The progressive era and the political economy of big government∗

Critical Review 5 (4):531-557 (1991)
Abstract
In the United States, big government was a child of the Progressive Era. Much recent work in American history, especially that of the ?organizational? school, shows that big business played an active, perhaps dominant, role in the Progressive Era push for big government. This work undercuts an older, liberal interpretation emphasizing conflict between business and government. But why big business pushed for big government is still unclear. This paper advances the hypothesis that the push did result from a conflict between business and government, namely, a conflict between big business and state government in the late nineteenth century. As the power and influence of big business grew, it saw big government at the federal level as the solution to many of its problems resulting from the conflict with state government.
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