Theodore Roosevelt was a great leader of his time and sought to bring in the Progressive era to the United States. This movement aimed to address numerous social problems created by industrialization and urbanization. Political mismanagement and abuse by big businesses have led to a violation of many social and human rights that had led to massive public dissatisfaction. Roosevelt wanted to usher in a new era of governance which would provide vital support for the people and regulation of the economic system.
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Roosevelt indicates that a Progressive is a person with an innovative and forward-thinking attitude who has the vision and passion to lead and pave the way forward. These individuals are not only defined by their vision and ideals but also hold human traits such as sympathy and understanding. Faith is also a vital defining trait of a Progressive man as this individual has trust in the goodness, compassion, and justice of humankind.
They seek to do the honorable thing and look out for the better of society, even if it may be hazardous or consequential for them. A Progressive person inherently opposes special privilege and supports social justice (Roosevelt, 1912).
An Anti-Progressive individual shares a narrow vision of the world and lacks sympathy for the commoner. Anti-Progressives have no trust and confidence in the people. In turn, this results in a lack of passionate conviction vital for reform. Such leaders attempt to appeal to the masses and popular beliefs. Roosevelt also considered wealthy businessmen that amass large fortunes to be anti-Progressive. This is due to their ability to manipulate the system and remain untouched by the system of justice. Therefore, the lack of control and a disconnect with the regular citizens makes such individuals hostile to the interests of the country. He believed that wealth corrupts and led to a lack of conscience vital for Progressives (Roosevelt, 1912).
The primary goal of Progressivism was to achieve a state of social welfare. The era is known for its strong socio-political activism and reform. The movement appealed to and with the common people of the urban and industrial realities, seeking to enhance their quality of life. Progressivism wanted to eliminate issues incited by industrialization, urbanization, immigration, and corruption.
Progressive leaders such as Roosevelt condemned any socio-economic inequality caused by extensive abuse and corruption by business and political leaders. Therefore, the movement was a strongly anti-mainstream system at the time, opposing monopolies, establishing antitrust regulation, immigration reform, woman’s suffrage, and building a more open and direct democracy in the United States (Lewis, 2018).
The core plan of action for the movement was to protect social welfare by establishing a strong government and social institutions focused on supporting the general public. Everything from government programs such as public housing and the Federal Reserve to organizations such as the YMCA and the Salvation Army was formed during the Progressive era to provide vital public outreach. However, Progressives also had a belief in promoting “moral improvement” by advocating Prohibition, initiating an anti-saloon movement, and attempting the Americanization of immigrants (Lewis, 2018).
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Despite President Taft’s administration, which Roosevelt criticizes, being largely ineffective, Progressives had been able to secure some victories through legislation. The Rate Bill after it had been reformed sought to establish greater control over major corporations and increase anti-trust legislation. The Pure Food and Drugs bill was introduced, seeking to increase oversight over unethical practices in food and alcohol production.
Social justice had also been established by producing child labor legislation and the right of the people to regulate the water-power franchise in a manner that benefits the public (Roosevelt, 1912). Overall, a significant public change was occurring at the time as the people had realized the power they can hold and the actions of political leaders and big businesses had crossed many lines.
Lewis, J. J. (2018). Progressivism defined: Roots and goals. Web.
Roosevelt, T. (1912). Who is a progressive? Web.