Progressivism as a movement mostly initiated by representatives of the middle class, focused on solving social problems and improving life-standards of all society layers. Environmental issues, questions of corruption, social inequality, and rise of the educational level, monopolies regulations, social work, protection of working children, and other topical issues were on the progressive thinkers’ agenda (Oakes, McGerr, Lewis, Cullather, and Boydston 875).
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Progressives acted on all possible levels, including local, state and national ones. They established settlement houses in slum areas of big cities in order to improve life conditions of dwellers while others stood against corruption in municipal governments. One may distinct Jane Addams as influential social leader and politician and the founder of well-known Chicago settlement house (Scott).
From state to state, progressive thinkers promoted various political, economic and social reforms such as secret ballot adoption, direct election of senators, etc. They stood for social projects which offered worker’s compensation and child labor laws in order to make up the drawbacks of industrialization.
Theodore Roosevelt, who was known as the progressive president, confirmed the reclamation act which subsidized irrigation in sixteen western states. Roosevelt also approved a series of environmental reforms. Gov. Gifford Pinchot of Pennsylvania, also well-known as the Father of Forest enlarged the national forest system to 148 million arces, and “and the Forest Service had become one of the most respected government services in the nation” (Watkins). Contemporary national forests cover 191 acres of earth now thanks to the company which took place in the beginning of the 20th century.
Jane Addams, a woman, who was the second American awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize, also known as Saint Jain for her hard work in the sphere of social care, was a famous representative of progressivism movement. She was a dear daughter of a successful businessman who came to Chicago with the aim to establish a house where she could help others. She and her former classmate established a Hull-House, the settlement house in ne of Chicago’s worst wards. Young ladies carried about everything, from children, sewing all the day for garment trade, and children, who attended overcrowded educational establishments, to the questions of garbage inspections; Hull-House offered bathtubs and showers and the action was so popular that the place became a kind of free municipal bath (Scott).
Jane Addams work in Chicago was highly connected with the opposition to the ward boss John Powers influence who somehow or another patronized the situation in the ward. Earlier Mr. Powers was considered to be a local benefactor though he used ward’s dwellers for his own benefit. in spite of various failures in the opposition Saint Jane won the whole competition: though Powers kept his alderman post almost until the very end Jane Addams assured imposition of the series of social reforms including establishment of a juvenile court in Chicago, strengthening mechanism of promoting social justice through law, etc. (Scott).
Progressivism was a natural response of American people to the consequences of the changes which shook society and cleared ways to different manipulations with laws and ethic. Progressive thinkers were intended to improve people’s life and administrative machine of the country. Cultural, environmental, social and economic issues were the causes for their concern; though, they thought about the present situation as well as about future. National forests preservations, achievements in social, economic, and cultural spheres, even contemporary American football (Watterson ) – we have all of it thanks to the progressive movement of the early 20th century.
Oakes, James, McGerr, Michael, Lewis, Jan Ellen, Cullather, Nick, and Boydston, Jeanne. Of the People: A History of the United States. New York: Oxford University Press. 2009. Print.
Scott, Anne Firor. “Saint Jane and the Ward Boss”. American Heritage Magazine. December 1960.
Watkins, T. H. “Father of the Forests”. American Heritage Magazine. 1991.
Watterson, John S. “Inventing Modern Football”. American Heritage Magazine. 1988.