Protecting Social Welfare, Promote Moral Improvement and Create Economic Reform
Progressivism was an era where more people were trying to protect social welfare, promote moral improvement, create economic reform, and foster efficiency because of the events of The Gilded Age, the turn of the 20th century, and the Chicago’s World’s Fair. These were all created to fix the problems of rapid urbanization, rapid industrialization, racial discrimination, and discrimination against immigrants.
One of the causes of Progressivism was the Gilded Age. During the Gilded Age things appeared great in the US at first glance, but it actually had serious issues lurking below the surface that were problematic for the average American. These problems were government corruption and ruthless profiting by big businessmen. The turn of the 20th century was also a big cause of Progressivism due to rapid urbanization, rapid industrialization, racial discrimination, and discrimination against immigrants.
There was rapid urbanization because of overcrowding in cities, sanitation problems, safety issues, and spread of diseases, especially when more and more immigrants were coming to America for work and better living. Rapid industrialization was because of poor working conditions, pollution, and the tearing apart of families. Racial discrimination was especially emphasized during the Chicago World’s Fair. Originally, African-Americans were allowed to work at the fair in very specific roles (such as janitors, waiters, etc.) but could not attend themselves because Americans believed that they could not be trusted and that they were naturally criminals. Discrimination against immigrants was because more and more immigrants kept coming to America seeking better job and living opportunities and it crowded all the cities and businesses which leads right back to rapid urbanization.
The four major goals that were set for Progressivism were to protect social welfare, promote moral improvement, create economic reform, and foster efficiency. People were struggling to make ends meet in the Industrial Age. To help protect their social welfare more settlement houses, community centers, churches, and social services were created, as well as the Salvation Army to help with soup kitchens and childcare. Florence Kelly also advocated for improving the lives of women and children. Progressivism brought the promotion of moral improvement for people to improve their personal behavior and to help the country regain its morals.
Many people believed that alcohol was the root of this problem so the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) fought for a ban on alcohol. The main idea of creating economic reform was to uncover the injustices and wrongdoings of big businesses and inform the American public by public awareness and sometimes promoting socialism. Eugene V. Debs helped to organize the Socialist Party in the United States in 1901. Issues with big businesses and the gap between the rich and the poor also made some people start to question capitalism which made socialism become attractive to more people. Foster efficiency was wanted to create a more efficient workplace and to use experts and scientists to do so. The plan to help make this happen was to start by limiting the workday to 10 hours.
Progressivism did end up working because all of the wrongdoings that were going on were exposed to the public and the majority of the people did not agree with what was currently the right thing for their country..
A reason why people viewed Theodore Roosevelt as the poster child for the Progressive Era was because he took advantage of his presidency as a very powerful tool to influence others in a positive way. He used his federal power to help consumers because he wanted to break up trusts that hurt pubic interests. Roosevelt looked out for public health by creating the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act. The Meat Inspection Act was created in 1906 and it was strict hygienic requirements for meatpackers that also created a program for meat inspection. The Pure Food and Drug Act was also created in 1906 and it halted the sale of contaminated foods and medicines and called for truth in labeling. Before this act was created, products could claim to do anything without any research or proof. Roosevelt also helped the environment because he realized that people were horribly mistreating the environment and that resources are not unlimited. His solution was conservation by creating more national parks.
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