July 11, 2012
Professor Dwight Kiel
Progressive reform in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s in the United States took place to fix socially corrupt environments throughout the U.S. government and economy that was due to the quickly expanding industrial economy. Reformers had many different goals but generally claimed that big business and government were taking advantage of the American people rather than serving them, much like the problems we are having today. Political machines were creating monopolies holding control over industries preventing free enterprise throughout the economy. Political machines are extremely powerful organizations with unlimited resources that are linked to political parties that can heavily influence and sometimes-even control the government. Progressives eliminated the widespread corruption by exposing and undercutting the corporation to the American public as well as implementing pieces of legislation that discontinued the problem. Many people led efforts to reform local government, public education, medicine, finance, insurance, industry, railroads, churches, and many other areas. Some of the most important pieces of legislation led by the progressives were the Food and Drug Act, the Interstate Commerce Act, prohibition and the 18th Amendment, and the Sherman Antitrust Act. The Pure Food and Drug Act was inspired by Upton Sinclair’s investigative report on the Chicago Meat Packing industry. In the book The Jungle, based on a true story tells the tale of a Lithuanian immigrant working in a meat packing plant. The story highlights the mistreatment of the average worker by other employees and all of the wealthier parts of society. The mistreatment of the workers and the disgusting and inhumane conditions in the novel shocked readers everywhere and eventually led to the Pure Food and Drug Act. The Pure Food and Drug Act was a United States federal law that was passed in 1906. Under the law meat products...