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Samson WilsonMr. MckownGovernment 08 September 2017The Amendments of the Progressive EraThe Progressive Era a time of political, social, and economic change. A era that would reshape America. A era also full of government corruption crimes, and the very first gangsters. It is important to know of this era, for without it we would be a much divided and weaker country.  There was many other changes that occurred, but let us look at changes that would be made permanently to our government. These changes would be absolutely essential to our future as a country. These are amendments, something that is not easily done, nor easily moved. Events pushed the progressive era amendments to be passed through.Women before World War I had one purpose in the past, and that was to listen to their husbands. Men did the work and women stayed home. They didn’t dare break the social standard. They instead stayed home, cooked, and in general stayed quiet. This all changed though when the Great War broke out. Men left home to fight overseas and women quickly filled the vacant jobs caused by their absence. As they worked they learned to be independent. When the men came back after the war they soon discovered this for themselves.One of the things these “new women” fought for was the right to vote. Before women were seen as mentally weaker than men, and thus shouldn’t had the right to vote.(Judith McDonough) But this didn’t stop women. They had won the hard fight on August 18, 1920.(National Constitution Center)The amendment is as follows, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”(National Constitution Center)This amendment would help pave the way for women to become more involved in politics. This wouldn’t happen right away though for several problems would rise up for the feminists of the 1920s, like the Red Scare and major issues that divided women. (Digital History) Fast forward to the present, and now women tend to be seen as equals, with several holding important government positions.Another amendment that was also encouraged by feminists and several other groups was the 18th amendment. Before this amendment alcohol was legal to sell. With several bars easily found there was no difficulty to get a drink. But during the 1820s and 30s a religious revivalism swept the U.S.( Staff) Many saw alcohol as the main causes for all the problems with America’s society, like crime and disease.(Mark Thornton) A movement began to change all of this. A movement headed by the churches.(“Prohibition”) Slowly support increased for this temperance movement. Groups like the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, Farmers’ Alliance, and the Populist Party helped achieved temperance in several states.(“Prohibition”)In December 18, 1917 Congress passed the 18th amendment which was ratified January 16, 1919. This was a victory for the progressives, even if it was short lived. The amendment is as follows, “After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited. The Congress and the several States shall have concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislature of the several States, as provided in the Constitution within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the states by the Congress.”(National Constitution Center) The 18th amendment was unique from the rest of the amendments for it set a year delay before it was inforced.(National Constitutional Center)This amendment did not have a legacy the progressive hoped for. Alcohol consumption did drop,(Andrews, Evan) but people were willing to find other ways to drink. This gave way to organized crime, like bootlegging, speakeasies, and distilling operations, often ran and controlled by gangsters, like the infamous Al Capone.(“Prohibition”) They had achieved the exact opposite of what they had wanted. Death rates rose up as well. Bootleggers sold tainted booze that killed up to ten-thousand people.(Andrews, Evan) Understandably support for the amendment waned. The  18th amendment would not last for long though, for the twenty first amendment would repeal it.The Progressive Era was also riddled with corruption. Before the 17th amendment people couldn’t directly vote for senators. Instead senators were elected by state legislators.(National Archives and Records Administration) This often caused deadlock between legislators. Seats even remained empty for months, or remarkably years. (The National Constitutional Center) Also political machines, a political group that wields the votes to remain in power of city, county, or state, began to control these state legislatures. (National Archives and Records Administration) The senate was just a millionaire’s club, and people knew it. Thus a change was needed in congress.The states couldn’t get Congress to pass the amendment, so they went the different route. Article 5 of the Constitution stated Congress had to call a constitutional convention when two-thirds of state legislatures applied for it. (National Constitutional Center) They had forced Congress’s hand. The 17th amendment was passed in May 1912, and ratified in April 8,1913. The amendment is as follows. “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures. When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct. This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.”(National Constitutional Center) People could finally directly vote their representatives, and it even solved the vacancies issue.With this amendment political machines would quickly fade, and our government became democratic. It didn’t completely get rid of corruption, but it was a stepping stone. The amendment that would fuel the government during all these changes during the Progressive Era came though was the 16th amendment. Before this amendment the government had few expenses before the 1900s. The government mostly stayed funded by tariffs, which are taxes on imported and exported goods.(Brian Gabriel) As the government’s responsibilities grew though so did the need for more money, yet this wouldn’t be easy, for before the 16th amendment congress had a limiting factor when it came to taxing. In Article I, Section 8, Clause 1 it says, “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States”(III, Edmin Meese, et al.) This meant all the money collected this way must be used for the public. Another limiting factor was another part of the constitution. “No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or Enumeration herein before directed to be taken.”  This meant whatever tax congress proposed had to be equal amongst every state.(III, Edmin Meese, et al) This didn’t do any good for some states were poorer. A poor state would have to pay just as much as a wealthy state. They couldn’t tax a rich person without taxing a poor man. This allowed a major gap between the one percent rich and the common man. This would have to change.The 16th amendment was passed by Congress in July 2, 1909 and ratified in February 3, 1913. The amendment is as follows, “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.” (National Constitution Center ) This allowed the government to impose an income tax, and tax certain individuals more than others based on income.This amendment would greatly affect the government funding. Income tax would also be the biggest source of funds.(National Constitutional Center)This would be essential as the government would need it as responsibilities grew.The progressive era was indeed an interesting time. Mistakes were made and lessons learned. Our government was reformed, our society change, and the progressives have build a stable foundation for the future. I say without these amendments America would have been doomed. Yes, even prohibition. It taught us nobel goals can have consequences. The 19th amendment granted women an equal place in politics. The 17th helped put more power into the hands of the people, and the 16th amendment fixed a extremely convoluted issue. With this America became more unified and stronger, for they had fix major issues that plagued America.  They would need to be, for a bleak future awaited them as the Great Depression would rear its ugly head. This wouldn’t be the only time of big change though as during, nor would it be the last time government would be modified. As time moves on, so must we if we want to stand the test of time. Works Cited”The 19th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.” National Constitution Center – The 19th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution,”The New Women .” Digital History,”The 18th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.” National Constitution Center – The 18th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, Staff. “Prohibition.”, A Television Networks, 2009,, John. “The Progressive Era: Crash Course US History #27.” YouTube, YouTube, 29 Aug. 2013, Reformers in the Progressive Era, Judith McDonough, 1999,, Evan. “10 Things You Should Know About Prohibition.”, A Television Networks, 16 Jan. 2015, Thornton July 17, 1991, and PDF (109.43 KB). “Alcohol Prohibition Was a Failure.” Cato Institute, 17 July 1991, Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. “Prohibition.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, inc., 23 Mar. 2017,”17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Direct Election of U.S. Senators.” National Archives and Records Administration, National Archives and Records Administration, 15 Aug. 2016,”The 17th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.” National Constitution Center – The 17th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution,, Edmin Meese, et al. “The Heritage Guide to The Constitution.” Guide to the Constitution,!/amendments/16/essays/177/income-tax.”How Was the United States Government Funded Prior to Income Tax?” Pocket Sense, Brian Gabriel,”The 16th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.” National Constitution Center – The 16th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution,

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