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Several factors led to the rise of the Progressive Movement, including an economic depression in the 1890's which had caused considerable unrest among Americans. The depression even caused hardship for the middle class and they also became up in arms. There was a growing belief that the government should assist people in improving social conditions. An additional factor was a backlash against big business and the robber barons whom many blamed for the suffering of the masses. The Progressive Movement hoped to promote honest government, social justice, more democracy, and control of big business. This they believed would lead society to "progress," hence the name.
Simply put, the Progressives believed that the cure for the problems of a democratic society was more democracy. It was as a result of this movement that the 17th Amendment was passed which provided for direct election of senators. The movement also saw the passage of state laws regulating child labor, and female workers. Following the famous Triangle Shirt Waist Fire, Progressives pushed through laws providing for workman's compensation and stricter inspection of factories. Additionally, the Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act were passed after abuses in the meat packing industry were disclosed by Upton Sinclair in The Jungle.
The Progressive Movement saw more and more regulation of big business and more and more protection for the average citizen.
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