History 152—Autumn 2008
27 October 2008
The Gilded Age may have provided the United States with a period of growth and change after the tumultuous times of reconstruction and the Civil War, but the Progressive Era refined the country with political, social and economic reform. Four major sectors of such reform included theory and practice, regulating big business, organizing the working class, and civilizing the city.
In the Progressive Era, reform Darwinism directly challenged the previous theory of social Darwinism and the inevitability of natural selection; progressives instead ushered in a period of efficiency and rationale. One method used to achieve this efficiency …show more content…
The act outlawed trusts and ruled that businesses could no longer restrict competition, but in the next decade it managed to strike down only six trusts. New President Theodore Roosevelt finally stepped in and decided to use the power of the federal government to control private industry. He began by filing an antitrust suit against the Northern Securities Company, and the Supreme court followed in suit by calling for the dissolution of the company in 1904 as well as upholding the Sherman Act, which Roosevelt went on to use against forty-three trusts. Despite his actions, congress still was against Roosevelt’s reform, especially with many senators on the payroll of the corporations he attacked. The only real solution he determined was to give the Interstate Commerce Commission real power to regulate the railroads with the Hepburn Act. There was criticism of the act from both sides, “Committed progressives like La Follette judged the law a defeat for reform. Die-hard conservatives branded it a ‘piece of populism,” (The American Promise 663). Both statements ended up exaggeratory, and the passage of the Hepburn Act marked the high point of Roosevelt’s presidency, as the federal government finally had the authority to control private business methods and …show more content…
Progressivism started from the bottom up and filtered its way up through local and state all the way to national politics. While the cost of living and living space is always going to be tight, the settlement house movement campaigned to clean up the working class citizens that lived there. One such movement was the development of settlement houses. Jane Addams, the college educated daughter of a wealthy family, started Hull House in the west side of Chicago, Illinois. The houses served as a way for those who aspired to crawl out of poverty to cross class lines and become part of the working middle class. Between culture, art, and English classes, not to mention public baths and gyms, some who came from settlements houses went on to be VIPs and CEOs. Hull House was considered one of the best settlement houses in the country and spurred the creation of almost 500 nationwide, making Addams one of the most famous women in the world. The social purity movement strived to clean up vice, targeting prostitution, venereal disease and anything else considered obscene. Attacks on alcohol were directly related with the purity movement. The temperance campaign began with the Women’s Christian Temperance Union in 1880 that created a Department of Scientific Temperance Instruction in Schools and Colleges. They were followed by the