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Progressive Era Dbq

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During the Progressive Era, pressure from labor, suffrage, and conservation movements profoundly changed the course of American history. Many of the reformers' ideas clashed with the male-dominated, capitalist economic structure present at the turn of the century. Some of the intended reforms opposed the current system, but the level of social unrest necessitated change. Businessmen and activists alike initiated the reforms during the Progressive Era. Government, due to the intention of calming the common man and quieting the seemingly more and more vocal middle class, supported them. In the final analysis, from the year 1900 to 1920, Progressive Era reformers were successful in bringing about reform to the United States.

Socially, America was gaining strength, with women such as Jane Addams, a women's rights activist, entering the progressive fight. According to a study, the percent of eligible voters who cast ballots in Presidential elections were at a somewhat steady rate from 1904 to 1916, ranging from 59-65%, but in the 1920 election, only 49% of eligible voters actually cast ballots. (Document J) Although some may argue that the percent decrease was due to most Americans not liking any of the elected Presidential candidates, and therefore not voting, this is untrue because this was the first election in which women could vote, which threw of the ratio of voters and non-voters. In addition, all four candidates running for the title of President, Debs, Roosevelt, Wilson, and Taft, were all progressives, and wanted to reduce the number of trusts. This gave all voters, men or women, no incentive to vote. In the end of the election, Woodrow Wilson won, with 435 electoral votes, while Roosevelt had 88, and Taft received a mere eight. During Wilson's presidency, some women spoke out saying that Wilson was "oppressing" them, and compared themselves to people being oppressed by Kaiser that were living Germany. (Document H) Although some may argue that in the beginning, women were treated unfairly, this was true, however, this just had a rough start, and by the 1920s, Wilson passed the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote. Aside from the women in the United States, the African Americans were in an uproar as well. Stated in The Crisis by W.E.B DuBois, " men were drafted into a great struggle." (Document I) Although DuBois argues that Wilson drafted many black men to fight against Germany, he did this to protect the United States on a national level. President Wilson was a sympathizer with the south, a fine speaker, a sincere and morally appealing politician, and an extremely intelligent man. Although some may argue that Woodrow Wilson was racist, in the end, he indirectly helped all workers, without discriminating against anyone. He passed many acts that helped the common man, such as the Federal Farm Act, Adamson Act, and the Workingmen's Compensation Act.

Although Wilson passed many small acts during his presidency, the most profound act he passed was the Clayton Anti-Trust Act. This act was considered a continuation of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, and was said to give Sherman Anti-Trust Act its teeth. Unlike the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, the Clayton Anti-Trust Act defined a trust, and legalized strikes, as well as peaceful picketing. In the Clayton Anti-Trust Act it states, "It shall be unlawful for any person engaged in commerce...either directly or indirectly to discriminate in price between different purchasers of commodities..." (Document E) Also stated in the Clayton Anti-Trust Act, it was against the law for merchants to sell the same product to different customers for different prices. Wilson wanted everyone to be treated equally, so this helped to eliminate discrimination. Another major Progressive Era reformer that was successful a few years previous to Wilson was Theodore Roosevelt. The Progressivism spirit touched President Roosevelt, and his "Square Deal" was put in place to control corporations, protect consumers, and conserve the United States. Roosevelt put these points into action by regulating trusts for the improvement of the common man's welfare (Document A), creating the Food and Drug Administration, as well as creating Yosemite National Park.



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