1. Abuses in labor. Workers were forced to work long hours in deplorable conditions for small wages. Child labor was common, as was the exploitation of women and immigrants. In 1911, this negligence and cruelty culminated in the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire—a blaze that broke out at a garment factory, killing mostly women and girls.
Solution: The Sullivan-Hoey Fire Prevention Law directly addressed the conditions, such as the absence of a sprinkler system, that led to the massive casualties in the fire. The safety law included routine checks on factory safety as well as ensured that materials for preventing and controlling a fire were present in every factory.
Prior to this measure, which was specific to New York City but set a precedent for factories elsewhere, Theodore Roosevelt became the first president, in 1902, to advocate for workers by showing support for striking coal miners. Other reformers sought to regulate child labor and introduce safety measures in factories around this time.
2. Absence of birth control. Poor women, particularly, were less able to escape their poverty, due to having more children than they could afford.
Solution: Margaret Sanger opens the first birth control clinic in Brooklyn in 1916. This clinic leads to the development of Planned Parenthood.
3. Trust Busting. The most important goal of the Progressive Era was to stem the excesses of the 1890s—the Gilded Age—in which a handful of industrialists became very wealthy due to the creation of monopolies in their respective industries.
Solution: The Sherman Anti-Trust Act. Gave President Roosevelt the legal authority to dismantle powerful monopolies, such as Standard Oil.