The Era of Reform
Theodore Roosevelt talked eventually of the "new nationalism" and a greater America integrated by economic and social reforms on a national basis. The muckrakers seem to have been quite definitely responsible for certain reforms—the pure food and drug acts, the meat inspection act, the improvement in advertising, the reforms in life insurance. The muckrakers wrote for the popular low-priced magazines which circulated among the middle class, the bulwark of reform movements. Since the farmers had been the largest single economic group throughout the nineteenth century and always politically powerful, there was never on the part of the government any fundamental question of a laissez-faire attitude toward them. The emphasis in the act was on the extension of the government controls, perhaps on the theory that the Sherman Act, as interpreted by the courts, had taken care of the monopoly problem.