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Progressivism in America and It’s Impact Over the World

Progressivism is a political outfit that has the objective of representing the ordinary people and advocating for their rights as consumers, employees, parents, citizens and as taxpayers. Progressivism normally aims at bringing reforms and one of their goals was the control of the business by the government. Progressivism has been experienced in the US at different levels such as at the national level by African Americans and women’s participation in decision making. In the US, the progressives wanted laws to be put into place to scrape off business monopolies by few large businesses, they were also advocating for reduced tariffs, graduated income tax and they also wanted the government to set in a procedure to regulate currency. Theodore became the spokesperson for the progressives and through this post, he was able to reintroduce the Sherman Antitrust act thereby disintegrating the big trusts, hence the reduced competition and controlled prices. He also attacked other business monopolies such as railroad oil, and tobacco among others. He has also helped in preserving the country’s resources by enforcing restrictions on public interference on resources such as forests lands containing minerals and water power sites so as to protect them from unauthorized exploitation by private firms. William Howard Taft was the successor of Roosevelt but during his term in office there was a slowdown in the pace of reforms; he signed a bill in 1909 that raised the tariffs a bit, though he was rather keen to fight the monopolies; he was able to have the standard oil company and the American tobacco company disintegrate into smaller companies. In 1912 when the country was going to the polls again, Woodrow Wilson, who had the policies of more limited federal power, destruction of monopolies and reduced tariffs to aid the small business enterprise, reforms in the banking sector and tightening of the antitrust laws, attracted a lot of public popularity which made Taft lose the election. A lot of progressivism was experienced during Woodrow’s term in office, during which he signed the Underwood tariff that sought to reduce the taxation on imports; he was also a supporter of the federal act of 1913 which was used in the creation of a centralized banking system that lent money to the banks especially when they were unable to get loans from anywhere else i.e. it was a last resort lender. The act also allowed a more elastic currency that could be adjusted in whichever way to suit the country’s need at hand. The federal trade commission act of 1914 and the Clayton Antitrust act are also some of the achievements of Woodrow, the former sought to prevent monopolies and while the latter banned interlocking of directorates, allowed workers to strike and exempted the labor unions from the categories of illegal organizations.

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The African Americans have also been involved in progressivism movements especially to stop racism and to be allowed equal rights as the whites. In 1900 more than half the population of African Americans lived in the south while the whites lived in the north. Most of them were living in extreme poverty with a lot of discrimination and lack of employment opportunities, but others felt that both the blacks and the whites could live together in the same neighborhood in harmony but at the close of the 19th century, the Jim Crow law was passed which separated the blacks and the whites in public places; they were also denied the chance to vote by the grandfather clause and as a result of these, the blacks tried to fight racism (Adams, n.d). Booker T. Washington on the other hand advised the blacks to be industrious and move up the economic ladder with the belief that this was the only way through which they were going to stop racism, according to Washington both whites and blacks could coexist in harmony and work for the development of the country but another scholar W.E.B Du Bois challenged Washington by suggesting that the only way to stop racism was by allowing the blacks equal educational opportunities and stopping discrimination (Adams, n.d).

The progressive reformers and the women shared common goals in which women major fought to be allowed equal chances in education, some of these women’s organizations sought to reduce women’s working hours and to organize women into unions, for example, in 1909 the women working in garment factories organized a strike in which 20,000 of them were involved, after which, the union recognized them thus changing the roles played by women in the unions (Ehrenreich, 2008). According to Fredrick (n.d) reformers such as Florence Kelley helped to put up the charge for labor laws, Margaret Sanger advocated for birth control, some of them also organized the free vacation homes that allowed the poor immigrant women to have a break from their daily homemaking activities. The women also fought for the right to vote especially after the passing of the amendment that allowed black men to vote.

Progressivism has also been experienced in terms of the relationship between the U.S and other countries in order to find a market for American exports. For example, President Roosevelt was able to have Japan and Russia sign a peace treaty and ended the war between them, and through his influence, Japan gained rights in Korea. He was also able to organize the building of the Panama Canal; he also came up with a Roosevelt corollary that stated that any consistent wrongdoing by any of the Latin American nations would allow the US to intervene in the affairs of those countries and with this, he rescued the Dominican Republic which had trouble paying debts. William Howard Taft on the other hand developed the dollar diplomacy that encouraged the American banks to invest abroad especially in Latin America; this was done so as to replace the European countries that had taken control in these countries. The civil war between the US and Nicaragua emanated from these actions.

Progressivism has had a lot of impact on the country both at home and internationally with people criticizing the country’s upper handedness in the affairs of other countries. Though it positively expanded democracy in America, progressivism has fought for the public interests and has protected the weaker groups in America.


Adams, J. (n.d). Problems of Poverty. 2009.

Ehrenreich, B. (2008). Heaven Will Protect the Working Girl. Web.

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Frederick, C. (n.d). Mind Your Business: One Woman’s Encounter with Reformers. 2009. Web.

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