Everyone most likely has a different answer for whom they think that the actual Progressives were in the Progressive Era. Especially, the historians George Mowry, Gabriel Kolko, and Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore have different views. They can be anyone from the lowest class of people to the highest class of people. George Mowry who thinks they are the middle class, Gabriel Kolko who thinks they are the big business men and Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore who thinks they are the African American women. They each have their different opinions on whom they think that the Progressives were. .
In George Mowry's "Progressivism: Middle-Class Disillusionment" he thinks that the Progressives were middle-aged, economically well off, white men and women. Simply put, most had a college education and were of the "solid middle class". They were lawyers, politicians, newspaper editors, merchants, or people in the medicine, banking, and real estate occupations. The "solid middle class" reformers saw themselves as the only hope for the society. The Progressives wanted a strong federal government as long as they would be able to control it. They rejected the labor unions of the lower class workers and worshipped the individual mind, all the while condemning the immigrant lower class (Mowry 257,259). By stating "individual" they meant their own individuals in the "solid middle class" who were well educated and respected men that would be able to take care of the people and guide them. The "solid middle class" had the destiny to show the less fortunate they way to salvation and to better opportunities.
Gabriel Kolko restates Progressivism by saying that it is conservatism in his book "The Triumph of Conservatism." He says that that it is conservative because the movements during the Progressive Era were not for the people in welfare. The movements were for the big business men of the society who ran big businesses in the effort to lower their competition and so save the relationships they have socially and economically.