Solving Social Problems during the Progressive Era

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By the start of the 20th century, a great change known as the Progressive Era occurred in the United States. In view of that, people who supported progressivism, known as progressives, worked to eliminate the numerous problems affecting the country. The progressives sought to suppress child labor practices, regulate alcohol distribution, extended women and minority rights, and managed immigrants altogether. They informed the public of the problems that resulted in the passage of wide range of moral, social, political, and economic reforms by the government. Because of these problems, the themes of the Progressive Era have been primarily focused on consumption, immigration, labor, gender and race reforms.

Major Themes of Progressive Reform

            One of the major themes of the reform was focused on labor practices. Displeased with lack of a national governing standard, public disregard to child labor, and insufficiency of State laws, labor and social reform communities connected themselves under the flag of the National Child Labor Committee to endorse accountability to the Federal government (Walker, 2009, p.2). For that reason, the Federal government passed laws that adjusted industrial labor, improved factory guideline, and restricted child labor. Progressives reframed development by eliminating child labor and upholding education among children.

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            Another major theme in the Progressive reform was focused on consumption. Progressives campaigned that alcohol consumption can restrict a person’s potential for advancement. The passage of the Volstead Act reinforced the prohibition on alcohol consumption. Moreover, amendment to the United States Constitution was made to forbid the sale and manufacture of alcohol beverages (Digital History, 2009).

            Immigration also became the theme of the Progressive reform seeing that it has caused the country’s population to rapidly increase. Many of the progressives believe that all the enormous problems taking place in the United States are associated with one enormous problem of immigration (Emayzine). Accordingly, the issue of the immigration reforms in the period was basically on restricting immigration or Americanizing immigrants’ altogether (Digital History, 2009). Progressives engaged in reform movement, such as social service and public works projects, that reduced poverty among poor immigrant families and improved American society.

            Early history of the United States revealed the massively diverse worlds that defined the lives of men and women. Accordingly, during the Progressive Era gender equality likewise become one of the major themes of the reform. State legislators passed laws that extended the right to vote to women as well as minimum wage for women workforce (Digital History, 2009). In 1919, an amendment to the United States Constitution was further passed by the lawmakers that give women the right to suffrage (Wisconsin Historical Society, 2009).

            Finally, race has also become one of the most significant reform themes in the Progressive Era. It was during this period that government successfully abolished the practice of slavery. Moreover, the government passed amendments to the United States Constitution that ensured the rights of racial minorities. Accordingly, for the first time minorities were allowed to vote, access education, and run for elected public positions (Absolute Astronomy, 2009).


            The Progressive Era was exceptionally successful in taking back the supremacy of the people in the government. It generated reforms that solved the numerous problems that affected the American society throughout the great surge of industrial growth at the start of the 20th century. These successes would not have been realized if the Progressive reforms were not concentrated on consumption, immigration, labor, gender and race issues that were distressingly affecting the American society.


  • Absolute Astronomy. (2009). Anti-racism. Retrieved December 10, 2009, from
  • Digital History. (2009, December 10). Learn About the Progressive Era. Retrieved December 10, 2009, from
  • Emayzine. (n.d.). The Progressive Era. Retrieved December 11, 2009, from
  • Walker, K. (2009, April 13). Refraction and Reflection: Child Labor Reform in America’s Progressive Era. Retrieved December 11, 2009, from
  • Wisconsin Historical Society. (2009). The Progressive Era: 1895-1925. Retrieved December 10, 2009, from

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