Progressive Era Movements

An examination of the historical context of the Progressive Era.

The Progressive Era, which began in the last half of the 19th century, witnessed a number of fundamental changes in the American social and political fabric, and the legacy of these changes continues to influence American society into the 21st century. This paper provides an overview of the historical context in which the Progressive Era emerged, what forces caused it, and what its impact was on American society. A summary of the research is provided in the conclusion.
“During the last half of the 19th century, a series of so-called “Progressive movements” emerged that called for reforms on the local, state, and national levels. Many of these initiatives were mutually antagonistic: “Historians write of a “progressive movement,” but actually there were a number of movements, some of them contradictory, but all focusing on the problems created by a rapidly expanding urban and industrial world” (1998:726). Some reformers from the era (often from the middle class) attempted to humanize the modern city; others were more concerned with the conditions of the workplace; still others were seeking to change the American political system that had become characterized by big trusts and corrupt politicians.”