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The Progressive Movement/Era (1900-1920)

Updated on March 10, 2015

What Caused The Progressive Movement

The Progressive Movement:1900-1920 (also referred to as The Progressive Era) was a wide range of groups and individuals with a common desire to improve life in the industrial age, through government action. The movement started as people sought to limit the powers of big business and improve democracy for the public. It ended as World War II started.

A Middle-Class Movement?

The Progressive Movement was largely backed by the middle class because they had power in numbers. The poor joined the movement as they realized the benefits that could be offered to them through progressivism. Most people agreed that this was a good movement because after all, what better reform could come, than from a nice, well educated, hardworking and caring family?

Summary of the Progressive Era

How The Progressive Movement Affected At...

Better schools
1910 Australian secret ballot
Direct election of US senators (17th amendment)
Juvenile courts
1903 Direct primaries (limited success)
Limits on death penalty
Liberalized divorce laws
Initiaves and referendum
"Square Deal" (coal for heat)
Saftey regulations for tenements and factories
Recall (11 states)
Trust-busting which enforced Sherman-Antitrust Act
System of Parole
City ownership of water utilities
Elkins Act 1903 (stopped secret rebates)
Seperate reformatories
Election of public services/leaders
Hepburn Act 1906 (railroad rates)
Free kindergarden and nightschool
Manager-council plan
Pure Food and Drug Act
Public playgrounds
Meat inspection
Cheap public transportation
Income tax

Roosevelt's Role In The Progressive Movement

Roosevelt was a big player in The Progressive Movement (The Progressive Era) with a big personality that was infectious and motivational for citizens. He was a very reform minded president. He believed the president's job was to set the legislative agenda for congress. He pushed on the "Square Deal" in which he made sure that citizens would get their coal for heat by threatening to use military force. He enforced the Sherman-Anti Trust Act and took down many monopolies. He furthermore stopped the railroad rebates and adjusted the rates for railroad transportation to reasonable amounts. Roosevelt passed the Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act. He was the first president to try to conserve land by the Forest Reserve Act if 1891 which meant that 150 million acres of land would be set aside and could not be used for private interests. He won the passage of the Newlands Reclamation Act and also hosted a meeting at the White House about federal conservation. (He was a very outdoorsy loving person.)

(Click to see full-size)
(Click to see full-size)

Taft Continues Roosevelt's Progressive Policies...

Taft continued with the trust busting and conservation. He also established the Buerau Of Mines and added large tracts in the Appalachians to the national forest reserves and set aside federal oil lands (the first president to do so.)

He passed the Mann-Elkins Act, which gave the ICC (Interstate Commerce Commission) power to suspend railroad rates and oversee telegraph, telephone and cable companies.

Taft-Roosevelt Split

Taft ordered the prosecution of almost twice the number of antitrust cases as his predecessor. One was against the US Steel which included a merger that had been approved by Roosevelt. Roosevelt this as an attack on his integrity and angered the Republican party at Taft.

Roosevelt On Conserving Nature

"What will happen when our forests are gone? When the coal, the iron, the oil, and the gas are exhausted?" -Theodor Roosevelt

(He even banned real Christmas trees in the White House!)

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    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 

      8 years ago

      "He pushed on the "Square Deal" in which he made sure that citizens would get their coal for heat by threatening to use military force." Nicely done Londonlady.

    • Neon_Letters profile image


      8 years ago

      Teddy Roosevelt was badass he delivered a campaign speech while a bullet was inside him! every hub with Roosevelt in him is a good hub. Nice work.

    • Alexander Pease profile image

      Alexander Pease 

      8 years ago from Maine

      I learned about this in high school, but it is good to have a memory refresher. I can't believe the jungle is selling for $1.00 on Amazon...

      Great, informative hub.


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