Connor Richard Document Based Question 1/28/18 Mr. Jeffers Period 8 Within America during the late 1800’s, a rapid expansion of industrialization modernized cities and brought life to many new jobs. However, with this movement sprung up complications that forced the long overdue changes and reforms within government as well as society and social structure as a whole. These Government reforms sparked an era of progressivism, bringing about new laws and regulations from the backlash of factors such as muckraking, unions and protests, and shifting political views as well as the formation of entirely new political parties. Muckraking, a term coined by theodore roosevelt, refers to a style of reporting that involved the action of searching out and publicizing scandalous information about famous people and or businesses and corporations, in an underhanded way.
This style of reporting became very popular among the middle class majority, and therefore exposing truths such as many large companies unlawful business practices, or terrible mistreatment of people, became a commonplace and best seller in the world of news. One of the most famous cases of muckraking was from Upton Sinclair’s book “the jungle”. This book, which became the best seller very soon after it hit the shelves, depicted a scandal within the meat-packing industry that uncovered the unsanitary handling of meats and even distribution of spoiled and rotten meat to the public. Eventually, other news sources began to put out the word on these investigations that often uncover grotesque truths. In an article from the Sunday Globe in 1906, they released a visual that depicted president roosevelt taking hold of the investigation of the packing-house scandal, by raking through muck and holding his nose, as a metaphor for the term that he coined for this type of investigative reporting. This image being accompanied with the caption “A nauseating job, but it must be done a nauseating job, but it must be done.” (Document 1). This article released displayed the need for an intervention and investigation within businesses that perform unlawful or shady business ventures as it can be a danger to society, based on what cases have been uncovered already.
Following this case, President Roosevelt released several laws that led to enhanced consumers protections such as the pure food and drug act, and the meat inspection act, both passed in 1906 immediately after the incident. Another form of muckraking reporting was exposing mistreatment and disregard of people’s health and conditions, that were not in a business setting. For example in the text “How the Other Half Lives” by Jacob Riis, he investigates and reports on the lives of impoverished or low income families attempting to survive in the newly industrialized cities of the 1890’s. Through his investigations he discovered that “hundreds of men, women, and children are every day slowly starving to death in the tenements.” (Document 5). Within his text, Riis goes on to explain how many people even began going crazy while living in the squalor of these tenements and many murders were reported within these less wealthy parts of the cities.
With this life commonly unknown to people outside of the socioeconomic class finally being revealed, it sparked municipal reform for smaller bodies of government to better take care of their people effectively, as well as sparked city beautification movements that made people keep the city clean and more of a fashionable over functional look. This muckraking reporting put unlawful functions within the society on blast, forcing a change to improve the quality of living. Although many problems were still prevalent and unwavering within this newly industrializing nation, it was a push that was heavily needed to enact a change in several municipalities. and further the intentions of the progressivism era. Aside from hidden mistreatments in workplaces and government being exposed and worked out, workers took action to fight against injustice that was not such as hidden, but was equally as dangerous.
Several court cases arose to attempt to sort out the laws of workplace for laborers of factories and corporations, that were most commonly mistreated. In a famous case in 1908 called Muller v. Oregon, Muller sued to attempt to acquire shorter working hours for women in the workplace, especially when their health state is at a variable such as the state of being pregnant.
From the case, the verdict rose that “Woman’s physical structure and the performance of material functions place her at a disadvantage in the struggle for subsistence” as well as “the physical well-being of woman becomes an object of public interest and care in order to preserve the strength and vigor of the race” (Document 2). This trial created rules that allowed women modified working hours, especially for those in a bad health state. Trials like these to gain more rights within the workplace setting became much more popular, leading to other trials such as Lochner v. New York which was a landmark US labor law case in the US Supreme Court, holding that limits to working time violated the Fourteenth Amendment, that has since been overturned. Workplaces were one of the biggest reform projects in the progressivism era. Several mass workers unions were formed, such as the Knights of Labor (1869), and American Federation of Labor (1886), to combat bad treatment and fight for rights within the workplace. With such a heavy backing from the population, the government started to make moves to increase the quality of life as a laborer.
In a Democratic Party Platform address of 1912, it is stated for workers that “The expanding organization of industry makes it essential that there should be no abridgment of the right of the wage earners and produces to organize for the protection of wages and the improvement of labor conditions” (Document 6). Within this address, the party also states the enactment of a law creating a department of labor, that is represented in the president’s cabinet. Although a huge shift for society, and a huge win for laborers and wage earners, it was not without lots of effort to get to that point. Within this labor movements came much defeat, such as the Homestead strike of 1892, where workers fighting at carnegie steel plant were defeated; The pullman strike of 1894, a battle in which President Cleveland uses the army and court injunction to defeat the strike; as well as the terrible divisions among the labor force from skilled and unskilled workers, and the ethnic lines drawn, which caused conflict all in itself, and hindered the progression of the movement.
However the event that pushed the government over the edge to be aware of the absolute need for reform was the triangle shirtwaist factory fire. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City on March 25, 1911 was the deadliest industrial disaster in the history of the city, and one of the deadliest in US history. Because of poor business practices, and no reform laws to regulate what happens within the factory building, a fire was able to break out, leaving the hundreds of women and children that were inside trapped, with no place to go but either burn or jump to their deaths. This topic became one that riled up the public and brought forth to the government the need for reform and regulation in businesses and factories.
Along with businesses, the government took on its own reforms as well, such as the complete change of the U.S. Banking System. A financial panic in 1907 had revealed the need for a central bank, but few people could agree on the exact nature of the reforms. Eventually the New U.
S. Banking system was announced. From an article within the Dallas Dispatch, talking about the act passed in 1913, it depicted a map of the United states, and showed the “Federal Reserve Districts and Cities” (document 7). This act created a federal reserve system which was made as a compromise for as many party interests as possible. In creating the federal reserve system, it was the first reorganization of the banking system since the civil war, the bill provided for 12 federal reserve banks and a federal reserve board appointed by the president, the bill also created a flexible currency based on federal reserve notes that could be expanded or contracted as the situation required, to attempt to pull back from that state of panic the country was previously in. The federal reserve system was not without its flaws, as later developments would show; but it was an improvement, and it appealed to the part of the progressive movement that sought order and efficiency. Along with reforms in governments laws, the way government was structured and how it was ran began to change as well.
Along with new problems arising for society in an industrialized world, new opinions and oppositions formed within government, creating a stronger dynamic and eventually leading to the creation of new political parties. Theodore Roosevelt was a common political leader of his time period, and the views that he stood by even began to become their own political party as the people backed his opinions. In a speech at John Brown Memorial Park on August 21, 1910, Theodore Roosevelt states that “I stand for the square deal.
But when I say that I am for the square deal, I mean not merely that I stand for fair play under the present rules of the game, but that I stand for having those rules changed so as to work for a more substantial equality of opportunity and of reward for equally good service.” (Document 3). Within this Theodore Roosevelt talks about the square deal, this was a domestic policy, proposed by Theodore himself, and was based on three basic ideas: protection of the consumer, control of large corporations, and conservation of natural resources. With Roosevelt’s opinions and ideas being innovative and nation altering, he got continued support from the population that began to build a political party around him.
Eventually the Bull Moose Party, (also known as the progressive party) was formed with Roosevelt at its head. The platform of the Bull Moose Party was to be true to Roosevelt’s progressive beliefs, the platform of the party called for major reforms including women’s suffrage, social welfare assistance for women and children, farm relief, revisions in banking, health insurance in industries, and worker’s compensation. The progressive party acquired its slang name as the Bull Moose Party when Roosevelt was nominated as the party’s presidential candidate, he famously stated he felt ‘fit as a bull moose. The name stuck and the Bull moose party was formed. With this, the party grew and other figures took a role of leadership within the party. People such as Jane Addams, who participated in the presidential election of 1912, said that when asked why she is a progressive, stated that “The social reforms that I had been working for, and the legislation for women for which I had been working, is put at last into practical politics.
“(Document 4). While this political party took well to its new popularity, other parties began to arise from this. Political powers such as the socialist party formed, with differing views from that of the progressives.
The socialist party formed from what was originally a labor union party in 1897 known as the Socialist labor party, then formed into the Socialist Party of America in 1901. This group had the same views with progressives on topics such as minimum wage and workers compensation proposals, however differed in views on topics such as the public ownership of railroads, utilities, oil, and steel. This party’s views were molded by the ideology of socialism, as it was against the capitalistic ways the nation was being ran by.
The Socialist party and the Bull Moose party were two of the strongest contenders within the election of 1912, as their views reflected new and prevalent problems in the society. During the time of progressivism with in the United States, many changes were made to how society, businesses, and the government functions; all in an effort to better the way of life in society and the liberties of its people. Many other reforms such as the Sherman Antitrust act, Interstate Commerce Act, Forest Reserve Act, Mann-Elkins Act, and many others between 1860 to 1920 all added civil liberties and protections to the rights of people, and the national land.
However, without the persistence of intuitive muckraking reporters, the bravery of the strong laborers and workers of this country, and the audacity of leaders to speak on their personal beliefs, these freedoms would have never been granted for the people, and the government’s role would have no shift, as it did when addressing the complications of the Progressive Era.