Progressive Movement

Progressive Movement


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Progressive is the term applied to a variety of responses to the economic and social problems rapid industrialization introduced to America. The progressive movement ran from the late 19th century to the 20th century. During this time, intellectuals and social reformers in the United States sought to address the economic, political, and cultural questions that were caused by the rapid changes brought with the Industrial Revolution and the growth of modern capitalism in America.

During the 1890-1920s after the Civil War, the United States economy grew very quickly. Much of the growth came from new businesses such as mining, railroads and steel making. The owners grew rich, but did not take care of their workers as they always should. These men were called “robber barons” and this time was called the Gilded Age. People moved west of the Mississippi River towards California and Oregon, when agricultural production starting to grow. The biggest change was the expansion of industry and the need for factory workers. The conditions for the workers were not good this involved long hours, dangerous machinery, and no benefits (such as health insurance). Children were also employed in the new factories. By the 1900, 1.7 million children under the age of 16 were working up to 10 hours per day. In the beginning, the government did little to no help into labor unions with very little effort to improve the conditions in the factories.


Children from the ages 10-16 working in the horrible working conditions.


This picture is of a coal tub, when in Britain laws passed in 1842 and 1844 improving mine working conditions.


Around the Progressive Movement they gave suffrage to women. Women had been seeking the right to vote since the 1820’s, but it was not until 1920 with the adoption of the 19th Amendment that women were able to participate fully in elections. Susan B. Anthony was the key leader of the suffrage movement, but women throughout the United States demanded a greater role in politics, especially as they saw other changes taking place in the nation.

The working conditions were unsafe and being that these workers had no health insurance benefits to where if they got hurt or death occurred nothing would be covered. I am so blessed writing about this and having the right to apply for health insurance through my job. Because some jobs you can hurt yourself such as warehouse jobs but at least you have your benefits also workers compensation if you had to stop working. Take a moment to think about how blessed you are because experiencing these bad conditions these children had experience, I don’t think I would have survived. Can you relate to this?