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Industrial Conditions: Urban Life Essay

How successful were progressive reforms during the period 1890-1915 with respect to TWO of the following? Industrial conditions; urban life; politics.The late 19th century and early 20th century were marked by a period of reforms known as Progressivism. During this time, leaders of Progressive reforms aimed to improve American lives by instigating changes that would influence politics and urban lifestyles. Progressivism generally helped improve the everyday life and reduced corruption within the nations legislations.

During the Progressive Era, President Theodore Roosevelt adapted in 1904 what was known as the Square Deal program. This was the main program that outlined business relationships between the corporate leaders and the industrial workers and that fairness and equality would preside over the connection. However, in order to prevent a communistic society and maintain competition in the economy, Roosevelt did not eliminate all trusts. He declared that there were some good trusts, along with the bad ones. The good trusts were those that were free from corruption and would generally maintain a fair and just relationship between employer and employee.

The program included the Sherman Antitrust Act, which demanded that the trusts be judged by the acts they have committed. This act successfully signaled the end of corrupt trusts, along with the passing of the Elkins Act. The Elkins Act prevented the rich and the well known to benefit and receive rebates on the railways. The Elkins Act forced the railroads to create an equal rate for people of all walks of life and it could not be subject to change. In the coal strike of 1902, hundreds of thousands of Americans refused to work in the mines without improvements to working conditions. With the support of Progressive reforms, Roosevelt successfully improved the working environment by instituting a nine-hour workday and a 10% increase in wages. The Square Deal program also marked the end of laissez-faire, which meant an increase in federal power and consequently, an improvement to urban life.

In addition to improving daily life, progressives also wanted to reduce corruption in the federal government and increase democratic ideas. Progressives were unsatisfied by the way the United State government was ran at the time, since it did not represent the direct voice of the citizens. They wanted several reforms and changes to be made, such as recall, in which the people could remove officials from office with a public vote. This would successfully reduce corrupt power within state legislations. Taking it to a national level, progressive leaders also demanded direct primary elections and direct elections of Senators. In the past, many of the political bosses decided whom the candidates would be for each party by letting the people vote for the party nominations, the actual candidates would be a much better representation for the people.

Many progressives depicted the Senate as being run by political bosses, each representing the views and notions of different major corporations. The 17th Amendment was eventually passed, which allowed citizens to direction vote for their Senators, rather than the state officials. This also increased the voice of the people rather than the voice of the corporate leaders. In addition to direct elections, Progressivism also pushed towards womens suffrage. This ensured that political officials elected into the office do represent the voice of the entire nation, not just that of men. The 19th Amendment was passed in 1920 and granted universal suffrage.

Progressivism successfully ended the reign of trusts and monopolies. Power was stripped from the corrupt urban machines and placed in the hands of everyday citizens. Lives improved as working conditions improved; corruption disappeared as the federal government began taking charge; the period of Progressive reformed marked an era of true progress.

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