The Progressive Movement, which brought about a series of lasting reforms and influenced the U.S. Government for much of the 20th century, was influenced by the middle class, muckrakers, and local and state politicians alike.
The middle class, with their disposable income and social connections, sought to make the government less corrupt and more efficient through political reform. Progressive reformers drew support from the urban, college-educated middle class, and these reformers worked to address health risks, monitor business practices, and improve working conditions. Middle class reformers also helped with the Social Gospel and settlement house movements which intended to help the poor through churches, community centers, and social services.
Muckrakers, reform-minded journalists who wrote to expose the corruption of business and public life in mass circulation magazines, also helped the Progressive Movement. Some famous muckrakers include Ida M. Tarbell, Lincoln Steffens, and Upton Sinclair. Tarbell’s “The History of the Standard Oil Company” helped reveal the brutality in which John D. Rockefeller turned his business into an all-powerful monopoly, and consequently added force to the trustbusting reforms. Steffens published exposés of business and government corruption in many magazines. Sinclair’s book, The Jungle, which exposed the appalling conditions in which workers suffered. The public reacted more strongly to the unsanitary conditions of the meatpacking industry which lead to a federal investigation and the passage of the Meat Inspection Act of 1906.
Local and state politicians influenced many aspects of the Progressive Era. A Wisconsin governor, Robert La Follette, was a leader in regulating big business. A major target of his was the railroad industry, taxing railroad property at the same rate as other business properties, set up a commission to supervise rates, and forbade railroads to issue free passes to state officials. Jane Addams, one of the most influential members of the Social Gospel movement, cofounded Chicago’s Hull House in 1889. The Hull House, like other settlement houses, were community centers in slum neighborhoods where college-aged women stayed to provide assistance to immigrants in the area. These settlement houses operating in cities across the country helped promote social responsibility toward the urban poor.
The Progressive Movement was greatly impacted by the contributions of the middle class, muckrakers, and local and state politicians, through demanding a less corrupt government, exposing working conditions, regulating big business and setting up settlement houses to cultivate social responsibility toward the urban poor.
Theodore Roosevelt and Cuban Revolutionaries would agree with John Hay’s statement about the Spanish-American war - that it was a “splendid little war”. However, Emilio Aguinaldo would be likely to think that statement is false.
Roosevelt would agree that the...