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In which John Green teaches you about the Progressive Era in the United States. In the late 19th and early 20th century in America, there was a sense that things could be improved upon. A sense that reforms should be enacted. A sense that progress should be made. As a result, we got the Progressive Era, which has very little to do with automobile insurance, but a little to do with automobiles. All this overlapped with the Gilded Age, and is a little confusing, but here we have it. Basically, people were trying to solve some of the social problems that came with the benefits of industrial capitalism. To oversimplify, there was a competition between the corporations’ desire to keep wages low and workers’ desire to have a decent life. Improving food safety, reducing child labor, and unions were all on the agenda in the Progressive Era. While progress was being made, and people were becoming more free, these gains were not equally distributed. Jim Crow laws were put in place in the south, and immigrant rights were restricted as well. So once again on Crash Course, things aren’t so simple.
Hey teachers and students – Check out CommonLit’s free collection of reading passages and curriculum resources to learn more about the events of this episode. The Progressive Era was marked by rapid reactions to the Gilded Age: https://www.commonlit.org/texts/the-progressive-era
Literature such as The Jungle revealed the horrifying conditions of factory industries, one of several which were overhauled with new progressive regulations: https://www.commonlit.org/texts/excerpt-from-the-jungle