The Progressive Presidents
The term progressive presidents refer to three former presidents starting with Theodore Roosevelt who became president in 1901 after the assassination of the then president, William McKinley, William Howard Taft and Woodrow Wilson. The progressive presidents affected how the way the governments of those times operated.
In 1902, Coal miners in Anthracite mines went on strike demanding a 20% increasing in their wages and a reduction in working hours from ten to nine hours per day. The way Theodore Roosevelt was able to resolve that conflict gave rise to the progressive movement.
Roosevelt is regarded as a progressive president because of his efforts in trying to control the corporations, his conservation efforts and for trying to protect consumers. He is also known for his efforts in trying to expand the executive powers. Roosevelt started a new kind of nationalism through the federal business regulation and by increasing democracy in government. He further instituted social justice programs by providing for workers compensation, giving a graduated income tax and by regulating women and child labor.
William Howard Taft became president in 1908 after being handpicked for the republican candidature by Roosevelt. Taft was however only a mild progressive and by his actions did not fully support the progressive movement as his predecessor did.
He had a liberalist view of the presidency pointing out that the executive powers must be granted either by the federal constitution or by an act of congress and that there are no undefined powers for the executive. Taft also had a passive relation with congress during his tenure as American president. This half-hearted support for the progressive movement caused a rift in the Republican Party.
Wilson, an academic was considered an idealist, he helped the progressive movement by passing critical laws that decentralized Americas currency system, reduced the influence of trusts and reducing tariffs. The laws that Wilson helped pass were what enabled America to come out of World War I as a leading financial world power.
Wilson regularized popular leadership and institutionalized congressional leadership; he restored competition in the economy by encouraging growth of small businesses in place of large corporations and also instituted vigorous antitrust legislation.
Progressivism as an idea helped to overhaul how the people perceived the relationship between the government and its citizens; it increased the powers of influence of the office of the president while increasing the rights of consumers through the reduction of corporate manipulation of the people. It made major corporations think how their business decisions would affect the people before they implemented those decisions. The progressive presidents were vital for the success of the American economy at a time when the First World War was looming.