The Progressive Movement in the United States during 1900 to 1917 was a contradictive movement focus on social and economic reforms. What amazed me during this era are the steps forward and backwards the United States took. Progressive leaders, like Theodor Roosevelt, promoted and passed legislation that increase democratic activity as well as decrease democracy.
Progressive leaders wanted to increase democracy in the United States by passing initiative, referendum and the 17th Amendment but did want only certain people to be able to vote. African Americans during this period became disenfranchised in the electoral process. There were major improvements in the treatment of African Americans during Reconstruction including the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendment. Even though African Americans still faced discrimination and Jim Crow Laws the period was an overall improvement of African American status.
The Progressive Era did not have the same overall increase in standard of living. The establishment of literacy test and poll tax striped African Americans their right to vote (15th Amendment). Based on the name “Progressive Era”, it would seem that the entire community would progress or benefit by this movement. For example, during this era the 19th Amendment passed granting women the right to vote; however, not everyone did social, political and economic progress via this movement.
During this period, Black leaders, for example Du Bois, took the lead to trying to grant African Americans the rights and liberties that they deserve. Du Bois countered Booker T. Washington’s stance of self improvement to raise African American status by saying that African Americans deserve the rights that whites had immediately.
Today, it is very easy to know that there are major disagreements within political parties, movements and leaders; however, sometimes when I am studying past political events I am amazed of how much disagreement there is between parties, movements and leaders. The progressive era is a perfect example of grouping together events that happened around the same period even though the events are very different and might not fit into that movement. There were major disagreements between leaders of the movement as well as the reforms they pushed for.