Why did the Progressive Movement develop?    

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mkoren | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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The Progressive Movement developed to deal with problems existing in our country. Writers began to publicize some of the abuses or injustices in our society. When people learned that average citizens were being harmed, they wanted actions to be taken to correct these problems.

When Upton Sinclair wrote The Jungle, people demanded that conditions in the meat industry be improved. When people learned that foods were falsely being labeled and sold for higher prices, they wanted this to stop. This led to the passage of the Meat Inspection Act and Pure Food and Drug Act.

People were concerned about abuses in politics. When Lincoln Steffens wrote about the influence of money in the United States Senate, a push for reform began. As a result of political reform, we now directly elect our United States Senators. We have direct primaries where party members choose the party’s candidates. We also have the initiative, referendum, and recall. These changes gave the average citizen more say in political matters.

When John Spargo wrote The Bitter Cry of Children, people worked to make changes. As a result, laws were passed eliminating child labor and requiring kids to go to school. Other laws were passed to make factories safer for anybody working in them.

When people realized there were inequities in our society, they began to work to eliminate them. This was known as the Progressive Movement.

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