The Progressive Movement

1. What was the “social and intellectual context” of the Progressive Movement?

The Progressive Era was a time when numerous local and federal reforms took place, because the country simply could not do without any changes whatsoever – there was a rapid industrialization and urban growth to deal with. The progressives believed in professional expertise, modernization and democracy as “the rule of the people”, and an influential group of journalists known as “the muckrakers” confronted corruption and oppression at every step and raised the public awareness of the difficult social and political issues. Pro-modern ideas similarly prevailed in education and science ushering in the era of rapid intellectual and scientific progress (Ackermann 307-8).

2. How did Theodore Roosevelt change the role of American government and help fuel the expansion of the American Empire?

During the years of his presidency, Theodore Roosevelt was a staunch supporter ofthe Progressivism ideas. He helped push forward the dissolution of the monopolist trusts and was the first president to promote nature conservation. He played an active role in public discussions making himself and the government popular. His most important act in foreign policy was the acquisition of the strategically important Panama Canal by supporting a local revolution. In 1904, TR issued his Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine, which, in effect, allowed the USA to act as a peacemaker in the Western Hemisphere (Mowat 557-8).

3. What roles did women play in the reform movement?

One of the culminating achievements of the Progressive Era was the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution, ratified in 1920, which gave the US women the right to vote, though it took a lot of time and effort for the women’s suffrage movement finally to come to a success. During the Progressive Era, activists such as Carrie Chapman Catt and Lucy Burns led numerous female rights campaigns and protests throughout the country, while female journalists such as Ida Tarbell exposed social injustice in its numerous forms (Ackermann 413-14).

4. Describe the election of 1912 and the progressive reforms of the Wilson Administration.

The presidency of W. H. Taft was not as successful as that of his predecessor, and a split occurred inside the Republican Party, which led Theodore Roosevelt to form his Progressive Party in 1912 and make a comeback as a candidate for presidency. This split gave a great advantage to the Democrats, whose candidate Woodrow Wilson won the election with a large majority. The same as Theodore Roosevelt, he shared the ideals of the Progressive movement, and went on to implement his own program called “New Freedom”, in accordance with which he supported women’s suffrage, reduced tariffs, established a tax on income and created the Federal Reserve System (Ackermann 412; Mowat 560-1).

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