The Progressive movement of the early 1900s had a tremendous amount of major impacts. Some of them include:
- Increase in government regulation. Before the Progressive era, the government largely stayed out of economic affairs. It did not do much to try to prevent businesses from abusing their workers or their customers. With the Progressive era came much greater demand for regulation. People demanded that the government institute laws to prevent things like the Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire from happening again. They demanded things like pure food and drug laws. Basically, they forced the government to do much more than ever before to regulate the economy.
- Institution of “good government” policies. The Progressives felt that government was too corrupt. They wanted to reduce corruption and so they implemented a number of new policies. They got things like secret ballot laws put in place. They changed the Constitution to allow the direct election of Senators. They tried to wipe out the urban political machines. These were all aimed at creating what they saw as good government.
- Prohibition. The Progressive era led to this great failed experiment in social engineering. The experience of Prohibition continues to color things like our debate over legalizing drugs.
- Women’s suffrage. One of the most important impacts of the era was that women got the right to vote as the era was ending. They had been some of the most important participants in the Progressive movement and they finally got the right to vote because of it.