The Progressive Era

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Which president had the most lasting impact on the major Progressive issues?

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Franklin Roosevelt had the most lasting Progressive legacy. Roosevelt passed legislation which protected farmers and promoted conservation. He used the power of the government to put young men to work on public works projects, the greatest public project being Tennessee Valley Authority which lifted an entire region out of poverty....

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Franklin Roosevelt had the most lasting Progressive legacy. Roosevelt passed legislation which protected farmers and promoted conservation. He used the power of the government to put young men to work on public works projects, the greatest public project being Tennessee Valley Authority which lifted an entire region out of poverty. While his cousin Theodore created many national parks, Franklin was instrumental in creating many state parks.

Franklin Roosevelt also brought reform to Wall Street. He also curtailed banks from speculating on the stock market. In order to prevent future bank runs and bring back consumer confidence, Roosevelt created FDIC which insures everyone's deposits in banks up to a certain amount.

Franklin Roosevelt also made the government pro-worker with the Wagner Act, thus protecting unions. Roosevelt instituted a minimum wage and the forty-hour work week. He also instituted Social Security which served two purposes: removing older people from the workforce and providing pensions to people who were physically unable to perform most of the manual labor jobs of the time. Roosevelt made the government a central part of everyone's lives by instituting Social Security taxes and influencing payrolls by producing a price floor on wages.

While Theodore Roosevelt can be considered the first modern Progressive president, his cousin Franklin did far more to promote Progressive ideals because he felt he had to under the circumstances of the Great Depression. By stimulating the economy and creating services that would help people at all socioeconomic levels, Roosevelt demonstrated that government could be used both as a watchdog and a safety net. While conservatives claim that government has only expanded since Roosevelt's time, many people would say that the United States still benefits from many programs created during the Franklin Roosevelt administration.

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I would argue that Franklin Delano Roosevelt, or FDR, had the greatest impact on Progressive ideals and policies. While many before and after him have come up with a variety of progressive ideas, he was the one to fully invest and implement the New Deal and create a lasting change in the country.

Following the squalor of the Great Depression in the 1930's, Roosevelt implemented the New Deal to create jobs and stimulate economic progress throughout the nation. His creation of Social Security, transcontinental railroads, minimum wage, and more have drastically changed the way the country runs. With a promise of some sort of security, there is a safety net for people when they cannot work. There are also basic provisions for employment (40 hour work week, minimum wage) that ensure fair labor practices. The results he achieved, such as the railroad and other projects, vastly improved the overall economic climate and allowed business throughout America to flourish.

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I would agree with the other answers that it was Theodore Roosevelt who had the most lasting impact in the Progressive era in enacting progressive programs and legislation. He called his program for change the Square Deal. He wanted transformation and said:

I stand for having those [old] rules changed so as to work for a more substantial equality of opportunity and of reward for equally good service.

Specifically, he wanted to reign in corporate power with regulations, protect consumers who were increasing divorced from the food they consumed and the products they purchased so that they weren't being cheated or poisoned by shoddy merchandise, and protect the environment and unspoiled parts of the United States through conservation. He made inroads in all three goals, but it would take another president to further the Progressive agenda in transformative ways.

It was the great admirer and relative of his, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who actually most fully implemented Progressive ideas—such as the forty-hour work week, Social Security, and minimum wage, in ways that have had a lasting and profoundly transformative impact on American life.

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The Progressive Era (1890s–1920s) was a reaction to the problems created by industrialization and urbanization during the Gilded Age.

The most successful president during this time was probably Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919). The fact that he stood up for the rights of the "little man" was somewhat surprising, as he came from a distinguished and prosperous family.

President from 1901–1909, Roosevelt was a man of uncommon charisma and energy. His plan for the country was known as the Square Deal. One part of this program was regulation of trusts. Trusts were huge and powerful corporations. Roosevelt wanted to greatly limit their influence. The railroads were also too powerful of an economic center, and Roosevelt implemented plans to regulate them. In 1906, he supported the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act. He wanted consumers to know that the products they consumed were clean and healthful. Roosevelt was most zealous in his desire to protect the environment, particularly in the form of National Parks.

Roosevelt has been called the first modern president. His greatness has been widely acknowledged and his image is on Mount Rushmore.

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I assume that you are asking about the presidents of the Progressive Era (not about later presidents who did things that the Progressives would have liked).  Of these presidents, I would argue that Theodore Roosevelt had the most lasting impact.  This is because it was during his time that the first major steps towards Progressivism were taken.

TR was the president who first moved away from having the government constantly back employers against unions.  He intervened in a more even-handed way in the Pennsylvania coal strike of 1902 and then got Congress to create the Department of Commerce and Labor to help regulate companies.  He pushed for antitrust laws and enforced them.  He pushed for the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act.

By doing all of these things, TR took the first major steps towards enacting Progressive ideas.  This is why he had the greatest impact.

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