Throughout the course of world history, it has always been human nature to become frustrated at the sight of others obtaining more power and wealth. In just the 236th year of our nation’s existence, there have already been several occurrences in which the general public was angered and moved to protest because of unfair distributions of wealth. As the transition into the 20th century gradually accelerated, corporate “criminals” and financial crises brought forth the first era of reform and societal change. As the United States sailed into the Roaring Twenties, income inequality and business corruption forced the federal government to enact change once again – this time in the form of Roosevelt’s New Deal. Presently, in the second decade of the 21st century, we are once again marked with a new round of social movements and protests: the Occupy Movement, dubbed by many as the “new Progressive Movement” (Sachs). With the public returning to familiar senses of accusations and criticism towards capitalist “tyrants”, a strong resemblance to the past Progressive Era of the early 1900’s cannot be overlooked. Although differences do exist between the two influential movements (most notably the roles held by both advanced technology and the federal government), the many similarities – the push for reform and the presence of economic inequality, for example – are indeed prominent.
Arising near the end of the 1800’s – known primarily as the “Gilded Age” – the first signs of the new Progressive Era began to take hold after a significant financial crisis in 1893. As Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson took the reins of the presidency, several attempts to repudiate the power of the corporate moguls began to take place: federal income taxation, trust bonding, refined labor regulations, and direct senatorial elections were all notable solutions to the problems that occurred during the first few decades of the 20th century. However, the presences of corruption and excess spending persisted into the 1920’s, reaching a culmination in 1929 with the start of the Great Depression (Sachs). Within that time period between 1890 and 1920, numerous efforts to change American society took place. Social issues were put under the spotlight for the first time since the end of the Civil War – attempts to outlaw the sale of alcohol, improve working conditions, and extend voting rights to women were all addressed by the government and the public (“The Progressive Era”).
Many of these issues were actually permanently resolved during the Progressive Era: women obtained wage laws, public health programs, social welfare measures, and the rights to vote and shape public policy (Muncy). In addition, by 1929, numerous state laws had been enacted in order to dramatically lessen the amount of hours a child under the age of fourteen could work; popular unrest towards child labor ultimately resulted in its permanent displacement within the United States (Davis). The Progressive...