For starters, lets discuss who the progressives are and when this time took place. The Progressive Era was between 1895-1915 and consisted mainly of white, middle-class, college educated women. The progressives had interest in child labor, political corruption, industrial abuse, food and drug regulation, woman suffrage, and several more. They are pro government and supportive of the law, but do not agree or like political parties (Keene, 18.1). Since women play a big role in the Progressive Era, they focused a lot on their children. Regulations of child labor laws and food and drug regulations really show that.
Child labor was a huge problem back in this time; there were roughly 1.75 million full-time, children, factory workers ranging in age from 10-15 years old (Keene, 18.4). Stunningly, the numbers could be even greater given that the previous figure does not include children working in-home sweatshops or on the family farm. Child labor really showed how cold and vicious the working industry was, and what they would do for increased profits. Although there were previous acts regulating child labor to some extent, it wasn’t until the 1930’s that there was a nationwide child labor ban (Keene, 18.4). The regulation of child labor was so important and helped shape todays world for teenagers in the work force.
It is also important to acknowledge that during the Progressive Era, mandatory school attendance played a big role in reducing child labor (Keene, 18.4). It was the time when school enrollments, the number of days in a school year, and money spent on the students really became something to focus on and regulate.
The progressives’ goal was to promote the general welfare of American citizens using their voice through their own political parties (supported by the wealthy), and with the help of 3 different presidencies. The interference of the government was not only beneficial, but necessary.
Keene, Jennifer D., et al. Visions of America: A History of the United States. Pearson, 2013.