Student Question

What social and economic issues sparked the Progressive Era and how did Progressives envision governmental aid?

Expert Answers

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In answering this question, you should look to the things that you are asked to mention (consumer protection, etc.) in your answer.  If those are the things that the Progressives wanted to implement, then they must be closely related to the social and economic problems that the Progressives perceived.

In general, the Progressives felt that the rich business elites had too much control over the economy and over the government.  They felt that the rich were using this control to abuse the workers and the middle class.  They felt that the rich were willing to produce and sell impure foods and drugs.  They felt that the rich were willing to force workers to work in poor working conditions for low pay.  They felt that the rich used their power and their wealth to influence government officials into voting in certain ways.  For these reasons, they wanted things like consumer protection, laws against monopolies, reform of conditions in the workplace, and political reforms.

In other words, the Progressives felt that the rich had too much power and were using that power to abuse everyone else in society.  This was both an economic problem and a social one.  The Progressives felt that the government should use its power to make laws that would prevent the rich from using their power in abusive ways.

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