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America was seen as a paradise by many immigrants wanting a better life. It had better jobs and better wages as well. Even though attainable, it would be very difficult for new immigrants. Capitalism was starting to take advantage of the average American by giving all the wealth to large corporations owned by a single person. The Progressive Era brought new opportunities for immigrants as well as people already living in the country. Social, political, and economic reform categorized the era. The main improvements were the dissolving of trusts, more pure food, and a better working environment.
Trusts took control of many major industries in the late 1800s. In the 1900s, people started taking actions against trusts. One of the major trusts was the railroad companies. They all were somewhat connected and raised the prices for many while giving free passes to some. The Hepburn Act allowed the government to control railroad prices and bring them down to reasonable levels. It also eliminated the ability to give free railroad passes. The Sherman Anti-Trust Act was passed to ensure that there was competition in the market. Without competition, industries had complete power over certain markets as smaller companies were either bought out or put out of business. These monopolies were dissolved under the act and Roosevelt’s diligence.
As illustrated in The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, food quality was not held up to the standard it was supposed to be. The main character, Jurgis, had a job in a packing plant where they would pack meat that was unsafe for human consumption. An inspector came but was easily distracted by the owner. To help ensure the quality of food, some acts were passed. To insure the quality of meat and to make sure it was unadulterated, the Meat Inspection Act was passed. This was followed by the Pure Food and Drug Act, which required all food and drugs to be properly labeled with their ingredients. This was replaced by the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act gave the government power to inspect and regulate food and other products.
During the early industrial phase of the United States, farmers left their land to work in factories. They thought they would live a better life, when in reality, they had to work harder and earned less wages. There were many accidents at workplaces but there was no action taken to prevent the same thing from happening in the future. Conditions did not improve throughout the later 1800s until the Progressive Era. Groups of “reformers aided workers and their families and entreated employers to eliminate dangerous working conditions and other abuses” (Progressive Era Investigations). Protesters also banded together in their unions, petitioned for higher wages, and often saw some increase in wages and a decrease in the length of a working day.
The late 1800s was full of economic growth, but living and working conditions suffered to large companies. During the Progressive Era, there were many reforms that improved the social, economic, and political conditions. Trusts were dissolved with the passage of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. The quality of food improved with the passage of the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act. Workers of factories and mines banded together in unions to protest for a shorter workday and higher wages. The whole Progressive Era was categorized by reforms and new laws passed to ensure a better quality of life for the average American.
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