no longer take advantage of the hard working men and women of the United States.
Visions of America: A History of the United States, Combined Volume, 3