Achievements During the Progressive Era
This era was a pivotal time because it led to new social and economic change for many individuals. Industrialization paved the way for monopolies because urban cities were overpopulated with immigrants who escaped religious persecutions and Black southerners who fled racial discrimination during the Great Migration. Wealthy industrialists profited by taking advantage of laborers and mistreating them poorly. Eventually, the public heard about it because of upcoming social reforms like Progressivism and muckraking. These newer reforms publicized political corruption through journalism, media, and advocated labor laws. The Progressivism movement was similarly like the Populist Platform, which attempted to improve working landowners and farmer’s rights by ending corruption. However, Progressivists were more advanced because they promoted unity for all workers and many were women associations who fought for the legislation. Resultantly, women gained more personal advantages of social equality and political representation. This time period was marked by many societal changes which reshaped America’s welfare because of the increasing diversity and prosperity.
The nation’s economic improvement during urban industrialization was greatly attributable to Robber Barons like Rockefeller and Carnegie. They were businessmen who greatly benefitted by monopolizing the oil and railroad industries. Many, like Carnegie, provided contributions indirectly because he claimed that, “the best means of benefiting the community is[was] to place within its reach the ladders upon which the aspiring can rise-...” (Andrew Carnegie, “The Gospel of Wealth”, p.32). Therefore, his and others’ philanthropy positively impacted the nation’s public welfare because the facilities provided education and recreation for the less fortunate and children. However, there were also negative outcomes that followed industrialists’ success because they promoted political corruption and antidemocratic beliefs of inequality in the laboring system. Nonetheless, industrial enterprises influenced Americans because they promoted consumerism and public welfare by manufacturing more goods, which in return boosted the economy.
During the Gilded Age, the first foundation that attempted to restore democracy for the working community was known as the Populist Party. They believed the government should protect agrarian workers against industrial corruption by increasing railroad prices. The alliance viewed, “Transportation being[as] a means of exchange and public necessity, the government should own and operate the railroads in the interest of the people '' (The World Almanac “The Populist Platform” p. 53). This platform reshaped society because it gave the working-class hope and the Populist’s propositions greatly influenced the future generation of laborers. So, their pre-existing plans were carried forward in the Progressive Era and muckrakers highlighted laborers’ oppression through journalism; which became a turning point for labor strikes, unions, and new legislation. Also, popular organizations like the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World) were vastly increasing and included immigrants, Blacks, and females. The IWW advocated for antitrust laws and freedom of speech because employers initially prohibited unions. As a result, laborers gained economically and socially because they were allowed to unionize and received higher wages. Nationally, it improved social ethics in the workforce and promoted economic prosperity through a redistribution of wealth.
The Progressivism movement’s leading supporters were women who fought for laborers’ rights, intentionally to gain personal suffrage and expand their current working roles. This was the perfect opportunity for women’s emancipation because they gained respect from male laborers and already ruled jurisdiction in the household. Conservative associations like the National Woman's Suffrage Association only advocated for suffrage because they believed it was enough. However, radicalized feminist groups argued otherwise on the importance of contributing economic value because women worked hard and expressed that, “Economic independence for women necessarily involves a change in the home and family relation” (Charlotte Perkins Gilman, “Women and Economics”, p.79). This demonstrated how feminist like Gilman were role models for upcoming females because they encouraged societal changes with nurseries and housekeepers to free women from housing duties. This began the societal transformation of women because gender equality and family incomes increased. Overall, women joining the Progressivism movement greatly benefited the nation politically and economically because employment soared, businesses profited, and diversity increased in the workplace and education system.
In conclusion, the Progressive Era was marked significantly by social equality, economic expansion, and political freedom. Industrialists were the main beneficiaries in the Gilded Age and succeeded this period because they profited through corruption and monopolization. Due to this, economic production grew and national welfare increased because industrialists donated public educational and recreational facilities. Also, the Progressivism Era was a major turning point for laborers because muckrakers exposed monopolies and labor organizations advocated for antitrust laws and equality. As a result, laborers greatly benefitted from the higher wages and better treatment, which allowed the economy to profit from greater production and consumerism. Afterwards, women gained respect from male laborers and many returned the favor in regards to women’s suffrage. Women then occupied jobs in male dominated industries and were employed for more political and working roles. Ultimately, the success achieved by these groups reshaped society because economic wealth was moderately redistributed and diversity increased in both the workforce and political platforms.