Progressive Era

During the Progressive Era, the country grappled with the problems caused by industrialization and urbanization. Progressivism, an urban, middle‐class reform movement, supported the government taking a greater role in addressing such issues as the control of big business and the welfare of the public. Many of its accomplishments were based on efforts of earlier reform movements. The federal income tax and the direct election of senators, for example, were a part of the Populist program, and Prohibition grew from a pre‐Civil War anti‐alcohol reform tradition. Although the Progressives formed their own political party in 1912, the movement had broad support among both Democrats and Republicans. President Theodore Roosevelt initiated Progressive movements that would accelerate the Industrial Revolution, and while including reforms that would protect the environment, this was not the sole focus of his reforms.
Two important objectives of Progressivism were giving the public the opportunity to participate more directly in the political process and limiting the power of big city bosses. Progressives hoped to accomplish these goals through a variety of political reforms. These reforms included the direct primary a preliminary election giving all members of a party the chance to take part in a nomination and that was intended to limit the influence of political machines in selecting candidates;initiative a process for putting a proposition or proposed law on a ballot (usually by getting a specified number of signatures on a petition), and referendum, the voting on an initiative, allowing the people to enact legislation that a state legislature is either unwilling or unable to do; and recall, a process giving voters the power to remove elected officials from office through petition and a vote. Governor Robert M. LaFollette of Wisconsin championed these reforms, and their implementation in his state became the model for the rest of the country.
Meanwhile, making the...