Progressive Era

1893 - 1920


Pale of Settlement

1790 - 1917

Pogroms- Russia

1881 - 1882

Interstate Commerce Act


Congress passes the Interstate Commerce Act, creating the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) to regulate the railroads. The Supreme Court interprets the ICC's powers so narrowly that it is rendered essentially powerless by the early twentieth century.

Sherman Antitrust Act


Congress passes the Sherman Antitrust Act to prohibit trusts (monopolies), which have grown rapidly over recent decades. This federal legislation supplements and further strengthens many preexisting state laws that lack the power to govern interstate commerce. Any contract, combination (monopoly or otherwise), or conspiracy in restraint of interstate and foreign trade is declared illegal. Violators will be charged with maximum penalties of a $5,000 fine and imprisonment for one year. Problematically, the nation's courts use this Act to deem labor unions and agricultural cooperatives among the forbidden combinations in the restraint of trade.

McKinley Dead


President McKinley dies from complications relating to his shooting and Vice President Theodore Roosevelt becomes the 26th president of the United States.

Census of US; 63 million


Anti-Saloon League founded

May, 1893

Led by Wayne Wheeler, the Anti-Saloon League mobilizes
church congregations to support political candidates sympathetic
to their cause. Founded in Oberlin, Ohio, in 1893, it becomes a
nationwide organization two years later. When Prohibition is
passed in 1919, Wheeler is one of the drafters of the Eighteenth
Amendment and the Volstead Act, which enforces the anti-liquor

John Dewey establishes “progressive” school

January, 1896

Educator John Dewey founds a school in Chicago based on his
philosophy of “progressive education.” Breaking with traditional
methods of education, which rely on repetition and rote learning,
Dewey’s “laboratory school” encourages personal development
and expression.

1st subway system


Spanish American War

1898 - 1902

National Consumers’ League established


Florence Kelley, a founder of Chicago’s Hull House, organizes
the National Consumers’ League to advocate better working
conditions for women and children, health care, enforcement of
child-labor laws, and a minimum wage. The League
demonstrates the increased political clout of women in the
Progressive era.

History of Standard Oil - McClure's magazine


Ida Turbell's articles cause furor leading to breakup of Standard Oil (page 399)

Carry Nation wields a hatchet

Dec, 1900

The prohibition movement gains a powerful symbolic leader
when temperance crusader Carry Nation destroys a hotel
barroom in Wichita, Kansas, with a hatchet. Nation’s tactics are
at odds with the more moderate Woman’s Christian Temperance

1st successful Flight


The Jungle


A fact based novel by Upton Sinclair about the horribly unsanitary conditions in the slaughterhouses led to the government forming the Food and Drug administration and the Meat inspection act in 1906. Page 407

1st automobile produced


Meat Inspecition Law

June 1906

On the same day as it passes the Pure Food and Drug Act, 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.

Food and Drug Act

June 30, 1906

Congress passes the Pure Food and Drug Act in response to exposés of the patent-drug, meatpacking, and food industries.

Taft is president


President Roosevelt chooses Secretary of War William Howard Taft as his successor. Taft secures the Republican nomination and wins the presidency against Democratic candidate William Jennings Bryan in November.

NAACP Formed


National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

Progressive Movement


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.

Antitrust suit against Standard Oil


The Taft administration uses the Sherman Antitrust Act to act against the Standard Oil trust and the American Tobacco Company.

Triangle Shirtwaist Fire

Mar 25, 1911

A fire breaks out in the supposedly "fireproof" Asch building where Triangle Waist Company occupied the eighth, ninth, and tenth floors. The shirtwaists that hang on lines above the workers' heads and the shirtwaist cuttings that litter the floors quickly ignite, allowing the blaze to spread rapidly. 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.

Eugene Deb's Socialist Party


Debs earns 1 million votes for President in 1912 elections. Highest number ever for a socialist candidate.

Teddy Roosevelt forms own party

Jun 1912

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 President

November, 1912

With the Republican vote split between Taft and Progressive candidate Roosevelt, the Democratic candidate Woodrow Wilson is elected president. Wilson only polls a plurality of the popular vote (41.9%), but a commanding electoral majority of 435. Roosevelt embarrasses the incumbent Taft by winning 27.4% of the votes to his 23.2%. Socialist Eugene V. Debs wins 6% of all votes cast, or just over 900,000 people.

World War I

1914 - 1918

Bolshevik Revoltion - Russia


18th Amendment - Temperance


Prohibition (liquor prohibited)

Ratification of woman suffrage - Voting