To what extent did the Progressive reforms of 1901-1917 effectively address the problems created by the Industrial Revolution?

Essay by en_gallopHigh School, 12th grade May 2006

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Although the Progressive movement is usually seen as a great achievement in the history of American development, some feel that the Progressives failed to comply with the standards of equality and justice they had set out to create. The Progressive movement was instigated as a reaction to the political and corporate abuses created by the Industrial Revolution,. Religious groups, members of the press, and radical political groups had all been hungering for reform, with solutions ranging from subtle changes in the capitalist economy, to a call for the establishment of a socialist government. Reforms were initiated by individuals, and at the city, state, and national levels of the government.

Social reformers such as Margaret Sanger, Booker T. Washington, and W.E.B. DuBois all fought for the progressive movement. They took action to help the poor, minorities, and women to insist upon equal treatments and rights from society. Another group of influential people who took great steps towards exposing corruption were the muckrakers, or members of the press that scrutinized problems and exposed them to the public.

Their large range of influence often resulted in the passage of laws designed to reform the abuses reported. For example, Thomas Nast worked to expose the abuses of the New York political machine Tammany Hall through the use of political cartoons. Frank Norris' book The Octopus (1901) exposed corrupt railroad actions in California, leading to Northern Securities vs. U.S. in 1904, breaking up the company controlling the railroads. "The Jungle", written by Upton Sinclair in 1906 was often seen as the embodiment of American Progressive literature, as it investigated dangerous and unsanitary procedures in the meat-packing industry; this lead to the passing of the Meat Inspection Act and Pure Food and Drug Acts in 1906.

Progressive reform began at the city level because it was...