Corporate Business, Worker’s Rights and Child Labor are the Main Reforms That Championed the Progressive Era in America

Last Updated: 14 Mar 2023
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The Progressive Era was championed by various reform in such areas such as corporate business, worker’s rights and child labor. Overall reforms were not really downplayed and halted by the conservative Supreme Court or the powerful influence of corporations since the heroes of the Progressive Era in particular President Theodore Roosevelt managed to get a grip and change society for the better Until President Theodore Roosevelt busted the Northern Securities Company in 1902, the Sherman Antitrust Act was left not enforced The Supreme Court’s decision to allow E,C, Knight and Company to be left untouched after the corporation acquired 98% of the US, sugar refinery business in the case United States v EtCt Knight and Company (1895) appalled the many dissidents of trusts.

As pictured in Document A, Theodore Roosevelt was a proponent of large business and monopolies and by holding an office as influential as US President, Roosevelt was able to use his “big stick” to please small business owners and the working class who feared big business. After Roosevelt saw the combinations of the Great Northern, Northern Pacific, and the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy railroads to form the Northern Securities Company, he immediately called for a suit. When J.P. Morgan, one of the owners of the Northern Securities Company, told Roosevelt that Roosevelt could send any of his representatives to talk and fix this “problem," Roosevelt refused to negotiate. In the United States v Northern Securities Company (1902), the Supreme Court finally favored against big business and overturned their decision that the Sherman Antitrust Act was inadequate to regulate interstate commerce in the United States V. BE Knight and Company case by ordering the Northern Securities Company to dissolve However things didn‘t stop there President.

Theodore Roosevelt‘s Department of Justice continued to file sit against trusts that were thought to be merging to become greedy monopolies. In 1905, the Department of Justice filed suit against Swift 81 Company and other meat packing companies for violating the Sherman Antitrust Act. In Swift & Company v. United States (1905), the US, government argued that together the meat packers owned sixty percent of the meat packing business in the US. and that the Sherman Antitrust Act had the authority to dissolve them since though the act of butchering meat occurs in only one state, the meat packing business should still be considered interstate commerce because the meat was to be sold in different states.

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And the Supreme Court agreed. In a 9-0 victory, Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes argued that the purchase of cattle and meat packing might be thought local in isolation, the shipping and sale of meat by these companies were part of a “stream of commerce," and thus was interstate commerce and the Sherman Antitrust Act had the authority to regulate it. Woodrow Wilson further aided the “anti-trust movement" when he became President Despite the various anti-corporate business Supreme Court case decisions, the “strengthening“ of the Sherman Antitrust Act, and the creation of the watchdog agency Bureau of Corporations, it wasn‘t necessarily enough to regular large business because economic power within corporations still grewi In 1914, Wilson signed the Clayton Antitrust Act into law, As Document E describes, the Clayton Antitrust Act outlawed price discrimination or charging different people different prices for the same products, agreements that limited the right of dealers to handle products of competing manufacturers, and corporations’ acquisition of stock in competing corporations.

According to Document E, the Clayton Antitrust Act declared that the labor was not a commodity and thus anti-trust laws did not apply to labor unions and agricultural organizations, Before the Clayton Antitrust Act, labor organizations were subjected to antitrust laws For the first time, labor organizations were gaining influence from the US. government. There were obvious reasons why big business was a concern to many Americans Big business brought in greed and greed brought in deplorable conditions for workers in particular for children. On top with the vivid imagery written in Document B, a quote in The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, which was the most important literary work during the Progressive Era summed up the intentions of big business overall: “They [corporations] were a gigantic combination of capital, which had crushed all opposition, and overthrown the laws of the land, and was preying upon the people ” Conditions such as meat scraps on the unsanitary floors, ditty, rotten tools, and workers ill with diseases such as tuberculosis were common in meat—packing houses across the country.

In The Jungle, the main character finds out just as deplorably conditions were infested in meat-packing houses: meat that was being sold had tumbled onto the floor that was filled with dirt, sawdust, and workers‘ germsr Meat was also stored in rooms with leaky ceilings and where rats would race to nibble on the meat Sometimes, rat dung would get onto the meat (Sinclair) Despite these deplorable conditions, meatpacking companies were still able to sell their meat to rather ignorant consumers, President Theodore Roosevelt read The Jungle and after reading them, President Roosevelt responded quickly. He immediately sent two federal agents to the meat packing capital of the U.S., Chicago, to investigate the conditions and their report, also Document B, confirmed the authenticity of Upton Sinclair’s work. Afterward, Roosevelt convinced Congress to act on something.

Finally, the Meat Inspection Act of 1906 and Pure Food and Drug Act were passed The Meat Inspection Act of 1906 gave the USDA power to issue grants of inspection and monitor slaughter and processing operations. The Act more importantly required the inspection of live animals before slaughter, carcasses, and processed products and authorized the Secretary of Agriculture to condemn any meat packing product that was deemed unfit for human consumption (“Celebrating“. The Pure Food and Drug Act forbade the manufacture and sale of adulterated and fraudulently labeled products. Document C and G documented the issue of child labor. Some children worked in factories as horrendous as the meat packing factories. According to Document G, children as young as fourteen and even younger could be working for more than eight hours six days a week.

Due to this commitment, most children who worked in factories were unable to attend school, which is the point that Document C was trying to emphasize Without school, these children had no future and would end up working long, torturous hours in the factory as adults. Congress weighing all of these points passed the Keating-Owen Child Labor Act which prohibited the interstate shipment of goods produced by children under the age of fourteen and children between the ages of fourteen and sixteen who worked more than eight hours a day and/or more than six days a week. Though this seemed to be a “positive” reform for child laborers, it caused controversy among parents who needed their children to work in order to support the family. In Hammer vi Dagenhart (1918), the father of Reuben Dagenhart, a fourteen-year-old boy whose father wanted him to work in a textile mill but also wanted to sell the textiles out of state, sued in order to have the right for his son to work in a textile mill this complicated.

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Corporate Business, Worker’s Rights and Child Labor are the Main Reforms That Championed the Progressive Era in America. (2023, Mar 14). Retrieved from

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