The Progressive Period Essay

Submitted By gbbuso
Words: 1552
Pages: 7

The Progressive Period
The United States in 1901 have the youngest President ever. His name was Theodore Roosevelt. At forty-two years old, the former New York governor dominated the news unlike any previous president had done. He loved being a president. He became very popular because of his many exploits, such as boxing and horseback riding, led the press to gain interest in him. Known for being very outgoing and likable, the public loved him and called him “Teddy” and named a stuffed bear after him (Nash 632). Roosevelt used his personality and popularity to advance in his programs. “His leadership and publicity campaigns helped create the modern presidency, making him a model by which all future presidents would be measured”(524). He felt that the government should take control when states show incompetence in dealing with problems. Roosevelt saw the presidency as a “bully pulpit.” He believed he could use the media to persuade the public, rather than going to congress.
“By 1900, trusts-legal bodies created to hold stock in many companies-controlled about four-fifths of the industries in the United States”(525). Some trusts used unfair business practices. This gave trusts a bad reputation. There were many trusts that lowered their prices to drive competitors out of the market. These trusts then took advantage of the lack of competition and jacked prices up even higher. Even though Congress passed the Sherman Anti-Trust Act in 1890, the act’s indistinct language made enforcement difficult. “President Roosevelt did not believe that all trusts were harmful, but he sought to curb the actions of those that hurt the public interest”(525). The president’s main focus was filing suits under the Sherman Antitrust Act. Roosevelt made newspaper headlines in 1902 when he ordered the Justice Department to sue the Northern Securities Company, which established a monopoly over northwestern railroads. The Supreme Court dissolved this company in 1904. “Although the Roosevelt administration filed 44 antitrust suits, winning a number of them and breaking up some of the trusts, it was unable to slow the merger movement in business”(525).
President Roosevelt was focus and very enthusiastic, he also had considerable skill at compromise. This led to laws and policies that were good for both public health and the environment. After reading The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, which was a novel that portrayed the dangerous and unhealthy conditions prevalent in the meatpacking industry, Roosevelt appointed a commission of experts to investigate this industry. The commission found some disgusting conditions in the meatpacking industry, backing up Sinclair’s account. This led Roosevelt to push the passage of the Meat Inspection Act in 1906. The Meat Inspection Act “dictated strict cleanliness requirements for meatpackers and created the program of federal meat inspection that was in use until it was replaced by more sophisticated techniques in the 1990s” (528). Roosevelt made a compromise that the government would pay for inspections while the companies were not required to label their canned goods with date-of processing information. This was the compromise that won the act’s passage.
Manufacturers would say that their product could do anything before federal regulations were passed for advertising foods. Also, children's medicine often contained substances as cocaine opium or alcohol. The chief chemist at the Department of Agriculture, Dr. Harvey Washington Wiley, was the first to bring attention to this issue by conducting a series of lectures across the country. Congress passed the Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906 “which halted the sale of contaminated foods and medicines and called for truth in labeling”(528). Even though this act did not outwardly band harmful products, it went with the progressive belief that if given accurate information, people would act wisely.
The federal government was not worry about the nation’s natural resources before