The Progressive Movement 1890-1919
The Progressive Era refers to the
period in American history from
1890-1920. During this period a
series of reform efforts transformed
American society.
Key Terms
• Tenement: multi-family apartments, usually
dark, crowded, and barely meeting minimal
living standards
• Skyscraper: a very tall building
• Political machine: an organization linked to a
political party that controlled local
• Graft: getting money in dishonest ways, such
as bribing a politician
• Urbanization
– During the three decades
after the Civil War, the urban
population of the US grew
from around 10 million in
1870 to over 30 million in
• NY City grew from about
800,000 in 1860 to about 3.5
million in 1900.
• Chicago grew from 109,000 in
1860 to 1.6 million by 1900.
• The USA had 131 cities in
1840; by 1900, that number
had risen to 1,700.
• In growing US cities, wealthy
people and the working class
lived in different parts of town.
• The wealthiest families lived in
fashionable districts in the heart
of the cities.
• The middle class moved away
from the city centers, living in
“street car suburbs.”
• The working class lived in dark,
crowded multi-family
apartments known as tenements
Progressivism Era: What I need to
know from today’s lecture?
• When was the Progressive Era?
• What is a “muckraker”?
• Who were some famous “muckrakers”?
Who were the Progressives?
• Progressivism was not a
tightly organized
political movement.
• Rather, it was a
collection of different
ideas and activities
seeking to fix the
problems they believed
existed in American
• believed that industrialism
and urbanization had created
many social problems.
• believed that government
should take a more active role
in solving society’s problems.
• belonged to both major
political parties.
• were often urban, educated,
middle-class Americans.
How and why did the Progressive era
come about?
Progressivism was partly a reaction
against laissez-faire economics.
People increasingly came to distrust the
unregulated market and economy of the
19th century.
Many came to believe that the economy
on its own could not solve many of the
social problems emerging by the end of
the 19th century as a result of
industrialization and urbanization.
Many began to see and believe that
science and technological improvements
of the period could also be used to create
a better society.
The Muckrakers
• Muckrakers:
– a group of journalists
and writers who
investigated and often
exposed dangerous or
unsanitary social
conditions and political
– Muckrakers brought to
light corruption in
different areas of
American society.
Sponge Activity
In the late 19th century, immigration most
affected American cities by contributing to
which of the following?
a. Overcrowded housing
b. Movement to the suburbs
c. Development of city parks
d. Financing railroad construction
Sponge Activity
As a result of increased immigration to the United
States in the late 1800s and early1900s, many
immigrant families lived in tenements because —
• a. there was a lack of affordable housing in
overcrowded cities
• b. adequate housing was scarce on the Great Plains
• c. they wanted to avoid living in ethnic neighborhoods
• d. the U.S. government provided them with free
• Ida Tarbell
• American teacher
• muckraker
• author and journalist
• Wrote a series of highly
critical articles about
Standard Oil Company
in McClure’s magazine.
Jacob Riis
A social reformer and “muckraking”
journalist and photographer
Used his talents to expose the
poverty, disease, and crime that
afflicted immigrant neighborhoods in
New York City.
His influential book How the Other
Half Lives, published in 1890,
brought to light the horrific living
conditions of the poor.
Riis became known as the
“Emancipator of the Slums” because
of his work.
Long ago, ... it was said that 'one half of the world does not
know how the other half lives.' ... It did not know because it
did not care ... until some flagrant outrage on decency and
the health of the community aroused it to noisy but
ephemeral indignation.”
Lewis Hine
Another free-lance photographer of the era. Hine focused on child labor,
and believed that if people could only see the abuses of child labor, they
would demand an end to such evils.
Watch your Step!
Upton Sinclair
• A famous muckraking journalist
• Wrote the novel The Jungle.
– exposed the foul conditions of the
U.S. meat packing industry
• The Jungle became an instant
– It told how dead rats were
shoveled into sausage-grinding
– how inspectors allowed diseased
cows to be slaughtered for beef
– and how cow “filth” and guts were
swept off the meat-packing floors
and packaged as “potted ham.”
A Chicago meat processing plant in 1906 such as the kind Sinclair wrote
“If I was a muck-raking journalist”
• Write a brief paragraph on what social issue
you would write about if you were a
muckraking journalist.
– About your, community, or your local, state, or
national government.
Progressive Era Reform
• Evaluate the impact of Progressive Era reforms including [initiative,
referendum, recall, and] the passage of the 16th and 17th
amendments. (TEKS US 4A)
• Evaluate the impact of reform leaders such as Susan B. Anthony,
W.E.B. Dubois, (NAACP), [and Robert LaFollette] on American
society (initiative, referendum, and recall). (TEKS US 4B) (TAKS 3)
• Evaluate the impact of third parties and their candidates such as
Eugene V. Debs (Socialist Party, Progressive Party, and Populist
Party). (TEKS US 4C)
• Trace the development of the conservation of natural resources,
including the establishment of the National Park System and efforts
of private nonprofit organizations. (John Muir, Gifford Pinchot, and
Yosemite). (TEKS US 11B)
Key Terms
• Direct Primary: a vote held by all members of a
political party to decide their candidate for public
• Initiative: the right of citizens to place a measure
or issue before the voters or the legislature for
• Referendum: the practice of letting voters accept
or reject measures proposed by the legislature
• Recall: the right that enables voters to remove
unsatisfactory elected officials from office
• Suffrage: the right to vote
Progressive Era Reforms
• What kind of reforms did progressives seek?
• What is a “direct” election?
• What is a “referendum”, an “initiative”, or a
• What was the 17th Amendment about?
Democracy and Progressivism
• Many progressives wanted
to make government more
democratic and more
responsive to the voters.
• They believed a more
democratic government
would be able to make the
changes necessary to
reform or improve society.
• Many progressives worked
for political reform on the
state level.
Democracy and Progressivism
Robert La Follette (1855-1925)
governor of Wisconsin in 1901.
He wanted citizens to have a more
direct role in government.
• La Follette championed
progressive reforms, such as:
workers’ compensation
railroad rate reform
minimum wage
corporate regulation
an open “direct” primary
– He supported trade unions as
a check on the power of large
Democracy and Progressivism
Robert M. La Follette attempted to run
for president in 1912
La Follette pressured the state
legislature to require each party to
hold a direct primary
an election where all party members can
vote for a candidate to run in the general
In the direct primary, party members
who want to run for office file petitions
to have their names placed on the
ballot, allowing voters to vote directly
for the candidates of their choice.
Democracy and Progressivism
• Two types of direct primaries
– A closed primary, used in
almost all of the states, is
limited to those people who
have previously registered as
members of a party in whose
primary they are voting.
– An open primary allows
individuals to vote across
party lines as in the regular
election process.
Democracy and Progressivism:
Initiative, referendum, and recall
Inspired by La Follette, Progressives
in other states pushed for similar
electoral changes. Among these
changes were the:
Initiative: allows a group of citizens
to introduce legislation and requires
the legislature to vote on it.
Referendum: allows proposed
legislation to be submitted to the
voters for approval.
Recall: allows voters to demand a
special election to remove an elected
official from office before his or her
term has expired.
Direct Election of Senators and the 17th Amendment
Another political reform the progressives
favored concerned the federal government.
Originally, the US Constitution directed each
state legislature to elect two senators from
each state. Political machines or large trusts
often exercised great influence in these
To counter the Senate corruption, progressives
called for the direct election of senators by all
state voters. In 1912, Congress passed a directelection amendment.
In 1913, the amendment was ratified, becoming
the 17th Amendment to the Constitution.
Direct election is a term describing a system of
choosing political officeholders in which the
voters directly cast ballots for the person,
persons or political party that they desire to
see elected.
Making Government More
While many Progressives focused
on issues relating to democracy ,
others focused on making
government more “efficient.”
Many of these progressives took
their ideas from the business
world—they believed business
had become more “efficient” by
applying the principals of
“scientific management.”
The ideas of scientific
management had been developed
in the late 1800s and were
popularized by Frederick W.
Taylor in his book The Principles
of Scientific Management,
publised in 1911.
Commission Plan
Efficiency progressives argued
that managing a modern city
required experts, not politicians.
Saw the democratic process as
leading to corruption and
These progressives sought to
place a city’s government under a
commission plan. This meant
that a city’s government would be
divided into several department,
each department placed under
the control of an “expert”
• William Mckinley _______
• Robert La Follette ______
• 17th Amendment ______
• Refendum
A famous muckraker who wrote about Standard Oil Company
A writer and social reformer who wrote The Jungle
Wrote How the “Other Half Lives”
Newspaper publisher
A president assassinated in September, 1901
Progressive governor from the state of Wisconsin
allows proposed legislation to be submitted to the voters for approval.
Relates to the direct election of U.S Senators
The Suffrage Movement
• In July 1848, Elizabeth Cady
Stanton and Lucretia Mott
organized the first women’s
rights convention in Seneca
Falls, New York.
• Their first priority: getting
women the right to vote.
• Suffrage is the right to
• Many progressives joined
the movement in the late
1800’s and early 1900’s.
The Suffrage Movement
• After the Civil War,
Republicans pushed for
the 14th and 15th
Amendments (1860’s and
1870’s) to protect the
civil and voting rights of
African Americans.
• Many leaders of the
woman suffrage
movement want to give
women the right to vote
as well.
The Suffrage Movement
• The debate over the 14th and 15th
Amendment split the suffrage
movement into two groups.
• One group, the National Woman
Suffrage Association (Elizabeth
Cody Stanton, Susan B. Anthony)
wanted to focus on passing a
constitutional amendment
allowing woman the right to vote.
• The second group, known as the
American Woman Suffrage
Association (Lucy Stone, Julia
Ward Howe) believed it was best
to push individual states to allow
women the right to vote prior to
trying to amend the Constitution.
Susan B. Anthony & the
Women’s Suffrage Movement
• Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906)
– Her parents were Quakers and
supportive of women’s right
– Received a good education
– Fought for temperance and
abolition of slavery before the
Civil War
– In 1869, she formed the National
Woman Suffrage Association with
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
– She and her organization pushed
for a constitutional amendment
granting women the right to vote
– Died in 1906 and did not live to see
the results of her life-long struggle
for women’s suffrage.
– 19th Amendment (1920) grants
women right to vote
The Suffrage Movement
• In 1890, the two groups united
to form the National
American Woman Suffrage
• As the suffrage movement
grew, members began
lobbying lawmakers,
organizing marches, and
delivering speeches on street
• By the end of 1912,
Washington, Oregon,
California, Arizona, and Kansas
had granted women full voting
The Suffrage Movement
• 19th Amendment: As more
states granted women the
right to vote, Congress began
to favor a constitutional
amendment allowing women
the right to vote.
• In 1918, the House of
Representatives passed a
woman suffrage amendment.
• In 1920, the 19th Amendment
guaranteeing women the
right to vote went into effect.
Temperance and Prohibition
Many progressives believed alcohol was
responsible for many problems in
American life.
Social workers decried the effects of
alcohol consumption on families and the
fact that scare wages were wasted on
Some employers believed drinking hurt
worker productivity, and saw drinking
saloons as places where machine
politicians could thrive.
The temperance movement advocated
the moderation or elimination of alcohol.
Temperance and Prohibition
• The Women’s Christian
Temperance Union (WCTU)
formed in 1874; by 1911 it had
nearly 250,000 members.
Another organization was the
Anti-Saloon League.
• At first the temperance
movement sought to reduce
alcohol consumption.
• Later it pressed for
Prohibition—laws banning the
manufacture, sale and
consumption of alcohol.
Health and Safety
• Triangle Shirtwaist
Company fire in New
York City:
• http://www.cleanvideo
Social Welfare Progressivism
While many Progressives focused on
reforming the political system, others
focused on social problems, including:
Crime, illiteracy, alcohol abuse, child labor,
and health and safety.
Campaign Against Child Labor: In 1900
over 1.7 million children under the age of
16 years old worked outside the home.
Reformers established the National Child
Labor Committee in 1904 to abolish child
John Spargo’s 1906 book called The Bitter
Cry of the Children told how coal mine
companies hired children as young as 9 or
10 years of age to work ten hour days for
60 cents daily.
Social Welfare Progressivism
• Many states began
passing compulsory
education laws during
this period, partly as a
result of these
progressive efforts.
The Limits of Progressivism
• The Progressive movement
in this period failed to
address African American
reform issues.
• African Americans also
sought to reform society,
promote equality, and
advance their civil liberties.
• The Niagara Movement
– In 1905, W.E.B. Du Bois and
28 African American leaders
met at Niagara Falls to
demand full political rights for
African Americans.
The Limits of Progressivism
• In 1909, Du Bois and
others formed the
National Association for
the Advancement of
Colored People (NAACP).
– Political Equality
– An end to racial
discrimination and lynching
– the elimination of barriers
preventing African
American from voting
Progressive Era Reforms
Making Government more Efficient
• Commission Plan
– A city’s government would be divided into several
departments. Each department placed under the
control of an export commissioner
More Democratic and Responsive Governments
• Direct Primary
• Political Reforms
– Initiative
– Referendum
– Recall
• 17th Amendment (1913)
• Direct election of U.S. Senators
More Democractic Government:
Women’s Suffrage
• Susan B. Anthony
– 19th Amendment (1920)
• guaranteed women the right to vote
Social Welfare “Reform”
• National Child Labor Committee formed in
1904 to abolish child labor
• Muckraker John Spargo’s (1906 )book The
Bitter Cry of the Children exposed the horrible
labor conditions of child workers
• States pass laws requiring minimum age for
• States pass laws for Compulsory Education
Social Welfare Reform
• Health and Safety Codes
– Workers’ Compensation laws
– Building Codes
– Sanitation
• Meat Inspection Act (1906)
– required federal inspection of meat sold through interstate
– Required the Agriculture Department to set standards of
cleanliness in meatpacking plants
• Pure Food and Drug Act (1906)
– Prohibited the manufacture, sale, or shipment of impure
or falsely labeled food and drugs
Temperance and Prohibition
• The temperance movement advocated the
moderation or elimination of alcohol.
• Women’s Christian Temperance Union
– Worked to reduce alcohol consumption
– Later pushed for prohibition: Laws banning the
manufacture, sale and consumption of alcohol
• Newlands Reclamation Act (1902): authorized
the use of federal funds from public land sales
to pay for irrigation and land development
• Gifford Pinchot
• appointed head of the US Forest Service
• Created protected forests, national parks
Regulating Big Business
• Progressives fought the concentration of
wealth into the hands of the few
– Targeted trusts and large holding companies
• giant corporations that dominated the industries
– Some reformers advocated socialism: the idea
that the government should own and operate
industry for the community as a whole
• Eugene Debs: ran for president in 1912 as the
American Socialist Party candidate
• Obtained nearly 1 million votes
Regulating Big Business
• Creation of the Federal Trade Commission (1914)
– Agency created and given power to investigate and
issue “cease and desist” orders against companies
involved in unfair trade practices or unfair trading
practices which derive a gain at the expense of the
• Clayton Antitrust Act (1914)
• The act banned tying agreements
• Banned price discrimination
• Declared unions were not “unlawful combinations”
Regulating the Economy
• Underwood Tariff (1913)
• Reduced the average tariff on imported goods to about
30% of the value of the goods, or about half the tariff
rate of the 1890s
• Allowed for the levying of an income tax: a direct tax
on the earnings of individuals and corporations
• 16th Amendment (1913)
• Made it legal for the federal government to tax the
income of individuals directly

The Progressive Movement 1890-1919