How does Progressivism involve progress?

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mkoren | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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The Progressive Movement was a movement that involved progress by trying to make things better in society for most Americans. There were many issues in American society that needed to be improved.

One area that needed improvement was working conditions. There were few laws that protected workers prior to the Progressive Movement. Workers who got hurt on the job were out of a job. There was no payment for workers injured on the job. Children worked long hours in factories since there were no child labor laws or compulsory education requirements. There were few regulations regarding safety in factories. All of this changed with the Progressive Movement as laws were passed dealing with these issues.

Another area that needed improvement was consumer protection law. Businesses falsely labeled food and medicine so they could sell it at a higher price. Conditions in meat factories were horrible. As a result of the Progressive Movement, laws that protected consumers from these abuses were passed. These laws included the Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act.

Politics needed reforming also. Citizens didn’t have the ability to get legislation introduced into the legislature if their representatives refused to introduce it. Citizens couldn’t remove an elected official from office if that official acted inappropriately or abused power. Citizens weren’t able to vote on ideas before they could become law. The Progressive Movement changed this with the development of the initiative, recall, and referendum.

Big businesses had a lot of power prior to the Progressive Movement. At times, businesses abused these powers. As a result of the Clayton Antitrust Act and the creation of government agencies, these powers were controlled.

The Progressive Era cleared involved progress by making conditions better for many Americans.

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