The Immense Pain Caused by the Progressive Era

Category: Culture
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Slavery, racism, rape and abuse are all sad, real things that have happened and still happen today. Many people have suffered while others have looked the other way. That is what happened during the Progressive Era. The people of that time period looked the other way by disregarding inappropriate behavior. That doesn’t sound Progressive, yet it’s called the “Progressive Era.” If it were Progressive, there wouldn’t had been so much struggle and heartbreak. Children would have never been put in harm’s way, and black women would have been treated fairly regardless of their age, gender or skin color. The worst aspects of the Progressive Era are the harmful working conditions and the discriminatory practices towards black women.

To begin, the harmful working conditions are one of the worst aspects of the Progressive Era. This is one of the worst aspects because children had to work for long periods of time for most days out of the week. According to the “Child Labor and John Spargo” article by Brittany Hunter, children worked 10 to 12 hours per day for 6 days a week (Scoop.It!.com). If children are working 10 to 12 hours per day, they’re missing time out of school. Not only is education being loss but, they’re also working too long which could cause stress and anxiety. For instance, children going to school everyday for 10 months from 7:35 to 4:37 every weekday is too long and stressful. Children shouldn’t have to be in school for longer than 6 hours a day.

The dangerous environment that the children were surrounded in also played a huge role in why child labor was one of the worst aspects of that era. The Texas Education Agency discusses this issue, “Out of the 20,000 child labor related accidents each year, approximately 2% resulted in death of the child and 20% resulted in the child being disabled for life ( Children were hurt and suffered the various effects of child labor. They were working in mills and factories with their bare hands without any protection. For example, coal miners who work in tunnels are in a dangerous situation because of the dust, rodents, etc. Child labor is wrong, and the lives of those children who were lost shall forever be mourned!

Another negative component of the Progressive Era was the discriminatory practices towards black women. This was a negative component because black women weren’t treated as equally as men. Allison Lange points out that the 14th amendment only allowed men to vote ( This wasn’t fair because the government was being sexist towards women when everyone is supposed to be equal. This brung about a long and weary fight for women’s rights, which still continues today. Take the case of the household burden placed on women.

They’re expected to cook, clean, and babysit while the men work harder jobs outside of their homes. Not only did black women have to fight for the right to vote, but they had to take judgement from different races as well. Judith McDonough acknowledges the judgement black women had to face, “Nevertheless, the movement remained largely segregated because white women feared alienating the South and many shared the prejudicial attitudes of the time” ( This shows that instead of the whites trying to find common ground, they disregarded the black women because of their color. All the women had the same common goal but instead of working together, judgement was in play. In other words, the theme “don’t judge a book by its cover” was not taken seriously during this time period because blacks were judged by the color of their skin. The color of their skin can’t be changed and it shouldn’t ever have to be a disadvantage in life.

On the other hand, many people feel that the Progressive Era was effective because children learned how to work hard at a young age. They feel this way because children picked up life skills from the work they did that could become beneficial to them later in life. The “Children in the Progressive-Era America” article discusses how children were expected to wash clothes, fetch water, and cook meals during their time in forced labor ( Those skills would be useful to children because in order to stay clean they would need to know how to wash clothes and fetch water, and in order to survive they would need to know how to cook. It would make them stronger overall, and if any tragedy were to ever happen in those children’s lives they would know how to fend for themselves.

Furthermore, living in a forest requires great life skill and those children would have a better chance of surviving than most people would. Although this is true that children learned life skills at a young age, they weren’t getting the education they needed. Brittany Hunter implies that “580,000 children between ages 10 to 14 couldn’t read or write” (Scoop.It!). The children may have been picking up life skills, but how far could they get if most of them couldn’t read or write? You need to read for everything nowadays and those children didn’t know how because they were forced to work. In the book by Russell Freedom, it also talks about how children were promised a future of illiteracy because they weren’t in school (p.2). As a matter of fact, those kids in the Progressive Era could be compared to a school dropout. This clearly shows that the Progressive Era wasn’t effective because having life skills isn’t nothing if children can’t read or write.

In summary, the Progressive Era caused more bad than good. For one thing, children were overworked and were victims of dangerous activities. Another thing is that black women were looked down upon and treated unfairly. Regardless of the bad, people still think of the Progressive Era as a good time in history because children picked up life skills that increased their survival. Although this is true, more time was still being spent away from school which wasn’t good for the children. Now that the truth has been told about the Progressive Era, everyone should see this as a chance to treat everyone fairly so history doesn’t repeat itself.

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The Immense Pain Caused By the Progressive Era. (2019, Jul 29). Retrieved from

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