Theodore Roosevelt and the Progressive Movement
Progressivism was a period of American history in which improving working conditions, improving the way of life, exposing corruption, expanding democracy and making reforms were the issues of this period. Also, the expansion of the federal governments powers, competition and economic distribution of wealth, and the social welfare of American citizens concerned many leaders during this time. During the Progressive Era business had a great influence on politics. They almost went hand in hand. However, the leading progressive political figures, Roosevelt, and Wilson were out to change things. Not only did the two leaders bring about new heights for government regulation, but they also set the standards for political intervention. Theodore Roosevelt was known as the “trust buster” and that is exactly what he did to help control big business. Roosevelt went in to these companies and helped to stop this type of monopoly. Roosevelt was also a big supporter of labor he tried almost everything and anything to help the citizens of the United States. President Wilson also tried to help and improve the conditions for workers he did this by adding the income tax. This really helped the poor because they were taxed less than big business men were. Wilson helped the economy by instituting a Federal Reserve Bank. All national banks were required to join this system. This bank system made a compromise between private and public control. Wilson also added a tariff called the Underwood Tariff, which lowered the price on imported goods.
Although, Wilson accomplished many progressive oriented things during is presidency. The more progressive of the two is Teddy Roosevelt who accomplished many things during his four years in office. His accomplishments helped to pave the way for other progressive leaders such as Taft and Wilson. He had goals and appeared to have been very determined to accomplish them. Roosevelt brought new meaning to government regulation. In the Anti-Trust policy of 1902 Roosevelt pledged government intervention to break up illegal monopolies and regulate corporations for the public good. Roosevelt felt that many trusts threatened competition and many markets. So in order to restore free competition, President Roosevelt ordered the Justice department to prosecute the companies practicing a monopolies. He in intervened in 1902 during the Anthracite Coal, Strike, when the United Mine Workers were willing to make a settlement, but the coal operators stubbornly opposed to recognize their union. Roosevelt stepped in and ended the strike; he appointed a commission to rule on the issues. Roosevelt also viewed the railroads as a problem and in 1903 the Elkins Act empowered the Interstate Commerce Commission to set its own fair freight rates. This did very little to end the biased rebates that were given to favored corporations by the railroads because of the lack of enforcement but was valiant effort put forth by President Roosevelt.
Roosevelt also involved himself in many important conservative social relations. The Secretary of treasury created an inspection organization to certify that cattle for export were free of disease. With disappointing results, Germany and other European countries banned the importation of American meat. Federal
regulation helped improve exports to Europe, free competition, another conservative effort. In 1906, the Meat Inspection Act provided for federal and sanitary regulations and inspections in the meat packing facilities. Also, he worked to put in place the Pure Food and Drug Act, which prohibited the manufacture, sale, and transportation of corrupted-labeled foods and drugs in accordance with consumer demands.
Roosevelt who was a big environmentalist also passed many conservation laws from 1902 to 1908 to create federal irrigation projects, national parks and forests, develop water power, and establish the Nation Conservation Commission to oversee the nations resources.
Roosevelt had many successful accomplishments, most of which were progressive in nature. He was also was the 1st of the string of Progressive presidents. Although, Wilson may have had better results with his accomplishments than did Roosevelt with his. These factors are why he is the more progressive of the two.