There was a great need for the progressives during the early 1900s. In 1900 America’s population was around 76 million, and one out of every seven of those 76 million was foreign. By 1915 there were 13 million more immigrants. If that wasn’t enough of a drastic change in America’s culture, there was another huge change taking place. America was switching from small personal businesses, to the big business type of economy.
Newer and bigger businesses meant different working conditions, different working classes as well as economic classes, and completely new jobs that hadn’t even existed before.
Often my parents and I disagree on current events, movies, music, etc. Sometimes I feel like they are both against change. If they see that things aren’t just as they were before, like during the time when they were my age, they see things as bad or wrong. On the other hand, I feel like change is necessary sometimes, and the times of the late 1800s and early 1900s were no exception. In defense of my parents, I don’t always see the need for total changes.
After all, as the old saying goes, if it isn’t broke don’t fix it.
The progressive movement refused to stick with the status quo and instead welcomed change. However progressives also recognized that some things worked fairly well, like the general form of American government. So they felt a complete change was not necessary, but that some things could use a little work, and that is how progressives formed their basic goals.
The progressive movement worked towards a more honest and active government at all levels so that the public interests might be better protected. During the late 19th century and early 1900s political machines held most of the political power at the state and local levels.
These political machines were often corrupt and gained their power not by running good campaigns about relevant issues, but instead through providing favors for, and appealing to, those in need like immigrants. Most involved in the machines were more interested in making money than relevant political issues. The Federal government was itself fairly inactive, passing little or no important legislation and having usually passive election campaigns that addressed few issues. When the entire country is experiencing the effects of the dramatic changes I mentioned earlier, I feel disturbed that the government acted so passively. Progressives did Americans good by working for a stronger governments.
Working conditions was also a point of focus for the progressive movement.
With all the new jobs created by industrialization, new working conditions were also created. I suppose that some Americans worked in nicer places, got paid well, and also worked decent hours. However, it was too common that workers were overworked and underpaid. So progressives worked for better wages and more tolerable work conditions.
Progressives also believed in sociological jurisprudence, or dealing with issues by viewing them from a sociological standpoint. When trying to decide what needed to be changed and fixed, the progressive movement was concerned with effects the changes would have on the entire society.
Often when new standards or legislature was being set up, the composers were only concerned with how it would affect one specific group such as the wealthy upper class, the poor lower class, or immigrants. That system could hardly be effective during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Progressives realized that industrialization, immigration, and even expansion towards the West were changes that affected everyone, not just one particular group of people.
The theory Social Darwinism was rejected by the progressive movement, and it is something I personally reject too. Social Darwinism was the belief that if a person failed, it was of some fault of their own and not of their conditions or surrounding environment. I just don’t feel that way about personal failures.
Reasonably, I feel that if a person fails because they don’t or won’t try then their failure is a fault of themselves. However I also realize that if a person is laid off because a company wants to make cutbacks, or if there is an explosion at work and it injures workers so badly they can no longer work, I cannot see these as failures caused by their .