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Progressive Reforms

Theodore Roosevelt


Progressive Reforms:
Theodore Roosevelt was the 26th American President who served in office from September 14, 1901 to March 4, 1909. One of the important features during his presidency was the Progressive Movement which led to Progressive Reforms which continued under the presidencies of President Taft and President Wilson.

Definition and Summary of the Progressive Reforms
Summary and definition:
The Progressive Reforms encompassed political and social improvements and changes during the Progressive Era in the United States from 1900-1920 during the presidencies of President Teddy Roosevelt, President William Taft and President Woodrow Wilson.

Progressive Reforms were prompted by the political philosophy of Progressivism and the influence and work of reformists called Progressives who included activists, analysts and social commentators.

Progressive Reforms for kids: Progressivism
The Progressive Reforms were sparked by the political philosophy of Progressivism which was based on the idea of progress and the establishment of better conditions in the United States and the prevention of unfair business practices. The Progressive reforms encompassed:

  • Social Reforms

  • Political Reforms

  • City Reforms

  • State Reforms

  • Federal Reforms

Progressive Reforms for kids: The Progressive Movement
Progressive Reforms were due to the
different ideas and activities of reformist pressure groups of the Progressive Movement who believed that the government should take a more active role in solving the social and political problems caused by Industrialization in America and the Effects of Urbanization The Progressive Movement were led by 'Progressives' who placed pressure on the government to by restore order and protect the welfare of Americans.

Progressive Reforms for kids: The Progressives Agenda
The Progressive Reforms were prompted by the Progressives who included men and women who fought against ruthless Big Business and Corporations, trusts and political machines and called for reforms to combat the evils of Child Labor, poor working conditions, health and safety, squalid living conditions, the rights of women and minority groups, unfair business practices and consumer protection. The agenda for Progressive Reforms also included the damaging effects on society caused by alcohol abuse, the decline in religious beliefs and ethics and the views of the supporters of Social Darwinism. The Progressives include investigative journalists, photographers and writers who were referred to as Muckrakers.

Progressive Reforms for kids: City Reforms - Commission System
Progressive reforms began at the local town and city level.  Following the horrendous disaster of the Galveston Hurricane the city of Galveston in Texas introduced the commission system of government replacing the mayor and city council which was a major step in the Progressive Movement and City  Reforms. The city placed power into the hands of 5 commissioners, 2 of whom were elected by the people and 3 experts were appointed. A professional, full-time city manager was also hired to run each department of the city and report directly to the city council. Cities hired experts in different fields to run all aspects of city government. Within 20 years, four hundred cities adopted the Commission System of city government that reduced the levels of bribery and corruption from political machines.

Progressive Reforms for kids: State Reforms
State Reforms were established in order to make state governments more responsive to the needs of the people. The Progressive Reforms at state level were driven by progressives like Theodore Roosevelt of New York, Woodrow Wilson of New Jersey and the pioneering reformist Robert M. LaFollette of Wisconsin who led state reforms with the Wisconsin Experiment.

Progressive Reforms for kids: The Wisconsin Experiment
The 'Wisconsin Experiment', led by Robert LaFollette (1855 – 1925) aka "Fighting Bob" was the governor of Wisconsin in 1901. His state reform initiatives helped to destroy the political machine, take control away from lumber & railroad corporations and trusts, and establish a progressive government. The Wisconsin Experiment and the determination of Robert LaFollette led to the following progressive state reforms:

  • Public Utilities Commissions created legislation for the safety of workers and the regulation of railroads and public utilities

  • The corruption of the Spoils System was replaced by with a state civil service

  • Initiative: The State Reforms Initiative allowed voters to petition state legislatures in order to consider new bills initiated by citizens

  • Referendum: A referendum procedure in which voters cast ballots for, or against, proposed laws

  • Recall: Recall gave citizens the right to remove elected officials from office

  • The Direct election of Senators by the voters that countered Senate corruption and control by trusts

  • Wisconsin also became the first state to adopted a state income tax

  • Australian Ballot (secret ballot). The Australian Ballot (secret ballot) was introduced to reduce the instances of bribery

Progressive Reforms for kids: Federal Reforms
The Progressive Era also saw the introduction of a whole range of Federal Reforms in relation to conservation, economic regulations, health and safety measures, consumer protection and to reduce the power held by Big Business and corporations. These Federal Progressive Reforms are detailed in the list below.

Progressive Reforms for kids: Progressive Reforms - Federal Legislation and Action
The Progressive Reforms
during the Progressive Era of United States history.

The 1890 Sherman Antitrust Act was the first measure passed by the U.S. Congress to prohibit monopolies.

The 1898 Erdman Act prohibited discrimination against railroad workers because of union membership and provided for mediation of railway labor disputes .

Theodore Roosevelt First Presidential term (1901-1905).  Conservation was a cornerstone of his domestic policy

Newlands Reclamation Act of 1902 encouraged conservation using money from the sale of public lands to build dams and irrigations systems.

The 1902 Anthracite Coal Strike of 1902 saw President Roosevelt, as leader of the federal government, act as a mediator.

In 1902 President Roosevelt takes action against J.P. Morgan’s Northern Securities Company for violating the Sherman Antitrust Act in his “trust-busting” efforts to break up monopolies.

The Department of Commerce and Labor is established in 1903 to conciliate between management and labor.

The 1903 Elkins Act banned the use of rebates by railroad companies.

President Roosevelt announces his Square Deal Policy in 1904 and his support of progressive and political reforms, including the regulation of business and corporations.

Theodore Roosevelt Second Presidential term (1905-1909)

1906 Pure Food and Drug Act was passed requiring companies to accurately label the ingredients contained in processed food and medicines and ensure the contents were safe and hygienic.

The 1906 Meat Inspection Act was passed as a direct result of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle. The law required the inspection of meat processing plants to protect the public’s health and welfare.

The Hepburn Act was passed in 1906 challenging the economic power of the railroad industry. It also expands the jurisdiction of the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC)

The National Child Labor Committee (NCLC) of 1907 was chartered by an Act of Congress

William Taft Presidency (1909-1913) saw the introduction of Taft's Dollar Diplomacy

The 1910 Mann-Elkins Act was passed to strengthen the Hepburn Act and gave the Interstate Commerce Commission authority to regulate telephone, telegraph, radio and cable companies.

Woodrow Wilson Presidency (1913-1917) & (1917-1921) introduced his New Freedom polices and laws for progressive reforms in which he attacked the Triple Wall of Privilege

The 17th amendment to the Constitution was ratified in 1913 to counter Senate corruption by the direct election of senators

The 1913 Federal Reserve Act was passed creating 12 district Federal Reserve Banks, each able to issue new currency and loan member banks funds at the prime interest rate

The 1913 Underwood Tariff reduced the average tariff on imported goods

The 1914 Federal Trade Commission Act established the Federal Trade Commission was established to regulate fair competition among Big business and industry and regulated product labeling..

The 1914 Clayton Antitrust Act revised the 1890 Sherman Antitrust Act and banned monopolistic practices by business and affirms the right to go on strike.

The 1916 Keating-Owen Child Labor Act limited how many hours children are allowed to work

The Federal Farm Loan Act provide small farmers with long-term loans at low interest rates.

The Adamson Act of 1916 established an eight-hour workday for railroad workers

1919 introduced Prohibition led by the Temperance Movement - The 18th Amendment is passed prohibiting the sale and manufacture of alcohol

The 19th Amendment is passed in 1919 giving women the right to vote (suffrage)

US American History
1881-1913: Maturation Era
The Progressive Movement
Progressive Era Timeline

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