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The Progressives, Essay Example

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Essay

Progressivism believes that by employing less political corruption, regulations, reform, social justice and control, brings equality for both men and women, regardless of race or cultural and social background.1  The Progressives were a group of Americans that began to form a movement of reform during the early twentieth century. The group of Americans were not a specific group of people, but many different types of individuals with different backgrounds, such as journalists, social workers, educators, and politicians.2   The lead to Progressivism was caused by the rise of businesses and the degraded treatment of the workers, such as factory workers. The workers began to receive low compensation along with long hours in unsanitary environments, while the businesses prospered. The businesses gained control and power by forming alliances with political parties. In addition, the Progressive movement became a movement to not only help with the protection and better treatment of the workers, but for slavery and women’s rights as well. The Progressives, therefore, had different levels of reform, such as local and labor reforms.1

Muckrackers

The Muckrakers were the first group of people to bring the Progressive ideas to the era. The Muckrakers consisted of a group of journalists who researched the social problems and political corruptions.  The term Muckrakers was developed after a speech presented by President Teddy Roosevelt on April 14, 1906.  The speech was as follows: “Now, it is very necessary that we should not flinch from seeing what is vile and debasing.  There is filth on the floor and it must be scraped up with the much-rake; and there are times and places where this service is the most needed of all services…”2.  The muckrackers began to uncover business, political, and social corruption and printed these findings in articles.  The articles ranged from beef industry to poverty and crime inhabiting immigrant neighborhoods in New York City.

Local Reform

The were different approaches to proressivism.  One approach was at the government level.  For instance, the progressives begin to fight the control of the party leaders over the political candidates who were to be nominated in the elections.  The Progressives helped incorporate the direct primary, in which the voters were able to help nominate the political candidates.1    Other groups of progressives focused on the efficiency of the government and helping the procedures in government policy.  The progressives were believers that business become more efficient with the use of sceintific principles; therefore, the progressives believed that the government could become more efficient if they incorporated sceintific management into their practice.

The progressives fought to place experts in managing the local government, not politicians.  Their main cause was that more politicians would lead to more corruption.  For instance, the mayer of the city was in charge of chosing the city department heads and council.  These jobs went to the mayor’s supporters and friends, who knew little to nothing about city policies.  The progressives fought to get experts in the fields hired into the council and in to the departments, which was referred to as the commision system.  Galveston, Texas was the first system to adopt the commision system in 1901.2

At the federal government level, the progressives pushed for the direct election of senators.  The United States Constitution originally read that the state legislation would elect the senators; however, it seemed that the politicians were influencding the election of the senators, by reimbursing them through contracts or jobs.  In order to prevent this occurrence, the progressives pushed for the direct election by the state voters.  By the year 1912, Congress passed the amendment for direct election.2

Labor Reforms

The purpose of the progressives was to give more power to the general population instead of the politicians.  The progressives instituted three practices referred to as, “referendum, the initiative, and recall”1.  The referndum was set forth in order for the public to vote on a bill before it was enforced.  The initiative allowed voters to petition or have a voice in the legistlation of bills and the recall allowed voters to remove elected politians from the office durign their term of office.  In addition, this helped form state laws to help with labor conditions, such as factory inspection laws and compensation for victims to work related accidents.1

Social Reforms

Another part of the progressive movement was social reforms.  The Suffrage movement was part of this.  In 1848, the first women’s right converntion was organized by Elizabeth Stanton and Lucretia Mott.  Suffrage was the women’s right to vote.  Many of the progressive groups joined the suffrage movement during the late 1800s and early 1900s.  By 1918, the woman suffrage amendement was passed. 1

Another important progessive movement focused on social welfare issues such as crime, child labor and health safety.  In 1904, the progressives formed a National Child Labor Committee in oder to terminate child labor in the United States.   In addition, laws to protect adult workers were also being pushed to help with the health and safety, especially in regard to coal mines and railroads.   The progressives also focused on the temperance movement in order to abolish alcohol.  They believed that alcohol was a source of American problems.2

Overall, the progressives were a movement of indivdiuals that were fighting for the equality of men, women and children.  They believed that the treatment of people in the United States needed reforming and they fought for many of our rights that our employed today, such as direct primary, suffrage, slavery laws, and child labor laws.   The progressives, therefore, helped decrease corruption and inequality in the United States of America.

Notes

  1. S. History/Progressive Era.  Source: http://www.saylor.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/HIST312-10.2-Progressive-Era.pdf..
  2. Appleby, J., McPherson, J., Brinkley, A., Ritchie, D.A., Broussard, A.S. (2005).  The American Vision.  Florida Edition.  Chapter 18.  The Progressive Movement.  1890-1919.  544-553. http://balma-socialstudies.com/content/Textbook%20American%20History/chap18%20The%20Progressive%20Movement.pdf.
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