Paid Advertisement
Historynet/feed historynet feedback facebook link World History Group RSS feed World History Group Subscriptions Historynet Home page

Has the U.S. Federal Government always been expanding?

Originally published under Ask Mr. History. Published Online: April 25, 2013 
Print Friendly
0 comments FONT +  FONT -


Has there ever been a time in the history of the United States when the size, scope and reach of the Federal Government was not on the increase?

Mike Caplanis (a fan)

? ? ?

Dear Mike,

Since American history is as much the story of domestic and later foreign expansion as well as domestic policies, you've got to evaluate each presidency in its turn in relation to the non-vacuum in which it existed. For example, Thomas Jefferson was for smaller government and less Federal action on principal—in preference to more states' rights—yet he got the United States involved in war against the Barbary Pirates and stepped out of character to take quick advantage of an offer by Napoleon in the form of the Louisiana Purchase. Among the presidents who managed to shrink government was Andrew Jackson, who paradoxically (some might argue) exerted unprecedented executive power whenever he saw fit. William McKinley was all for the laissez-faire of the Gilded Age, yet he launched the United States on its path to joining the international imperialist powers at the expanse of a declining Spain. And you know about his successor, Theodore Roosevelt.

Among the most successful shrinkers of government in the 20th century were the Republican administrations of Warren G. Harding (marred by some of his self-serving cabinet appointments), Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover, although the Depression, followed by World War II, brought an end to that. The Cold War and its worldwide spin-offs would get in the way of Franklin Roosevelt's successors' efforts (Ronald Reagan included), leaving the scandal-free Coolidge arguably the "patron saint" of modern believers in small government.



Jon Guttman
Research Director
Weider History Group
More Questions at Ask Mr. History

Leave a Reply

Human Verification: In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Related Articles

History Net Images Spacer
Paid Advertisement
Paid Advertisement
History Net Daily Activities
History net Spacer
History net Spacer
Historynet Spacer

Which of these wars resulted in the most surprising underdog upset?

View Results | See previous polls

Loading ... Loading ...
History net Spacer
RSS Feed Daily Email Update
History net Spacer
Paid Advertisement

Paid Advertisement
What is HistoryNet? is brought to you by World History Group, the world's largest publisher of history magazines. contains daily features, photo galleries and over 5,000 articles originally published in our various magazines.

If you are interested in a specific history subject, try searching our archives, you are bound to find something to pique your interest.

From Our Magazines
World History Group

World History Group Network:  HistoryNet | Armchair General | Achtung Panzer!
Today in History | Ask Mr. History | Picture of the Day | Daily History Quiz | Contact Us

Copyright © 2015 World History Group. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
Advertise With Us | Subscription Help | Privacy Policy