The Themes Of Progressivism In Henry Ford's Ragtime

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In the early twentieth century, a movement called Progressivism was gaining popularity among Americans. The movement was loosely centered around identifying specific social problems, informing the American public about these problems, and then trying to find a solution to the issues. Though the idea of Progressivism was to “correct” problems in American society, many people still believed that the movement did little to change the country’s uncertain future. Those who defended and criticized Progressivism could both find valid points for their arguments in the novel, Ragtime. Points such as how a more productive economy affects the common laborer and how the strife for obtaining human rights drives change in young America. During the nineteenth century, America became a land where anyone could build their own economic empire. Quite a few immigrants achieved …show more content…
However, a larger majority of immigrants did not become very successful economically or socially and were forced to become cheap labor for established companies. Masses of workers slaved away in cramped, poorly ventilated/lighted rooms for hours on end and were forced to work at the fast paces of their machines. Employees were barely regarded as human beings by their employers and were forced to live off meager wages. Families relied on these skimpy paychecks in order to survive day to day. In the novel Ragtime, chapter eighteen provides a look at how Henry Ford regarded his employees and could be interpreted differently by both supporters and critics of Progressivism. Supporters could use the line found on page 134, “(Ford was) The employer of many men, a good number of them foreign born…” to argue that Ford created jobs to motivate the American economy and that his assembly line production allowed unskilled laborers to find work. This meant that

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