Progressive era

Important Events of 1900-1920: The Progressive Era

  • Coal Miner Strike

    Coal Miner Strike
    Anthracite coal miners go on strike in Pennsylvania, protesting the deplorable working conditions of the mines and in the mining towns.
  • Coal Strike Ends

    Coal Strike Ends
    After months of striking, coal miners and their reluctant employers finally agree to an arbitration commission at President Roosevelt's behest. The commission awards the mine workers a nine-hour day and a 10% wage increase, but the United Mine Workers Union does not receive company recognition and the miners are forbidden from striking again for the next three years.
  • Elkins Act

    Elkins Act
    Congress passes the Elkins Act, which is intended to strengthen the Interstate Commerce Act. The Elkins Act makes it a crime for railroads to grant freight rates other than those which they have published. With rebates, some rail lines especially the larger ones grant off-the-books discounts to important customers. These special customers are usually trusts who demand special treatment or else threaten to take their extremely valuable business elsewhere.
  • The Jungle Published

    The Jungle Published
    Socialist author Upton Sinclair publishes The Jungle, a sensationally graphic account of the meatpacking industry in Chicago's stockyards. Sinclair is trying to raise public awareness of corporate corruption and the deplorable conditions in which poor workers toil, but most of the resulting public outcry instead centers on demand for more food safety provisions.
  • Food and Drug Act & Meat Inspection

    Food and Drug Act & Meat Inspection
    Congress passes the Pure Food and Drug Act in response to exposés of the patent-drug, meatpacking, and food industries. On the same day, Congress also approves its second Meat Inspection law to date. The U.S. Drug Administration must inspect all animals destined for human consumption—cattle, horses, sheep, goats, and swine—before they are slaughtered. Carcasses are subject to post-mortem inspections and slaughterhouses and processing plants must uphold cleanliness standards.
  • Financial Panic

    Financial Panic
    A financial panic strikes the nation. Republicans argue that Progressive reforms have caused this economic downturn. In the absence of a Federal Reserve Bank, financiers like J.P. Morgan take steps to rectify the economic instability. Morgan pools the resources of New York banks to bail out the failing institutions that caused the recession. He also secures a guarantee from President Roosevelt that the government will not pursue antitrust action against U.S. Steel.
  • Muller v. Oregon

    Muller v. Oregon
    In Muller v. Oregon, the Supreme Court holds that Oregon can constitutionally pass a law limiting women's work in factories and laundries to ten hours a day. The Court has allowed states to regulate child labor within their borders, but until now, it has taken a more restrictive approach to laws concerning the conditions of adult female workers because it used to consider such regulations to be violations of adult employees' freedom of contract. The Muller decision reverses this trend.
  • Progressive Movement & Mann-Elkins Act

    Progressive Movement & Mann-Elkins Act
    The word "Progressive" enters common parlance as a description of the burgeoning political movement that seeks to reform various aspects of American society and politics.
    The Mann-Elkins Act is passed in order to strengthen the Interstate Commerce Commission.
  • Department of Labor Established & Standard Oil Antitrust

    Department of Labor Established & Standard Oil Antitrust
    The Taft administration creates the Department of Labor, and the Taft administration uses the Sherman Antitrust Act to act against the Standard Oil trust and the American Tobacco Company.
  • Fire Ignites Public

    Fire Ignites Public
    A fire breaks out in the supposedly "fireproof" Asch building where Triangle Waist Company occupied the eighth, ninth, and tenth floors. The workers are locked inside the factory; some jump to their deaths to avoid burning alive. In all, 146 people die in the blaze, all within half an hour. This incident ignites public opinion against unsafe urban working conditions and the plight of young female immigrant workers.
  • Roosevelt Bolts

    Roosevelt Bolts
    The Republican Party holds its convention in Chicago and nominates William Howard Taft after a fierce struggle. Teddy Roosevelt, Taft's former friend and predecessor in the White House, has been running against Taft since February for the nomination. When he doesn't win the nomination, Roosevelt bolts the party and runs for president on a separate ticket with the Progressive Party.
  • Wilson Elected

    Wilson Elected
    With the Republican vote split between Taft and Progressive candidate Roosevelt, the Democratic candidate Woodrow Wilson is elected president.
  • Underwood-Simmons Tariff

    Underwood-Simmons Tariff
    President Wilson calls a special session of Congress to pass the Underwood-Simmons Tariff, which reduces the nation's protective tariff rates substantially for the first time since the Civil War. Progressives hope that this reform will encourage competition in the marketplace and undermine monopolization. To recoup the lost revenue, the government also passes the first income tax, levied on individuals and corporations earning over $4,000 a year.
  • 16th Amendment

    16th Amendment
    The 16th Amendment is ratified, empowering Congress to levy income taxes.
  • 17th Amendment

    17th Amendment
    The 17th Amendment is ratified, allowing for the direct election of U.S. Senators instead of through state legislators.
  • Progressive Movement

    Progressive Movement
    Benjamin P. DeWitt, a 24-year-old professor of English and government at New York University, publishes The Progressive Movement, his only book. It seeks to offer a "non-partisan, comprehensive discussion of current tendencies in American politics" and is an instant success.
  • Wilson Reelected

    Wilson Reelected
    Woodrow Wilson is successfully reelected after campaigning with the slogan "He kept us out of war."
  • Wilson Asks for War

    Wilson Asks for War
    President Wilson appears before a joint session of Congress to ask for a declaration of war against Germany and the Central Powers.
  • Sedition Act

    Sedition Act
    Congress passes the Sedition Act, an even more repressive measure than the Espionage Act. Along with the Sabotage Act of April 20th, it expands the penalties of the Espionage Act to apply to anyone who discourages military recruiting, interferes with government bond sales, or criticizes the government, the Constitution, service uniforms, the flag, or the war or even wartime production levels.
  • Armistice Day

    Armistice Day
    Germany surrenders and the Allies win World War I. This comes to be known as Armistice Day.
  • Treaty of Versailles

    Treaty of Versailles
    Woodrow Wilson becomes the first sitting president to leave the United States when he travels to Paris as he is so deeply invested in the outcome. He wants to carry his Progressive principles to Europe and ensure a perpetual peace throughout the region. President Wilson then presents the Treaty of Versailles to the Senate for ratification when he comes back.
  • Cities Populated

    Cities Populated
    For the first time, a majority of the American population now lives in cities.