Muckrakers and Political Reforms

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How effective were the muckrakers in changing early 20th century American society?

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The muckrakers were effective in making changes in American society in the early 1900s.  People like Ida Tarbell, who wrote about the Standard Oil Company, helped bring about changes in business. Upton Sinclair helped bring about changes in consumer protection laws by writing about the meat industry. Lincoln Steffens helped bring about changes in the political arena by writing about politics and the Senate. These writers helped bring about change in our country.

Because of muckrakers like Ida Tarbell and John Spargo laws controlling business were passed.  For example, anti-trust laws were passed.  Laws were made to control child labor.  Health and safety laws were passed for businesses.  Many business changes came about because of these writers.

Muckrakers influenced laws regarding politics.  The referendum, initiative, and recall were passed during this time. We also began to directly elect U.S. Senators as a result of the 17th amendment.  Many political changes occurred during this time.

Consumers had very limited protection before the Progressive Era. Because of Upton Sinclair’s book, The Jungle, laws were passed regulating the handling and sale of meat.  Laws also were passed to protect consumers from falsely labeled food and medicine. Consumers were helped a great deal by these laws.

Muckrakers had a big impact on the Progressive Era.

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