What Did Progressives Support?

Progressives supported political reform and social activism in the United States. The Progressive movement flourished between the 1890s and 1920s. The goal of this movement was to curb corruption in government by undercutting and exposing political machines and establishing means of direct democracy.

Progressives also wanted monopolistic corporations regulated by antitrust laws, which were perceived to be a means of promoting fair competition and benefiting consumers. They supported prohibition so as to destroy the political powers of all local bosses who were based in saloons. Progressives also sought to promote women's suffrage to enhance a purer female voting base in the political arena.

Progressives aimed at establishing an efficiency movement that could identify outdated management solutions that needed modernization and bring to fruition medical, scientific and engineering solutions. An integral part of this efficiency movement was to promote Taylorism or scientific management.

Many activists joined hands to reform public education, finance, medicine, churches, insurance and local government. Progressives professionalized and transformed social sciences by making them scientific, especially political science, history and economics. National political leaders included Robert M. La Follette, Sr., Charles Evans Hughes and Theodore Roosevelt on the Republican side and Woodrow Wilson, Al Smith and William Jennings Bryan on the Democratic side.

Progressives mainly drew support from the middle class, and their supporters included business people, lawyers, teachers, physicians and ministers. They keenly followed scientific advances in Western Europe and adopted many policies, such as creating the Federal Reserve System in 1913, which promoted major transformations in the banking system.