To better understand what the Progressive Era was all about it is a very good idea to know what progressivism is. “Progressivism is a broad term used to describe a shared philosophical approach rather than a formally organized movement, provided an answer to this threat.” (Keene, pg. 537) These problems were the main focus of the Progressives who wanted rights for all workers, including the rights of young workers. The wants of the people in this Era were met by government ideology which tried to prohibited these things from happening. The idea of the Progressive Era is a widely diverse Era of history which related back to social problems. These problems included things that would change the lives of middle-class workers around the United States.
According to an article found on Khan Academy, a very credible learning site used by a number of students across the U.S., the Progressive Era was kicked off in the late 1800s because “industrialization in the United States raised standards of living for many, it had a dark side.” (Khan Academy, pg. 1) This dark side caused the uprising of the movement which wanted to end all of the negative factors of what industrialization was promoting. Progressives believe that the use of regulations, incentives, and punishments could improve the life of humans during this time period. Although this view was the view of many people of the Era, political officials believed the federal government should keep its broad rules and let businesses do what is necessary.
The Progressives pushed for many things and succeeded, including many amendments added to the constitution which include: The Sixteenth Amendment which established a federal income tax, the Seventeenth Amendment which allowed for the direct election of Senators, the Eighteenth Amendment prohibited sales of alcohol and the Nineteenth Amendment which granted women the right to vote.
The main push that many progressives had was for sanitation of foods and the entire environment of workers during this time period. This was pushed and the outcome was very successful with the passing of the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, which guaranteed the purity and labeling of all food and drug products. The other point in which Progressives focused their attention was the working conditions and workers safety. Up to this point, jobs were filled with positions which were very dangerous for those daring enough to work them. The Progressives fought for things like hour laws, regulate safety, prohibit child labor, and set a minimum wage. They ended up succeeding in some of these areas. According to Visions of America, written by Jennifer Keene, “In 1914 Ford created headlines by offering male factory workers a five-dollar daily wage for nine hours of work (extended to female and male office employees two years later).” (Keene, Pg. 545) Ford tried to promote the use of minimum wage and hour laws to in turn get better productivity out of his workers. “Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt, who both expanded the power of the federal government to impose regulations on private industry and implement protections for workers, consumers, and the natural environment.” (Khan Academy, pg. 1)
Although many regulations which may have seemed like a small amount to Progressives because of their vast focus and big picture mindset, these peoples hard work and dedication paved a way for what was going to come. After this era, we slipped into a mindset of the workers and made sure to fight for the rights of the people. Thanks to Progressives we were on to a safer, more beneficial workplace, which benefited not only the economy but also the country.
Alchin, Linda. “Theodore Roosevelt.” Progressive Reform ***, Siteseen Limited, 9 Jan. 2018, http://www.american-historama.org/1881-1913-maturation-era/progressive-movement.htm.
Keene, Jennifer D., et al. Visions of America: a History of the United States. Pearson, 2015.“The Progressive Era.”
Khan Academy, Khan Academy, http://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/us-history/rise-to-world-power/age-of-empire/a/the-progressive-era.