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Impact of the Progressive Movement on US Politics

Info: 1316 words (5 pages) Essay
Published: 8th Feb 2020 in History

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  1. Discuss three major changes in race relations that resulted from Reconstruction.


When the Reconstruction occurred, one major change was the 14th Amendment. This law created a more diverse collection of those who could be considered a “citizen of the United States”. This amendment stated that ANYONE who was “born or naturalized” in the US was now considered a citizen, including African Americans. Although it was still up to each individual state to decide if they could vote, African Americans were still considered citizen for the first time. Finally, however, the Reconstruction Act of 1967 came into existence and black men were finally given the right to vote everywhere. Even with these drastic changes, many still did not see blacks as equals. Members of the notorious Ku Klux Klan believed that they should be “keeping freedom in subjection” (Norton, 2015). They felt that blacks should be put back into their “rightful place” as slaves.

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The 15th Amendment was a third large change during the Reconstruction. This amendment said that states did not have the authority to deny a citizen of the United States their right to vote based solely on their race or if they had been a slave at one time. Many white Americans were furious that African Americans were being granted more and more rights, and they were able to find several loopholes in order to keep rights from them. For example, this new amendment did not mention anywhere that states were unable to deny those who couldn’t read the right to vote, so many states created qualification tests that were extremely difficult for African Americans (Norton, 2015).

B. Describe two consequences of industrialization on American politics and/or society.


During the Industrialization period many new and exciting things like the telephone and typewriter were invented. Because of inventions such as these, less importance was placed on meeting in person due to the ability to talk to others on the phone or type them a letter.

Mass production of products also became an issue during this time. Businesses were forced to grow exponentially in order to accomodate the increase. This rapid expansion forced many business to take out loans in order to keep up with the demand, which in turn forced them to raise prices on products so they could pay back the loans (Norton, 2015).

C. Explain the rise of the Progressive movement by doing the following:

  1. Describe the role of religion and social morality in promoting Progressive reforms.

Protestants (who were led at the time by ministers Walter Rauschenbusch, Washington Gladden, and Charles Sheldon) formed the Social Gospel movement, which pushed that fighting for the equality of everyone would ensure them a place in Heaven. Because of this, many people felt the need to speak about inequalities in places such as courtrooms and workplaces. For example, lawyer Ben Lindsey felt it was wrong that two pre-teen boys who had stolen something were imprisoned without any form of trial. Because of his belief, he Lindsey and his wife worked to develop a form of juvenile court system and eventually were able to write “reform laws that were adopted by many states and countries” (Norton, 2015). Injustices were written about by several individuals who were considered Muckrakers: Upton Sinclair wrote The Jungle, which spoke out against things like unsafe work environments and extremely long work hours.

2. Describe two reform movements that helped to define the Progressive Era.

Boiled down to the basics, the main idea of the Progressive Era was equality and fairness for everyone. The women’s suffrage movement was one of the reforms that helped to define the era. Women’s suffrage movement was led by individuals such as Alice Paul and Carrie Chapman Catt, and resulted in the 19th Amendment, which gave females the right to vote.

Racial equality was another reform movement that was pivotal in the Progressive Era. A group called the Nation Association for the Advancement of Colored People emerged, with the sole purpose of lobbying for African American equality. While some were more polite towards black citizens than before, they were still nowhere near being seen as equals.

3. Discuss one impact of the Progressive movement on American politics.


Many Progressives began to push for things such as the recall and referendum due to their belief that elections where voters had more power would force officeholders to be more responsible. The recall would give voters the ability to remove officials from office, while the referendum would allow “voters to accept or reject a law” (Norton, 2015).

D.  Explain the role of American imperialism in leading the United States into two of the following conflicts:


Americans pushed to gain more territory by claiming other lands with the excuse that they were “civilizing” those who already resided there, just as their English ancestors did. They also came to the realization that these territories had strategic value, again just as England had realized all those years prior. When American politicians realized that Hawaii possessed naval, diplomatic, and commercial value, they became eager to claim it for the US. They also had their sights set on preaching to those who currently lived there. The doorway was opened for the US in 1887: Americans were given entry to Pearl Harbor. With their foots in the door, US politicians were able to push themselves even further in by forcing a constitution on the population residing there which gave them a right to vote, taking power from the King. Natives in the area were not on board with becoming a state of the US, however American politicians were aware that it would be beneficial for Hawaii. They were currently fighting with the Spanish, and being part of the US would offer financial stability during this hard time. Finally, the Organic Act of June 1900 came into existence and Hawaii was officially added as a state (Norton, 2015).

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Americans weren’t the only ones interested in expanding territory; Spain was had already taken over Cuba and relied heavily on selling their crops in the US, which peaked the interest of American politicians in the area. Citizens of Cuba had begun to fight back against the rule of the Spanish: a duty was placed on Cuban sugar which drove natives tensions towards Spain through the roof. The USS Maine was then sent to Cube by President McKinley. He was concerned not only for the residents of Cuba, but the safety of Americans as well. A month after its’ departure, the ship was sunk. It was highly thought to be the work of the Spanish, thus putting the nail in the coffin for the US to decide to take over and leading McKinley to declare war on Spain (Norton, 2015). Despite concerns over their abilities to rule themselves, Cuba was eventually declared independent and free by the US Congress.

E. Provide acknowledgement of source information, using in-text citations and references, for quoted, paraphrased, or summarized content.


  • Sheriff, C., Norton, M., Kamensky, J., Blight, D. W., Chudacoff, H. P., Logevall, F., & Bailey, B. (n.d.). A People & A Nation. Retrieved May 4, 2019, from https://lrps.wgu.edu/provision/53540310


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