Republicans were, then not now, the party of Lincoln — many progressives that believed in change for society, usually for good. The fact that people like Paul Ryan can even dare claim that the Republicans today are the party of Lincoln makes our 16th President roll in his grave. The Democratic Party, on the other hand, was a racist and vile group of political exorcism that only shaped up under people like Harry Truman and Lyndon B. Johnson, political machines that knew that they needed to change their outlooks to gain minority votes. Slavery existed under southern Democrats, most segregationists were those who switched from the Democratic side to the Republican side after the votes were counted. The concept of, you know, actual reform and humanity tends to shoo those sorts of people away.
In America, progressivism began as a social movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and grew into a political movement, in what was known as the Progressive Era. While the term “American progressives” represent a range of diverse political pressure groups (not always united), some American progressives rejected Social Darwinism, believing that the problems society faced (poverty, violence, greed, racism, class warfare) could best be addressed by providing good education, a safe environment, and an efficient workplace. Progressives lived mainly in the cities, were college educated, and believed that government could be a tool for change.