Why was the Progressive Era a turning point in U.S. History towards making the government more activist and accountable to the people?

Asked on by gaara1012

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The Progressive Era was a turning point in creating a more activist government because the rapid industrialization of the late 1800s had created various problems that (some people felt) needed fixing and because it had created a middle class with the means and the desire to push government to fix those problems.

In the late 1800s, the US became very industrialized.  This brought with it a number of problems.  It created a situation where there were massive companies that needed to cut costs and therefore paid workers very badly.  Those same companies sometimes sold products that were not safe.  They often helped to corrupt the government to ensure that politicians would not do anything to jeopardize their ability to make profits.

At the same time, the industrialization started to create a larger middle class.  These were typically white collar workers needed for the huge new companies.  The middle class came to feel that government needed to respond more to their needs.  They felt the government was being corrupted by the rich and the big companies.  They wanted it to do more to regulate those companies. 

Thus, the industrialization of the US created a situation in which the Progressive Era could arise.  The Progressives forced the government to take more action towards things like antitrust laws and protections for workers and consumers.  This was the beginning of more activist government.

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