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Progressive Reformers Essay

597 words - 3 pages

From the 1890’s to the 1920’s, a new movement occurred, known as the Progressive movement. The main goal of this movement was to spread awareness of major issues to American citizens and ultimately, to discover solutions to major social, economic, and political problems. Eventually, the social reformers were successful, because of the changes brought to the workplace and the betterment of living conditions in large cities.

During the early 1890’s, many companies had poor working conditions. These included long workdays, child labor, and no payment for injuries on the job. Social reformers used muckraking, or digging up scandalous information, to put the word out about these issues. One famous muckraker was Upton Sinclair, writer for the Chicago Tribune and author of The Jungle. His works, particularly The Jungle exposed the terrible working conditions of the meat packing industry ...view middle of the document...

Hardy, while a law was passed in Oregon stating women could work only eight hours a day. During this time, the Bureau of Labor Children’s Bureau was formed, and child labor was outlawed by the Keating- Owen Act. Though this bill was eventually repealed, it set an important precedent for child labor. Another act passed gave compensation to workers injured during their job. Overall, these reforms were foundations for the labor laws present today, and were very successful.

As America became more industrialized than ever before, living conditions in large cities decreased drastically. Food and water was impure, there was little to no sanitation, and alcohol was being overused. In addition to showing the horrors of working conditions in the meatpacking industry, Sinclair also portrayed the poor quality of food, showing rats within the plants, and displaying everything that went into meat. This disgusted many, and to this effect the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was formed, as a way to ensure the purity of food and water. The Pure Food and Drug Act, the first consumer protection law, was passed in 1906, along with the Federal Meat Inspection Act. This act required the correct labeling of meat, and forced companies to process meat under sanitary conditions. Within this time, was the prohibition of alcohol, made law in the Eighteenth Amendment, because of overuse. Some of the main supporters of the amendment were Women’s Christian Temperance Union and the Anti Saloon League.

The Progressive Movement was caused by the growth and industrialization of the American economy. During this period, millions of people immigrated to the United States. Most of these immigrants could not find a decent job, so they were forced to work in factories with poor working conditions for low wages. They also lived in small, overcrowded neighborhoods, with little sanitation and impure food, risking their health. To escape these problems, many turned to alcohol. However, muckrakers and other social reformers compelled change, bringing better wages and working conditions, better food, and ultimately, a better life, a life of hope.

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