Muckrakers in the Progressive Era Essay
The term “muckraker” was originally coined in a speech in 1906 accredited to President Theodore Roosevelt. It was alluding to the man with the Muck-Rake in Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Process. The Man with the Muck rake seeks material advances by raking filth. Roosevelt defined this term as “one who inquires into and publishes scandal and allegations of corruption among political and business leaders”. Muckrakers in the Progressive Era, a time from 1820 until 1920 when America quickly industrialized, pushed for reform and have altered the way we live today.
These reformers brought about the awareness and tackled women’s rights, economic concentration, corporate power, poverty, food safety, and political corruption. Extraordinary muckrakers are Jane Addams, Carrie Chapman Catt, Upton Sinclair, Alice Paul, and Edwin Markham. Jane Addams was an advocate for the rights of improving social conditions in the urban areas for the poor immigrants and workers living in slums. People living in the slums had to live in terrible conditions. Large households were living in a small, cramped living space in tenements that were overcrowded with people.
Young children were sent to work along with their parents in order to provide daily meals to feed their families and there was no sanitation. In 1889, Addams along with her college classmate and friend Ellen Gates Starr founded the Hull House. This was a famous settlement house in Chicago which relieved the effects of poverty by providing social services for people in the neighborhood such as teaching English to immigrants, pioneering early-childhood education, teaching industrial arts, and establishing neighborhood theaters and music schools. By its second year of existence, Hull House proved for about two thousand people each week.
Addams sparked the settlement house movement in America; there were soon more than four hundred settlement houses throughout America’s largest cities. Settlement workers were volunteers who set the stones of the future profession of the social worker. In 1910, Addams published a book Twenty Years At Hull House, delineating her Hull House experience and thoughts about the Progressive Era by bringing her Christian moral beliefs into economic and social aspects. Addams and her associates at Hull-House had wide influence not only on key reform movements of their time, but also on major philosophical, sociological, and political thought.
She was a leading supporter of Theodore Roosevelt’s presidential campaign in 1912 for the Progressive “Bull Moose” Party. Jane Addams along with the prominent women in the International Suffrage Alliance fought for their struggle for peace and equality for women. They founded the Woman’s International League for Peace and Freedom to work towards social justice, disarmament to help end the war, development, and women’s rights. Jane gained worldwide recognition in the twentieth century as a pioneer social worker, feminist, and internationalist.
In 1931, Jane Addams was the first woman in history to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Another reformer during the Progressive Era was Carrie Lane Chapman Catt. Catt was born and raised in the west by her mother and father, who originally came from New York. Two significant events in her early life set the framework for Catt’s future life work. A huge turning point in Carrie’s life occurred at the age of thirteen. She wondered why her mother wasn’t voting for Election Day. Her mother laughed and told her the reason was because voting was too important of a civic duty to leave to women.
Another event that changed her life was her introduction to Charles Darwin’s “Origin of the Species” theory of evolution. Previously, Catt was a skeptic of religion and this theory made her thoughts more concrete. She embraced evolutionary sciences since she felt it offered an idea of a constantly improving world. Catt was one of the best known leaders of the women’s suffrage movement. In 1887, Catt joined the Iowa Woman Suffrage Association , a place where she worked as a professional writer and a lecturer. In time, she became the group’s association’s state organizer during the years of 1980 to 1892. Mrs.
Catt soon started working in the national organization of National American Woman Suffrage Association writing article, gaining political experience, and giving speeches at conferences in places such as Washington D. C. In 1892, she was asked by Susan B. Anthony to address Congress on the proposed suffrage amendment. She was passed down to role of the President of the National American Women Suffrage Association, a successor of Susan B. Anthony in the year 1900. Catt led this organization during the final challenge of the right to vote before the Nineteenth Amendment, a law allowing women to vote, was ratified in 1920.
Catt worked through both state and federal levels persuading legislators to give women the right of suffrage as citizens. After women achieved the franchise, Catt reorganized the National American Women Suffrage Association into the League of Women Voters. Carrie Chapman Catt formulated a plan to achieve women’s suffrage. In April 1911, Carrie began a world tour through Sweden, Europe, Africa, India, Sumatra, the Philippines, China, Korea and Japan, and many other countries founding suffrage organizations and examining women’s conditions throughout the world.
Carrie planted new ideas in the minds of citizens in many other nations across the globe. Carry Chapman Cat should be honored and praised by countless institutions for donating over fifty years of public service as one America’s leading suffragists. Nineteenth-century women, who had no access to positions in government or many other kinds of employment, channeled their talents into women’s organizations and built power bases within female networks that gradually spanned the globe.
Often with a racist and ethnocentric perspective, western women leaders sought not only to impose their ideas as colonial powers, but also to cooperate in improving the status of women overall. Self-improvement was a major goal as well. More women sought better education and higher opportunities for employment. Author of a book titled The Jungle, muckraking novelist Upton Sinclair turned from a poor writer into a household name almost overnight. Sinclair was born and raised in New York City who had a passion for writing. During his teenage years, Sinclair wrote weekly dime novels about adventure for boys.
This inspired him to become a writer of serious material, however, Sinclair’s future career started out no a rocky path. He found hope in the theory of socialism, an economic system in which the means of production, distribution, and exchange are owned by the community collectively, usually through the state and distributed equally among all citizens. Reading an article about a meat-packing strike in Chicago, Sinclair was inspired to do his own research about the industry for himself. For two months in 1904, Sinclair wandered the Chicago stockyards – a place he would write of as “Packingtown”.
He mingled with the foreign-born “wage slaves” in their tenements and heard how they’d been mistreated and ripped off with the sloppy practices in the packing houses and the mind-numbing, 12-hour-a-day schedule. “The Jungle” was a story about a Lithuanian immigrant, Jurgis Rudkus, working in Packingtown. Sinclair wrote about how dead rats were being loaded into sausage-grinding machines, how inspectors allowed diseased cows were slaughtered for beef because of bribes, and how dirt and guts were swept off the floor and packaged as “potted ham” in his novel.
Americans were completely disgusted by these grotesque descriptions as the book spread around the country. “The Jungle” soon became acclaimed as the most revolutionary piece of fiction of the age. “The Jungle” did as much as any animal rights activist movements turn Americans into vegetarians. The public demanded sweeping reforms on the meat packing industry. President Theodore Roosevelt was disgusted after he read an advance copy. He sent agents to investigate the conditions of these corporations to see if everything was as bad as Sinclair stated.
The agents reported that the circumstances were one hundred times worse. Roosevelt then invited Upton Sinclair to the White House in order to ask for advice on ways to improve the quality of the business. Roosevelt called upon Congress to pass laws regarding the industry. In 1906, they enacted two regulatory laws: The Pure Food and Drug Act, prohibiting manufacturing, selling, and mislabeling food and drugs, and The Meat Inspection Act, providing federal inspectors to make sure that the meatpacking plants had met a minimum sanitary standard.
These acts ensured consumer protections which are still in use to this day. Sinclair felt the socialist social doctrine’s meaning was being lost in the meat controversy. He produced his own stage version of “The Jungle,” which premiered at Taylor Opera House in Trenton. In 1945, Upton Sinclair receive the Pulitzer prize for “Dragon’s Teeth. ” Right up until he died, Sinclair would be taken in wheelchairs to talk about his life’s struggles in high schools. Born on May 5, 1864, Elizabeth Jane Cochran was born in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania.
She became a pioneer journalist under the pseudonym of Nellie Bly. Her father died at a young age without a will, leaving her family with absolutely nothing. Her mother shortly remarried and her new step-father was abusive. Her passion for women’s rights stemmed from the helplessness and sadness she and her family experienced following her father’s death. As a journalist, Bly focused her early work for the Pittsburgh Dispatch on the daily plight of the working woman in America. She investigated and wrote about female factory workers.
She exposed the poor sweatshop to bring about awareness to the cruel working conditions. Sweatshop owners then threatened to stop advertising their products in Dispatch’s paper, so Nellie was demoted to doing articles of lesser importance. Dissatisfied with this, Nellie Bly moved to Mexico to serve as a foreign communicator. Still only twenty one, she spent almost half of a year reporting the lives and customs of the Mexican people. Later, her writings were published as a book titled Six Months in Mexico. She was threatened with arrest, which led her to leave the country.
Upon her arrival at home, she denounced the Mexican ruler as a tyrannical czar who suppressed the people and control the press. Nellie Bly took on an undercover assignment for the New York World, in which she feigned insanity in order to investigate reports of brutality and neglect at the Women’s Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell’s Island. Committed to the asylum, Bly experienced the conditions rom a first person point of view. She remained there for ten days. The food was comprised of gruel broth, spoiled meat, dried dough with butter, and dirty drinking water. Patients considered “dangerous” were tied together with ropes.
The rest of the patients were made to sit on backless wooden benches all day without permission to talk, move, or read for hours. The asylum was infested with waste and rats. The nurses were obnoxious and abusive. They would beat the patients if they were not quiet and would walk up and down the hallway throughout all hours of the night. This made it nearly impossible for the patients to sleep. The patients were not permitted to wear warm blankets or jackets to protect themselves from the cold. At bath time the patients were put into a tub of freezing cold water and scrubbed harshly.
The scrubbing caused women’s hair to fall out. Then buckets of ice water were poured over their heads causing a numbing reaction. The nurses even told Bly not to expect any kind of empathy at the asylum. Bly was released from the asylum on behalf of the help from the New York World. Her report on her experiences at Blackwell’s island was later published into a book, Ten Days in A Mad-House. This book was a huge sensation which granted Bly lasting fame. In 1901, Theodore Roosevelt became the youngest and greatest President in the United States of America’s history.
He brought a new excitement and power to the Presidency leading Congress and the American public toward progressive reforms and a strong foreign policy. He was a great leader of the Progressive Movement. Born into a wealthy family, Roosevelt was an unhealthy child who suffered from asthma and stayed at home studying natural history. In response to his physical weakness, he embraced a strenuous life. He attended Harvard College, where Roosevelt began a systematic study of the role played by the nascent US Navy in the War of 1812, largely completing two chapters of a book he would publish soon after graduation.
He proved to be a serious historian in 1882 by writing a book titled The Naval War of 1812. As president, Roosevelt increased regulation of big business and trust busting, which prosecuted monopolies. Originally Roosevelt held the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and served under Colonel Wood in the war in Cuba. Roosevelt took charge of The Rough Riders, Colonel Wood’s brigade after General Young was struck down with the fever. He was left in command of the regiment and was grateful for such a wonderful experience he had is a quick teacher. This made him a national celebrity.
Roosevelt was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in 2001 for his actions. The medal is currently on display in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. Some of Theodore Roosevelt’s most effective achievements were in conservation. He enormously added to the national forests in the West, reserving lands for public use, and fostered great irrigation projects. Roosevelt completed many reforms during this era. These reforms included an increase in the number of government jobs subject to competitive examinations, a revision of the those examinations, and the opening of many positions to female applicants.
He gained widespread public popularity by conducting nighttime patrols of the city to ensure that the police were doing their jobs. Roosevelt took tentative steps toward addressing the concerns of farmers and other small shippers who believed the railroads were treating them unfairly. As World War I spread through Europe, he also expressed his dedication to keep European powers out of active involvement in the Western Hemisphere, a reiteration of the Monroe Doctrine made in 1823. Roosevelt also advocated a strong navy and overseas bases.
He was the force for completion of the Panama Canal as his greatest achievement, but was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for his services in settling the Russo-Japanese War. Roosevelt was the first American to win the Nobel Prize in any field. in 1912, he lost the fight for reelection to Woodrow Wilson. After the election, Roosevelt embarked on a major expedition to South America. He contracted malaria on the trip, which damaged his health, and he died a few years later, at the age of 60.