Who Were the Progressive Presidents?

Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft and Woodrow Wilson are the Progressive presidents. These three men served as presidents during the Progressive era, spanning from 1900 to 1920.

Teddy Roosevelt became the first Progressive president when he took office after William McKinley’s assassination in 1901. He held the office until 1909, when Taft, whom Roosevelt selected to be the Republican candidate, replaced him in the White House. Roosevelt’s progressive policies included the Square Deal, the Elkins and Hepburn Acts, and the Pure Food and Drug and the Meat Inspection Acts. He also pushed for conservation and environmentalism.

Taft, president from 1909 until 1913, turned out not to be as progressive as Roosevelt and the Republican Party hoped. While he worked hard to reform problematic issues in the United States, he didn’t provide as much support to conservation efforts as Roosevelt. He also signed a bill that included raising tariffs on almost everything, despite Congress’ and the American people’s concerns that tariffs were already too high.

Taft and Roosevelt ran against each other in the 1912 election, which split Republicans and left the door open for Progressive Democrat Woodrow Wilson to win the Presidential race. Wilson’s progressive policies included lowering tariffs, creating the Federal Reserve System, establishing the Federal Trade Commission and setting child labor laws. He worked to regulate interstate trade, control false advertising and increase the safety of food and drugs by implementing better labeling policies.