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The Shortcomings Of The Progressive Era

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From 1800 to 1900, the United States population grew by more than 70 million people, and with many people moving towards an urban life, cities alone grew by about 15 million between 1880 and 1900. The fertile capitalistic economy allowed for the growth of large corporations, and with the various innovations that appeared during this period, the U.S. also began to move towards modern industrialization. This unprecedented rate of advancement also brought in some less desirable consequences, such as political corruption and harsh working conditions. This, in turn, ushered in the Progressive Era, as the country was swept into a new direction by reformers, who pushed for the removal of corrupt elements that took advantage of the failure of…show more content…
However, journalists began to get a hint of what was happening behind the scenes. Thomas Nast, considered to be the “Father of the American Cartoon”, was one of the key people in bringing down the Tweed Ring through cartoons published in Harper’s Weekly, such as “Wholesale and Retail Thievery”, and “Who Stole the People’s Money? -Do Tell”. Tweed even reportedly said, "Stop them damned pictures. I don't care so much what the papers say about me. My constituents don't know how to read, but they can't help seeing them damned pictures!" Nast’s cartoons were significant, because if he did not publish them, a majority of New York would not have discovered the political corruption until much later, and, in the meantime, would have been blissfully unaware of any impairment in the growth of New York. In addition to Nast’s work, disgruntled officials also released financial records that implicated Tweed and his associates with an estimated $25 million to $200 million in stolen funding to the New York Times, sealing Tweed’s fate when he was convicted and jailed in 1873. Nast’s influence also prompted other journalists to take a closer look at their own cities and ensured that the weaknesses of growing cities would not be exploited without the public’s knowledge.

Laissez-faire capitalism took ahold of the second industrial revolution and with the advent of mass production, the value of
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