After Reconstruction ended, the United States began to grow in size and population. The West was conquered by the railroads, ranchers, farmers, and settlers.Native Americans were pushed out of the way in the name of “progress” and eventually placed onto reservations. The world became more modern with inventions like the telephone, the airplane, and the automobile. Making things became easier with ideas like the assembly line and mass production. Men like Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller became extremely rich controlling major industries like steel and oil. People worked long and hard in large factories for little pay… including children.Millions of people moved to the U.S. from Europe and Asia, bringing their customs with them, which were sometimes not welcomed.People moved to the cities by the thousands, causing cities to grow, skyscrapers to be built, and cities to become crowded, dirty places.
The Progressive Era is from 1898-1917. They believed that the public interestshould be the focus for any government action. The progressives helped to put more power in the hands of the people. Primaries allowed voters to choose the candidate from a party. Initiatives allowed for voters to putlegislation before the state government.Referendums allowed voters to make law by voting on it. The recall allowed voters to remove elected officials from offices.
Progressives wanted to lower tariffs to force American companies to compete with foreign ones. To make up lost tax money, Progressives supported a graduated income tax. This meant that the richer would pay more tax money than the poor.The Supreme Court ruled that an income tax was unconstitutional. In response, Congress passed the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.The 17th Amendment also allowed for the direct election of senators. Senators were elected by the state legislature previous to this amendment.
The 15th Amendment gave the right to vote to all men, but failed to consider women. The abolition movement gave way to the suffragist movement after the Civil War.Women like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony had led a women’s suffrage movement in the mid-1800’sto give women the right to vote in local an state elections. Until 1920, women could not vote in national elections. In 1913, women marched on Washington D.C. to spread their message. By 1919, they were able to vote in most states in some elections.Alice Paul led another march on Washington D.C. in 1917 to ensure the right to vote in all elections for women. The 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified in1920, giving women the right to vote for President for the first time.
Newspapers were going to poor areas in cities to point out how bad things were. These journals were called muckrakers, because they raked up the dirt or muck and showed it to the public. These journalists went after businesses and city governments. Upton Sinclair wrote The Jungle about the horrible conditions in the Chicago meat industry.Public opinion was changed by the muckrakers. People who began to take up the work to change the conditions in cities and businesses were called Progressives.
President Theodore Roosevelt reacted to Sinclair’sThe Jungle by increasing the amount of inspection done in meatpacking plants. The Meat Inspection Act of 1906 forcedmeatpackers to allow inspectors to see what was going on.Also in 1906, the Pure Food and Drug Act required pure ingredients and proper advertising to beused. All ingredients had to be listed in products. Roosevelt also believed in conservation. He worked to control mining and lumbering, andensure natural resources were being protected as best they could be. Areas were set aside for wildlife preservation to conserve them for public use for future generations.
The 20th Century began with many groups ofpeople struggling against discrimination.People believed that the U.S. should be run bywhite, Protestant, Ameri cans. Only those who werefrom the U.S. or grew up in the U.S. should make decisions. Immigrants were often overlooked.The government did very little to fight this discrimination during the Progressive Era.
Many Americans feared that Catholics would disrupt the American way of life. Americans were mostly Protestant, belonging to churches that split off from Catholics in the 1500’s.The American Protective Association in Iowa formed tokeep Catholics from getting jobs or from being elected to office.Many feared Catholics would try to take control of the country. Jews had been discriminated against in Europe, and received the same treatment in the U.S. Jews from Eastern Europe spoke different languagesand had far different ways of doing things than peoplewho came to the U.S. before them. They were seen as “foreign” and not treated well.
Asians were discriminated against in the western United States.Chinese immigrants had come over around the same time the Transcontinental Railroad was being built.Chinese workers would work for lower wages, and took jobs away from Americans. Congress acted and passed the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882, prohibiting Chinese immigrants from coming to the United States. After the Chinese were excluded from the U.S., President Teddy Roosevelt made a “Gentleman’s Agreement” with Japan in 1907. This limited the amount of Japanese immigrants who could come to the U.S. Americans feared that too many Asians would make it impossible for them to make a living and preserve their culture.
Most African Americans still livedin the South. 80% of them called the former Confederacy their home. African Americans were still stuck in the cycle of poverty (sharecropping) in the South.They were also still segregated in public life. African Americans were one ofthe many groups targeted by the Ku Klux Klan, which had resurfaced again in Georgia by 1915.
The KKK would rise again, and had 4 million members by 1924.The Klan favored everything American, andbegan to target and harass Catholics, Jews, immigrants, and African Americans. Economic hardship and a loss of jobs around the turn of the 20th Century sawpeople looking for answers. They turned tothe Klan who blamed “Non-Americans” and African Americans for their hardships. Hundreds of African Americans were lynched (hung) in the South as a result of Klan violence.Many Asians also suffered the same fate in the West.
Progressives were mostly upper or middle classpeople who wanted to help those less fortunate. Progressive changes however discriminated against some people in their efforts to help others.Unions were reluctant to let African Americans or women join because they thought it would hurt their chances for better way and working conditions. Temperance was started in response to the Catholic Irish immigrants.The Civil Service Commission required educationfor their jobs, discriminating against immigrants, the poor, and African Americans in the process.
African Americans had to work hard for every inch of freedom and equality they received.Booker T. Washington and the Tuskegee Institute believed thatAfrican Americans needed education and training to take care of themselves. If African Americans became more productive members ofsociety, they would earn more money and respect, and be able to make themselves equal to whites. W.E.B. Du Bois argued for segregation to end to give AfricanAmericans a fair chance to do better. He also thought that they needed to use their votes to make change. The National Association for the Advancement of ColoredPeople (NAACP) was organized to fight for the rights of African Americans. Few African Americans thought about returning home to Africa, not thinking true equality would happen.
The U.S. Government had tried hard to make Native Americans fit into American society. The Society of American Indians was formed to help all Native Americans improve their lives. Native Americans began to leave the reservations in hopes that they could make better livings in American society.Mexicans came over the border from Mexico to get away from the hard times in Mexico. Mexicans had to take care of themselves and help each other, living in neighborhoods called barrios.They were not well-received or appreciated in the U.S. for fear of a loss of jobs and culture to more immigrants.