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Some of these ideas were fueled by the new field of sociology and the professionalization of medicine, law, psychology, anthropology, and the social sciences.
Such reforms as the direct primary, secret ballot, and the initiative, referendum, and recall were effected.
Local governments were strengthened by the widespread use of trained professionals, particularly with the city manager system replacing the frequently corrupt mayoral system.
Progressives were a curious lot—they included young female settlement house workers, corporate reformers, children's advocates, as well as southern segregationists and disenfranchisers.
Progressivism might even be a misnomer; after all, what was necessarily "progressive" about the electric chair or segregation?
The second reform era began during Reconstruction and lasted until the American entry into World War I.
The struggle for women`s rights and the temperance movement were the initial issues addressed.The needs of African Americans and Native Americans were poorly served or served not at all a major shortcoming of the progressive movement.Progressive reforms were carried out not only on the national level, but in states and municipalities.Prominent governors devoted to change included Robert M.La Follette of Wisconsin and Hiram Johnson of California.Other progressive reforms followed in the form of a conservation movement, railroad legislation, and food and drug laws.The progressive spirit also was evident in new amendments added to the Constitution (text), which provided for a new means to elect senators, protect society through prohibition and extend suffrage to women.As such, it was a rejection of Social Darwinism, the position taken by many rich and powerful figures of the day.Progressivism also was imbued with strong political overtones, and it rejected the church as the driving force for change.Efforts to improve society were not new to the United States in the late 1800s.A major push for change, the First Reform Era, occurred in the years before the Civil War and included efforts of social activists to reform working conditions and humanize the treatment of mentally ill people and prisoners.