Progressivism has been an astounding phenomenon in the history of United States. It involves reform movement that was realized in U.S. in the 20th Century. According to Divine et al. (2012), progressivism is a social and political movement which incorporates impulses, ideas and matters that sprout from the modernized American society. As it emerged towards the end of 19th Century, most of the operations in the US political activities articulated to the ideology of progressiveness. Four key factors characterize progressiveness in the contemporary society: democracy, efficiency, social justice and regulations. In the case of democracy, progressiveness ensured that the individuals, both in public and private sector, aired their views without favor or discrimination. It also focused on majority rule where transparency and accountability in the operations of the political activities. Secondly, in efficiency, progressiveness ensured that educated technocrats undertook business activities in the economy, which will be free from political influence (Divine et al., 2012). Finally, social justice and regulations was embodied in the economy and it was required to harness better conditions and working hours, labor laws that restrict child labor and safe working conditions for every citizen.
Roosevelt relied on progressiveness in harnessing the growth of presidential power. He formulated Pure Food and Drug Act, which facilitated inspection of the drug contents and medications across the economy. This facilitated the health sector with secure and safe drug dissemination thereby increasing the operations of the economy. In addition, Roosevelt also initiated trust buster where business activities and operations were modernized and consumers were encouraged to purchase commodities through restructuring the taxation system. Roosevelt also boosted the revenue system through imposition of fines and penalties to companies involved in Railroad business operations. Finally, he facilitated the expansion of navy—all these were aimed at realizing progressiveness in the society (Divine et al., 2012).
Howard Taft continued from where Roosevelt had left on realization and safeguarding progressiveness. He ensured that the policy on ‘Square Deal’—initially enacted by Roosevelt—was achieved (Divine et al., 2012). The policy aimed at striking a balance between employees and employers in the social sector and progressives and conservatives. However, the policy’s objectives were not to be realized as it was impossible to satisfy the demands of everyone in the society. Taft had purported to incline on satisfying conservatives rather than balancing between progressives and conservatives. In his government, it was clear that imbalances existed as majority of his administration were conservatives. Taft’s administration focused on antitrust suits unlike Roosevelt.
On the other hand, Wilson created Federal Child labor law which was in-line with the progressiveness mandates. The law illegalized shipments between states of commodities produced by children who have not attained the age of majority (Divine et al., 2012). In addition, he implemented Farm Loans Rural Credit Act which provided loans to farmers at a lower interest rate. With accessibility of financial assistance, small scale farmers boosted their production level, and they also indulged in modernized farming mechanisms as funds were available. Finally, Wilson implemented Adamson Act which allowed workers to work 8 hours daily especially railroad employees who were working more than 12 hours per day.
WWI was the pinnacle of progressivism. After the end of WWI, the federal government power expanded. Industrial and agricultural activities were regulated and Railroad operations were nationalized. Federal government created quotas on industrial and agricultural products. Such regulation demonstrated the progressive ideology in the 20th and 21st century.
Divine, R., Breen T. H., Hal Williams R., Gross A. & Brands H. W. (2012). America: Past and Present, Volume 2 10th Edition, New Jersey: Pearson College Division.
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