Student Question

Why were child labor and working women's issues typical progressive causes?

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In the end, child labor and working women were causes for the Progressive activists because they placed focus on those who lacked a voice in American Society.  The driving force for the Progressives were to provide a voice for those who lacked it.  In this sense, the movement was quite broad.  It attempted to articulate the condition of poor people, people of color, women, those who were silenced by the consensus of industrialization, and wanted to bring these voices from margin to center.  The rights of women and the concern for child labor are all central to this idea of advocacy and voice.  It is in this where I think that the Progressive cause is so embedded in the idea of speaking for those who were silent.  Child labor represents the epitome of those in the position of power exercising it over those who did not have any.  This same condition is where women found themselves at the time.  In both cases, the Progressive demand for change and the need to be heard were driving forces behind both the movement and the eventual change in society towards both realities.

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