I am a Progressive at the Turn of the Century
In the turn of the twentieth-century, progressive reform was at a heightened level of action, and change was abundant. Reformers were committed to social justice and wanted to introduce and enforce laws for many things in society, including many of the working class standards. Reform movements involving widespread child labor—especially in coal mines, textile mills, and department stores were among these progressive movements made. As with other progressive crusades, the exposé was a favorite tool used to expose the truth. One of the most influential and certainly the most widely read of the Progressive-era exposés of child labor was John Spargo’s The Bitter Cry of the Children (1906). Spargo was a British granite cutter who became a union organizer and socialist and gained his formal education through extension courses at Oxford and Cambridge. In 1901, he immigrated to the United States where he became a leader of the conservative wing of the American Socialist Party. In his writings, he witnessed and how young children were exposed to the horrific working conditions of coal mines. This was one eye witness account that uncovered the truth and forced Americans to deal with the shameful way its businesses were abusing children and robbing them of their childhood. The fire in The Triangle Shirtwaist Company on March 25, 1911 was another exposure of horrific working conditions for young children. Most of the 500 employees were immigrant young girls in their early teen years who were immigrants of Jewish, Italian, and German descent. The fire started around 4:30 in the afternoon and within minutes, flames fueled by loose cloth lying in innumerable piles engulfed the area and spread to the floors above. The women madly dashed to the exits only to find them locked, furiously pounded on the doors to no avail. The one fire escape at the rear of the building collapsed, killing many and cutting off that route of escape. Some...
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