Growth of the Federal Government in the 1900’s

The twentieth century was a time of substantial development for the United States government. The events of WWI and II, along with the Great Depression and the civil rights movement largely affected this growth. After World War I most of the American people were rather resentful of Europe for pulling them into a war that was not their own. With federal power diminished during this time politicians, feeling pressure from the people they represented, kept out of foreign affairs and thus refused to join the League of Nations, despite President Wilson’s objections.

It was this isolationism that caused the U. S. to enter into World War II late in the game. After hearing of the carnage inflicted on Jews and others by Hitler and his men, Americans began to feel guilty for not entering into battle sooner. This guilt also fueled the desire to become involved in foreign affairs after the war. The Great Depression was the cause of another shift in politics. With the drop of the stock markets, unemployment was rampant and it was all some could do just to feed themselves.

These things changed public opinion as to what it was they needed in the leaders of their country. This alteration of opinion is what allowed President Franklin Roosevelt to be elected in 1932. It was he who really began to increase the power the federal government held by implementing the New Deal which made many new federal programs, as well as expanding on the old ones. The civil rights movement is next on the list of government altering events.

States rights came up against the federal government for the second time since the Civil War on this matter. The federal government exerted its dominance when President Kennedy deployed soldiers to Alabama when the governor refused two black students admittance into the university, thus demonstrating the power of the government. There they enforced integration at the school, all of which eventually led to southern segregationist politicians being forced to cease making segregation an issue.

The Supreme Court finally ruled that segregation was unconstitutional, and hence the subject was no longer in question. Some Americans wanted the government to have a bigger role in society. These people were called the progressives. The issues with which they were concerned were many. Prohibition was one, because they believed that alcohol was the cause of abuse, violence, and divorce. They wished for the government to outlaw alcohol by prohibiting its production.

Suffrage was another concern of the progressives. Women felt that they were being denied their inherent rights by a legal system that was unjust in its exclusion of women. Not much has changed for this group since then; their fundamental beliefs still remain the same, though they have moved on to other areas of interest since winning some of the crusades they fought, such as in women’s right to vote and child labor laws. On the other hand conservatives held an essentially opposite view of progressives.

Their concerns were for keeping more to the traditional values that the Founding Fathers laid down for us when America was first created. Government power was not looked upon favorably back then, and conservatives in the twentieth century did not desire too much government interference into society. Recently, many different conservative factions have cropped up, with differing major concerns, though all still hold the belief in traditional values at their bases.

The pattern that can be seen through close study of American history is one of gradual but continual increase in governmental power. There have been times when there were setbacks or hitches in this growth, but they did not stop the overall climb of federal authority into what it has become today. References Krisher, B. (2005, December 12). Historical events that have defined America. Retrieved May 5, 2010, from Associated Content website: http://www. associatedcontent. com/article/16232/the_historical_events_that_have_define d_pg4. html? cat=37