Who were the progresives? What did they hope to accomplish? What role did women and blacks play in the progressive movement?
The progressive movement was a late nineteenth century political movement in the United States. Most progressives saw themselves as on a moral crusade to right the wrongs of the earlier time of political bosses, and robber barons. They promoted social justice, honesty in government, and regulation of business. Their mantra was the cure for the ills of democracy was more democracy.
Progressives supported legislation to end child labor and to protect women from dangerous working conditions. Following the Triangle Shirt Waste fire in which many women were killed, stricter building safety codes and workmen's compensation laws were passed. Then President Theodore Roosevelt used the Courts to break up a number of business trusts, and following his reading of The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, he worked for the passage of the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act.
Among the major accomplishments of the progressive era was passage of the Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution which provided for popular direct election of Senators; and the Nineteenth Amendment which gave women the right to vote. Although women benefited greatly from Progressive Era reforms, Blacks did not share in the progress. The Supreme Court decision of Plessy vs. Ferguson, which provided for "separate but equal" facilities remained the law of the land.