The reformers, from 1900 to 1920 brought about many changes to the national government, but had struggles getting there. After time, it became easier and they were better recognized. They set the stage for the federal government to bring reform to the national level quickly. Their tactics were effective in eventually influencing the federal government to change. The reformers were limited by power, but their ultimate success prevailed.
In 1894 Henry Demarest Lloyd exposed corruption of a monopoly held by the Standard Oil Corporation in his book "Wealth Against Commonwealth." This was one of the first progressive reform actions taken to influence the government. The reformers first move to apply changes to the federal government was by getting through to the public with muckraking, bringing to attention dirt about trusts. Lincoln Steffens wrote in McClure's, an article, "The Shame of the Cities" which magnified the alliance between big business and the government in 1902. Ida M. Tarbell wrote against the Standard Oil monopoly. These writings exposed the "money trust" which engulfed American industry. These articles were used to get to the federal government. President Theodore Roosevelt became a "trustbuster" eliminating bad trusts from companies. He did not take away many trusts, but at least the reformers views were being noticed (Doc A). .
David G. Phillips wrote that of 90 U.S. Senators, 75 did not represent the people, but stood for railroads and trusts. This showed that the state governments were not working for the people, but for big business. With this in the public's eye, the government had to change, eventually. The reformers had three main principles in mind, "initiative," to vote for direct legislation, "referendum," to vote for what effects individuals, and "recall," to remove bad officials from their positions. The 17th amendment was passed, ensuring the direct election of senators in 1913 (Doc D).