Progressive Era Notes

Miss Springborn
Team 6
Social Studies
December 2012
 As
the Civil War ended, increased immigrants
caused American cities to grow. As cities
grew new problems arose. Reformers swung
into action in areas such as city government,
politics, public schools, and the workplace.
African Americans, American Indians,
immigrants, and women also called for
 Many
people refer to the time period at the
end of the 1800’s to the early 1900’s as the
Gilded Age. This nickname came from Mark
Twain, a famous author, who said from a
distance American society looked golden but
when you looked up close it was actually
“gilded” (coated with cheap gold paint).
 Powerful
organization called political
machines influenced city and county politics
 They used both legal and illegal ways to get
candidates elected to office
 They would bribe voters, election officials,
get only one candidate listed on the ballot,
paid for votes, and even hire the people who
counted the votes to make sure it turned out
the way they wanted
 Political machines where run by powerful
 Bosses traded favors for votes
 Most
bosses got support from new immigrants
who needed more help to get by
 One of the most famous political bosses:
William Marcy Tweed of New York City
reportedly stole as much as $200 million
from the City Treasury during his time in
 Even the federal government was corrupt:
especially the administration of Ulysses S.
Grant. Many of his officials were arrested in
plots to avoid paying taxes and went to jail
The nation passes Civil Service Reform
 Civil Service is the term used to describe
government jobs… for example: police, fireman,
state troopers, IRS workers, and all other
government jobs are considered to be Civil
Service Jobs
 This was supposed to help put the most qualified
candidates in the job
 You had to take a test about your test and show
certain skills
 People were then ranked (highest to lowest)
based on their test scores and would get picked
for job openings that way
 This
was to prevent unqualified and corrupt
officials from getting government jobs
 The law passed in 1883 was called the
Pendleton Civil Service Act and set up a
merit system controlled by the Civil Service
Commission. Today it covers almost 90% of
all government jobs.
Reformers in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s
were knows as Progressives
 They worked to solve problems such as crime,
disease, and poverty
 Many areas were targeted for reform such as
health and education, poor living conditions,
unsafe working conditions, social unjust,
government corruption, child labor, racial
discrimination, corrupt monopolies, tenements
and more!
 Reformers received help from Muckrakers,
journalists that helped “dig up dirt” on the
problems in society
 Solving
Corruption in Politics:
 Goal was to Expand Democracy: to help stop
the political corruption we start to expand
the right to vote and the power of the
 We create more of a direct primary system
where the people vote on who will be the
candidates for political office
 The
17th Amendment is passed in 1913 and
allows for the first time Americans the right
to vote directly for their Senators in Congress
(remember there are 2 senators from every
 Voters also were given the right to call for
action on many political issues:
 Recall:
Voters can now sign a petition asking
for a special vote on an elected official. This
allows them to remove elected officials if
they are not happy with them
 Ex: The governor of Wisconsin recently had a
recall vote on his term because many were
unhappy with some of his more recent
decisions, he won his recall vote and is still
in power today
 Initiative:
this allows voters to propose a
new law by getting signatures on a petition
 Ex: Many states recently voted on issues in
the last election under initiative vote, such
as the legalization of medical marijuana and
in California many citizens wanted change
what information was on food labels to
include anything genetically altered
 Referendum:
allows voters to sign a petition
to vote on a law already in place
 Ex: Puerto Rico ( a US Territory) recently
voted in a referendum to change their
relationship with the United States and
instead of remaining just a territory to try
and work towards becoming our 51st state
 Create
a new system of government that runs
more like a business model
 Had a city council that was elected by the
people and they choose a manager to help
run the city
 Robert LaFollette developed the Wisconsin
Idea and pushes for changes such as tax
reform, direct primaries, and more power to
the people to elect their officials
There were many causes of the problems in the
urban (city) society
 City problems were caused by things like
urbanization, growth of the middle class, bad
working conditions in factories, scandals about
political corruption, rise of powerful
corporations (monopolies), and increase in
 New jobs/profession emerge to help the cities:
jobs like city planners and civil engineers
 These new planners will pass zoning laws,
building-safety codes, create public parks,
create proper waste disposal system (sewers),
create safe water system, and created street
paving and proper bridge building projects
 Many
states start to pass laws requiring
children to attend school
 Push towards opening of High Schools for
upper education
 Courses in citizenship, health, and job
training were developed
 Kindergartens are opened for the first time
specifically to help the children of the poor
and working class learn basic skills
 John
Dewey, an important reforming in
education, created new models for teaching
children that are still used today
 Helped to create the American Medical
Association (AMA) to help regulate the
education of doctors and nurses and to
spread the new scientific knowledge that was
being learned about diseases and treatments
 Child
Labor Reform
 Because of extremely low wages in the
workplace many families sent their children
to work to help the family get by
 About 1.75 million children under age 15
worked in mines, mills, and factories in 1900
 Reformers helped create the National Child
Labor Committee to investigate child labor
and eventually pass laws
 Federal government will pass laws in 1916
and 1919 but had some trouble keeping those
laws intact from court challenges
 Many
pushed for higher wages
and fewer working hours
 Many states will pass minimum
wage laws and maximum working
 Tragic Accidents bring attention
to workplace safety
 In 1900 alone, 35,000 people
were killed by industrial
accidents. Another 500,000 were
injured on the job
In 1911, the tragic and shocking fire at the
Triangle Shirtwaist Company in New York
City caused anger and outrage
 A fire broke out when over 500 mostly
immigrant women and children were
preparing to leave for the day
 The exit doors on the 10th floor of the
building were locked and over 146 workers
died from the fire, some jumping to their
deaths to escape the smoke and heat
 Because of this shocking case and others like
it, reformers called for more workplace
safety and greater laws regulating working
like this still happened in developing countries today
around the world. On November 24th, 2012, 118
workers died at a garment factory in Bangladesh
when a fire broke out and workers could not get
through the narrow escape exits stairwells fast
enough. These workers were also on a higher floor
and many jumped to their death as well. Many
poorer countries in this region have experience fires
and other industrial accidents in recent years just
like this. Many countries are years behind the
United States in fixing this problem. Cases like this
is why all building have fire codes in buildings, well
lit and labeled emergency exits, why we practice fire
drills, and have emergency systems such as 911 in
place today.
Many businesses sued in court over these new
regulations saying it was not fair and that the
government shouldn’t be interfering in their business
Some laws were gotten rid of by the courts: For
example in New York State there was law limiting
bakers to a 10 hour work day but the Supreme Court
ruled that the state could not limit businesses to only
a 10 hour work day and workers could sign an
agreement to work a longer day if they wanted
Other laws were kept by the courts: For example in
the case of Muller vs. Oregon in 1908, the Court ruled
that you could limit women’s working hours for
health and safety reasons
Many of these issues were decided state by state
Unions fought for better working conditions
 Workers began to unite together to demand
shorter working hours, higher wages, and safety
on the job
 In 1903, the Women’s Trade Union League
became the first all women’s union to demand
better working conditions for females
 One of the most powerful unions was the
American Federation of Labor (AFL) whose
leader Samuel Gompers argued for safer working
conditions, higher pay, and right of the worker to
 Women
started to attend more colleges in
the late 1800’s
 Some argued that women could not handle
the “mental strain” of too much thinking
 Even with higher education many jobs were
still closed to women because of their gender
Women played a vital role in this reform
 This movement blamed alcohol for many of
society’s problems
 Leading reformer in this movement was a woman
named Carry Nation who literally stormed into
saloons with ax’s chopping up the bar and
smashing the liquor bottles
 Reformers joined the Woman’s Christian
Temperance Union (WCTU)
 This movement will lead to the passage of the
18th Amendment to the Constitution in 1919.
This amendment outlaws the production and sale
of alcoholic beverages in the United States
 Total ban of alcohol
 Many
women wanted more rights
including the right to vote
 Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B.
Anthony found the National American
Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) in
1890 to help get the right to vote for
 Carrie Chapman Catt fought for women’s
suffrage in many western states including
Wyoming, Colorado, Idaho, and Utah
 Catt
becomes president of NAWSA in 1900
and helps mobilize about 1 million volunteers
to work for women’s right to vote
 A rival group called the National Women’s
Party (NWP) was founded by Alice Paul in
1913 and aimed to make the women’s
suffrage movement more public with
protests, parades, and public demonstrations
including hunger strikes
 Both groups efforts will pay off when the 19th
amendment is passed in 1920 and granted all
women in the United States the right to vote
After slavery ended there was still a lot of problems
for African Americans including discrimination
 Booker T. Washington tried to help improve
conditions through education. He was a founder of
the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama
 Ida B. Wells was more outspoken and wrote many
articles drawing attention to the violent killings in
the south of black men
 W.E.B.
Dubois took a more hands approach to
fighting discrimination and helped found the
National Association for the Advancement of
Colored People (NAACP)
 NAACP worked to end discrimination and
bring down the oppressive Jim Crow Laws
and end segregation in the South
Believed in being an active president.
 He pushed for the Square Deal, where
everyone’s (businessmen, workers, and
consumers) rights should be balanced for the
public good.
 Got involved in several progressive issues
including cleaning up the meat-packing industry
thanks to Upton Sinclair’s book The Jungle.
Because of this he pushes the Pure Food and
Drug Act of 1906. This regulates the
manufacture, sale, and transportation of all food
and drugs distributed in the United States.
Also passed was the Meat Inspection act
specifically addressing Sinclair’s book.
 Roosevelt also gets Congress to regulate railroad
shipping costs, this helping the small farmers.
 He also becomes a big supporter of the
conservation movement that worked to protect
our natural resources and sets up many sites as
protect federal lands. This today is known as
our National Parks System, for example the
Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Niagara Falls, Badlands
in South Dakota, Florida Everglades, etc… In
total 150 million acres of public land set aside
and protected
 He
continued Roosevelt’s path and sued
many big businesses for unfair treatment of
workers and for being monopolies.
 Taft also continued to add more lands to the
National Parks System for protection.
 Taft will lose his re-election bid to Woodrow
Wilson and the Bull Moose Party in 1912 in a
very dirty three way race between Taft,
Wilson, and T. Roosevelt.
He lowered tariffs with the Underwood Tariff Act of
He also reformed the tax code by pushing for the
passage of the 16th Amendment in 1913 that allowed
the federal government to tax our personal income.
This provided a new source of income for the federal
He also worked to get the Federal Reserve Act passed
to reform the banking industry. Created a National
banking system and a federal reserve.
Wilson also pushed to reform businesses; He helped
get the Clayton Antitrust Act passed in 1914 and
strengthened federal laws against monopolies.
He also created the Federal Trade Commission that
had the power to stop unfair trade practices.

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