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Content Reading Guide: Progressivism Part 1
The goal of both Populism and Progressivism was to fight for the interests of common people, like farmers and factory workers. While Populism focused on rural farmers, Progressivism mainly addressed urban, city issues. Supporters of Progressivism wanted a gradual income tax so that the super-rich carried a greater tax burden. This meant that, the more money you made, the more taxes you paid. They also wanted a government enforced eight hour work day and restrictions on immigration to decrease job competition. Progressives wanted the government to act like strict referee to stop things like unfair wages, child labor, unsafe working conditions, and the like.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, journalists exposed unsafe conditions in factories, tenement houses, and other urban areas. These reporters were called muckrakers and also exposed the corruption of political leaders. Factory workers, many of whom were women and children, worked long, grueling hours in dangerous conditions and had a poor quality of life. Jacob Riis witnessed the slums of New York and published a book about his findings. His book, How the Other Half Lives (1890), displayed to the world how poor immigrants struggled and used photography to show the problems vividly. Muckrakers were important in exposing how urban areas were struggling with the rapid population growth.
The progressive movement had four goals. First, they wanted to Promote Social Welfare by helping the poor. Second, they wanted to Advance Moral Improvement. The main moral issue of the day was whether or not alcohol should be legal. Third, they wanted to Pursue Economic Reform through getting the government to create rules that benefited workers and through other means. Fourth, they wanted to Increase Efficiency through improving how things were made, such as automobiles.
In terms of promoting social welfare, Progressivism taught that the government and charities should aggressively pursue measures that would help the poor. The Social Gospel was a religious movement that taught that Christianity required believers to intervene and help the poor. The Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) helped to cultivate community life in urban areas. The Salvation Army fed thousands of poor immigrants and city dwellers. Progressives also taught that the government should intervene to help common laborers that worked in dangerous factories by creating regulations and rules for the factories. Florence Kelley fought for the passing of the Illinois Factory Act of 1893. This prohibited child labor and limited women’s work hours. Jane Addams was a leader in creating settlement houses, community centers that helped the urban poor. These centers taught English to immigrants and helped struggling mothers.
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US History Lesson Plans Include
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2) PowerPoint presentation
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4) Bonus worksheet (vocabulary, crosswords, word search, etc.)
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