Major Achievements of The Progressive Era in America

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 1070 |

Pages: 2|

6 min read

Published: Feb 8, 2022

Words: 1070|Pages: 2|6 min read

Published: Feb 8, 2022

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. The achievements of the progressive movement
  3. Conclusion
  4. References


The late 19th and early 20th centuries stand as a pivotal period in American history, marked by profound transformations across various facets of the nation's institutions, including economic, cultural, political, and social dimensions. The Progressive Era played a central role in reshaping American society through sweeping political reforms and vigorous social activism. Progressives championed the rights of various marginalized groups, including workers, minorities, immigrants, and advocated for anti-imperialism and democracy on a global scale. This progressive movement emerged as a response to numerous societal challenges, including political corruption, rapid urbanization, industrialization, and immigration. Many contend that the achievements of the progressive movement endure to this day and continue to influence modern society. Therefore this essay aima to analyze the main achievements and changes of the Progressive Era.

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The achievements of the progressive movement

Despite the positive aspects of industrialization in the United States, there existed a darker side to this transformative period. Corporate leaders were often vilified as robber barons due to their pursuit of unethical and exploitative business practices aimed at eliminating competition and maximizing profits (Khan Academy). These strategies included the exploitation of child labor, the payment of meager wages, and the consolidation of monopoly power. Factory workers, especially recent immigrants, endured hazardous and brutal living and working conditions (Khan Academy). Furthermore, political corruption enriched politicians at the expense of the working class and lower-income groups who struggled to make ends meet. In response to these challenges, the rise of progressive reformers became a crucial corrective force aimed at improving society. These reformers called for the regulation of private businesses and exposed corruption within both large corporations and the government (Khan Academy).

One notable achievement of the progressive movement was the reform of child labor practices. Prior to the progressive era, child labor was rampant in American industries, owing to its affordability. The National Child Labor Committee played a pivotal role in advocating for more stringent federal and state laws to protect children from labor exploitation (Hansan). Lewis Hine emerged as a prominent advocate, leaving his teaching profession to serve as a full-time investigator for the committee. He not only prepared reports for the committee but also documented the plight of child laborers through photographic images (Hansan). Hine traveled extensively through the southern and eastern states, capturing heart-wrenching images that highlighted the harsh treatment endured by child laborers. The persistent efforts of progressives began to yield results in 1916 when President Woodrow Wilson signed the Keating-Owen Act into law, which prohibited the sale of products produced by child labor (Hansan). Although they faced legal setbacks, particularly when the Supreme Court declared a federal child labor law unconstitutional, reformers found success during the Great Depression when political attitudes toward child labor shifted. The New Deal introduced the Public Contracts Act of 1936, establishing minimum age limits for boys and girls working in industries (Hansan). A significant breakthrough in child labor reform occurred in 1938 when Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act, which banned children below the age of 16 from engaging in industrial work. Today, child labor has been eradicated in the United States (Schuman).

The passage of the Food and Drug Act in 1906 can be attributed to the dedicated efforts of the progressive movement. From 1879 onwards, Congress had unsuccessfully attempted to pass almost 100 bills aimed at regulating food and drug industries (U.S. Food and Drug Administration). Progressives like Samuel Hopkins Adams and other investigative journalists known as muckrakers played a crucial role in raising awareness about the health risks posed by various food products available in the marketplace. This heightened awareness prompted Dr. Harvey Wiley to advocate for legislation that would safeguard consumers from dangerous food and drug items. The resulting Food and Drug Act had far-reaching implications, prohibiting the transportation and sale of adulterated food products, including those made from deceased animals, decomposed vegetable matter, or containing harmful additives. Furthermore, it imposed regulations to prevent the misrepresentation of medicines and drugs through accurate labeling (U.S. Food and Drug Administration).

The progressive movement was also instrumental in advocating for environmental protection and conservation. The era of industrialization had witnessed the rampant exploitation of natural resources, particularly forests, and mining companies engaged in wasteful and unsustainable practices, assuming that these resources were inexhaustible (Library of Congress). Conservationists found such private gain at the expense of the environment deeply troubling and called for federal government intervention to oversee and preserve the nation's resources for future generations. This call led to the enactment of the 1902 Newlands Act, which aimed to conserve rivers, forests, and soil by providing funding for irrigation projects (Library of Congress). It was during the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt that the National Parks Service, U.S. Forest Service, and National Monuments Act were established, underscoring his commitment to environmental protection ( The conservationist efforts and the support of leaders like Roosevelt remain relevant today as the world grapples with the imperative of addressing climate change.

The progressive movement can also be credited with advocating for workers' rights, resulting in the establishment of the federal minimum wage. Drawing inspiration from countries like New Zealand and Australia, Progressives successfully lobbied for minimum wage laws. In 1912, their efforts bore fruit when Massachusetts introduced minimum wage laws to enhance women's earnings ( The federal minimum wage subsequently became a key component of the Fair Labor Standards Act (UC Davis Center for Poverty Research).

Furthermore, the progressive movement, led by organizations like the National Woman's Party (NWP) and the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), pursued radical actions to secure the ratification of the woman suffrage amendment. This hard-fought battle culminated in the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920, extending the democratic right to vote to women (National Women's History Museum).

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In summary, the progressive movement identified and responded to significant injustices within American society. Progressives achieved success in addressing issues related to poverty, minimum wage, environmental conservation, and gender equality. Their accomplishments were facilitated by the support of influential figures such as President Roosevelt, and their enduring impact continues to resonate in modern society.


  1. (2021). Theodore Roosevelt.
  2. Hansan, J. E. (2021). Child Labor and the Building of America. Federal Judicial Center.
  3. Khan Academy. (n.d.). Industrialization and the Progressive Movement.
  4. Library of Congress. (2021). The Conservation Movement and the Progressive Era.
  5. National Women's History Museum. (2021). The 19th Amendment.
  6. (2021). Minimum Wage -
  7. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2021). A History of the FDA and Drug Regulation in the United States.
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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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Major Achievements of the Progressive Era in America. (2022, February 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 26, 2024, from
“Major Achievements of the Progressive Era in America.” GradesFixer, 10 Feb. 2022,
Major Achievements of the Progressive Era in America. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 26 May 2024].
Major Achievements of the Progressive Era in America [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2022 Feb 10 [cited 2024 May 26]. Available from:
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