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At the state level, perhaps the greatest advocate of Progressive government was Robert La Follette ( [link] ). During his time as governor, from 1901 through 1906, La Follette introduced the Wisconsin Idea    , wherein he hired experts to research and advise him in drafting legislation to improve conditions in his state. “Fighting Bob” supported numerous Progressive ideas while governor: He signed into law the first workman’s compensation system, approved a minimum wage law, developed a progressive tax law, adopted the direct election of U.S. senators before the subsequent constitutional amendment made it mandatory, and advocated for women’s suffrage. La Follette subsequently served as a popular U.S. senator from Wisconsin from 1906 through 1925, and ran for president on the Progressive Party ticket in 1924.

A photograph shows Robert La Follette speaking animatedly to a large crowd.
An energetic speaker and tireless Progressive, Governor Robert “Fighting Bob” La Follette turned the state of Wisconsin into a flagship for democratic reform.

Read how Robert La Follette’s legacy still inspires progressives in Wisconsin.

Many Progressive reformers were also committed to the principle of efficiency in business as well as in government. The growth of large corporations at the time fostered the emergence of a class of professional managers. Fredrick Winslow Taylor, arguably the first American management consultant, laid out his argument of increased industrial efficiency through improvements in human productivity in his book The Principles of Scientific Management (1911). Through time-motion studies and the principles of standardization, Taylor sought to place workers in the most efficient positions of the industrial process. Management, he argued, should determine the work routine, leaving workers to simply execute the task at hand. The image below ( [link] ) shows a machinist in a factory where Taylor had consulted; he is alone and focused solely on his job. Progressive in its emphasis on efficiency, the use of science, and the reliance on experts, Taylorism    , as scientific management became known, was not widely popular among workers who resented managerial authority and the loss of autonomy over their work. Many workers went on strikes in response, although some favored Taylor’s methods, since their pay was directly linked to the productivity increases that his methods achieved and since increased efficiency allowed companies to charge consumers lower prices.

A photograph shows a machinist working alone in a Taylorist factory.
This machinist works alone in a factory that adopted Taylorism, the scientific time management principle that sought to bring ultimate efficiency to factories. Many workers found the focus on repetitive tasks to be dehumanizing and unpleasant.

Social justice

The Progressives’ work towards social justice took many forms. In some cases, it was focused on those who suffered due to pervasive inequality, such as African Americans, other ethnic groups, and women. In others, the goal was to help those who were in desperate need due to circumstance, such as poor immigrants from southern and eastern Europe who often suffered severe discrimination, the working poor, and those with ill health. Women were in the vanguard of social justice reform. Jane Addams, Lillian Wald, and Ellen Gates Starr, for example, led the settlement house movement of the 1880s (discussed in a previous chapter). Their work to provide social services, education, and health care to working-class women and their children was among the earliest Progressive grassroots efforts in the country.

Questions & Answers

Isnt there any laws in place for gun control?
Ryan Reply
How would you characterize the former president’s reaction? What do you think he means by writing that the Missouri Compromise line “is a reprieve only, not a final sentence”?
Tonda Reply
Compare and contrast the steamboats of the antebellum years with technologies today. In your estimation, what modern technology compares to steamboats in its transformative power?
Tonda Reply
what are the impact of the missionaries on indigenous knowledge of black communities
Don Reply
What were the initial issues that lead to the introduction of legislation
Benedicta Reply
what is the main title of franklin D roosevelt
Allan Reply
the president of the USA
Yangduk
who abolish slavery
ABDOURAHMAN Reply
Abraham Lincoln
Yangduk
who was the fists empire in americans
Alex Reply
who organized the most massive attack in American History, which caused the Germans to begin to retreat in September 1918?
Jmora Reply
"Black Jack" Pershing
Victor
Is there answers anywhere to all of the critical thinking questions?
Heather Reply
What were the direct causes of the civil war
Trinity Reply
How did slavery issues effect the war
Trinity
How were politics involved
Trinity
north wanted to unify the south
Maleek
south wanted independence
Maleek
freeing slaves was just a way to recruit black soldiers to fight for north
Maleek
Lincoln couldn't let the south separate from the union , agriculture was way to valuable
Maleek
South felt North was opposing their interests and would be better off as a separate nation
Victor
progressive reforms under Theodore Roosevelt
Karpi Reply
TR was determined to pursue the public interest
Victor
what was the main thing suposed to happen when the tea party
Gavin Reply
Which plan resolved the issue of representation for the U.S. Constitution?
Nichole Reply
The plan which became known as the seventeenth amendmet.
WIlliam
amendmet because not an article of bill of rights.
WIlliam
Which of the primary features of grassroots Progressivism was the most essential to the continued growth
Ren Reply
The institution of a steady currency.
WIlliam

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Source:  OpenStax, U.s. history. OpenStax CNX. Jan 12, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11740/1.3
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