Social Movements and Reforms during the Progressive Era

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Many reform movements sprang up throughout America during the Progressive Era, which focused on social activism dealing with female suffrage, education, working condition, and unionization. Also, political reforms that dealt with corruption, political machines, and big business or corporations, during the 1890’s to the 1920’s. Progressives wanted for the government to take a bigger role and take action in solving society problems, protecting welfare, and restoring order. The Progressive Movement was mainly to eliminate problems caused by industrialization, urbanization, immigration, and corruption in the government.

During the Gilded Age, women we not able to vote, they had no rights or political participation, and they were not able to request recognition and protection of their basic political rights. Women’s work was worth less than men’s work. Social movement during the Progressive Era aimed for better opportunities regarding equality and liberty. Which lead to women being able to have more choices; abortion, birth control, public health for pregnant women became available. Women won minimum wage and maximum hours. Many women wanted to vote, which they joined trade unions to fight for their rights. Settlement housing helped immigrants understand the social aspects of American society. The education for women and children was improved which opened up many doors for women, and being able to be educated.

In the 19th century railroads was one of the most important technologies advances, which transported good from rural areas to cities. Although, by the late 19th century there was millions of new residents that ended up living in poor conditions in American cities. They wanted to improve conditions in the cities, which lead to education. Instead of children attending school until 14, they were able to build a “junior high school” to keep a higher rate of adolescents to attend to school and graduate. As that being said, they were also able to build more entertainment and recreations.

American industries grew tremendously during this era due to the rise of industries, and better opportunities. Many immigrants came to the United States seeking for a better life for their families. Cities grew fast, knowing that the businesses attracted many immigrants and those who came from rural areas searching for employment. City services has a hard time keeping up with how fast and population growth kept increasing. The population was so large that the cities did not have enough clean water, the roads were not 100% ready, there was very limited police and fire services, which people were not really protected.

These negative aspects of urbanization lead to political corruption and disease. After these negative consequences, many progressives pushed for urban reforms. That included, organized settlement houses, laws that would improve the living conditions, and legislation that would reduce the power of city bosses and get rid of corruption. Thankfully these reforms took action and many things improved, but did not get rid of all the problems.

Immigrants came during this Era for the economy opportunities. The “new immigrants” came to America looking for jobs, and having in mind the dream of going from “poor to rich”. America was the land of opportunity, were people would work, and save money, and those who were smart had the chance to become rich. They mainly settled in large cities due to the amount of employment and cheap housing. One advantage was that immigrant did not have to learn English too well, due to many ethnic group in that area.

The United States did not restrict immigration because Americans wanted the population to grow, but over time it increased a lot. Which caused citizens to not like it, due to immigrants taking over their jobs and money. They started to set more order on the amount of new immigrants who came to America. Immigrants had organizations that provided; nurseries, along with food, health care, and classes that taught English. Therefore, poor immigrants had a safe place while they would make their way through society.

Progressives wanted for the government to take a bigger role and take action in solving society problems, protecting welfare, and restoring order. Corruption was a main focus which they took action by targeting political machines and their bosses, knowing that they would control cities and towns. William M. Tweed was the head democratic political machine, which he controlled police, courts, as well as newspapers. He collected millions of dollars in illegal payments. Many people were given jobs that they wouldn’t even qualify for.

Pendleton Act was then created and gave examinations for federal jobs, so that people would actually qualify by having the skills for the job. James Garfield was the 20th president, and he tried to end this system, but was assassinated by a man who did not get a job. Monopolies would set high prices, knowing that they had all the control. Muckrakers investigated corruption and the problems in large cities, and took it down to the newspaper showing political corruption, child labor, and other problems. Voters gained power in choosing the candidates. After all this, reformers brought change to America.

The Gilded Age and the Progressive Era offered opportunities to people in the United States, that till this day they play a big role. The Gilded Age grew economically and in the industrialization, but prosperity was limited to certain groups. White man were mainly to prosper and be wealthy, while Native Americans, immigrants, women, and African Americans suffered and worked in unsafe conditions.

The Progressive Era grew socially and increased the welfare. Equality led to job opportunities and work safety in all groups of people. Corruption and industrial monopolies were handled better. Many movements were started during the Gilded Age and would advance more throughout the Progressive Era. Although the Progressive Era had a bigger transformation, due to equality being enforced, the working conditions and fair wages, and elimination of monopolies to control the wealth.

The Progressive Era succeeded in the political field by passing the 19th amendment, which gave women full voting rights. As well as the 17th amendment, which gave power to voters to elect their senators. Roosevelt encouraged the protection and public interest. Woodrow Wilson was the most successful at addressing the concerns of the movement during this Era. He encouraged stronger antitrust laws to be able to help small businesses and workers. Wilson supported the Clayton Antitrust Act to be able to help small corporations, and made it clear on what larger businesses could not do. He was able to help many workers, farmers, and children.

In conclusion the Progressive Era focused on social activism and political reforms, including to eliminate the problems caused by different social groups, and encouraging more freedom throughout the United States. Many of the concerns came from the Gilded Age, but they were able to be more successful during the Progressive Era, by having more action towards the problems and equality. The Progressive Era opened the doors for many people, that till this day those reforms made a difference. Ending the Progressive Era there was more fairness and order, without it all being corruption.

Cite this paper

Social Movements and Reforms during the Progressive Era. (2021, Jun 26). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/social-movements-and-reforms-during-the-progressive-era/

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