US History Reform Project


Start and Finish of the Progressive Era

1890 - 1920

The Progressive Era was a period of reform in U.S. history that ran roughly from the 1890s through the 1920s. Antitrust laws, Prohibition, women's suffrage and the federal income tax all came about during this time, as did many of the social reforms that shape the way we live and work today.


Newlands Reclamation Act


Encouraged conservation by allowing the building of dams and irrigations systems using money from the sale of public lands.

Elkins Act


Outlawed the use of rebates by railroad officials or shippers.

Upton Sinclair


When Upton Sinclair published The Jungle in 1906, which publicized the disgusting methods of meat-packing plants, the public became outraged. Reformers argued that in a complex, technological age dominated by big business, consumers needed impartial government experts to regulate manufacturers, tell consumers what was safe, and eliminate corrupt business practices.

Theodore Roosevelt

1906 - 1909

After being elected in office on 1906, he convinced Congress to pass an enormous amount of legislation designed to conserve the environment, tighten past economic regulations, preserve the health and safety of American citizens, and generally provide needed capitalist reforms.

Hepburn Act


Strengthened the Interstate Commerce Commission, allowing it to set maximum railroad rates.

Pure Food and Drug Act

1906 - 2013

Required that companies accurately label the ingredients contained in processed food items.

Meat Inspection Act

1906 - 2013

In direct response to Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, this law required that meat processing plants be inspected to ensure the use of good meat and health-minded procedures.

Woodrow Wilson

1913 - 1921

Wilson also pushed for governmental control over business. In 1914, a Democratic-controlled Congress established the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate companies that participated in suspected unfair and illegal trade practices. Wilson also supported the Clayton Antitrust Act, which joined the Sherman Antitrust Act as one the government's tools to fight trusts the same year.

Federal Reserve Act

1913 - 2013

Created 12 district Federal Reserve Banks, each able to issue new currency and loan member banks funds at the prime interest rate, as established by the Federal Reserve Board.

Clayton Antitrust Act


Strengthened the Sherman Antitrust Act by outlawing the creation of a monopoly through any means, and stated that unions were not subject to antitrust legislation.

Federal Trade Act


Established the Federal Trade Commission, charged with investigating unfair business practices including monopolistic activity and inaccurate product labeling.




Allows voters to petition state legislatures in order to consider a bill desired by citizens.

Theodore Roosevelt


During his presidency, child labor laws were passed in many states, ordinances to help the poorer classes were passed in towns and cities, and jurisdictions at all levels took measures to make government more efficient and responsive to people's needs.



Allows voters to decide if a bill or proposed amendment should be passed.

Secret Ballot(1904)

1904 - 2013

Privacy at the ballot box ensures that citizens can cast votes without party bosses knowing how they voted.

Robert M. LaFollete


LaFolette nominated himself for senator in 1906 while in office for governor. He campaigned for child labor laws, social security, womens sufferage, and a lot of other reforms. This changed America by allowing women to vote, and progressing the development of child labor laws. Took a stand against big business & political machines.

Direct Primary


Ensures that voters select candidates to run for office, rather than party bosses.



Allows voters to petition to have an elected representative removed from office.

Woodrow Wilson


During his presidency, 16th Amendment adopted: graduated income tax redistributes wealth;
17th Amendment provides for direct election of Senators.
Underwood Tariff reduces rates in accord with Progressives' desires; first significant tariff reduction since Civil War.
Federal Reserve Act creates 12 members banks, controls interest rates; First U.S. banking system since Jackson's days.

Secret ballot protection act(Labor Union)


The Employee Rights Act requires that employees be given the right to have a federally supervised secret ballot election when deciding whether or not to join a union.