The Progressive Era: Activists Change America


Theodore Roosevelt is well-known for his radical and comprehensive reforms to the social and political systems in the early 20th century. He used his leadership to bring in what is known as the Progressive era that is characterized by significant progress to social rights, the establishment of regulations, and the building of social and government institutions. Roosevelt strongly believed in the vision of the government serving the people and integrity of business practices which should not compromise public interest for profit.

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Roosevelt had strong opinions about what defined a progressive or anti-progressive person. To him, integrity and faith were core concepts to a good man. Progressivism implied understanding and compassion of the public and common folk. Therefore, a truly progressive person would have an inherent trust in the people, their goodness, and the justice system that will fulfill its duty. Any special privilege was looked down upon, with the concept of social justice treating everyone as equals. Roosevelt believed it was honorable to be selfless and consider the greater good despite potentially hazardous consequences personally.

Overall, Roosevelt argued a progressive person should have a strong vision and passion for the ideals. This would help progressive leaders to lead with a vision for an innovative and bright future (Roosevelt, 1912).

To Roosevelt, wealth often equaled anti-progressive attitudes. In general, anti-progressive is defined by a conservative and narrow vision of global issues. They lack the passion and conviction to institute critical reform, instead choosing to appeal to certain groups that hold controlling interests. These individuals lack trust in society and the country’s citizens. That is largely due to a lack of sympathy and a significant disconnect from the daily problems of common folk. Wealth is often a contributing factor as it allows the creation of a separate layer of society that is protected from many issues, is commonly corrupted, and is avoided by the judicial system. Roosevelt argued that the wealthy were detrimental to the interest of the country and society due to their corruption (Roosevelt, 1912).

Goals and Achievements

Social welfare and support were central to the Progressivism movement. They hoped to achieve this through political activism such as the women’s suffrage movement, and the establishment of social institutions. Progressivism sought to eliminate corruption and resolving the issues of the working class in the industrial era, including child labor, poor conditions, low wages, and long workdays. Social protection programs began offering public housing and food donations.

Furthermore, progressive leaders believed in social equality and wanted to provide civil rights to a wide variety of individuals including women, immigrants, and even racial minorities. Roosevelt’s campaign wanted to curb the influence of the rich and establish strict regulation and anti-trust measures against big businesses (Anthony, 2017).

Roosevelt talks about several achievements, both social and legislative. He notes that there has been a significant shift in social thinking. Citizens are no longer satisfied with the status quo of their living conditions and lack of rights in the new urban era. Social justice is a prevalent topic Therefore, this should inherently drive change. Roosevelt mentions several laws aimed at regulating and addressing vital issues. The Rate Bill aimed to create a system of anti-trust regulation and improve control of Wall Street. Furthermore, the Pure Food and Drugs Bill sought to introduce regulation to the food and alcohol industry which was following many unethical practices.

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Anthony, D. (2017). The Progressive era: Activists change America. Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven Publishing.

Roosevelt, T. (1912). Who is a progressive? Web.

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"The Progressive Era: Activists Change America." StudyCorgi, 19 June 2021,

1. StudyCorgi. "The Progressive Era: Activists Change America." June 19, 2021.


StudyCorgi. "The Progressive Era: Activists Change America." June 19, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "The Progressive Era: Activists Change America." June 19, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'The Progressive Era: Activists Change America'. 19 June.

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