In the late nineteenth century, industrial capitalism created immense wealth and massive poverty. As a result, the poor and the working class generally lived in substandard housing, lacked basic medical care, and received inadequate education. To make matters worse, the depression of 1893 caused the unemployment rate to soar to 18 percent of the workforce. Compounding the unemployment problem was the large influx of immigrants. This human suffering overwhelmed the Charitable Organization Societies. A group of citizens under the banner of “progressivism” set out to improve the material conditions of the working class and poor by reforming capitalism. At the same time, labor organizations kept up their demand for better pay and working

Coxey’s army of the unemployed marching to Washington, D.C.