The Gilded Age and the Progressive Movement

The Gilded Age and the Progressive Movement

The Gilded Age and the

Progressive Movement

I. Historical Definitions

A. The Gilded Age:

a time period between

the Civil War and the

2nd Industrial

Revolution where

American society

seemed prosperous on

the outside, but was

corrupt and ugly on

the inside.

B. Progressivism : a

movement to improve

society by addressing

the social and political

problems caused by

rapid industrial

expansion and urban


II. Gilded Age Problems

A. Crime: Few laws to keep order

B. Sanitation: diseases and health problems spread


C. Housing: little regulation; landlords not required

to fix buildings; crowded and unsafe tenements

(low income apartments)

D. Safety: Few cities had organized

police or fire departments; few laws

requiring safety features in buildings.

E. Labor: Child labor, few laws

regulating business

F. Politics / Political Machines:

powerful organizations that used

illegal methods to control

government and grow rich from it.

1.Bosses: political leaders who controlled

elections through bribery and payoffs

2.Spoils System: awarding jobs to loyal machine


3.Tactics: offering immigrants both jobs and

social mobility; charity work for the poor

4. Example: New York City’s political machine,

Tammany Hall, was led by Boss William

Marcy Tweed

Tammany Hall's William "Boss" Tweed, as portrayed by 19th

century political cartoonist Thomas Nast

III. Progressive Solutions

A. Police and firefighting systems set up in

many urban areas

B. Urban Organizations discusses local and

national issues

C. African American groups were a political

force (esp. community churches)

D. Women’s Groups were a

social force

1. Female Social Work

became a profession for

upper class women -- Jane

Addams and Ellen Gates


2. Many formed settlement

houses to aid immigrant

families – Hull House


Jane Addams encouraged people to take responsibility for

the less fortunate in Chicago and founded Hull House.

E. Reforms in Journalism and the Arts

1. Muckrakers : Journalists who called for

reform by writing about corruption in

business and politics

2. Realism : writing style that focused

on more accurate images of American


F. Labor Unions

1. Holding Companies are created to

control big business

2. States developed labor departments to

regulate the workplace

G. Reform at the National Level

1. Environmental movement to create National


2. Children’s Bureau Established

3. Four Progressive Amendments Passed

16 th Amendment government has the power to collect income

taxes to help pay for the growing government programs

17 th Amendment there is now a direct election of Senators; this

put politics more directly in the hands of the people.

18 th Amendment prohibited the making, selling, and

transportation of alcohol. (later repealed by the 21 st Amendment)

19 th Amendment women gain the vote

IV. The Limits of Progressivism

A. African Americans and their problems

were often ignored.

B. Problems of immigrants and small

farmers were rarely addressed

C. Many progressives supported imperialism

and the “civilizing” of undeveloped

nations – which would eventually lead to

the Spanish American War.

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