Progressive Era and Gilded Age

Essay by leftylion8High School, 11th gradeA+, July 2004

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During the Gilded Age, the time after the Civil War, large corporations and trusts controlled much of the economy and most of the government. Monopolies sprouted from every corner of the U.S. economy including the Vanderbilts, Rockafellers, Carnagies, and etc. The Progressive Era, the response to the Gilded Age and its exploitation, was a widespread reform of economics and social and political aspects of America. The movements during the Progressive Era succeeded tremendously, in the categories of Presidential leadership, political reform, business and labor reform and urban and social reform. Muckrakers were the first of the Progressives, average citizens pushing for change to better the American people, and were a group of reporters who dug up the dirt or muck of the monopolies and the harsh practices of trusts, such muckrakers as Upton Sinclair, Ida Tarbell, and Lincoln Steffens. Presidential leadership was first put into practice by Teddy Roosevelt who with William Taft, and Woodrow Wilson who fought for business and labor reform.

Urban and social reform was a major focus of the Progressives, including women's suffrage, and the conservation of natural beauties such as Yosemite.

Teddy Roosevelt, William Taft and Woodrow Wilson are credited with having immense Presidential leadership. Roosevelt saw much danger to competition and the welfare of the American people in trusts that monopolize an industry and therefore pushed for business and labor reform. He ordered his first antitrust suit of forty-four, under his policy, the Sherman Act to dissolve Northern Securities Company. William Taft followed Roosevelt with business and labor reform, in his term as President. He broke up over 60 trusts with the Sherman Act, believing that small business should not be intimidated by big business. Although Taft was not considered as strong a President as Teddy, because of Taft's belief in Presidential restraint...