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Progressivism in American History Research Paper

The progressives were reformers who initiated a progressive movement in American society in order to eliminate the evils that faced it during industrialization era (West & Schambra, 2007). This group initiated the movement during 19th century and went on until the early phase of 20th Century (Sage, 2010).

These reformers aimed at improving the social, economic, political and cultural aspects of American society. The movement came into existence due to rapid changes that had been accelerated by industrial growth and rise of capitalism in America. The proponents of progressivism aimed at modifying society to adopt a new system that would be compatible with industrial era.

It is evident that there were myriad of proponents of the movement. Besides, majority of the progressives were natives who were mainly composed of secret balloters, pacifists, workers’ advocates, muckrakers and child-welfare advocates (Sage, 2010). This paper discusses goals of the progressive movement and concerns over the problems that faced political and economic activities in America during the time period between 19th and 20th century.

Who were the “progressives” (name at least four and explain their goals and concerns) and what did they achieve?

Prominent representatives of progressivism included Theodore Roosevelt, Charles Merriam, Frank Wright and Sinclair Upton (Sage, 2010). These reformists had numerous goals of transforming society from the ancient conventional principles of governance into modern way of doing things.

Intellectuals and reformers were in haste to advocate for social welfare which entailed equal employment opportunities and better working conditions. This occurred during the eve of Cold War where more social reformists were advocating for protection of prisoners and people with disabilities (West & Schambra, 2007). Moreover, the reformers advocated for abolition of tribulations like slave trade, racial injustices and child labor.

During the second wave of progressivism, the reformers aimed at reconstructing society in order to guarantee rights of women. In line with this, the movement aimed at eradicating social Darwinism. This would ensure that the rich and poor people would assume equal positions in society (Sage, 2010).

Politically, the reformers targeted at eliminating corruption and unjustified influence in governance. Economically, there was relentless struggle to eliminate unfair trade and the government was obliged to control all economic concerns to promote justice. Successfully, the progressives made lot of achievements that changed the countenance of American society.

For instance, they were able to eradicate hazardous working conditions, child labor, slave trade and racial injustices. Politically, corruption was decimated with the emergence of strong local government officials thus eliminating fraudulent mayoral schemes (West & Schambra, 2007).

What were the main concerns of the progressives over the corruption in economic activities and political activities and how were they interconnected?

It is apparent that although the progressives had different concerns for the society on how to eliminate economic and political problems, at times, their motives were interrelated. For instance, there was concern over suffrage whereby only the whites had mandate to vote (Sage, 2010).

This impacted negatively on the economic and political life of the minor natives in America (West & Schambra, 2007). A concern for prohibition of drugs and liquors was meant to improve the social framework of the society thus reflecting positively to economic development and politics.

There was also concern over political reforms in which natives were allowed to make initiatives for themselves. This would ensure that the government did not curtail their economic and political freedom. Besides, there were anti-monopoly reforms to eliminate competitive market prices and profits (Sage, 2010).

In an economic perspective, this was perceived as threat to big businesses in the sense that uncontrolled market forces were unfair even to consumers. To emphasize on the afoprementioned concerns, their eradication highly contributed to both economic and political welfare of the state (West & Schambra, 2007).


To recap it all, it is imperative to reiterate that industrial developments that were witnessed in 19th century fueled the rise of progressivism. In a more vigorous manner, the reformers in the movement set their goals and concerns on self-interests. This resulted into numerous groups participating in the movement such as businessmen, anti-racists, workers, child advocators and anti-liquors.

Significantly, major representatives had different motives though in few instances they shared common views. Moreover, there was intense transformation of the American society whereby the achievements made impacted positively to the economic, political, social and cultural phases. These achievements included eradication of racism, child labor, slavery, poor working conditions and social Darwinism.


Sage, J. (2010). The Progressive Era: The Great Age of Reform. Web.

West, T. & Schambra, W. (2007). . Web.

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IvyPanda. "Progressivism in American History." July 3, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/progressivism-in-american-history/.


IvyPanda. 2019. "Progressivism in American History." July 3, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/progressivism-in-american-history/.


IvyPanda. (2019) 'Progressivism in American History'. 3 July.

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