The era of the Progressive presidents produced a number of notable achievements. Trust-busting forced industrialists and monopolistic corporations to consider public opinion when making business decisions. This benefited the consumer and helped grow the economy. The Progressive presidents also increased consumers’ rights by limiting corporate abuses and trying to ensure the safe labeling of food and drugs. The creation of a federal income tax system lowered tariffs and increased America’s presence as a global trading partner. It also raised additional revenues, some of which were used for beneficial programs such as conservation. The Progressive presidents served to strengthen the office of the president and the public began to expect more from the executive branch. Progressivism as a concept helped challenge traditional thinking about government’s relationship to the people and sparked new ideas that stimulated thought for decades to come.
Along with these significant accomplishments, the Progressive movement also had a number of notable shortcomings. Due to several contrary schools of thought within the movement, goals were often confusing and contradictory. Although most Progressives had good intentions, their conflicting goals helped detract from the overall objectives of the movement. Despite the numerous successes and lofty goals and ideals of the Progressive movement, the federal government was still too greatly influenced by industry and big business.
The Progressive movement was not a complete success, but it did serve to spark new ideas and new ways of thinking about business and government. It created a new school of thought that challenged traditional ideas and allowed several new politicians to break the mold and lead the country in a new direction. This new way of thinking proved vital for the United States as the First World War loomed on the horizon.
Meanwhile, the Progressive Era was also underway in domestic politics. City governments were...