Progressive Era Presidents Essay Topics

Gilded Age Politics

Politics in the Gilded Age were intense. In the years between 1877 and 1897, control of the House of Representatives repeatedly changed hands between the Democratic and Republican parties. Political infighting between the Stalwart and Half-Breed factions in the Republican Party prevented the passage of significant legislation. During this era, the political parties nominated presidential candidates that lacked strong opinions—possibly to avoid stirring up sectional tensions so soon after the Civil War.

Some historians have dubbed Presidents Rutherford B. Hayes, James A. Garfield, Chester A. Arthur, Grover Cleveland, and Benjamin Harrison the “forgotten presidents.” Indeed, it might be argued that the most notable event that occurred during the Gilded Age was the assassination of President Garfield in 1881. His death prompted Congress to pass the Pendleton Act, which created the Civil Service Commission two years later. This commission reformed the spoils system, which had rewarded supporters of a winning party with “spoils,” or posts in that party’s government.

Industrialization and Big Business

The Civil War had transformed the North into one of the most heavily industrialized regions in the world, and during the Gilded Age, businessmen reaped enormous profits from this new economy. Powerful tycoons formed giant trusts to monopolize the production of goods that were in high demand. Andrew Carnegie, for one, built a giant steel empire using vertical integration, a business tactic that increased profits by eliminating middlemen from the production line. Conversely, John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company used horizontal integration, which put competitors out of business by selling one type of product in numerous markets, effectively creating a monopoly. These “captains of industry” cared little for consumers and did anything they could to increase profits, earning them the nickname “robber barons.


Railroads were the literal engines behind this era of unprecedented industrial growth. By 1900, American railroad tycoons like Cornelius Vanderbilt had laid hundreds of thousands of miles of track across the country, transporting both tradable goods and passengers. The industry was hugely profitable for its leaders but riddled with corrupt practices, such as those associated with the Crédit Mobilier scandal of 1871. When the Supreme Court ruled in favor of corrupt railroads in the Wabash case, Congress passed the Interstate Commerce Act in 1887 to protect farmers and other consumers from unfair business practices.

Organized Labor

Organized labor did not fare nearly as well as big business during the Gilded Age, as most Americans looked down on labor unions during the era. The first large-scale union, the National Labor Union, was formed just after the end of Civil War, in 1866. Workers created the union to protect skilled and unskilled workers in the countryside and in the cities, but the union collapsed after the Depression of 1873 hit the United States. Later, the Knights of Labor represented skilled and unskilled workers, as well as blacks and women, in the 1870s, but it also folded after being wrongfully associated with the Haymarket Square Bombing in 1886.

Despite these setbacks for organized labor, workers continued to strike, or temporarily stop working, for better wages, hours, and working conditions. The most notable strikes of this era were the Great Railroad Strike, the Homestead Strike, and the Pullman Strike, all of which ended violently. The more exclusive American Federation of Labor, or AFL, emerged as the most powerful union in the late 1880s.

Urbanization and Immigration

As profits soared, so did America’s standard of living. During the latter half of the nineteenth century, millions of Americans left their farms and moved to the cities, which were filled with new wonders like skyscrapers, electric trolleys, and lightbulbs. Nearly a million eastern and southern European immigrants arrived in America each year, settling primarily in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Chicago. These new immigrants crowded into the poorest neighborhoods, the cities’ crime- and disease-ridden slums. Politicalmachine bosses like William “Boss” Tweed in New York preyed on immigrants, promising them public works projects and social services in exchange for their votes.

A growing middle class spurred a late-nineteenth-century reform movement to reduce poverty and improve society. Reformer Jane Addams, for example,founded Hull House in Chicago to help poor immigrant families adjust to life in America. The success of Hull House prompted other reformers to build similar settlement houses in the immigrant-clogged cities of the eastern United States.

The West

The American West also underwent radical transformations. Railroads allowed more and more Americans to travel from overcrowded eastern cities and settle out West. Within a twenty-year period, American settlers had slaughtered more than 20 million bison, nearly causing the animal’s extinction. Many Native American tribes of the West, including the Sioux, Fox, and Nez Percé, deeply resented white settlers’ disregard for their land and primary food supply and began to attack the settlers. After a number of bloody battles, skirmishes, and massacres, the U.S. Army subdued the Native American population, herding them onto reservations. In an effort to “Americanize” Indians, Congress passed the Dawes Severalty Act in 1887, which forbade Native Americans from owning land.

The Populist Party

The Depression of 1873, which effectively dissolved the National Labor Union, also threatened many new settlers in the Midwest. Plagued by steep railroad fares, high taxes under the McKinley Tariff, and soaring debt, thousands of small farmers banded together to form the Populist Party in the late 1880s. The Populists called for a national income tax, cheaper money (what Populists called “free silver”), shorter workdays, single-term limits for presidents, immigration restrictions, and government control of railroads.

Cleveland’s Second Term

In 1892, Grover Cleveland defeated Republican incumbent Benjamin Harrison and Populist candidate James B. Weaver in 1892 to become the only U.S. president ever to serve two nonconsecutive terms. Although Cleveland’s first four years were free of any major change, his second term was a tumultuous one. The Depression of 1893 hit the U.S. economy hard, forcing Cleveland to ask Wall Street mogul J. P. Morgan for a loan of more than $60 million. In 1894, more than 500 protesters in “Coxey’s Army” marched on Washington demanding cheaper money and debt relief. Despite Morgan’s loan, Cleveland was unable to put the economy back on track, and it cost him the Republican Party presidential nomination in 1896.

The Election of 1896

In 1896, Democrats nominated William Jennings Bryan, the “Boy Orator,” after he delivered his famous “Cross of Gold” speech demanding free silver. Because Bryan incorporated much of the Populist platform into his own, the Populists chose to endorse him rather than their own candidate. Meanwhile, Republicans nominated Senator William McKinley from Ohio on a pro-business, anti–free silver platform. McKinley’s campaign manager, Marcus “Mark” Hanna, worked behind the scenes to convince powerful business leaders to back several key Republican candidates. As a result, McKinley won the election of 1896, effectively killing free silver and the Populist movement.

The Spanish-American War

McKinley’s greatest challenge as president was the growing tension between the United States and Spain over the island of Cuba. Spanish officials had suppressed an independence movement in Cuba, its most profitable Caribbean colony, and forced Cuban men, women, and children into internment camps. “Yellow journalists” like William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer published sensational stories about the atrocities in Cuba, partly to increase their papers’ circulation but also to provoke American ire for the Spanish. Although McKinley did not want go to war, he felt compelled to do so, especially after the mysterious explosion of the USS Maine in Havana Harbor, which he blamed on Spain.

The war itself was over within a matter of weeks, but during that time, the United States seized the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Cuba, thanks in part to future U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt and his Rough Riders. After the war, American forces withdrew from Cuba according to the Teller Amendment but also forced the new Cuban government to sign the Platt Amendment, giving the U.S. Navy a permanent military base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The passage of the Foraker Act, meanwhile, granted Puerto Ricans limited government; they would not receive collective U.S. citizenship until 1917.

Teddy Roosevelt’s Big Stick Policy

McKinley won the election of 1900 with Roosevelt as his running mate but was assassinated by an anarchist less than six months into his second term. As a result, Roosevelt took office as one of the youngest presidents in American history. Despite his youth, Roosevelt proved to be a “bully” with his Big Stick diplomacy. One of his most important policies, the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine, declared that only the United States, not Old World powers, had the authority to interfere with Latin American affairs. Roosevelt’s secretary of state, John Hay, drafted the Open Door Notes, which asked that Japan and the European powers respect China’s territorial status and fair trade. Roosevelt went on to take over Colombia’s northernmost province, Panama, in order to secure America the right to build the Panama Canal. Toward the end of his presidency, Roosevelt also toured with the Great White Fleet, a group of U.S. Navy battleships, around the world in a symbolic display of force.

Roosevelt and Progressivism

Roosevelt was just as active at home as he was abroad. During his presidency, America had become increasingly urbanized and industrialized. The Progressive movement, which formed as a response to the rapid social and economic growth and change that was taking place, helped spawn a new era of social reform. Muckrakers—journalists who wrote about political and industrial corruption as well as social hardships—had significant influence on Roosevelt, who outlined a package of domestic reforms called the Square Deal, whichwere meant to protect consumers, tame big business, support the labor movement, and conserve the nation’s natural resources.

Congress, meanwhile, passed the Elkins Act and Hepburn Act to regulate the railroads and the Pure Food and Drug Act and Meat Inspection Act to regulate food inspection and sanitation. Congress passed the acts, in part, after the popularity of Upton Sinclair’s novel The Jungle, which exposed unsanitary meatpacking practices. Roosevelt also supported strikers in the Anthracite Strike, prosecuted several trusts under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, and signed the 1902Newlands Act, selling lands in the West to fund irrigation projects.

Roosevelt’s friend and handpicked successor William Howard Taft promised to carry out the rest of Roosevelt’s progressive policies if he were elected president. After winning the election of 1908, however, Taft proved to be more of a traditional conservative than most had expected. Although he continued progressive policy by prosecuting more trusts than his predecessor, in a more conservative vein than Roosevelt he signed the steep Payne-Aldrich Tariff in 1909 and fired conservationist Gifford Pinchot from the forestry division. Many Republican Progressives, including his former friend Roosevelt, denounced Taft as a traitor to the movement. When Republicans nominated Taft again in 1912, Roosevelt left the convention and entered the presidential race as the candidate for the new Progressive Republican or Bull Moose Party.

Wilson’s First Term

With two feuding party leaders splitting the Republican vote, Democrat Woodrow Wilson managed to win the presidential election. Also a Progressive, Wilson championed a new group of reforms, the New Freedom, which regulated big business, further supported the labor movement, and reduced tariffs. In 1913, he signed the Underwood Tariff, which was lower than Taft’s, and also reformed the national banking system with the Federal Reserve Act. The following year, Wilson passed the Clayton Anti-Trust Act to replace the much weaker Sherman Act of 1890, which was riddled with loopholes. Other progressive bills he signed into law included the Warehouse Act, the La Follette Seaman’s Act, the Workingman’s Compensation Act, and the Adamson Act. Wilson also ordered General John “Blackjack” Pershing to invade Mexico in 1916 to pursue the bandit Pancho Villa.

Roosevelt’s Square Deal

At the dawn of the twentieth century, America was at a crossroads. Presented with abundant opportunity, but also hindered by significant internal and external problems, the country was seeking leaders who could provide a new direction. The political climate was ripe for reform, and the stage was set for the era of the Progressive Presidents, beginning with Republican Theodore Roosevelt.

Teddy Roosevelt was widely popular due to his status as a hero of the Spanish-American War and his belief in “speaking softly and carrying a big stick.” Taking over the presidency in 1901 after the assassination of William McKinley, he quickly assured America that he would not take any drastic measures. He then demanded a “Square Deal” that would address his primary concerns for the era—the three C’s: control of corporations, consumer protection, and conservation.

The ownership of corporations and the relationship between owners and laborers, as well as government’s role in the relationship, were the contentious topics of the period. Workers were demanding greater rights and protection, while corporations expected labor to remain cheap and plentiful. This conflict came to a head in 1902, with the anthracite coal strike in Pennsylvania. Coal mining was dirty and dangerous work, and 140,000 miners went on strike and demanded a 20 percent pay increase and a reduction in the workday from ten to nine hours. The mine owners were unsympathetic and refused to negotiate with labor representatives. With the approach of winter the dwindling coal supply began to cause concern throughout the nation.

Roosevelt, going against established precedent, decided to step in. He summoned the mine owners and union representatives to meet with him in Washington. Roosevelt was partly moved by strong public support and took the side of the miners. Still, the mine owners were reluctant to negotiate until Roosevelt, threatening to use his “big stick,” declared that he would seize the mines and operate them with federal troops. Owners reluctantly agreed to arbitration, where the striking workers received a 10 percent pay increase and a nine-hour working day. This was the first time a president sided with unions in a labor dispute, and it helped cement Roosevelt’s reputation as a friend of the common people and gave his administration the nickname “The Square Deal.”

Emboldened by this success and in pursuit of the first element of his Square Deal, Roosevelt began to attack large, monopolistic corporations. Some trusts were effective and legitimate, but many of these companies engaged in corrupt and preferential business practices. In 1902, the Northern Securities Company, owned by J.P. Morgan and James J. Hill, controlled most of the railroads in the northwestern United States and intended to create a total monopoly. Roosevelt initiated legal proceedings against Northern Securities and eventually the Supreme Court ordered that the company be dissolved. Roosevelt’s radical actions angered big business and earned him the reputation of a “trust buster,” despite the fact that his successors Taft and Wilson actually dissolved more trusts.

In 1903, with urging from Roosevelt, Congress created the Department of Commerce and Labor (DOCL). This cabinet-level department was designed to monitor corporations and ensure that they engaged in fair business practices. The Bureau of Corporations was created under the DOCL to benefit consumers by monitoring interstate commerce, helping dissolve monopolies, and promoting fair competition between companies. In 1913, the DOCL was split into two separate entities, the Department of Commerce and the Department of Labor, both of which continue to play an important role in regulating business today.

The railroad business continued to be one of the most powerful and influential industries. Like many companies of the time, railroad companies engaged in corrupt business practices such as rebating and price fixing. Roosevelt encouraged Congress to take action to address these abuses, and in 1903 they passed the Elkins Act, which levied heavy fines on companies that engaged in illegal rebating. In 1906, they passed the Hepburn Act, which greatly strengthened the Interstate Commerce Commission. This law allowed the Commission to set maximum rates, inspect a company’s books, and investigate railroads, sleeping car companies, oil pipelines, and other transportation firms. This was a bold action by Roosevelt and Congress given the transportation industry was a powerful lobbyist and a significant political contributor.

The second element of Roosevelt’s Square Deal was consumer protection. In the early 1900s, there was little regulation of the food or drugs that were available to the public. In 1906, Upton Sinclair published a book called The Jungle that described in graphic detail the Chicago slaughterhouse industry. Sinclair intended for his book to expose the plight of immigrant workers and possibly bring readers to the Socialist movement, but people were instead shocked and sickened by the practices of the meat industry.

Roosevelt had the power to do something about the horrors described in The Jungle. He immediately appointed a special investigating committee to look into food handling practices in Chicago. Their report confirmed much of what Sinclair had written. Roosevelt was shocked by the report and predicted that it could have a devastating effect on American meat exports. He agreed to keep it quiet on the condition that Congress would take action to address the issues.

After much pressure from Roosevelt, Congress reluctantly agreed to pass the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906. Many members of Congress were reluctant to pass these laws, as the meat industry was a powerful lobbying force. However, the passage of this legislation helped prevent the adulteration and mislabeling of food, alcohol, and drugs. It was an important first step toward ensuring that Americans were buying safe and healthy products. Eventually, the meatpacking industry welcomed these reforms, as they found that a government seal of approval would help increase their export revenues.

The final element of Roosevelt’s Square Deal was conservation. Roosevelt was widely known as a sportsman, hunter, and outdoorsman, and he had a genuine love and respect for nature. However, many Americans of the time viewed the country’s natural resources as limitless. For example, many farmers, ranchers, and timber companies in the west were consuming a huge portion of the available resources at an alarming rate. Their primary obsession was profit, and they had little concern for the damage they were causing. However, there was a small but vocal population who had a great deal of concern for the environment. Fortunately for them and for future Americans, the environmentalists had a friend in Teddy Roosevelt.

Environmentalism and conservation were not new ideas, but most had not been concerned with ecological issues. While a number of laws had been passed to prevent or limit the destruction of natural resources, the majority of this legislation was not enforced or lacked the teeth necessary to make a significant difference.

With Roosevelt’s urging, Congress passed the Newlands Act of 1902. This legislation allowed the federal government to sell public lands in the arid, desert western states and devote the proceeds to irrigation projects. Landowners would then repay part of the irrigation costs from the proceeds they received from their newly fertile land, and this money was earmarked for more irrigation projects. Eventually, dozens of dams were created in the desert including the massive Roosevelt Dam on Arizona’s Salt River.

Another major concern of environmentalists was the devastation of the nation’s timberlands. By 1900, only about 25 percent of the huge timber preserves were still standing. Roosevelt set aside 125 million acres of timberlands as federal reserves, over three times the amount preserved by all of his predecessors combined. He also performed similar actions with coal and water reserves, thus guaranteeing the preservation of some natural resources for future generations. Environmentalists such as John Muir, Gifford Pinchot, and the upstart Sierra Club aided Roosevelt in his efforts. Preserving America’s natural resources and calling attention to the desperate need for conservation may well have been Teddy Roosevelt’s greatest achievement as President, and his most enduring legacy.

Taft’s Administration

In 1908, President Teddy Roosevelt could have easily carried his burgeoning popularity to a sweeping victory in the presidential election, but in 1904 he made an impulsive promise not to seek a second elected term. However, he did not intend to completely relinquish control, so he handpicked a successor. Howard Taft, the 350-pound Secretary of War, was chosen as the Republican candidate for 1908. Taft was a mild progressive and an easygoing man that Roosevelt and other Republican leaders felt they could control. Taft easily defeated the Democratic candidate, William Jennings Bryan, and the Socialist candidate, Eugene Debs, in what can be construed as continued public endorsement of Roosevelt.

Unfortunately, from the onset of his administration Taft did not live up to Roosevelt’s standards or the expectations of other Progressives. He lacked Roosevelt’s strength of personality and was more passive in his dealings with Congress. Many politicians were surprised to learn that Taft did not share some of the Progressive ideas and policies that Roosevelt endorsed. In fact, many people felt that Taft lacked the mental and physical stamina necessary to be an effective President.

The first major blow to the Progressives during Taft’s administration was the Payne-Aldrich Tariff of 1909. Taft called a special session of Congress to address what many people felt were excessive tariffs. After this session, the House of Representatives passed a bill that moderately restricted tariffs, but their legislation was severely modified when it reached the Senate. Radical Senators, led by Nelson W. Aldrich of Rhode Island, tacked on hundreds of revisions that effectively raised tariffs on almost all products. Taft eventually signed the bill and declared it “the best bill that the Republican Party ever passed.” This action dumbfounded Progressives and marked the beginning of an internal struggle for control of the Republican Party.

Another issue that caused dissension among Republicans was Taft’s handling of conservation issues. Taft was a dedicated conservationist and he devoted extensive resources to the protection of the environment. However, most of his progress was undone by his handling of the Ballinger-Pinchot dispute. Pinchot, the leader of the Department of Forestry and a well-liked ally of Roosevelt, attacked Secretary of the Interior Richard Ballinger for how he handled public lands.

Ballinger opened up thousands of acres of public lands in Wyoming, Montana, and Alaska for private use, and this angered many Progressives. Pinchot was openly critical of Ballinger, and in 1910 Taft responded by firing Pinchot for insubordination. This infuriated much of the public as well as the legions of political players who were still fiercely loyal to Roosevelt.

A major rift occurred in the Republican Party as a result of Taft’s straying from Progressive policy. The party was split down the middle between the “Old Guard” Republicans who supported Taft and the Progressive Republicans who backed Roosevelt. This division in the Republican Party allowed Democrats to regain control of the House of Representatives in a landslide victory in the congressional elections of 1910.

In early 1912, Roosevelt triumphantly returned and announced himself as a challenger for the Republican presidential nomination. Roosevelt and his followers, embracing “New Nationalism,” began to furiously campaign for the nomination. However, as a result of their late start and Taft’s ability as incumbent to control the convention, they were unable to secure the delegates necessary to win the Republican candidacy. Not one to admit defeat, Roosevelt formed the “Bull Moose” Party and vowed to enter the race as a third-party candidate.

The split in the Republican Party made the Democrats optimistic about regaining the White House for the first time since 1897. They sought a reformist candidate to challenge the Republicans, and decided on Woodrow Wilson, a career academic and the current progressive governor of New Jersey. Wilson’s “New Freedom” platform sought reduced tariffs, banking reform, and stronger antitrust legislation. The Socialists again nominated Eugene V. Debs whose platform sought public ownership of resources and industries. As expected, Roosevelt and Taft split the Republican vote, and Wilson easily won a majority of the electoral votes. Having received only 41 percent of the popular vote, Wilson was a minority president.

Wilson’s New Freedom

Upon taking office, Woodrow Wilson became only the second Democratic president since 1861. Wilson was a trim figure with clean-cut features and pince-nez glasses clipped to the bridge of his nose, giving him an academic look. Partly due to his academic background and limited political experience, Wilson was very much an idealist. He was intelligent and calculating, but the public perception was that he was emotionally cold and distant. Wilson arrived in the White House with a clear agenda and the drive to achieve all of his goals. In addition, the Democratic majority in both houses of Congress was eager to show the public that their support was not misdirected.

Wilson’s platform called for an assault on “the triple wall of privilege,” which consisted of tariffs, banks, and trusts, and rarely has a president set to work so quickly. His first objective was to reduce the prohibitive tariffs that hurt American businesses and consumers. In an unprecedented move, Wilson personally appeared before Congress to call a special session to discuss tariffs in early 1913. Moved and stunned by Wilson’s eloquence and force of character, Congress immediately designed the Underwood Tariff Bill, which significantly reduced import fees.

The Underwood Tariff Bill brought the first significant reduction of duties since before the Civil War. In order to make up for the loss in revenues caused by the lower tariffs, the Underwood Bill introduced a graduated income tax. This new tax was introduced under the authority of the recently ratified Sixteenth Amendment. Initially, the tax was levied on incomes over $3,000, which was significantly higher than the national average. However, by 1917 the revenue from income taxes greatly exceeded receipts from the tariff. This margin has continued to grow exponentially over the years.

After tackling the tariff, Wilson turned his attention to the nation’s banks. The country’s financial structure was woefully outdated, and its inefficiencies had been exposed by the Republican’s economic expansion and the Panic of 1907. The currency system was very inelastic, with most reserves concentrated in New York and a few other large cities. These resources could not be mobilized quickly in the event of a financial crisis in a different area. Wilson considered two proposals: one calling for a third Bank of the United States, the other seeking a decentralized bank under government control.

Siding with public opinion, Wilson called another special session of Congress in June of 1913. He overwhelmingly endorsed the idea of a decentralized bank, and asked Congress to radically change the banking system. Congress passed the Federal Reserve Act, which was arguably the greatest piece of legislation between the Civil War and Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. The Act created a Federal Reserve Board, which oversaw a system of 12 regional reserve districts, each with its own central bank. This new system also issued Federal Reserve Notes, paper currency that quickly allowed the government to adjust the flow of money, which are still in use today. The Federal Reserve Act was instrumental in allowing America to meet the financial challenges of World War I and emerge from the war as one of the world’s financial powers.

Emboldened by his successes, President Wilson turned his attention to the trusts. Although legislation designed to address the issue of trusts had existed for many years, they were still very much a problem. Again, Wilson appeared before Congress and delivered an emotional and dramatic address. He asked Congress to create legislation that would finally address trusts and tame the rampant monopolies. After several months of discussion, Congress presented Wilson with the Federal Trade Commission Act of 1914. This act allowed the government to closely inspect companies engaged in interstate commerce, such as meatpackers and railroads. The Commission investigated unfair trading practices such as false advertising, monopolistic practices, bribery, and misrepresentation.

Following closely behind the Federal Trade Commission Act of 1914, was the Clayton Act of 1914. It served to strengthen the Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890 (the first measure passed by the U.S. Congress to prohibit trusts) and redefine the practices that were considered monopolistic and illegal. The Clayton Act provided support for labor unions by exempting labor from antitrust prosecution and legalizing strikes and peaceful picketing, which were not part of the Sherman Act. Renowned American Federation of Labor union leader, Samuel Gompers, declared the Clayton Act the “Magna Carta” of labor. Unfortunately, labor’s triumph was short-lived, as conservative judges continued to curtail union power in controversial decisions.

The era of the Progressive presidents produced a number of notable achievements. Trust-busting forced industrialists and monopolistic corporations to consider public opinion when making business decisions. This benefited the consumer and helped grow the economy. The Progressive presidents also increased consumers’ rights by limiting corporate abuses and trying to ensure the safe labeling of food and drugs. The creation of a federal income tax system lowered tariffs and increased America’s presence as a global trading partner. It also raised additional revenues, some of which were used for beneficial programs such as conservation. The Progressive presidents served to strengthen the office of the president and the public began to expect more from the executive branch. Progressivism as a concept helped challenge traditional thinking about government’s relationship to the people and sparked new ideas that stimulated thought for decades to come.

Along with these significant accomplishments, the Progressive movement also had a number of notable shortcomings. Due to several contrary schools of thought within the movement, goals were often confusing and contradictory. Although most Progressives had good intentions, their conflicting goals helped detract from the overall objectives of the movement. Despite the numerous successes and lofty goals and ideals of the Progressive movement, the federal government was still too greatly influenced by industry and big business.

The Progressive movement was not a complete success, but it did serve to spark new ideas and new ways of thinking about business and government. It created a new school of thought that challenged traditional ideas and allowed several new politicians to break the mold and lead the country in a new direction. This new way of thinking proved vital for the United States as the First World War loomed on the horizon.

Aboukhadijeh, Feross. "The Progressive Presidents" Study Notes, LLC., 17 Nov. 2012. Web. 13 Mar. 2018. <>.


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