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The Progressive Movement as a Response to Economic, Political, and Social Issues That Occurred During the Gilded Age

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At the beginning of the twentieth century, the Progressive movement began in response to economic, political, and social issues that occurred during the Gilded Age. In this time period, women and factory workers had many social inequalities. The economic aspect was unfair to the people who weren’t rich and the government was full of corruption. Progressivism brought to light some solutions for the problems that were happening. The Progressive movement was popular because of its solutions to the political, economic, and social problems that were taking place.

The first reason why the progressive era was popular is because it had solutions for the political problems. During the Gilded Age, the government was run by unfit leaders, most of which were appointed using the spoils system. Progressives pushed the recall, which would allow the public to remove unfit elected officials.

Progressivism also proposed the direct election of U.S. senators by the people and pushed it through congress until it became the 17th amendment in 1913. They also looked to put the power that the corrupt government of the Gilded Age took away back into the people’s hands by introducing the referendum, which would place laws on the ballot for final approval by voters. Outside of the government, political bosses, such as Boss Tweed of Tammany Hall, attempted to bribe their way into the government via the state legislators.

Most of the state legislature was controlled by political machines by the beginning of the twentieth centuries. Progressives favored the initiative, which allowed voters to directly propose legislature and bypass the boss ruled state legislature. The secret Australian Ballot was also used in some states to fight against boss rule because if the bribers couldn’t see if they were getting their money’s worth, they were less likely to bribe. These solutions effectively removed personal bias and political machine rule from the government. The reason that the Progressive movement was popular politically was that it gave the people back the power to pick legislature and have things done without corruption.

The next reason why the Progressive movement was popular is because of its solutions for economic issues. During the Gilded Age, many trusts appeared and messed up the economy by raising prices. Wilson was the most economically progressive president of the early twentieth century and proved it by passing the Clayton Anti-Trust act of 1914, which strengthened the Sherman Anti-Trust act. The people liked this because with the monopolies gone, there would be more competition and prices would be lower. Another issue at this time was the high taxes. Wilson attacked this issue by passing the Underwood Tariff, which substantially reduced taxation. The public liked the new, lower prices, therefore they were firm advocates for Progressivism in the economic viewpoint.

The final reason that the progressive era was popular is because it solved social problems. A large group of people that had few rights were factory workers. They worked long hours in bad conditions for little pay. Progressive president Theodore Roosevelt fought that by introducing his Square Deal for labor, which demanded rights for laborers. The public liked this because a majority of Americans were factory workers. Another area of social issues was in the safety of the food being processed in the factories. Prior to the twentieth century, the factories could produce food in unsanitary conditions and mislabel it without consequences.

This changed when Theodore Roosevelt passed the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act, which stopped this from happening. This was progressive because it helped the country to grow as a whole. Workers had safer conditions The progress made in the early twentieth century can be seen in the 1920’s, which was a very progressive time. The government was successful and free of corruption and the economy was booming. Socially, workers were well off and things were much better than the Gilded Age. The Progressive movement was popular because of it’s solutions to political, economic, and social problems.

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The Progressive Movement as a Response to Economic, Political, and Social Issues That Occurred During the Gilded Age. (2022, Dec 20). Retrieved from

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