Pushing for Political Reform.
At the dawn of a new century the desire for political change was growing in the United States. Many Americans believed that democracy could be improved, that politics could be freed from the grasp of the corrupt political machines and "bosses" who had controlled the major political parties for the last several decades. Special-interest groups emerged to lead reform movements at the city, state, and federal levels, but there was no cohesive, national agenda, no single source of reform. Reform groups ran the political and socio-economic gamut, as businessmen, unskilled workers, farmers, settlement-house workers, populists, antimonopolists, socialists, and anarchists all worked for reform, and nearly every aspect of life was touched by their efforts. Cleaning up city governments was no longer enough. State governments had granted city charters and were the only entity with legal power to rewrite them. Thus, restructuring and reforming city governments was dependent on similar changes at the state level. After 1903 reformers realized that what they had accomplished on the state level should be repeated on a national level. Corruption, they argued, stretched all the way to Washington, so change had to come there too. Progressives called for national regulation of the railroads and other industries, control over social behavior, and greater control over government...
(The entire section is 2475 words.)
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