The Progressive Era (1890’s to late 1910’s/early 1920’s) The Progressive Era

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The Progressive Era (1890’s to late 1910’s/early 1920’s)
The Progressive Era is a period of reform in which many of the problems that the U.S. faced during industrialization were addressed or solved. During industrialization, it was common for children to work in unsafe factories alongside their parents who would work 70-80 hours a week. Life at home wasn’t any better as most American were poor, ate spoiled food and lived in crowded, dirty tenements. During The Progressive Era, the U.S. government moved away from its Laissez-faire policy and began to regulate businesses. The movement grew from the Granger Movement and Populist Party that organized farmers in an attempt to break up the railroad monopoly that had been exploiting (taking advantage of) farmers by overcharging them for shipping. The Populist Platform called for more popular involvement in government such as direct election of senators, initiative, referendum and recall. Even though they lost, they paved the way for many reforms. The Populist Party and Progressives were third political parties that focused on a particular person and issue.

The Progressives were a political, social and economic movement, which fought for the poor and working class people that were being exploited during industrialization. Many writers, reporters, and social activists like Upton Sinclair and Jacob Riis contributed to solving the many problems that developed during industrialization. Workers began to group together in labor unions in order to fight for better wages, shorter work hours, and safer working conditions. The public and government did not support unions at first but key events like the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire eventually made people realize that workers' rights were being violated by big businesses. Presidents read the works of the Progressive writers and made reforms based on their writings; they became known as The Progressive Presidents. President Theodore Roosevelt is considered to be the American President at this time most responsible for protecting Americans from the abuses of business. Roosevelt worked tirelessly to pass Anti Trust Acts, improve health and safety conditions in factories and make sure the food we eat is safe. President William Howard Taft and Woodrow Wilson were also Progressive Presidents who passed reforms.

The Progressive movement continued to 1920 when women received the right to vote with the passing of the Nineteenth Amendment. However, the Progressive Movement ends when America enters World War I.

Vocabulary Words:

  1. The Granger Movement - farmers who pushed for government regulation of railroads

  2. The Populist Party – a new political party started by William Jennings Bryan to represent workers and farmers against railroads, banks and big business, and to get political reforms. Advocated fore free silver—new currency reform.

  3. The Progressive Movement – Movement where people (Muckrakers) identified and fought against the social, political and economic problems in the United

  4. States due to urbanization (growth of cities) and industrialization (growth of businesses)

  5. Theodore Roosevelt - Progressive President (1901-1908) who’s Square Deal Policies broke up monopolies, created the Meat Inspection Act and was also a trustbuster – breaking up monopolies.

  6. Trustbusting - when the government uses antitrust acts to break up trusts/monopolies

  7. Anti Trust Acts - laws that tried to stop the spread of monopolies such as the Clayton Anti-Trust Act and Sherman Anti-Trust Act.

  8. Meat Inspection Act (1906) - cleanliness requirements for all meat plants that were enforced with inspectors

  9. Pure Food and Drug Act (1906) - required companies to label ingredients in food and drug products

  10. Muckrakers - reporters who expose problems, corruption and the abuse of industry

  11. Upton Sinclair - wrote The Jungle a book about the unclean and unsafe conditions of the meatpacking industry.

  12. Jacob Riis - photographed the horrible living conditions of the urban poor in his book How the Other Half Lives

  13. Initiative - allows citizens, instead of politicians, to come up with state bills (ideas for laws)

  14. Referendum - allows citizens, instead of politicians, to vote on certain state bills

  15. Recall - allows citizens, instead of politicians, to remove a politician from office

  16. Seneca Falls Convention (1848) – a meeting of women, led by Susan B. Anthony to demand Women's Suffrage.

  17. Suffrage - the right to vote. The 19th Amendment grants Women’s Suffrage

  18. Labor Unions- Groups of workers who used the threat of going on strike in order to bargain for better working condition and higher salaries. (Terrence Powderly’s Knights of Labor, Samuel Gomper’s American Federation of Labor - AFL)

  19. Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire (1911) - 150 women die in a factory fire because of unsafe conditions

  20. Tenements – small, unsafe apartments that immigrants in NYC would often live in.

  21. Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall - The corrupt government of New York City that took advantage of people and immigrants through taxes, corrupt deals, etc.

  22. Thomas Nastcartoonist who exposed corruption, especially against Boss Tweed.

  23. Ida Tarbell – Wrote about the corruption of the Standard Oil Company.

  24. Jane Adamsworked in Hull Houses that were houses for the poor.

  25. Woodrow Wilsonanother Progressive President. His “New Nationalism Program” targeted child labor, better working conditions, regulating banks and breaking up trusts.

  26. Interstate Commerce Act (1887) – Congressional Act that stated only the government controls trade between states (and not businesses)

  27. Sherman Anti-Trust Act (1890) – Congressional Act that tries to make monopolies and trusts illegal, but does not have initial success.


1. In passing the Sherman Antitrust Act (1890), Congress intended to

1. prevent large corporations from eliminating their competition

2. distinguish good trusts from bad trusts
3. regulate rates charged by railroads
4. force large trusts to bargain with labor unions
2. In the late 1800s, many business practices of the railroads led to

  1. an increase in the unemployment rate

  2. an increase in the demand for government regulation

  3. a decrease in the demand for raw materials

  4. a decrease in the variety of products available for consumers

3. A goal of the Granger and Populist movements was to

  1. expand rights for African Americans

  2. help western farmers fight unjust economic practices

  3. provide support for the banking industry

  4. enable big business to expand without government interference

4. The Populist movement was most interested in improving conditions for

  1. farmers

  2. business leaders

  3. African Americans

  4. Native American Indians

5. A main purpose of President Theodore Roosevelt’s trust-busting policies was to

  1. reduce corruption in government

  2. save the nation’s banks

  3. encourage competition in business

  4. end strikes by labor unions

6. During which period in United States history were the amendments concerning the income tax, direct election of Senators. Prohibition, and women’s suffrage enacted?

  1. Reconstruction

  2. The Gilded Age

  3. Progressive Era

  4. New Deal

7. The Populist and the Progressive movements were similar in their approaches to reform in that both

  1. supported the return of powers to the state governments

  2. promoted the use of violent strikes and protests against big business organizations

  3. opposed the strict laissez-faire attitudes of the federal government

  4. lobbied for immediate social and economic equality for African Americans

8. In How the Other Half Lives, Jacob Riis described the living conditions of

  1. workers in urban slums

  2. African Americans in the segregated South

  3. the rich in their mansions

  4. Native American Indians on reservations

9. Which president was known as a trustbuster?

  1. George Washington

  2. Calvin Coolidge

  3. Theodore Roosevelt

  4. Dwight Eisenhower

10. In the late 1800s, the Homestead steel strike and the Pullman railcar strike were unsuccessful because

1. the government supported business owners

2. most workers refused to take part in the strike
3. the Supreme Court ruled both strikes were illegal
4. factory owners hired children to replace the strikers
11. In 1906, the publication of The Jungle, written by Upton Sinclair, led Congress to

1. enact stronger prohibition laws

2. support the national conservation movement
3. establish a system for meat inspection
4. legalize strikes and boycotts by labor unions
12. Which 19th-century event supported the movement for women's rights?

1. Seneca Falls Convention

2. Dred Scott decision
3. formation of the Republican Party
4. Lincoln-Douglas debates
13. A major purpose of the Chinese Exclusion Act (1882) was to

1. limit immigration of certain ethnic groups

2. enrich America's cultural diversity
3. treat all Asian and European immigrants equally
4. relocate Asians displaced by war
14. Which conclusion can be drawn about the impact of the Populist and the Progressive parties on the United States?

  1. Some third-party goals eventually become planks in the platforms of the major parties.

  2. The United States has steadily moved from a two-party system to a multiparty system.

  3. Religious ideals have most often motivated people to splinter away from major parties .

  4. An increasing number of citizens have grown weary of party politics and fail to vote in elections.

15. The Populists believed that most of the United States economic problems would be solved by establishing

  1. currency reform

  2. postal savings banks

  3. a national property tax

  4. a renewed policy of open immigration

16. A common characteristic of third political parties in the United States is that they

  1. tend to focus on one person or one issue

  2. come into existence only during periods of corruption

  3. have dealt mainly with foreign policy issues

  4. have frequently forced Congress to decide Presidential elections

17. The Farmer is the Man
When the farmer comes to town
With his wagon broken down,
Oh, the farmer is the man
Who feeds them all. . . .
The farmer is the man,
The farmer is the man,
Lives on credit till the fall;
Then they take him by the hand
And they lead him from the land,
And the middleman’s the man
Who gets it all. . . .
— American folk song

The problem identified by this folk song was a result of

  1. low profits forcing many people out of farming

  2. farm productivity declining for several decades

  3. too many Americans entering the occupation of farming

  4. poor farming practices destroying cropland

18. Speaker A: "The business of America is business, and we would be wise to remember that."
Speaker B:"Government ownership of business is superior to private enterprise."
Speaker C:"Strict government regulation of business practices is a means to insure the public good."
Speaker D:"Only through personal effort can wealth and success be achieved."
Which speaker would most likely have supported the ideas of the Progressive movement?

  1. Speaker A

  2. Speaker B

  3. Speaker C

  4. Speaker D

19. The purpose of the Interstate Commerce Act (1887), the Sherman Antitrust Act (1890), and the Clayton Antitrust Act (1914) was to

  1. eliminate unfair business practices

  2. reduce imports from foreign nations

  3. reduce the power of the unions

  4. increase the power of local governments

20. The purpose of the Interstate Commerce Act (1887), the Sherman Antitrust Act (1890), and the Clayton Antitrust Act (1914) was to

  1. eliminate unfair business practices

  2. reduce imports from foreign nations

  3. reduce the power of the unions

  4. increase the power of local governments

21. The initiative, referendum, and recall election were supported by the Progressives as ways to

  1. limit government regulation of the press

  2. limit the role of the Supreme Court in constitutional issues

  3. increase citizen participation in the political process

  4. increase the influence of major political parties

22.Jacob Riis, in How the Other Half Lives, and Lincoln Steffens, in The Shame of the Cities, contributed to reform movements in the United States by

  1. exposing poverty and corruption

  2. opposing westward expansion

  3. criticizing racial injustice

  4. supporting organized labor

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