Why did the relationship between business and government change during the Progressive Era?  

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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During this time, the relationship between government and business changed largely because the Progressives felt that business was abusing its power.  The Progressives felt businesses had too much power over their customers, their employees, and the government.

In the late 1800s, government had essentially let business do what it wanted.  It was generally a time when laissez-faire prevailed.  This led to such things as the creation of monopolies, bad working conditions and low wages for workers, and a system in which the big businesses could essentially “buy” members of the government.  The middle class Progressives wanted all of these things to stop.

For this reason, they changed the relationship between government and business.  Where government had once been neutral or friendly to business, it now started to act more as a regulator.  The government now banned monopolies.  It enacted various laws to protect workers and consumers by limiting what companies could do.  The direct election of senators made it harder for the businesses to bribe members of the Senate.  All of these things changed the relationship between business and government, making it so that government did more to regulate business than it ever had before.

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