The Progressive Era

By Megan Henry

Who Were The Progressives?

The progressives were people from 1890 to 1920 who worked to improve on regulating business, government reform, working conditions, conservation of national resources, and working for women's rights.


One of the most important federal government reform of the Progressive Era was the Clayton Anti-trust Act of 1914. It strengthened the Sherman Anti-trust act by outlawing all monopolies. An important state reform was creating a direct primary. This ensured that voters would choose who was in office, rather than party bosses.

The enfranchisement of women was one of the most important social reforms of the Progressive Era. When the 19th Amendment was ratified by Tennessee in 1920, it was the key event that has led to women becoming more equal to men and in the eyes of the law.

The Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 aided in eliminating contaminated foods and addictive drugs off the market. It required truth in labeling, which led to what we see as nutrition labels on most of the items we purchase.

Women's Suffrage

In 1890, the National Women Suffrage Association and the American Women Suffrage Association merge to form the National American Women Suffrage Association (NAWSA). This was important because it united two groups with many conflicts and made the movement stronger.

In 1893, Colorado is the first state to adopting an amendment granting women the right to vote. By adopting the amendment, it encouraged more states to follow.

Progressive Amendments

16th: Granted Congress the power to tax income. This amendment allows the government to keep an army, build roads and bridges, enforce laws, and many other things we see as necessities.

17th: Provided the direct election of U.S. Senators. This allowed two Senators from each state, elected by the people of that state.

18th: Prohibited the making, selling, or transportation of alcohol. The ratification of the 18th Amendment created an uprise of crimes and illegal activities.

19th: Provided women suffrage. This affected society in many obvious ways- including providing more than half of the country with the right to vote.

Were These Ideas New?

Many of these ideas during the Progressive Era were not new. For example, women have been moving to get the right to vote since 1848. Ideas that groups like the the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) had were also not new-- people have been fighting for equal rights before and after the end of slavery in 1865.