The Impact of the Progressive Era on Society

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Teddy Roosevelt changed America forever with his ‘speak softly and carry a big stick’ policy. This policy was a kick-start to the progressive era, in which many strove to achieve social change and improvement. There is reason to believe that progressive movements had little effect on society. However, through progressive presidents, awareness of factory conditions, and activists seeking to broaden rights, several amendments were passed between 1900 and 1920. The progressives made a long lasting, though not immediate, impact on society.

The progressive era was marked by progressive presidents. For instance, Teddy Roosevelt was known as the first progressive president because of his big business policy. Teddy Roosevelt was known for trust-busting, as shown in the political cartoon from the Washington Post, where Teddy stands on a bear labeled bad trusts’. However, Teddy didn’t bust very many trusts. He laid the groundwork for regulations of business that his successor William Howard Taft, excelled at, busting over 70 trusts during his presidency. During the time of the third progressive president, Woodrow Wilson, many acts were passed, including the Clayton Anti-trust Act of 1914. This act states that sellers can no longer have different prices for consumers. The act also stated that labor unions were lawful, something that had before only been disapproved of. However, some didn’t think Wilson was very effective as president. Herbert Croly, who wrote New Republic, believed that Wilson was either lying or dumb for thinking that passing acts would fix things. Presidents were not the only ones focused on changing society, middle-class citizens focused on bringing change to the conditions in factories.

Big business exposes by the muck...

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... B. Anthony were very politically active during this time period. Another movement going on at the time was the movement for African-American equality. Despite the fact that African-Americans had been enslaved they were still treated as if they were inferior. This movement is shown at its height in The Crisis written by W.E.B. DuBois. In The Crisis, DuBois talks of African-American soldiers who will be coming home from war and demanding equality. As much as these advocates wanted change, it was a slow-going process.

Progressive presidents did their best to instigate change through legislative measures, civilians pushed for those bills, and many raised their voices for equality. However, there was not any real immediate change. While reformers may bot have had all of the answers or the perfect solutions, they set the wheels in motion for the society we have today.

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