The Progressive Era

The Progressive Era
Problems during the Gilded Age?
• Unequal distribution of wealth
• Poor working conditions
– long hours, few safety precautions, child labor
Few protections for consumers
Overcrowding, sickness, disease, unsanitary
Racism, discrimination (race, gender)
Inadequate (no) health care
Moral vices
Political corruption…
Response to the Gilded Age?
• The Progressive Movement
– Personal Responsibility v. Social Baseline
• If the “system” or those with the ability to do
so are not going to look out for the best
interest of the people, who will?
Not a single, unified movement, but most
progressives held four common beliefs:
Gov. should be more accountable to its citizens
Gov. should curb power and influence of
wealthy interests
Gov. should be given expanded powers to
become active in improving lives of citizens
Gov. should become more efficient and less
corrupt (so that they could competently handle
this expanded role)
Progressives Overall
• Were of average wealth/status
• Wanted a government free of corruption
that would guard the welfare of workers and
the poor
• An economic and political philosophy
favoring public or government control of
property and income
• Progressive era saw rise in popularity of
Urban Conditions:
Settlement Movement
• Hull House, Chicago 1889
• Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr
Jacob Riis
• Emmigrated from
Denmark (1870, 21yrs)
• Flash Photography
• Photojournalism
• (The one who bought the
• How the Other Half Lives
Building Codes
• Second NYC Tenement Act (1879)
mandated an outward facing window in
every room
• Led to creation of dumbbell tenements with
“air shafts” between buildings to let in fresh
• Garbage tended to accumulate between
buildings, attracting rats
Municipal Corruption
• Lincoln Steffens – The Shame of Cities
– Originally published as articles in McClure’s
• Thomas Nast – Harper’s Weekly Cartoonist
Big Business
• Unionization
– Knights of Labor – Uriah Stephens (1869)
– American Fed. of Labor – Samuel Gompers (1881)
• Ida Tarbell – The History of the Standard Oil
Co. (1904)
• Upton Sinclair – The Jungle (1906)
Progressive Reforms
Early Federal Reforms
• Interstate Commerce Act (1887)
– Created Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC)
– Regulated Railroads
• Sherman Antitrust Act (1890)
– Not all trusts broken up, but maintained competition
– Designed to prevent “Price Fixing,” or the artificial
raising of prices
– Not strictly enforced
Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909)
• Republican, Progressive, Outdoorsman,
• Veteran of Spanish American War
TR’s “Square Deal”
• 1902 United Mine Workers coal strike
• Union ignored an injunction
• Used arbitration and threatened federal
• 1903 “Square Deal” became slogan of his
Antitrust Activism
• TR Enforced Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890
– Northern Securities Company in 1904
– Beef trust, Standard Oil, and American Tobacco
Company broken up
• TR administration filed 42 antitrust actions
• Gained “trustbuster” nickname
Railroad Regulation
• Used presidential mandate to pass 1906
Hepburn Act
– Gave the ICC strong enforcement powers
– Authorized ICC to set and limit RR rates to
prevent against “price gouging”
Protecting Public Health
• Pure Food and Drug Act (1906)
• Meat Inspection Act (1906)
• Laws required accurate labelling of
ingredients, strict sanitary conditions, and a
rating system for meats
• National Reclamation Act (1902)
– Money from sale of public lands used for irrigation
projects in arid states
• US Forest Service (1905)
– Headed by Gifford Pinchot
– “managed” resources
• TR set aside 200 million acres
– Forests, reserves, and water projects
New Constitutional Amendments
• 16th Amendment (1913)
– Authorized Congress to collect federal income tax
• 17th Amendment (1913)
– Direct election of senators
• 18th Amendment (1919)
– Prohibition
• 19th Amendment (1920)
– Women’s suffrage
Progressive Political Reforms
• Power to the People (Populism)
Direct primaries
17th: Popular vote of senators
Initiative: voters can put bills before legislature
Referendum: voters can vote on bills directly
Recall: voters can remove elected officials from
– 19th: Women’s suffrage
Other Significant Legislation
• Cabinet-level Department of Labor (1913)
• Federal Reserve Act (1913)
– Created federal reserve system of gov. banks to
provide flexible money supply
• National Park Service (1916)