Us History Essay Research Paper US History1

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Us History Essay, Research Paper US History 1. Progressivism in US. history was a broadly based reform movement that reached its height early in the 20th century. In the decades following the Civil War rapid industrialization transformed the United States. A national rail system was completed; agriculture was mechanized; the factory system spread; and cities grew rapidly in size and number. The progressive movement arose as a response to the vast changes brought by industrialization. Progressivism began in the cities, where the problems were most acute. Dedicated men and women of middle﷓class background moved into the slums and established settlement houses. Reformers attacked corruption in municipal government; they formed nonpartisan leagues to defeat the entrenched

bosses and their political machines. Urban reformers were often frustrated, however, because state legislatures, controlled by railroads and large corporations, obstructed the municipal struggle for home rule. Reformers turned to state politics, where progressivism reached its fullest expression. In state after state, progressives advocated a wide range of political, economic, and social reforms. They urged adoption of the secret ballot, direct primaries, the initiative, the referendum, and direct election of senators. They struck at the excessive power of corporate wealth by regulating railroads and utilities, restricting lobbying, limiting monopoly, and raising corporate taxes. To correct the worst features of industrialization, progressives advocated worker’s compensation,

child labor laws, minimum wage and maximum hours legislation (especially for women workers), and widows’ pensions. As progressives gained strength on the state level, they turned to national politics. Little headway was made, however, since conservatives controlled the Senate. Some progress was made against the trusts during Theodore Roosevelt’s administration, and Congress passed two bills regulating railroads. The expos6s of business practices by the muckrakers aroused public opinion. Although Roosevelt supported the progressive drive for regulation of corporations and for social welfare legislation, Congress remained adamant. Roosevelt’s successor, William Howard Taft, was a determined opponent of progressive reform; in 1911 progressives, whose ranks had been swelled by

middle﷓class professionals, small businessmen, and farmers, formed the National Progressive Republican League to prevent Taft’s re-nomination. When this failed, progressives united in a third party and nominated (1912) Roosevelt for President. Although Roosevelt was defeated, the new President, Woodrow Wilson, sponsored many progressive measures. The Federal Reserve Act of 1913 reformed the currency system; the Clayton Antitrust Act and the Federal Trade Commission Act (1914) extended government regulation of big business; and the Keating﷓Owen Act (1916) restricted child labor. America’s entry into World War I diverted the energy of reformers, and after the war progressivism virtually died. Its legacy endured, however, in the political reforms that it achieved

and the acceptance that it won for the principle of government regulation of business. Most of the social welfare measures advocated by progressives had to wait the New Deal years for passage. 2. The Civil War and the postwar era of Reconstruction brought far﷓reaching economic and social changes. Because of the destruction of slavery, the South’s social and economic transformation proved even more far﷓reaching than the North’s. The central institution of southern life, slavery was simultaneously a system of labor, a form of race relations, and the foundation of a distinctive regional ruling class. Its demise led inevitably to conflict between blacks seeking to breathe substantive meaning into their freedom and planters seeking to retain as much as possible of