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Group 1 Question 1

            There are many ways in which the
progressive era saw expansion and restriction of political and economic
freedoms. In the progressive era, the economy grew enormously. But because
America was changing from a rural society to more of an urban scene,
industrialization occurred. As a result, businesses were booming, which jump started
the economy. This was the beginning of the uprising of America’s economy during
the progressive era. Big business essentially became in control of the economy,
and this is where we see those restrictions. Because big businesses were in
control of the economy, greed became an epidemic among businesses and
corporations which resulted in unfair working conditions and unsteady shifts
for the working class. It also created a larger gab between the working class
and the business owners in terms of wealth. However, this did not last long as
reform came. These victories helped shape the expansion of the economy of the
progressive era, which included a minimum wage, predictable 8-hour work shifts,
and better working conditions. The economy thrived in which more people sought
jobs and retention rates in jobs rose due to the better working conditions.

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            America also saw lots of political
restriction during this time. There were still restrictions on who could and
could not vote, including women, gender inequality, and restrictions on voting
rights of the poor due to laws that taxed voting. Immigrants who came here to
find a better life were also thrown into poor working conditions, child labor,
and were excluded from the general population as far as rights were concerned.

However, there was great expansion of political freedoms during the progressive
era. One way this can be seen was the progressive era stimulated political
activism through the formation of labor unions like the AFL that encouraged the
reformation of the way labor was defined in America. The American people
practiced their freedom to use the first amendment through groups that felt the
same way as on another. Mass strikes by immigrant workers expressed their
desire for better working conditions and living conditions. However, one of the
biggest freedoms shown during this period was sexual freedom. This freedom led
to the expression of women and homosexual people. Stemming from this, came the
birth control movement. Because of women’s growing presence in the labor
market, the demands for birth control strengthened. In America, with a
decentralized federal system of government, most progressive reforms were
enacted at state and local levels, allowing the freedoms sought to be put into
motion.

Group 2 Question 3

            Black leaders in this era did
everything they could to revive the talk of reformation for African American
people. One leader, W.E.B. Dubois did a lot for black people during this time.

Dubois gathered blacks in Niagara Falls to create the Niagara movement, which
demanded the restoration of black rights to vote, an end to segregation, and
complete equality in economic and educational opportunities. DuBois largely
expressed opposition to the idea of “accommodationism” in which asked black people
to accommodate to the inequalities set forth by the time period. The Niagara
movement also created a “declaration of principles” that stated the issues that
African Americans were facing during the period and what they wanted to occur
as a result. Dubois, spearheading the Niagara movement, attempted to start the
idea of legal change. Dubois also joined with white reformers and organized the
NAACP, which launched legal strategies that would win enforcement of the 14th
and 15th amendments. This sparked social changed that transformed
American race relations. W.E.B. DuBois inspired black people of the south the
migrate North in search of the same things that white people fought for, work,
education and to escape threats of violence. However, their expectations were
met with disappointment as the North limited employment opportunities,
exclusion from labor unions and segregation still occurred. Despite the many
disappointments that came along with the fight for equality, W.E.B. DuBois
fought for equality by rallying people of all races during the progressive era,
creating groups such as the NAACP, that still exist today. W.E.B. also was very
vocal on the issues of women’s rights as well.

Group 3 Question 3

            The
great depression came dramatically with the stock market crash however there
were some things before the stock market crash that contributed to the great
depression. One of which was the retreat from progressivism. Progressivism
essentially disintegrated in the 1920’s. The distraction of the war caused people
to turn away from the efforts that were continuing to better America. Another
thing that allowed for the great depression to get its start was the government
corruption that took place. Government policy reflected the pro-business
climate of the decade and resulted in taxes being lowered for corporate profits.

Southern California and Florida experienced unstable real estate booms and
busts that resulted in banking failures. People did not trust the banks to keep
their money. If the confidence was not there in the banks, people rushed to withdrawal
their money from the bank. The sudden rush of people withdrawing their money
left banks without money. The inequality of the distribution of money was
reducing America’s purchasing power, so people bought less, which allowed for
less money coming into the economy. Production was still happening, however no
one was buying the products, which resulted in overproduction and resulted in a
drop of prices since no one was buying. When the prices dropped on the consumer
goods, the companies had no money to pay their employees, which resulted in the
companies laying off a majority of their work force. Herbert Hoover maintained
his position in believing “associational action” which strongly opposes direct economic
intervention, and he believed that private charities and voluntary actions by
businesses and corporations would maintain prices and wages without government
intervention. The public soon saw Hoover as ignorant because his reassurance
that the economy would recover clashed with the realities of what was
happening. The magnitude of the situation along with the lack of government
support during the crisis contributed largely to the beginning of the
depression.

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