During the progressive era, a period between 1890 and 1920, the political and economic freedoms gave Americans a common feeling on the response of the government on its people. This era needed a rethinking of the functions and responsibility of the political authority. The belief and idea of practical freedom spearheaded reforms, increased democracy and brought a new meaning of freedom. Politics of Progressivism led to increased urbanization, increased immigration, and responses of muckrakers to these freedoms. The progressive era witnessed many reform efforts in America by participating in various reforms that introduced changes in the reaction of problems associated with industrialization and urbanization. Progressive reformers had many motivations and used different methods in achieving success in their reforms. This paper, therefore, analyses the progressive movements and progressives like Jane Addams, Upton Sinclair, and a social reformer Jacob A. Riis in the 19th century.
Due to new technological developments in the industry, transportation, and communication, many immigrants entered the US, and new challenges erupted. White Europeans racially discriminated most immigrants, housing became dilapidated, disease ridden and overcrowded, pollution became rampant, and industries failed to protect their employees physically, health-wise and financially. The greater use of machinery, the extension of farming and use of fertilizer led to crops abundance. This made food prices to drop with their expenses remaining high. The natural resources in the country were abused; the corporate world grew more powerful and wealthy leading to the philosophy of Darwinism and conditions of industrial workers became harsh, unsafe and with no job security. Moreover, the gap between the poor and rich increased leading to poverty, congestion, crime, ethnicity and poor sanitation and the government remained unresponsive to the impact of urbanization and industrialization.
Upton Sinclair, famous muckrakers, published a book, The Jungle in 1906 to expose the meat packing industry CITATION UPT06 \l 1033 (Sinclair). He helped bring issues of reform to the public. Muckrakers exposed issues of poverty, dangerous conditions of workers and unsanitary. In his letter to President Roosevelt, he stated that a law is required to allow federal inspectors to supervise and inspect meat in meat packing houses. Roosevelt, therefore, pushed for Upton Sinclair, that led to a legislative action through the Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act CITATION UPT06 \l 1033 (Sinclair). Upton Sinclair was, therefore, instrumental in improving the working conditions of workers. Jane Addams however, led the Settlement House Movement that fought for better city services and conditions in immigrants neighborhood (Addams, 15). There were filthy conditions and children and husbands health were affected. Jane Addams educated Americans on the dangers of smoke health wise leading to smoke-pollution-control laws by 1912 (Addams, 18).
Jacob Riis, a social reformer, and a journalist, wrote a book, How the Other Half Lives in 1890 CITATION Rii90 \l 1033 (Riis). He described the tenements of New York as worst slums that were faced with countless evils that lurk in dark corners. He published photographs of slum housing that led to some reforms in housing and living conditions of immigrant residents.
Since politics of progressivism led to increased urbanization, increased immigration, and responses of muckrakers, progressive reformers raised awareness and changed public perceptions on beliefs of industry and capitalism, housing, pollution and other human rights and freedoms. The belief and idea of reforms increased democracy, spearheaded freedom and brought a new meaning of freedom.
Jane Addams, The Subjective Value of a Social Settlement, in Philanthropy and Social Progress: Seven Essays, Delivered Before the School of Applied Ethics at Plymouth, Massachusetts during the Session of 1892 (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell & co., 1893); 1-26.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Riis, Jacob A. Excerpt from How the Other Half Lives: Studies Among the Tenements of New York. 1890. file:///C:/Users/USER/Downloads/Excerpt%20from%20How%20the%20Other%20Half%20Lives.pdf. 30 January 2017.
Sinclair, Upton. Upton Sinclair to Theodore Roosevelt (1906). 10 March 1906. file:///C:/Users/USER/Downloads/UPTON%20SINCLAIR%20TO%20THEODORE%20ROOSEVELT%201906.pdf. 30 January 2017.
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