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The Progressive Movement


The Progressive Movement began in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in cities with settlement workers and reformers who were interested in helping those facing harsh conditions at home and at work. The reformers spoke out about the need for laws regulating tenement housing and child labor. They also called for better working conditions for women.

Progressivism is a political attitude favoring or advocating changes or reform through governmental action. Progressivism is often viewed by some conservatives, constitutionalists, and libertarians to be in opposition to conservative or reactionary ideologies.

In the United States, the term progressivism emerged in reference to a more general response to the vast changes brought by industrialization: an alternative to both the traditional conservative response to social and economic issues and to the various more radical streams of socialism and anarchism which opposed them. Political parties, such as the Progressive Party, organized at the start of the 20th century, and progressivism made great strides under American presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Lyndon B. Johnson.

Despite being associated with left-wing politics in the United States and Canada, the term “progressive” has occasionally been used by groups not particularly left-wing.  Progressive Democrats in the Republic of Ireland took the name “progressivism” despite being considered centre-right or classical liberal. The European Progressive Democrats was a mainly heterogeneous political group in the European Union. For most of the period from 1942–2003, the largest conservative party in Canada was the Progressive Conservative Party.

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