• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

The Jungle: Progressive Reforms

Extracts from this document...


Upton Sinclair's The Jungle describes a harsh, early 20th century: a time of supposed change and reform by the Progressive movement. At the turn of the century, there were nearly 76 million Americans: one of seven was foreign born. As new immigrants flooded the urban areas, cities became packed with people living in substandard conditions. With so many people crowded in areas so relatively small, there was limited employment, but an excess of people waiting outside factory gates early every morning, hoping for their chance. Then with so many people out of work, corporate machines knew that workers were at their mercy, and depended on them to provide for their families. The Progressive movement worked to improve many aspects of life that plagued immigrants and the working class. The roots of the progressives can be traced back to the Greenback Labor party of the 1870's, and the Populists of the 1870's. However, even before then, politicians had been aiming at targets for the progressive assault. Progressives were even aided by prominent writers like Sinclair, who described the terrible happenings in a society that many of the elite did not know existed. Issues like women's' rights, municipal governments, sanitation, and alcohol beleaguered the working class, but were later alleviated by reforms and legislations introduced by the Progressives. Before Theodore Roosevelt's term as President, these issues went unnoticed, unacknowledged, and overshadowed by other "more pressing" problems outside of the United States, while the internal turmoil was allowed to stew. ...read more.


Because of these grafts, Progressives also worked to establish direct election of U.S. Senators, which, after much pressure and difficulty going through Congress as the richer men were content with the current conditions, was finally approved as the Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution in 1913. The working class also tried to voice their plights without government aid by joining labor unions. However, courts were not fond of them and many were quick to issue court orders to halt striking and boycotting. Municipal governments were major boulders that had to be overturned to reach the underlying problems. Among the major dangers to the public wellbeing was sanitation. With so many people crowded into jam-packed buildings, diseases, fleas, and bedbugs spread like wildfire. In rural areas, there was virtually no waste. Food scraps were fed to the animals, and ripped clothing was mended, not discarded. In the city, things came disposably. When clothes went out of style, they were thrown out. Bottles, bags, and cartons were made for throwing away. Refuge and human waste was thrown out the window to join mounds of stench in the street, for which draft animals were in charge of taking care of. Slums grew more crowded, and the "dumbbell" tenements only made things worse. They were named so because of the outline of its floor plan. They were eight stories high with dark, dank, smelly air shafts providing negligible ventilation, into which people conveniently tossed, only to have the odor circulated around the building. ...read more.


Later on, many states and counties passed "dry" laws to control alcohol. Then came the Eighteenth Amendment in 1919 established prohibition in the United States, banning the manufacturing, sale, and transportation of intoxicating liquors. Alcoholism created problems at home, and the women took it upon themselves to solve them. At the turn of the century in 1900, new immigrants flooded the cities. With these new immigrants arose problems that the Progressive Party members sought to alleviate. Women's rights was a major issue that had been pushed aside for a while. The federal government created bureaus for women and children, and legislation to protect their weaker bodies from the detrimental effects of factory labor. Corrupt municipal governments terrorized cities and tainted the reputation of American justice, which led reforms to push the Seventeenth Amendment, allowing direct election of senators to undercut the powers of large corporations who wanted to "buy" government officials. Cities turned to slums as workers were forced to crowd into ill-lit, barely ventilated, vermin infested buildings because of their mediocre paychecks. Sanitation in the home and at the workplace ran at a minimum, as a foul odor loomed over the city and unimaginable refuge made it into the public's food. To assuage this problem, Roosevelt created the Meat Inspection Act as well as the Pure Food and Drug Act to protect the public from tainted goods. Alcoholism was also fought furiously by women who wanted safer homes, free of the daunting effects of liquor, and in 1919, Prohibition was established. In a time before minimum wages and safety codes, many urban zones were in dire need of improvement, and the Progressives fought for them. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our International Baccalaureate History section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related International Baccalaureate History essays

  1. The North, The South, and Slavery

    Cast-iron plow- parts could be replaced when broken 3. 1847- John Deere established a Moline, ILL a factory to manufacture steel plows, more durable than those of Iron g. Two other great machines heralding a grain revolution i. Automatic reaper, invented by VA Cyrus H. McCormick 1. 6 or 7 men could harvest in 1 day what 15 men could do using older methods 2.

  2. History Internal Assesment

    There is one cause for Mussolini's eagerness to take Ethiopia and his willingness to ignore the League of Nations, and that is nationalism. At home Mussolini faced a decadent economy due to his elevated prices on exports that were slowly decreasing and a relatively weak army compared to European standards (Evans 116).

  1. Nelson mandela, a man before his time

    Perhaps not, but the outside world would have been made aware of the situation, and maybe the whole process of liberating the black people would have started a lot earlier, and could have been well under way, by the time that the united nations wrote the Declaration of Human Rights.

  2. US History. How did the activity of Boss Tweed influence the way the federal ...

    * Tweed and fellow democrat Peter Sweeny made the Democratic Central Committee of New York County allied with Tammany Hall and gained dictatorial power over party nominations and judicial posts (Lankevich 101). * Tweed appointed himself as deputy street commissioner in 1863 (Allen 94).

  1. Changing role of women

    In 1918 parliament finally passed a new law which gave all women's over 30 years the right to vote. After all they had insisted they had succeeded in their aim. 5- As women were not heard they had to invent different way to do so.

  2. HG exam study sheet

    Les Casques Bleus : role humanitaire (secours au refugies), aident la reconstruction de structures politiques democratiques, mettent en place des elections libres. L'ONU interviennent dans le monde entier. TRIADE : Japon, Etas-Unis, Europe de l'Ouest (puissances economique et strategique) mondialization : s'impose sur tout les pays (commerce, capitaux, monnaie).

  1. A look at the Differing Views of Jimmy Hoffa by the Government, the Public, ...

    Despite these allegations and attacks on Hoffa, he still was generally respected and well-regarded within the Teamsters. This essay examines how and why the government, the public, and Teamster members saw Jimmy Hoffa in different ways and if one viewpoint or the other is a more accurate evaluation of Jimmy Hoffa?s character.

  2. The Westeinde is one of the higher parts of The Hague, and the story ...

    Catherine was tried and condemned to death. The original sentence was that she should be burned in public at the stake, but by special mercy of the Queen of Hungary, then Regent of the Netherlands, her sentence was commuted to private execution in prison and burial in consecrated land -

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work