The withered leaves of industrial enterprise lie on every side, were words spoken by Roosevelt in his inaugural address and referring to the great depression that prompted his new deal in the 1930s (Hardman, 1999). Earlier, the progressive era was coined as a response to the aftereffects of industrialism to deter a war between capital and labor. In captioning Roosevelts words, the industrial enterprise was the main focus and both responses fashioned to clean up the withered leaves on each side as a consequence of its effects. In this regard, it can be assumed that there existed similarities in the two responses. However, in the same vein, differences are apparent due to other different motivations, political climate, and the leadership during the time among other factors. Therefore, the paper compares the reform efforts introduced during the Progressive era and those coined during Roosevelt New Deal. In so doing, it is made easy to observe the influence the two reform eras had on the lives of ordinary Americans and how they helped in eliminating issues attributed to the rise of industrial capitalism in modern America.
The progressive era was characterized by a political force that demanded reformations in the levels of government, theology, education, industry, medicine insurance and finance. The movement was driven by the Populist Party that was mainly comprised of farmers, small businessmen, and leaders who were motivated to confront the issues facing America during the time.
Issues in the progressive era
The movement began in the 1890s and was aggravated by the situation in American cities which were crowded with millions of poor workers (a consequence of industrialization).
The work environment was characterized by long working hours and dangerous working conditions in the factories.
Public opinion during the day was silenced, and the land was mainly owned by the capitalists. The ordinary Americans were laden with mortgages.
The men in the urban areas were denied the opportunity to organize and protect themselves.
Institutions of the day were marred with corruption such as Congress and hence, the emergence of the progressive movement.
A large number of imported labor created an excess supply of labor and hence, a spiraling down of wages.
Reforms during the progressive era
Living conditions were improved during the era. Settlement houses and adult education was provided. The immigrant children and minorities were also schooled and the initiation of public health services. There was increased advocacy as pertains improvement of housing for the urban poor and workers. There was also a growth in urban parks.
The working conditions were improved. Theodore Roosevelt supported the workers by an intervention on behalf of the coal workers during their strike in 1902. Activists advocated for a federal minimum wage and eight hours working days (National Consumers League chartered by Jane Addams in 1899). Reformers also advocated for child rights (were against child labor) and safety- Keating-Owen Act 1916 (prohibited the sale of products produced by factories with children workers under the age of fourteen)
Roosevelt's New Deal
The New Deal was spearheaded by Frank D. Roosevelt and can be termed a response to by government from the effects of the great depression.
Issues of the New Deal era
Unemployment and poverty can be termed as the primary issues during the period and were as a result of the great depression. The crash of the stock market led to reductions in pay and laying off of workers.
Reforms in the New Deal era
The living conditions of the farmers were improved through the Home Owners Loan Corporation that paid mortgages of homes that were not farms with the Agricultural Adjustment Act paying for the mortgages accrued to farm homes.
Working conditions were improved through the PWA which was set to develop many projects such as parkways, highways and Grand Coulee dam. The Civil Works Administration was purposed at providing jobs during hard times. The Works Progress Administration offered jobs such as musicians to high school and college students. The Wagner Act allowed for the formation of unions and organized labor. The National Recovery Administration (NRA) was purposed at reduction of the working hours to ensure fair minimum pay. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was purposed at providing young men with jobs and were required to send a percentage of their money home.
In improving the working conditions of the workers both the progressive era through the National Consumers League and the New Deal through the NRA purposed to reduce the working hours and improve pay. In the same vein, the CCC (New Deal) and the settlement houses in the progressive era were purposed at offering education and jobs to the poor.
For progressivism, the people took a step in coercing the government to make changes and eradicating the issues resulting from industrialism. The New Deal was a response by the government to the consequences of the Great Depression and hence, government-sponsored initiatives.
The progressive era was primarily focused on eradicating exploitation of men, women, and children and thus, reforms such as the Keating-Owen Act. On the other hand, the new deal was fashioned at expanding more opportunities through the CCC, PWA, CWA and the WPA.
From this, it is implicit how the New Deal and the Progressive eras influenced ordinary American lives. The two eras do not fall far apart from each other, and this can be attributed to the fact that Frank Roosevelt was also part of the progressive movement under Theodore Roosevelt. Nonetheless, the eras have had an influence on modern America.
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