Although the Progressive Era managed to solve much of the backwater left over from Industrialization, it failed in regards to discrimination. America would have to wait decades later for the issue of civil equality to truly be addressed. Due to the apathy of the politicians during that time, the desperate need for a scapegoat, and the hypocrisy people displayed when confronted with the topic, the movement that was intended to achieve “progress” in society completely forgot about equality.
Possibly a result of the lingering sentiments of racism from the time of slavery, politicians remained unwilling to confront the idea of discrimination. Hopeful candidates running for any public office had to appease as many voters as possible, and this often meant not angering those who still held onto racist ideologies. One can clearly see Taft attempting to skirt the issue of discrimination in his inaugural address in 1909. Here the president ...view middle of the document...
Although it is easy to blame the politicians for the problems of the time, one must also turn attention to the constituency that those in power so desperately desired to please. Nativism was a common philosophy during this time, held by many people for a number of reasons. The working class, who were devastatingly abused during Industrialization, carried out the ancient human tradition and looked for a scapegoat. It is in human nature, almost instinct, to pass blame onto someone else, and this is a perfect example of that. New immigrants, searching for opportunity in America, were the unlucky group to have the condemnation of society be placed upon them. Another reason for the nativism was pure ego. This view was held mainly by the wealthy elites who saw waves of filthy immigrants entering the country. But as illustrated in a political cartoon, these men were only able to obtain their wealth off the backs of the poor.
Race and nationality were not the only factors that determined discrimination, though. Women were only given the right to vote in the 19th Amendment, which was passed in 1920, at the very end or perhaps even after the Progressive Movement. The attitude of men towards women’s suffrage did not help the cause. As Carrie Chapman Catt states in her Testimony to Congressional Committee on Women’s Suffrage, those who opposed women being allowed to vote hid behind the excuse that the states should decide. A common argument made by those against gay marriage today, it is made knowing that not all states will give women this right. Those who supported the idea wanted the federal government to pass an amendment so that this right was guaranteed in all corners of the nation. Using this shady reasoning, enemies of women’s suffrage were able to hold off a federal amendment for several years. If the progressives of the time had actually lived up to their name, women would have gained the right to vote much sooner.
The Progressive Movement was without a doubt a period of great change in the United States. Many necessary reforms were enacted that supported a substantial amount of people, but one issue was sadly forgotten. Discrimination of African Americans, immigrants, and women was a topic that was pushed off to be addressed years later.