Which reform movements were a response to the excesses of the Industrial Revolution?

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mrkirschner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A variety of reform movements were spawned as a result of the excesses of the Industrial Revolution.  The era of reform that historians called the Progressive Movement occurred between 1890 and 1920 in the United States.  Organized labor, housing reform, conservation efforts, and government oversight were all ideas championed during the Progressive era of reform.

Probably the biggest beneficiary of the Progressive Movement was the American laborer.  For decades, industrialists had exploited workers for the benefit of profit.  During the reform movements of the early Twentieth Century, labor unions were born and were granted the right, through legislation, to collectively bargain.  Workers also secured the rights to workmen’s compensation, the forty-hour workweek, and overtime pay. Workers were granted relief in their housing accommodations as reforms were made to make living spaces safer and less crowded.

The conservation movement, championed by Teddy Roosevelt, also grew in response to the exploitation of natural resources by industrialists. Conservation was aimed at protecting spaces from private development for the good of the public.

Several laws during the Progressive Movement were created to protect the interests of consumers.  Banking reform and antitrust legislation are two major examples of federal government efforts to protect consumers. Important reforms were made at the legislative level to ensure safe food and drugs for consumers.  

Another group of people that were exploited by capitalists was the youth of America.  A youth advocacy movement grew out of the era of reform.  Child labor laws and compulsory education were both enacted during the Progressive Movement.