The Progressive movement was quite large. It dealt with various issues such as women's suffrage, African American rights, temperance, labor, and immigration.
The movement for women's suffrage was led by leaders such as Susan B. Anthony who believed that women deserved to be treated as equals at the ballot box. She pointed to successful instances in the Western United States where women had achieved the right to vote, such as when Wyoming allowed women to vote in local and state elections in 1869.
African American rights were led by Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Dubois. These men had differing ideas on civil rights. Washington believed that discrimination was inevitable. He pushed for African American communities to focus on improving themselves materially and that separation from whites was not necessarily bad. His view was more accommodating to the current status quo that believed in "separate but equal" facilities. Dubois was against discrimination and he wanted more equality for African Americans.
Temperance, or the anti-alcohol movement, was led by industrialists and women's groups. Industrialists wanted temperance because they believed a sober workforce would be more productive. Women's groups saw alcohol as being a male-dominated problem. In their view, alcoholism led to domestic violence and bad treatment of the family by the supposed breadwinners, who would waste their paychecks at the bar. There was also a xenophobic message behind temperance as some sought to use bills banning alcohol to discourage religious groups who used alcohol as part of their religious rites.
Labor sought to organize for better conditions, though these efforts were often confined to skilled laborers without allowing immigrants into their ranks. Labor pushed for safer conditions and minimum wages.
Immigration groups led by Jane Addams and others pushed to help immigrants, especially women and children. Hull House was a model settlement house that reformers used as a blueprint around the country. It helped keep immigrants out of poverty and protected them from being taken advantage of by factory owners and crime syndicates.
The movements were similar in that they all looked to organize in order to put political pressure on government leaders to make positive changes. Many Progressive ideas appeared in both the Republican and Democratic Party platforms of the period. The movements also had the backing of magazine and newspaper editors. It was hard to unite the Progressive movement because it was so large; in addition to the ideas mentioned, there were other Progressive ideas such as making food safer and regulating businesses and railroads. A Progressive who backed one idea such as women's suffrage might not necessarily back another such as temperance. The civil rights movement of this time period was torn between the ideas of Washington and Dubois. Many of the Progressive ideas were led by upper-class women who used the term "urban housekeeping" in order to describe their efforts to clean up cities; however, men and others from lower socioeconomic classes viewed these efforts as meddling.
Ultimately, some of the Progressive platform passed and parts of it were delayed until later. The Temperance movement did achieve the passage of the Volstead Act but it failed due to too many loopholes and a lack of political will by the masses to follow it. Its enforcement was poorly funded by the Republican administrations of the 1920's who would have been more at home in the Gilded Age marked by corruption thirty years before than they were pushing a Progressive agenda. Labor made some positive gains, but these were lost after WWI as people feared Communist takeover by groups of workers who sought equality. Women gained the right to vote with the Nineteenth Amendment; however, this was as much due to the vital role women played in the workforce during WWI as it was political pressure from Progressive groups.