Progressive Era and the Muckrakers

The Progressive Movement and the Muckrackers

America at the turn of the century was a best a rough place.
Technology and industry grew at such a great rate that the government
and most citizens were unprepared to deal with its effects.
Philosophies like Laissez Fair and social Darwinism combined to
create an America that cared little for theevery day man. Eventually
citizens, average people like you and me, arose to complain about
these conditions and demand change. The demand for change, or
progress, was known as the Progressive Era.

I. The Progressives

A. Muckrakers (Term coined by TR was a negative
one. Based on a literary character who was so busy cleaning and
raking up the muck and dirt that he didn’t see the good things that
were above his head.)

1. Lincoln Stephens, “The Shame of the Cities” Link
between big business and crooked politicians

2. Ida Tarbell, “History of the Standard Oil Company” published in
McClure’s Magazine. Described the firms cutthroat methods of
eliminating competition.

3. Upton Sinclair, “The Jungle” Detailed the lives stockyard
workers and the meat packing industry.

4. Jacob Riis, “How The Other Half Lives” A book of photographs
about the wretched conditions in the cities and slums.

A Picture from Riis’s book

B. Religious Groups

1. Preaching of the “social gospel.”

2. Create acts of god, churches should work to improve conditions
for workers and the poor.

3. Religious organizations like the YMCA, YWCA, concentrated
efforts on helping newcomers adjust to life in the big cities.
Investigates slum conditions, provided food and clothing and set up
settlement houses.

C. Radical Groups

1. Socialist Party

a. Organized in 1901 by labor leaders including Eugene
V. Debs.

b. Wanted govt. takeover of big business, laws regulating business
as well as a minimum wage and laws setting the length of the work
week to 40 hours.