The Progressive Movement in America Essay

The Progressive Movement in America Essay

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Progressivism was the reform period in America during the 20th Century that changed the lives of everyone. Industrialization, urban growth, the rise of great corporations, and widening class divisions during the early 1900s affected all Americans. For all its benefits, industrialization led many factory workers and slumdwellers to endure a desperate cycle of poverty, exhausting labor, and even early death. Seeing these conditions, a new middle class of white-collar workers and urban professionals -- who had gained political influence -- middle class women -- who had joined clubs and reform organizations -- and the urban-immigrant political machines -- and workers themselves -- sought to focus the country’s attention on urgent social issues. These issues first were addressed by women-led organizations in the 1890s at the city and state levels. Thereafter, as journalists, novelists, religious leaders, and politicians joined in, these grass-roots efforts morphed into a national movement. This movement of reform was called the progressive movement.

The progressive movement included, among others, four areas of reform: social, economic, moral, and efficiency. In the area of social reform, the main problems that were put at task were poverty, education, living conditions and women’s rights. To help solve these problems, for example, settlement houses, created by people such as Jane Addams, provided social and educational opportunities for working class people--many of them recent immigrants--in the surrounding neighborhood. Others sought to improve living conditions by seeking legislation; in 1911, for example, the New York legislature imposed strict health and safety regulations on tenements, thus providing a model for othe...


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...openly gay, lesbian, or bisexual persons from military service. This policy was finally repealed after years of effort from gay rights activists and their Democratic allies. Similarly, since 2000, many states have allowed same-sex marriages to become legal, beginning in Vermont in 2000 and most recently in New York in 2011. While this movement is still on-going, there are those that are seeking to pass laws to allow gays to have the same rights as straight couples federally. Finally, the latest movement to reform healthcare in the United States became law on March 23, 2010. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act focuses on reforming the private health insurance market to provide better coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, improving prescription drug coverage in Medicare and extending the life of the Medicare trust fund by at least 12 years.

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