Introduction Progressivism was accelerated by many factors between the 19th and the 20th century in the United States of America. Industrialization led many Americans workers into abject poverty, the factories exhausted their laborers, and even some of the workers lost their lives in the process. The workers were poorly treated by the corporate businesses to the extent of making worse payment to workers who toiled for a long time (McGerr, 2005). Corruption in the country was motivated by the corrupt government official and hence the objective of progressive movement was to change the political system of the United States of America (De Witt, 2012). The progressive movement was very helpful in making a modern American nation, a nation that became an example to many countries. The movement had the views of Americans at heart for allowing all Americans an equal opportunity to succeed in life, a move that pushed the middle men and women in the United States to act so as to improve the government and the economy as they believed that the changes would be beneficial to all the Americans. What caused the Progressive Movement?
The progressive movement was a response to several challenges facing the Americans. The Spoil System Bribery, for instance, was one of the major factors that led to the progressive movement (McGerr, 2005). The system ensured that the elected politicians in the United States of America only appointed their supporters and the friends for the top government opportunities, irrespective of their qualifications. Under the system, the government of the United States of America accommodated unqualified and dishonest employees. Zytowski, (2001) states that only the individuals that helped the politicians to secure their elective posts were rewarded yet the majority of the individuals that were against their election lived under abject poverty as they were unable to secure government jobs during that particular time. The adverse consequence of the system was that corruption intensified in the United States of America as the dishonest government officials used their positions fro their personal gain. Poor people were forced to part with their little wealth to access the free government facilities such as transportation, medication, education among many other services offered by the government of the United States of America (Chesler, 2007). To counter this, the poor people and the middle-class individuals combined together to form reform organizations. The objective of the organizations was to help individuals combat the government to change its political system that was very exploitative. The few elites were able to mobilize the majority of individuals by educating them on the need to have the government that considers equality for all of its citizens.
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The second force behind the progressive movement was that most of the factory workers had to work for a long period under poor working conditions, and they were not entitled to job security, implying that an employer was the one who determined the fate of their job. Most of the workers lost their jobs in the process, or some were forced to embrace the sharp pay cuts by their employers (Morgen, 2002). The activists of the progressive movement, especially the middle-class individuals found the working conditions unfavorable for most of the employees in the United States of America. Employees were spending a lot of time at work place and at the same time earning little out of their hard labor.
Since most of the government officials were corrupt, most of the workers were exploited by the firms as the government officials were bribed by the firms. In response to counter the problem, America Federation of Labor was established with the objective of helping the poor laborers (McGerr, 2005). The movement gained a lot of political strength as most of the socialists and immigrants joined it. This progressive movement forced the government to establish labor regulations that governed the manufacturing companies in the United States of America (De Witt, 2012). The progressive movement also coerced the State to pass labor laws that provided the minimum wage for both men and women, the maximum working hours and restricted the child labor. Additionally, the government also was able to establish a regulation that prevented the manufacturing companies from exploiting the convicted individuals as a source of labor.
The increase in the number of female reformers and activists was a major boost to the progressive movement in the United States of America. Maternalists on the special needs of children and women in the society a move that was a major blow to the manufacturing companies where women were exploited and child labor widely practiced. The organization such as Women Christian Association and Woman's Christian Temperament Union were a major boost to the progressive movement (Morgen, 2002). The opportunity gave women the chance to exercise power and to engage in the country's politics a move that ignited the fight for their rights and that of other citizens in the United States of America.
The wealthy and middle-class women in the United States energetically addressed the social programs in place that were affecting both women and children. The opportunity to form clubs and organization gave women the chance to understand the challenges facing the industrial society. Hence, they were able to devise a way on how to empower other women who were suffering from the obsolete rule of the society and the government system that only offered certain men job opportunities. The move changed the political system of the United States such that women also were able to advocate for their justice in the society by joining into the political arena of the country. Before the progressive movement, the country's politics were only controlled by men from the upper-class. The progressive movement was very important as it changed all the stereotypes in politics and absorbed superior women who were able to transform the economy of the United States from the worse for the better in the long run (De Witt, 2012).
According to McGerr (2005), the progressives were individuals especially the middle-class who had the objective of applying the principles of their professions to solve the challenges that were facing an American society. With the establishment of the progressive movement, corrupt people in the country were openly attacked, and the political scandals were displayed to the general public. Another force behind the progressive movement was the increase in the political reformers and the socialists in the United States of America. The group normally comprised of the frustrated employees who promised to get rid of capitalism in the United States (McGerr, 2005).
Another force behind the progressive movement was the establishment of the child labor reforms in the United States. The American Federation of Labor was then established to prevent child labor in all the manufacturing companies in the Unites States. The new regulation ensured that the companies did not make use of children under the age of 14 years (Morgen, 2002). This a major boost for the progressive movement since most of the manufacturing companies was exploiting child laborers and paying them less out of their hard labor. Since the purpose of the progressive movement was to empower the few minority groups in the United States, the ban on the child labor was a stepping stone towards rejecting other draconian rules of the state and the corporate firms.
The American Federation of Labor ensured that no worker was exploited or discriminated on the basis of sex, color, race or class. The majority of the politicians was benefiting from the child labor, trade and hence, the ban implied that the political system of the country was greatly influenced as the ban was able to cut down their main source of income. Though at the initial stage, the move for the ban received a lot of friction from the beneficiaries, it was boosted by the increased number of empowered women and activists who came to end child exploitation by the manufacturing companies (De Witt, 2012).
In conclusion, the progressive movement was facilitated by several factors in the United States of America. The emergence of women activists who had the objective of fighting the traditional gender norms played a very important role in the formation of the progressive movement. After the industrial revolution, most of the workers had to toil hard to earn a living as they had to work long hours and receive the payment that did not much their work. Workers were also forced to work under harsh and unfavorable working condition a move that led to the regrouping of the workers to fight for their rights.
Workers organization was established with the objective of preventing further exploitation by the commercial industries. As workers formed the organization, most of the reformers and progressives emerged and advocated for the empowerment of women, end of labor exploitation and child labor. Additionally, since only a few individuals who helped the politicians elected was the beneficiary of the political system, the remaining individuals formed groups that helped in changing the government laws and the political landscape of the country. The movement had the views of Americans at heart for allowing all Americans an equal opportunity to succeed in life, a move that pushed the middle men and women in the United States to act so as to improve the government and the economy as they believed that the changes would be beneficial to all the Americans.
Chesler, E. (2007). Woman of valor: Margaret Sanger and the birth control movement in America . London: Simon and Schuster.
De Witt, B. P. (2012). The Progressive Movement: A Non-Partisan Comprehensive Discussion of Current Tendencies in American Politics . New York: Transaction Publishers.
McGerr, M. E. (2005). A fierce discontent: The rise and fall of the progressive movement in America, 1870-1920 . Oxford: Oxford University Press..
Morgen, S. (2002). Into our own hands: The women's health movement in the United States, 1969-1990 . Rutgers University Press.
Zytowski, D. G. (2001). Frank Parsons and the progressive movement. The career development quarterly , 50 (1), 57-65.