The Progressive Era

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20th Century American History
Progressive Era

Kristie McBryde

The Progressive Era, at its most progressive time in history. 1900-1918 The Progressive came from a long tradition of middle-class people with a strong sense of social duty to the poor. The social high-ups wherein blue-blooded, native stock was at the top and the poor along with the darker skinned were at the bottom, was accepted by the group. But enacted in their role as privileged members of society was a certain degree of responsibility for the less fortunate (Txt Wikipedia Encyclopedia Progressive area). Growing up in this social class, Eleanor Roosevelt remarked, “In that society you were kind of poor, you didn’t philanthropic duties, you assisted the hospitals and did something for the needy.” The progressive era is unique in that this impulse spread to foster an all-encompassing mood and effect for reform. From farmers to politicians, the need for change and for direct responsibility for the country’s ills became paramount and spread from social service to journalism. During his presidency Theodore Roosevelt commented on the need: “No hard-and-fast rule can be laid down as to the way in which such work [Reform] must be done. But most certainly everyman, whatever his position should strive to do it in some way and to some degree.” (Theodor Roosevelt)

The Progressive Era
The Progressive Era consisted of important movements of our time, these movements challenged traditional relationships and attitudes involving working conditions, unregulated industrial developments to name a few. Rather than rely on traditional Partisan Politics progressive reform began at the local and state levels. They believe that industrialization and urbanization had produced serious social disorders; they sought to achieve social order through organization.

Industrial growth affected factory workers directly, 60 percent of male bread winners made less than a living wage, survival required women and children to work in lowest paid and exploited positions. The United States had the highest rate of industrial accidents. Half a million workers were injured and 30,000 killed each year at work.

Reform-minded Protestant ministers introduced religious ethics into industrial relations, Known as the Social Gospel movement, to appeal to churches in a way to meet their religious social responsibility. By linking the Gospel movement it gave progressivism a powerful moral drive. Economists rejected larssez-faire principles in favor of State action to accomplish social evolution (page 581).

Journalists also spread reform ideas by developing a new form of investigative reporting known as “muckraking.”
President Theodore Roosevelt praised the “Gospel of efficiency.” He admired the corporations in applying management techniques to guide economic growth (page 582).
The American Federation of Labor (AFL) claimed 4 million members by 1920, recruiting skilled workers native-born white males. A more radical union tried to organize miners, lumberjacks, Mexican and Japanese farm workers in the West. The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) known as “wobbies” used sit-down strikes, sit-ins, and mass rallies, these tactics where adopted by other industrial unions in the 1930’s and the civil rights movement in the 1960’s.

Women reformers and their organizations played a key role in progressivism. They responded not merely to human suffering but also to related changes to their own status and role. Women also joined or created other organizations that pushed beyond the limits of traditions.

The spearheads for social reform were settlement houses. Soon settlement workers saw that the root of the problem for immigrants was widespread poverty. Crusades for sanitation and housing reform demonstrated the impact that social reformers often had on urban life. Settlement workers initially undertook private efforts to...
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