The Roles Of Progressivism In The Late 19th And 20th Century

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The progressives consisted of a group of people who were dedicated to reforming the

United States in the late 19th and 20th centuries. The era was termed as progressivism and was

meant to respond to the economic and social issues emanating from industrialization within

America. As stated by Robert Higgs, the period was a “Bridge to Recent Times.” This is because

approaches toward proper government roles were moving from the partial kind favored during

the 19th century to the expounded ones preferred in the 20th century (Buenker 43). The huge

changes resulting from industrialization like railroads, large corporations, and corruption in

politics stimulated progressivism. Even in the 21st century, progressives champion social justice

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On the other hand, the

State governments stretched the rules involving labor and product markets before establishing

fresh social insurance forms.

The local governments stretched the ownership and policies pertaining utilities and

constructed numerous public health amenities. In the Gilded era, reforms focused on avoiding

corruption by appointing the right individuals. However, the changes were not substantial since

taxes continued to increase as reformers realized it was hard to avoid the administrative issues. In

that respect, apart from focusing on moral inadequacies among administrators and city

politicians, the progressive resolutions restructured city governments (Fishback 62).

Cities were commissioned by the state administrations that continued to watch over their

affairs. Activists consequently had to instigate change in state legislatures. Successes over local

leaders were replicated in state legislation and the cronies involved. Progressives, hence, pushed

for home policies to give the cities more autonomy in their fiscal affairs as well as administration

(Fishback 56).

The reformers wanted to separate administration from politics. For this reason,
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income tax system was one of the sections that were altered. Before the reforms were adopted, a

small percentage of the public paid income taxes. However, the rates increased substantially and

by 2002, they were around eight times higher. The legal relations between the workers and

employers also changed for the better. Hence, the workers were safer under the new regulations.

The progressive era made the United States a gentler nation. Corruption levels

diminished, workers were more protected, and the electoral vote became vital. The involvement

of women also shows the gentleness. This era initiated a movement that championed women

empowerment. They were now allowed to participate in elections and other leadership positions.

The citizens were also mandated to recall any elected office they deemed inefficient. In general,

the United States became kinder regarding employees, women, and civil rights among others

(Whiteclay 136).

Historians such as Alonzo Hamby describe the progressive era as a political movement

that generated fresh ideas and offered solutions to modernization related issues. The

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