Arsifa Deliyana

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American History: The Muckrakers


Who were the muckrakers, and what impact did they have on American society?

Muckracker was a term used to describe American journalist who brought issues they found about society to light and created controversy. The muckrakers played a highly visible role during the Progressive Era, like Herbert Croly defended the growth government for democratic purposes through his writing The Promise of American Life. In this book, Croly delivered his argument for a planned economy, increased spending on education and the creation of a society based on the “brotherhood of mankind”; Fredrick Winslow Taylor’s The Principles of Scientific Management systematized reorganization of Corporations and Industry on scientific principles. Taylor believed workers had too much power in the factory. In purpose to pursue efficiency, decisions should be made by trained managers; Ida Tarbell’s History of the Standard Oil  and Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle were two principal works favoring reform for a greater regulation; Lincoln Steffens, the first one to strike by publishing an article in McClure’s magazine, exposed political corruption in many big cities; Samuel Hopkins Adams’ The Great American Fraud exosed false claims about patent medicines, and other  talented journalists namely Ray Stannard Baker, George Creel, and Brand Whitlock exposed waste, corruption, and scandal operated at the local and state level. Those muckrakers and their works had conributed to the Progressive Era in US history.

The influence of the muckrakers began to appear around 1900 in Progressive Era. The Progressive Era was a time period of intense social and political reform in American history lasting from the 1890s to the 1920s. This era was motivated by the commitment in reforming every aspect of the state, society and economy by eliminating issues caused by corruption, inefficiency, industrialization, urbanization, immigration, and other social and political problems. During the Progressive Era, muckrakers took big role in reforming the state and the nation. These reform-minded American journalists attacked established institutions and leaders as corrupt. Muckrakers were known as progressive reformers and movements who believed that, through progressive reforms, American society would achieve greater democracy, greater efficiency, greater regulation, social justice, and government activism. As a watchdog journalists, muckrakers inform the public about factual issues in institutions and society, particularly the significant portion demanding changes in responses. Muckrakers exposed corruption issue (Steffens), industrialisation issues such as meat packaging (Sinclair) and Standard Oil Company (Tarbell). These cases raised the awareness of Americans from the minor to major issues, from crime to injustice. To conclude, muckrakers hold great influence in American society in Progressive Reform era.


Muckrakers. (n.d.). Retrieved June 20, 2017, from

The Progressivee Era, 1900-1916. (n.d). Retrieved June 20, 2017, from


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