The reformers of the Progressive Era were very effective against corrupt companies, monopolies, and bad laws. Under Theodore Roosevelt, the pure food and drug act and the meat inspection act were passed. Under Howard Taft, trusts were prosecuted twice as much. Under Woodrow Wilson, the federal reserve system was established. These are just a few examples of reforms during the Progressive Era.
The era prior to the 1900s contained what is now known as the "forgettable presidents era". This era could also be called "The Gilded Age" in which everything was not as golden as its name suggests. The Progressive Era fixed this, starting with Theodore Roosevelt in 1901.
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Teddy Roosevelt became President in 1901 after William McKinley was assassinated. He promptly began reforming the United States. He passed the Meat Inspection Act, which was desperately needed which said: "in a word, we saw meat shoveled from filthy wooden floors, piled on tables rarely washed, pushed from room to room in rotten box carts, in all of which processes it was in the way of gathering dirt, splinters, floor filth, and the expectoration of tuberculosis and other diseased workers." Unfortunately, this new regulation gave corporations a license to find new, more skilled workers to comply with the regulations. TR also established the National Park system which protected scenic areas of the US so that people could enjoy them. TR was in favor of other reforms such as, direct primaries would allow voters to choose which candidates end up on the ballot. Teddy Roosevelt was known as a trustbuster because he was hard on bad trusts and allowed good trust organizations to operate.
Teddy Roosevelt's successor, Howard Taft wasn't popularly known as a trustbuster even though he prosecuted trusts twice as much as TR. Under Taft, reforms like the Children's Bureau were established which sought to improve the welfare of American children. Along with the Children's Bureau, Taft passed anti-child labor legislation which was written by Jane Addams, in the document, Addams argues that children shouldn't be working in factories by saying "thousands of city youth will enter factory life at an early age as early as the state laws will permit."
The next "Progressive" was Woodrow Wilson, having won the 1912 election because of the Republican Party splitting their votes between Roosevelt and Taft, he began to continue regulating the trusts. In 1914, he passed the Clayton Antitrust Act, which effectively broadened the Sherman Antitrust act of 1890 by making it illegal to participate in price discrimination. He also strengthened previous antitrust laws by establishing the Federal Trade Commission. Wilson followed Taft's example by passing legislation that regulated the use of children workers in mines and factories. Not everyone enjoyed Woodrow Wilson, some questioned his motives and believed he was deluded. The author Herbert Croly argues that Wilson's reforms don't come from a place of sincerity because he is educated and can't relate to the common people. Wilson was also accused of being prejudiced against women. The banner reads "Kaiser Wilson…. 20,000,000 American women are not self-governed" meaning that women don't have the right to vote, but German Americans did, at the time the photo was taken.
In conclusion, the progressive era of American politics was a tumultuous, and dynamic time. Reforms were passed at a pace never before seen, for the betterment of the people of the US.