Woodrow Wilson: The Progressive Era

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Industrialization, immigration, and urban expansion were the primary elements in the dramatic growth that the United States experienced during the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Accompanying this growth were both old and new concerns about the lives of many Americans. By the turn of the century, a reform movement known as progressivism was born. Its supporters wanted to build on the existing society, making moderate political changes and social improvement through government action. With devotees, such as the muckrakers and Woodrow Wilson, the Progressive Era successfully brought reform to American society. One of the most influential groups during the progressive era was known as the muckrakers. The name was coined by President Theodore…show more content…
On the first day of his presidency, Wilson called a special session of Congress to lower the tariff. His next major initiative concerned the banking system and the money supply. He was persuaded that the gold standard was inflexible and that banks, rather than serving public interest, were too influenced by stock speculators on Wall Street. Wilson went directly to Congress in 1913 to propose a plan for building both flexibility and stability. The president’s plan was a national banking system with twelve district banks supervised by a Federal Reserve board. In the following year, Wilson had two significant pieces of legislation passed to regulate businesses. The first of which was the Clayton Antitrust Act, which strengthened the provisions of the Sherman Antitrust Act. The other, the Federal Trade Commission, was created to investigate any “unfair” trade practices in industries. Reformers of the Progressive Era, including Woodrow Wilson and the muckrakers, brought about much change in American society. While the movement certainly did not cure all of America’s issues, it improved the quality of life, provided a larger role for the people in their democracy, and established a precedent for a more active role for the federal government. During this time, the first laws protecting workers were constructed. Also, African Americans began their civil rights movement. The Progressive Era even introduced the Federal income

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