Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Progressive Era

The year 1900 is considered to be the begining of the era in U.S. history that we know as the Progressive era. Individuals from this movement were not confined to one small disctinct group, but rather several groups with different motives and goals that we able to influence the laws and standards of that time.
One of these groups were called "muckrakers;" which was used to define what we know now as investigative journalists. This nickname was given to these people by Theodore Roosevelt and originally it had a negative connotation; he was refering to the journalists who focused on topics of no substance or purpose other than to make money. However, as time moved on journalists become more focused on social injustices and kept the nickname "muckraker."
One example is Ida Tarbell who revealed the corrupt practices of monopolyst John D. Rockafeller and his company Standard Oil. One of the most recognized of these examples is Upton Sinclair's book "The Jungle," which revealed the unregulated disgusting events that were taking place in the meat packing factories. His book led to the establishing of Food and Safety laws which were devised to protect the American Public.
Another group that was involved in the Progressive Era was composed mostly of women who felt obligated to help others as they became more educated and aware of injustices around them. They were the first to create "Hull Houses." These houses were intended on helping immigrants adjust to the harshness of American life and work practices. The two main activists who initiated this movement were Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr; they established the first of hundreds of Hull Houses in Chicago during 1889. These activists were not as influential as the muckrakers but they did inspire the growing movement of social activism amoungst educated women. However one thing that did irritate me was that although these people saught out to improve the lifes of many, they stuck to the ideology the African Americans were second class citizens and that only educated people deserved the right to vote. This leads me to conclude that although great progress took place the United States during this period, the American people had a long way to go.

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