The Progressive movement that occurred during the late 1800s and early 1900s was movement focused on reforming the corruption of big business in America and improving society as a whole. Three major issues that Progressives worked to improve upon were child labor, expanding democracy, and improving working conditions. These issues affected the common man and laborer, and the calls for reform were directed towards helping such people. Through the introduction of new laws, acts, and bureaus, such as the Federal Children’s Bureau and Elkins and Hepburn Acts, the Progressive reformers reached their goals in helping lessen child labor, expand democracy, and improve working conditions.
A major concern of the Progressives was harsh child labor and the debilitating effects of it. Due to the struggle of many families during the 1800s, parents would often have their children work alongside them in factories in order to intake an extra income. This meant that children were not educated as they were working instead of going to school, and they were paid less than adults and given dangerous jobs that the larger adults could not do. Many children were often injured by the machines they were working on if not fatally wounded, and their families could not do anything about this because they had signed agreements that the businesses were not reliable for any faults (doc#3a). In order to combat child labor, laws including the “First Factory Law of Illinois” were passed, which set age limits on employees (doc#3b). Committees were also set up, including the National Labor Committee, which was intended to move the public against child labor. The federal government also set up the Federal Children’s Bureau, which pressured the states to set minimum wage and maximum hours for children. These reforms, along with laws passed requiring compulsory education, all led to the lessening of child labor. By 1930, child labor dropped from 18% in 1900 to 5% (doc#5). The actions...
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