Explain the factors that caused Progressivism in the USA.

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Explain the factors that caused Progressivism

12 marks

Progressivism was the reform movement that ran from the late 19th century through the first decades of the 20th century. The main factor of the Progressive Movement was to improve American politics and society. The movement was started by the urban middle class, the factors that caused the development of Progressivism will be explored in the forthcoming paragraphs.

Arguably the most significant factor that caused Progressivism, is the need to regulate big businesses. Business formed trusts during the late 19th century. Trusts were the result of mergers and takeovers of smaller companies creating giant corporation. Trust became so powerful that they threatened to establish monopolies in particular industries. The biggest of all, however, was US Steel. US Steel became the world’s first billion-dollar corporation. These giant trusts controlled the markets in their fields. Many Americans disliked the power of the trusts: they saw them as un-American, because they meant smaller companies or new entrants into the market could not complete. Moreover influential writers such as Henry George and Edward Bellamy exposed corruption and unfair practices in the trusts. Therefore the progressives wanted to regulate the power of trusts.

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The big businesses were ruling America, and the vast majority of America, except the big executives and the corrupt politicians, was either living poorly, or on the edge of it. Violent strikes became common as people joined militant unions. It was clear that something had to be done to improve a lot of the working class or the US might face violent class struggle. Furthermore, the Progressive Movement wanted the government to focus on the social issues related to fair wages and safe working conditions. Legislation outlawing child labor, limits on working hours, and a minimum wage for working ...

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