The Progressive Movement

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate February 2002

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The progressive movement consisted of a diverse group of middle and upper-class Americans engaging in the social reform. Their general purpose was to make society a better world to be in. Whether it concerned women suffrage, political corruption or the conservation of natural resources, these activists fought to make society recognize these concepts as being national priorities. This unification of mostly democrats and republicans started an ideology at some point around the turn of the 20th century.

Progressives identified many problems in American society at the time and it would be pointless to start listing them all. Instead, it is better to talk about the general ideas. As Lincoln Steffens mentioned, any demand that the people create will ultimately be resolved. All the people had to do was to follow their conscience when voting and create a unified demand for good government itself. In return, that should have created a solution for many of the problems faced by society once an honest government was in control.

The only problem with all this was that a lot of people didn't want good government for obviously selfish reasons such as turning in a higher profit due to shady business practices.

Progressives proposed to resolve these problems through the use of many tactics. Literature was a popular way of getting the word around and a form of muckraking. Resolving disputers in court was very effective. The famous Plessy v. Ferguson case established that blacks and whites were equal but didn't yet feel like it due to the segregation. Nevertheless, it was a vital step. There were many ways in which the "public good" was promoted. Whether it was reform or simply a bold statement heard loud and clear, it was getting the job done.

Progressive views of race, class, and gender identity made...