In the late 1800s many Americans called for reform. They focused on urban problems, government, and business. Corrupt political bosses controlled the police, the courts, and other areas of life in some of America's cities. Reformers worked to make city governments more honest and efficient. Legislation passed to reduce corruption in government and business included the Pendleton Act, the Sherman Antitrust Act, and the Interstate Commerce Commission. In 1912 Congress passed the Seventeenth Amendment, giving people the right to vote directly for United States senators.
Women wanted to be included in the political process by having the right to vote. The efforts of the woman suffrage movement were realized in 1920 when the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified. When Theodore Roosevelt became president in 1901, he introduced progressive reforms to the White House. Roosevelt worked to enforce the Sherman Antitrust Act and to preserve America's natural resources. Presidents William Howard Taft and Woodrow Wilson continued policies of reform.
For some Americans, however, the reforms of the Progressive Movement were not enough. Nonwhite, non-Protestant, and non-native residents often faced discrimination and, on some occasions, violence. Catholics and Jews faced discrimination because of their religious beliefs. Asians, Mexican Americans, and African Americans struggled for greater equality. Booker T. Washington, George Washington Carver, and W.E.B. Du Bois were African Americans who achieved success in their fields and encouraged others to work for equality.