During the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, there were a lot of injustices in the United States. The Progressive Movement, which began in the late 1800’s attempted to bring about government reforms and correct injustices in America.
One example of the problem in the U.S. was over population of the American cities. More and more people began to move cities from rural areas for jobs. As you can see in Document I, the cities were overcrowded and the infrastructure could not hold up with the influx of people moving to urban areas. The people lived in overcrowded housing developments that were dirty and poor.
There was also abuse in industries. This was exposed by Upton Sinclair
(Document 2). One of his most well known novels was The Jungle, which showed the abuse in the meat packing industry. He uncovered how the people would take extremely spoiled meat and use it as sausage or put it in to a can. They also used all parts of the meat and even rats were found to be in the meat. By writing this book, Sinclair was able to expose the corruption in the industry of meat packing, and Congress passed the Meat Inspection Act.
A position change brought about the declining numbers of children between the ages of ten and fifteen who worked. In Document 3, you can see by the chart that the number of children working decreased by 6.8% from 1890 to 1920. Children were often used as cheap labor and were abused greatly. The government was able to reduce the number of working children under sixteen during this period of time because many states passed children labor laws.
Around this time, big businesses came to power. As shown in Document 4, there were many abuses in businesses. The people who ran and formed these industries/trusts/businesses, such as Andrew Carnegie, Rockefeller, and Henry Ford. They acted like the big bosses and held control of much of the U.S. industry. In Document 5, Teddy Roosevelt explained how he felt about how these big businesses (oil, steel, copper, etc.) should be regulated if they are only in it for the money and power. Teddy Roosevelt became known as a “trust-buster” because he enforced the Sherman Antitrust Act.
During the late 1800’s the Progressive Party was formed. They wanted to bring about change in the U.S. One of their main goals included the reforming of industries. In
Document 6, their platform is partly shown. Under their platform, they wanted to prevent accidents, diseases acquired on the job, and unemployment. They further wanted to have better health and safety centers, and minimum wage.
In 1913, the 17th Amendment was added to the Constitution (Document 7). When the Constitution was first written in 1787, the senators were elected by legislators. In order to make the selection of senators more democratic, the 17th amendment was added. It said that senators would be elected by people from each state, not by the legislature. This is why we now have candidates that campaign for seats in the senates to the people. By adding this amendment to the Constitution, it made the U.S. more democratic.
Women suffrage also took place during this time. People like Susan B. Anthony (Document 8) and Elizabeth Cady Stanton worked and campaigned for women to be allowed to vote. Susan B. Anthony used the preamble of the Constitution to argue her case. She stated that the Constitution said “We the people…” not ‘We the men…'” She said the Constitution was written for all people, not just men. Her efforts eventually paid off, and the 19th amendment was passed in 1922 allowing women to work.
In conclusion there were many injustices in the U.S. from the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s. The Progressive Movement help to bring about more change as did the government. Teddy Roosevelt tried the limit the abuses of big businesses, and women suffrage was granted, and the meat packing industry was exposed. With each time comes problems but with activists some are changed and reformed. During this time period, there were a lot of injustices and issues, many of which were discovered, addressed, and reformed.
Courtney from Study Moose
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