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Fast industrialization and urban development, according to Brinkley was ultimately becoming a growing national predicament for citizens of the United States of America, particularly at the end of the nineteenth century. Chaos was an impending future if order and justice on American society would not be rapidly addressed. In order to combat this crisis issue of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, progressivism was imperatively instituted. Both Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson used progressive tactics to further their presidential success.
Progressivism entitled incredible opportunity and diversity that helped produce a significant trend of political and social revolution. Improvements, according to Brinkley were entirely capable through the hard work of progressivists (489). During this time, social matters such as women’s role in society, racial equality, labor rights, immigration impact and cultural diversity were brought up in local public debate thanks to progressivists. These issues gradually became major national societal concerns for the country. Reform, in due course, was in the eventual interests of the presidency rather of Congress.
Theodore Roosevelt was the first active leader of progressivism with Woodrow Wilson as his predecessor. Prior to the twentieth century, the federal government had restricted authorities in American life. Brinkley expresses that with progressivism, the federal government, beginning with the United States’ 1917 rapid influence in World War I, the restructured federal government expanded its domestic operation in the internal American society (487).
Theodore Roosevelt stresses self-government in his speech for domestic reform. Progressivists argued that government should not battle “bigness” but emphasized the importance of recognizing the abuse of large institution’s power.
Regulation by a solid, reconstructed government was deemed critical for American society as economic union was certain to continue to remain a perpetual aspect. Theodore Roosevelt, after 1910, endorsed the theory that managing and organizing economic existence should be played by a more active government supervision role. Roosevelt became, as Brinkley states, briefly one of the most important figures of the national level reform impulse (505). Innocent people were commonly obligated to contribute to the offences of those who are guilty, and which unfortunately, the trouble is felt by every American class, whether it be by their own liability or tribulation. Representation is important of all classes, opposed to the representation of the greedy interests of a specific class. Roosevelt claims that the interests and welfare of all individuals is more important for a healthy republican government, in unison with the American principle, rather than upon sections or classes. Republican government have previously thrived, however ultimately plummeted because citizens lost its initial intention for furthering the people as a whole rather than of one class, which is the reason for the collapse (TR, 2).
According to Brinkley, Roosevelt, rather than compete against his own political party’s leaders, united himself with progressivists who pressed for the regulation of trusts. This allowed Roosevelt to establish himself as a supporter of moderate, nondestructive reform. Investigation of corporations was the center of Roosevelt’s policy for the government as well as publicizing the results (505).
For his reform program, Roosevelt initiated stances to assist the federal government’s authority. Roosevelt, in 1902, enacted the Sherman Antitrust Act in the Justice Department to combat against the Northern Securities Company for its railroad monopoly in the Northwest. When the 1902 strike of United Mine Workers risked the nearing winter coal supplies, Roosevelt pressured mine owners to cooperate with miners and operators during the strike with threats of federal troops seizing the mines. Miners and operators were to accept negotiation given by the federal government. Although the arbitrations were lesser than what the strikers were inquiring, Brinkley utters that the arbitrations were more than what the strikers would have won without the intervention of Roosevelt. They were comprised of a ten percent increase in wages and a nine-hour day limit (506).
After his election victory, Roosevelt’s first focus was the railroad industry. In efforts to police the industry, the Hepburn Railroad Regulation Act of 1906 was established for the Interstate Commerce Commission to recover regulation power of supervising railroad rates to the government. Congress was intimidated by Roosevelt to prohibit unsafe or ineffective medicine sales with the establishment of the Pure Food and Drug Act. The Meat Inspection Act assisted in the elimination of transmitting diseases through contaminated meat after Upton Sinclair published an influential narrative of horrendous meatpacking conditions in his novel, The Jungle, in 1906. Eight-hour work days, compensation of industrial accidents for victim, inheritance and income taxes, and stock market regulation were proposed in 1907 by Roosevelt which the conservative wing opposed (506). The first president who was concerned about American conservation was Theodore Roosevelt. Carefully regulated development policies were promoted by Roosevelt to safeguard land and also defended the National Reclamation Act that was funded by the federal government to construct canals, reservoirs, and dams in the West which later provided inexpensive electric power (Brinkley, 507).
Following Roosevelt’s progressivism and after Taft’s presidency was the progressive Democratic presidential candidate, Woodrow Wilson. After Wilson won the presidential election, his first task was to significantly lower the protective tariff. Progressives considered the cuts from the Underwood-Simmons Tariff substantial enough for American markets to be considered genuine competition, which assisted in the power break of trusts. Congress permitted a graduated income tax that made up for revenue loss of the new progressive tariff. To make up for the loss of revenue under the new tariff, Congress approved a graduated income tax that levied a one percent tax on citizens and corporations that earn more than $4,000 a year.
The Federal Reserve Act was one of Wilson’s major developments of the banking system in the United States. It was passed by Congress for the creation of twelve regional banks to be individually owned and regulated by district banks.
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