The Progressive Era in America

Characteristics of a Progressive

Roosevelt outlines several characteristics that describe a progressive: a vision, intensity of conviction, broad sympathy and imagination in the support of the forward movement, belief in goodness, justice, and righteousness, confidence, and trust in the people. A progressive fights for justice and the will of the people in order to secure the real rule of the people (Rothbard, 2017). Moreover, he/she fights fearlessly against special privileges and stands for social justice.

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Characteristics of “Anti-Progressive” People

The anti-progressive people lack confidence in their people, lack passionate convictions, appeal to popular conscience or intelligence, possess mildly good intentions, are selfish and untrustworthy (Roosevelt, 1912). They engage in corruption and activities that help to make them richer, uphold privileges, and favor the special interests of the wealthy. They buy and sell the kingdom of heaven and look at the uneducated with contempt, and advance injustice in society (Roosevelt, 1912).

Moreover, they are not moved by the wrongs of others because they have narrow visions and lack sympathy. Their main aim is to keep people helpless in order to exploit them for personal gains. They support systems that hinder social and industrial justice and oppose progressive efforts in business and politics (Rothbard, 2017). In addition, they support reactionary leaders who provide privileges and favors to the wealthy and the influential.

The Goals of Progressivism

The goals of progressivism include leading the forward movement, uplifting people, fighting for the betterment of mankind, enhancing goodness and justice in society, fighting corruption, and securing the real rule of the people (Roosevelt, 1912). An important goal of progressivism is securing the right of nominating candidates for office. The movement aims to fight for the people’s right to nominate senators in the same way that they elect the president (Roosevelt, 1912).

The Progressives want the convention system scrapped and replaced with one that involves direct primaries. The convention system is flawed because it produces candidates who are elected through the pressure of money and patronage (Rothbard, 2017).

As a result, they misrepresent the popular will and represent the will of the wealthy. The movement also aims to secure for the people total control over their representatives and the power to enact and reject the laws that the people demand (Roosevelt, 1912). Several areas of society should be addressed. They include social justice, politics, elections, the labor market, living conditions, working conditions, and business. The overriding goal of progressivism is the exercise of power and control by the power in order to secure social and industrial justice.

The Achievements of Progressivism

Roosevelt highlights several progressive achievements in his speech. They include the fight against special privilege and social injustice, opposition to oppressive legislation, securing of proper living conditions, and the provision of better working conditions (Roosevelt, 1912). For example, the Progressives in the Senate amended the Rate Bill that had been presented by the reactionaries. The bill would have undone the progress made in the control of the railway system in the country.

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Supporters of the progressive movement were determined to prevent that from happening. In that regard, they rejected the features of the bill that the reactionaries had included (Roosevelt, 1912). The Progressives also secured social justice by enacting child labor legislation and passed laws that fight against special privilege. Another achievement of progressivism is the sustained war against tyranny and wrong and the opposition of injustice and unfair play.


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

Rothbard, M. N. (2017). The Progressive Era. Auburn, AL: Ludwig von Mises Institute.

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"The Progressive Era in America." StudyCorgi, 19 June 2021,

1. StudyCorgi. "The Progressive Era in America." June 19, 2021.


StudyCorgi. "The Progressive Era in America." June 19, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "The Progressive Era in America." June 19, 2021.


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