Progressivism in the United States, a movement that took place around the beginning of the twentieth century, was extremely varied, and it is thus difficult to pinpoint any one particular definition of it. In general, the Progressivists, particularly under the administration of Theodore Roosevelt, sought to eliminate the abuses of industrial robber barons and urban political bosses while seeking to improve the everyday conditions of the common worker.
Progressive thinkers agreed that the complex social ills generated by the industrial and urban explosion of the late nineteenth century required innovative vision to solve. For example, the growing strength of monopolies in industries like oil, steel, and rubber; the creation of business trusts that precluded any innovation or competition in the marketplace; and the corruption and graft utilized by some industrialists to influence national politics were all issues that the Progressives set themselves to ameliorating.
This compares with social movements across Europe primarily because the nineteenth-century Industrial Revolution saw the emergence of some of the worst working conditions ever experienced by urban populations. In Great Britain, the end of the century saw the rise of both moderate liberal groups dedicated to the promotion of trade-unionism to more radical socialist political parties. Germany, by mid-century, saw the rise of a unified social-democratic political party that also sought to address worker concerns, but to do so within bourgeois institutions and through the powers of state. In Russia, revolutionary politics would ultimately see the overthrow of the Romanov monarchy in 1917 and the establishment of the world’s first worker’s state in October.
In all, these movements reflected the general desire for the elimination of corrupt business practices and protection of the workers that had also inspired Progressivism in the United States.