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Progressive Era Through The Great Depression History Essay

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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016

The era between the mid of 1890s and the beginning of 1920 has been identified as the Progressive Era. According to Robert Higgs, Progressive Era has always been described as a Bridge to Modern Times, because the attitude in relation to the suitable role of government were changing from the limited role favored in the 19th century to the progressively expanding role selected in the 20th century. Indeed, a number of scholars emphasize the political and economic reform movements.

The economic reform movement involved the process of increasing regulation, an income tax, antitrust activities, as well as creation of social insurance programs. Thus, the change toward what was referred as “direct democracy” at the time of progressive era gave women the vote, rights to vote during referenda, and professionalized government.

In relation to the shift in the government’s role taken up during the progressive era were seen more evolutionary than revolutionary. This implies that were no incorporated programs to which all Progressives followers subscribed. Therefore, individuals who referred themselves as progressives in relation to one or more issues included big businessmen, middle class, workers, social reformers, as well as unionists. In short, the progressive era would be expressed as interest political group. Often, with the progressive era, successful implementation of new policies required adjustments and compromise that would attract sufficient supporters in order to form a winning coalition. Thus, the aim of this paper is to attempt to explore two major historical turning points in the period of the Progressive Era. Therefore, the turning points to be discussed in this paper include the Women’s Right Movement, and economic reform movements. In order to achieve the objective of this paper, a number of factors that relate to the two periods such as the right for women to vote, and legislation in the Roosevelt-Taft-Wilson shall be investigated.

The women right movement was initiated to indicate that women were no more to be separated from the nation and indeed they are part of economic development in order to bring reforms in the country. One of the vital issues at this time was the right to allow women to engage in voting. This implies that women were no longer staying at home, but they had to start working and earn a living for their families. Moreover, it was a period that allowed them to be educated as well as participate in politics. In the period between 1890 and 1913, two key groups were established to emphasize women’s issues and to push for political reforms that would see women vote.

As a result of commitment and strong hard work of the National American Women Suffrage Association, and National Women’s Party, most women acquired the right to vote in 1920 during the passing of the Nineteenth Amendment.  Thus, the current effect as a result of this movement is communities today is the equal and fair treatment for all women, maintain the right to vote, as well as engaging into politics. However, even though more women and enjoying the rights that were passed and acquired in the 1900s, there are still vacuum left on this issue. Issues such as the glass ceiling or equal pay and politic involvement still need to be fought for. In the modern society, most women are approximately half of the entire workforce while others are still housewives.

The other major historical turning point in the Progressive Era was the Great Depression. According to Shultz (2012, p. 388), the Great Depression involved three key events; internal weakness in the American economy, the stock market crash, and the European economy. As a result of the above major events that occurred in the Great Depression America lost huge amount of dollars as many business were affected. The first event in the Great Depression occurred between the periods of 1929 to 1933 where over 9,000 financial institutions were closed. As a result of this closure, many business investments went down or collapsed. In addition, the country’s Gross National Product declined nearly by half. The level of unemployment rates also was affected as it dropped from 3.2% to 25% in 1933. Employment relationships were affected as continues increase of large-scale organizations meant that workers no longer operated together in close quarters. The long-term expansion in organizations continued to decline a large share of employment, and as a result attracted thousands of new immigrants to work in the mines, shops, and factories.  Indeed, the economic changes and growth created many challenges to the Americans. In another perspective to mitigate the economy, Theodore Roosevelt created a reputation as a reformer when his Justice Department began demanding mergers and pressing for separation of large organizations.

In order to mitigate the effects caused by the Great Depression during the Progressive Era, the government came up with effective array of new policies. This allowed the federal government to increase their regulation of international trade, create a central bank, and started to apply its antitrust policies to large organizations. In addition, the labor regulations were expanded and new forms of social insurance were developed. Additionally, during the Progressive Era, the local government expanded their regulations and ownership of different utilities and developed a number of public health facilities. The progressive reforms made available from cities to governments and later to the federal government. It was during the 19th century that saw many towns becoming infamous for haphazard, and corruptions. For example the Tweed Ring City in New York became common with corruption issues. Thus, the Gilded Age reform movement has focused on seeking the right individuals in offices to clean up the issues of corruption. However, due to the Great Depression of the 1890s, the Gilded Age reforms appeared to have been sufficient. As a result, Taxes continued to increase and reformers were attempting to discover how to eradicate some of the administrative problems. Indeed, the progressive solutions during this era focused on administrators as well as moral inadequacies of the politicians.

The Progressive Era guidelines may appear to be more evolutionary that revolutionary, but they had a long-term impact for the American people and economy. Nevertheless, the effort of a number of policies were limited, the Progressive reformers could declare success in achieving long-term goals. The fight for women’s right has enabled many to secure a job and be part of the voters. Many women today are enjoying the rights passed during the Progressive Era. Even though, there are issues associated with equal rights and pay, still a major progress was made to allow women to vote, be educated and enter into the working group.

Additionally, the adoption of the income tax reforms eliminated a key constraint on the federal government in its effort to collect revenue. This research paper have found that The Progressive Era in America was an era of social political and activism reform that occurred from the mid-1980s to early 1920s. The major events that occurred during the progressive era were meant to purify the government, through attempting to eliminate corruption that caused The Great Depression and offer equal voting rights to women. 

Work Cited

Higgs, R. (1987).  Crisis and Leviathon.  New York:  Oxford University Press. 

Schultz, S. K. (1999). Crashing Hopes: The Great Depression. American History 102: Civil War to the Present. U.S: University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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