The Impact of Progressive Era on American Politics

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The Reconstruction era was among the controversial and turbulent periods in the American history and it began during the civil war and ended in 1877. The era of reconstruction was characterized by the abolition of slavery and the implementation of equal rights regulations that provided the black southerners with an opportunity to vote. There are various changes in race relations that resulted from the reconstruction period.

Firstly, the five years that define the reconstruction period saw the ratification of various laws that favored the black community. The implementation of the thirteenth amendment was significant to the American history in that it led to the abolishing of slavery. Slave owners were asked to pay their slaves and grant them the freedom that was brought by the thirteenth amendment (Smoller, 2017). The aspect of equality among the American citizens was cemented by the fourteenth amendment while the fifteenth amendment which was implemented during the same period prohibited the discrimination in voting rights based on race and color of individuals.

Another major change that resulted from reconstruction entailed changes in the labor patterns not only in the southern parts of California but around America. The African Americans became major contributors to economic growth by setting up their businesses and being employed in various industries.  With the passing of the fifteenth amendment, the black community became actively involved in the political process both as voters and representatives in the government at the national and state level (Smoller, 2017). An increase in the number of African American leaders on the political front led to a significant to a rise in the influence that the black community had on the socio-economic sector of the country.

The working conditions of the African Americans improved after the end of the reconstruction period. In as much as the working conditions were not that good for the miners and the railroad workers, there was a remarkable improvement in terms of wages and a reduction in the number of working hours. Employers were supposed to abide by the fourteenth amendment that fought for equality among all the citizens in the country. Black employees in the same positions as their white colleagues were supposed to earn the same pay and treatment in the form of the number of labor hours per day.

Consequences of industrialization on the American politics and society

One of the consequences of industrialization on American politics is that the government started engaging in regulation and control of work conditions. With the rise in mass production, companies put their employees in unsafe working conditions that included working for long hours. The government intervened by implementing regulations that restricted the number of labor hours and age requirements. The popularity of the unions increased significantly and they were tasked with the role of resolving disputes between the employers and employees. Employees were able to enjoy leisure times entailing listening to music and handling their daily activities without having to face punishment from their employers.

Another consequence of industrialization is that it led to advancement in the levels of technology. Subsequently, this had an impact on the performances of various industries around the world. The U.S. greatly benefited from the industrial revolution and this was evidenced by its rise to become the global economic power. With the expansion in the American economy, the company strengthened its relations with nations such as Japan thus spurring territorial growth. The urban workers that were major beneficiaries of the industrial revolution also became a vocal political class that positively influenced the type of leaders that were elected. Wealth was distributed in the hands of the industrialists and these also impacted the consumer market.

The rise of the Progressive Movement

Role of religion in defining progressive era

The progressive era was dotted with widespread social activism and political reform and exited from the 1890s to 1920s. The primary goal for the progressive movement was to ensure that issues related to economic, social and political aspects were effectively addressed. Pioneers of the progressive movement aimed at ensuring that evil that was brought about by the industrial revolution was eliminated (Smoller, 2017). They thus believed that for an individual to be morally upright and for their character to develop positively the persons had to be religious. Religion according to the founders of the progressive movement was meant to teach civilians about honesty and integrity and these in return positively impacted the ways of lives of American citizens.

Reform movements that helped define the progressive era

The reformers wielded federal power rather than supporting a dominant political party that was in place. The Woman Suffrage Movement was the first movement that helped in defining the progressive era. Women relied on the movement to fight for their rights when it came to voting and employment opportunities (Guillain, 2013). Another movement that had a major impact on the progressive era was the Prohibition Movement. The primary goal of the movement was to deal with excessive consumption of alcohol and the abuse of illegal drugs.

Impact of progressive movement on the American politics

The progressive movement had a direct impact on the American politics, especially in the twentieth century. American politics were revolutionized during this period as evidenced by the aspect of equality in civilians’ rights of engaging in political and democratic decisions. The aspect of modernization that was led by the middle-class society directly affected how politics were conducted in America. With the rise in the popularity of the progressive movement, there was a growth in the railroads and evils such as corruption in the American politics (Guillain, 2013). The fifteenth amendment that allowed for equality in the voting rights of the civilians irrespective of their skin colors led to an increase in the number of African American civilians that served in various capacities in the country’s political leadership. Additionally, the progressive movements promoted awareness among people about the essence of decreasing political corruption and engaging in the conservation of the environment. Most historians believe that the Progressive Movement played a major role in the enhancement of the American politics.

The role of American imperialism in leading the country to wars

Hawaiian Annexation

The Hawaiian Islands were major new frontiers that were integral to the American systems. Before its annexation, Hawaii was a monarchy that was ruled by Queen Liliuokalani. The U.S. took advantage of the sugar trade in Hawaii to set terms that were favorable to the sugarcane growers. However, relations between the U.S. and Hawaii deteriorated in 1890 when the McKinley tariff was passed that led to the rise in the import rates on the foreign sugars. With the implementation of the tariff, the Hawaiian Islands were hit by depression and this also had a negative impact on the American sugar growers (Fernandez-Armesto, 2013). In 1893, American sugar growers, backed by the armed forces and the marine organized a rebellion against the queen that led to her ouster. The island was a strategic point for American ships to refuel during the Spanish American War and this forced president McKinley to re-introduce annexation in 1898. Subsequently, Hawaii fell under the control of the U.S. government and this further strengthened America’s position as a superpower. The islands later became a state in 1959.

The Spanish-American war

The Spanish-American war started in 1898 and was triggered by America’s intervention in Cuba’s war for independence.  The war was the first for America that was fought overseas and involved campaigns in both the Philippines islands and Cuba. Majority of the soldiers that were involved in the war were volunteers. The U.S. supported the struggle of Cuba against the Spanish rule and this angered Spain. With the sinking of the US Navy ship in Havana, the U.S. decided to declare war against the Spanish (Fernandez-Armesto, 2013). President McKinley supported the war arguing that it showed the world the superiority of the U.S. After one month of fighting, the under-resourced Spanish military lost the war to strengthen America’s military. In the December 1898 Treaty of Paris, the U.S. took control over Cuba, ceded Guam and Puerto Rico from Spain. The sovereignty of Philippines was also transferred to the U.S. by Spain at a cost of $20 million. The entire war cost the U.S. estimated $250 million and more than 3000 lives were lost most of whom perished from diseases such as yellow fever and malaria.


Fernandez-Armesto, F. (2013). The americas. New York: Modern Library.

Guillain, C. (2013). History. Chicago, Ill.: Heinemann Library.

Smoller, L. (2017). History. Princeton University Press.

November 13, 2023


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American History

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