Progressivism and its Effects
Progressivism was a period of American history in which
improving working conditions, improving the way of life, exposing
corruption, expanding democracy and making reforms was the main idea
of this period. Many of the citizens granted and demanded a change in
numerous areas such as business, labor, economy, consumers and an
increase of democracy. The progressive period was marked with the
arrival of three great presidents Roosevelt, Taft, and Wilson all
three of these presidents fought for the common good of the people.
Teddy Roosevelt was known as the "trust buster" and that is
exactly what he did to help control big business. Many large
corporations had complete control of the services that they were
selling. Roosevelt went in to these companies and helped to stop this
type of monopoly. The biggest trust that Roosevelt busted was the one
involving Northern Securities and J.P. Morgan.
Roosevelt was also a big supporter of labor he tried almost
everything and anything to help the citizens of the United States.
Teddy set up child protection laws, which were used to prevent
children to work in factories, and it also reduced the amount of time
they worked. Roosevelt also set up workman's compensation, which is a
payment that employers had to pay employees who get injured on the
job. President Wilson also tried to help and improve the conditions
for workers he did this by adding and income tax. This type of income
tax is called a progressive or graduated which would rise with the
amount of money that a person makes. This really helped the poor
because they were taxed less than big business men were.
Wilson helped the economy by instituting a Federal Reserve
Bank. This bank was a system in which there would be twelve federal
reserve banks all throughout the country. All national banks were
required to join this system. This bank system made a compromise
between private and public control. Wilson also added a tariff called
the Underwood Tariff, which lowered the price on imported goods. He
did this because he had an idea that if you open up your market to
foreign goods then the foreign markets will open for you. Taft issued
a tariff called the Payne-Aldrich Tariff; this tariff put hi taxes on
imported goods. Taft believed that this would be good for the country
and help business grow.
Roosevelt tried his best to help consumers, he proposed to
congress the Pure Food and Drug Act. Teddy demanded that congress
pass this act because he thought the way consumers were being treated
was wrong. This act was used to protect citizens from unsafe medicines
and food. The Meat Inspection Act was also passed because of a book
written by Upton Sinclair called The Jungle. The Meat Inspection Act
regulated that all food must be inspected, prohibited the use of
addictive drugs in prescription medicine and required proper labels on
food and drugs.
Democracy was increased in the United States by the
introduction of the referendum, initiative and the recall. The
referendum proposed legislation to be submitted to the voters. The
initiative allowed a group of citizens to introduce legislation and
recall allowed voters to remove elected officials from holding a
special election. Also a direct primary was instituted this was the
direct election of a public official.