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American History: The Progressive Era

Which of the progressive presidents was the most progressive? Which was the least progressive? Explain. The Progressive Era

Theodore Roosevelt, 26th American President served in office from September 14, 1901 to March 4, 1909, was the most progressive among the Progressive Leaders. According to The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project of The George Washington University, progressivism gained a strong voice in the White House when Theodore Roosevelt became president in 1901, on the national level. During Theodore Roosevelt presidency, Progressivism and Progressive Movement was at its peak. On the other words, Theodore Rosevelt succeeded to promote the progressive reforms. His influence on Progressive Movement focused on efficiency and fairness. He believed American welfare could only be achieved if there were strong corporations and this corporate behavior must be under supervision to ensure that corporate greed did not get out of hand (trust-busting and federal regulation of business). Two other main Progressive presidents were William Howard Taft (1909-1913) and Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921). Their administrations mainly focused on social and political change in American society.

The Progressive Movement was led by male and female Progressives from all stake of society. These progressives were members of the Republican and Democrat political parties; well educated middle-class Americans, poorer Americans (often union activists); crusading Journalists, photographers and authors, also known as Muckrakers; teachers and educators; and members of the clergy. Jacob Riis, John Dewey, Lester Frank Ward, Frank Norris, Ida Tarbell, Thomas Nast, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Robert La Follette, Henry Demarest Lloyd, David Graham Philips, Upton Sinclair, Charles Edward Russell, Alice Paul, John Spargo, Eugene Debs, Lincoln Steffens, Ray Stannard Baker, Jane Addams, Booker T. Washinton, W.E.B. DuBois, Theodore Dreiser, Walter Rauschenbusch and Ida B.Wells were also notable Progressives Leaders. Many of them also recognized as Muckrakers, reform-minded American journalists.

Agricultural depression in the early 1890s and industrial depression began in 1893 brought about a need for  Progressive Era. Apart from agricultural and industrialization issues, the need of intense reform also caused by other issues such as female suffrage, education, working conditions, unionization, the problems of urbanization, immigration, and child labor. As a response to the economic and social problems, Progressivism emerged.  Progressivism in United States was basically a reform movement occured on Progressive Era (1890-1920). Progressivism movement started as a social movement and developed into a political movement. The movement encompassed various ideas and activities of reformist pressure groups. Progressives, groups of people struck for reforms, attacked corruption and injustice or unfair business practices. These progressives believed that the issues society faced could be best be managed and resolved by giving good education, a safe environment, and an efficient workplace.


The Progressive Era (1890 – 1920). (n.d.). Retrieved June 20, 2017, from

Progressive Movement. (n.d.). Retrieved June 20, 2017, from


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