What was the Progressive movement?
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By the late 1800's, reform groups in the US had coalesced into the Populist movement of which the Progressive movement was an outgrowth. These movements were a response to the increasing industrialization of the country and the growth of urban areas, as well as a reaction to governmental corruption and coercive business practices. The movement cut across Republican and Democrat lines, and their specific aims included restoring political power to the laboring class, establishing private social services for immigrants and poor, establishing new rules of business conduct to allow more to share in economic opportunities, and containing and eliminating corruption in business and government. The movement included not just politicians, but scholars, journalists, preachers, novelists and businessmen, all of whom exposed evils and corruptions they found in business and politics. Their detractors referred to them as "Muckrakers" for these activities. Politically, Progressives instituted a number of changes, including the Secret or Australian Ballot, the initiative, referendum, and recall so the populace had a direct say in establishing laws and ejecting politicians from office, the direct primary, direct election of Senators, women's suffrage, and city government reform. The movement successfully expanded democracy on federal and state levels and reached a dramatic peak in 1904 with Theodore Roosevelt's election and his "Square Deal" philosophy.
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