Reform has always been present in some capacity in the United States, from the American Revolution, Temperance, Abolition, to Women's Rights. The core of reform in the United States moves to expand individual political rights and or improve the quality of life for people. However, it would be the new 'middle class' that emerged torwards the end of the 19th century that became the stronghold for reform in America. This new economic group began to bridge the gap between the rich and poor in America. Although not wealthy, they did achieve enough income to allow them 'leisure time', something unheard in their families just a generation before. This free time combined with the rising literacy rates of the new middle class resulted in a raised public awareness torwards social problems. These people saw fit to change the ills they now had the time to see. As literacy rates grew the influence of the media became a powerful tool for reformers. Reformers such as Ida Tarbell, Upton Sinclair, and Jacob Riis understood public opinion could be mobilized using the written word. This period in U.S. history illustrates not value literacy has upon the individual, it confirms the impact it can have on societal reforms.