Progressive Era through the Great Depression Essay

The progressive era is approximated to have begun in the year 1896, and reform peaked in the period prior to America’s entry into the First World War in 1917. However, the reform impulse existed in America even in the colonial era, and it went on into the modern era. The progressive era through the great depression was marked by reforms which were driven by the Populist Party, among them being farmers, reform-minded leaders, and businessmen, who were ready to confront the increasing problems in the country.

During the above period, some historical turning points were felt by the Americans. Progressivism came about in the early 20th century as a varied inclination, different in various parts of the State and including all members from political parties. The period became the country’s first leading mindset to support state intervention in free market and in individual liberty in every sphere and at all levels (Perry & Manners, 2006). Moreover, the period made a history in a quick expansion for American capitalism, while at the same time the ruling class soared confidence. Leading economists declared that the era of slumps and booms was a past, and it was time for the US economy to experience permanent prosperity. All these proclamations were made during the 1920s, but before the progressive era was over, the worst depression had hit the US economy. The 1929 stock market collapse which manifested the start of the great depression brought in a period of submersion for almost the entire working class.

As a result of government intervention in free market, major businesses made more profits while wages continued to be low and workers failed to buy the goods they contributed in production. The banking and financial systems were not regulated and some banks had crashed during the 1920s. Automotive and construction industries, whose business had boomed during the progressive era slowed down at the great depression (Hofstadter, 2011).

By the year 1919, when the United States’ congress approved the 19th amendment to grant full voting rights to women, 13 out of 16 states in the west had already granted full suffrage to women. Wyoming was the first state to grant suffrage to women in 1869. In contrast, Eastern and southern states, suffragists had the ability to win the voting right before the federal amendment only in two states that is in Michigan in 1918 and New York in 1917. One of the key reasons for the women’s right was the idiosyncratic circumstances in all the suffrage states. The fact that the West was the forerunner in granting the rights suggests a number of common social conditions at work in the Western region, contrary to the other regions (Perry & Manners, 2006).

Presidents Roosevelt, Wilson, and Taft all adopted the progressive reform spirit in the legislation that they campaigned for, and in their view of the federal regime’s role in the life of the state. Despite attempting to continue with Roosevelt’s basic directions and policies, Taft’s presidency was not smooth, and a sour rift developed between them and within their party, paving way for Democrat Woodrow Wilson. One of the legislation was the spirit of progressivism. Regardless of divergent concerns and philosophical differences, progressives held to many basic doctrines. They were hopeful about human nature as they tried to humanize and adjust to big politics and businesses. They believed in the significance of direct intervention in citizens’ lives and wanted the government by all means to actively participate in manifesting reform. All these presidents were driven by their protestant ethics to reform the state using science techniques (Hofstadter, 2011).

The Underwood tariff reduced the levy charged on imports and included a new income tax. Thus, the lost revenue was replaced by the tax, authorized by the 16th constitutional amendment. On the other hand, Wilson reforms were not just targeted at Wall Street, but he also advocated for legislation to help businessmen and farmers. In addition, the Smith Lever Act has created the current system of agricultural expansion agents sponsored by government agricultural institutions. Businesses continue to thrive in modern day America as they get low-cost and long-term loans from the Federal Farm Loan Board began in 1916.

The role that the Spanish American War played in America’s development of an Empire

The Spanish American war involved Cuba, America, Spain, Philippines, and some islands in the Pacific Ocean, lasting from 1898 to 1902. It was a turning point in the way America related with other countries. Events of the war spited opinions harshly on what the responsibilities of America should be, internationally (Hofstadter, 2011). It launched the US on a path of a contemporary non-aristocratic empire based on state power though oriented towards business gains for well-connected associates and friends. By expanding the US foreign policy horizons in the chase for export markets via formal empire, that is the Philippines, and informal empire, Latin America, the war enhanced the role of American government in people’ lives and the task of the presidency in the state. The greatest outcome of the Spanish American war was that it led to the rise of America as a global military power and to improve its naval powers.

During the economic bang of the Roaring twenties, the average American focused on buying household appliances and automobiles, and guessing on the stock market, to find where large amounts of money were being made. Although firms had made huge benefits, the average worker’s wages had solely increased by eight percent. The general stability and progression of the 10920s seemed to illustrate that the government’s roles had been mastered. At certain pints, the federal government even extended credit internationally. The Federal Reserve Board recorded and kept statistics on bank failures and suspensions (Perry & Manners, 2006). The Boom and bust of the roaring twenties led to the Federal government supporting the new deal, led by President Roosevelt. The deal created the social security program which allowed the federal government to participate fully in helping American citizens. The relationship between the Government and the Americans changed forever as the government became more responsible for caring the needy and the economy was regulated. Unfortunately, after the progressive era, America experienced the great depression that lasted from 1929 to late 1930s. The great depression affected the U.S economy in a big way. For instance, it was characterized by market crash which began series of poverty, unemployment, inflation, low profits and lost chances for economic growth and individual advancement. The market crash or the great depression was caused by imbalances and weaknesses in U.S economy that had been obscured by the boom and bust of the roaring twenties. Before the great depression, the government took no action in times of market downturn instead it depended on impersonal market forces to attain desired corrections in the economy.


Hofstadter R. (2011). The Age of Reform. New York: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Perry E and Manners K. (2006). The Gilded Age and Progressive Era. Oxford: Oxford University Press.