The Progressive Era – Roots of American Bureaucracy

Following the Civil War, the notion of unity in the United States was more than just wishful thinking. As Reconstruction came to an informal close in the 1870s, the excesses of the Gilded Age with the increasing power of the banking and industrial classes created the political climate for the Progressive Era in the 1890s. Running on the platform of scientific management, temperance, anti-corruption, and reforms in treatment of workers and women, progressive politicians sought to address some of the problems of a rapidly urbanizing society and consolidate the diverse populations and territories of the Union. Industrialists, for their part, began sponsoring universities and academic professions such as economics in an attempt to steer public discourse and pass legislation such as the Sherman Antitrust Act which while on the surface decreased the power of the big business but in effect allowed it to create more indirect cartels with backdoor relationships with the very government which ostensibly sought to control it.


Myth of the 20th Century – Episode 86 – The Progressive Era – Roots of American Bureaucracy

— References —

– The Jungle, Sinclair (1906)
– The Principles of Scientific Management, Taylor (1911)
– The Worldly Philosophers, Heilbroner (1955)
– The Triumph of Conservatism, Kolko (1977)
– Eugenics – A Reassessment, Lynn (2001) –
– The Underground History of American Education, Gatto (2003)
– A Patriot’s History of the United States, Allen and Schweikart (2004)
– The Fate Of Progress, Eisenach (2004)
– The Roots of American Bureaucracy, 1830-1900, Nelson (2006)
– The Progressive Movement and the Transformation of American Politics, Schambra and West (2007) –
– The Cross of War: Christian Nationalism and U.S. Expansion in the Spanish-American War, McCullough (2014)
– Illiberal Reformers: Race, Eugenics, and American Economics in the Progressive Era, Leonard (2017)
– The Gilded Age: 1876–1912: Overture to the American Century, Axelrod (2017)
– How the Gilded Age Got That Way, Bordewich (2017) –
– Problem Reaction Solution: Internet Censorship Edition, Corbett Report (2018) –
– Old Populism and the New Ideas of Michał Kalecki, Toporowski (2018) –
– Leninism and Bioleninism, Spandrell (2018) –

— Timeline –1865 – The Civil War ends with a total victory by the Union, resulting in national empowerment of the American Northeast.
1883 – The Pendleton CIvil Service Act is passed, creating the foundations for the modern bureaucratic institutions that exist within the American federal government.
1885 – The American Economics Association (AEA) is established, thereby strengthening the economics profession in the United States. Professional economists begin to network and attain jobs in the American government.
1887 – The Interstate Commerce Act is passed, allowing the government to regulate nearly all cross-border economic activity across the USA.
1890 – The Sherman-Antitrust Act is passed. American corporate trusts and horizontally-integrated firms are placed under direct political pressure, although economic fallout is counter-intuitive and strengthens the oligarchic class.
1898 – The Spanish-American War swiftly begins and ends, resulting in the codification of progressive foreign policy in military adventurism, nominally known as ‘humanitarian interventionism’.
1901 – The Industrial Commission, established in 1898, delivers a report to Theodore Roosevelt detailing the interplay between key corporate monopolies/trusts and capital market manipulation.
1906 – Meat and drug inspection becomes the responsibility of the Federal Government.
1913 – The tenor of American society irrevocably changed with the passing of the 16th and 17th Amendments. These allowed for direct, progressive scales of taxation on personal income, and the direct elections of American Senators by the populaces of the constituent states.
1920 – After decades of Progressive efforts through legal, cultural and academic institutions, women are granted the right to vote and Prohibition is ratified by the US Congress. Majority of the American population now lives in urban areas, and United States has the largest, most complex economy in the world.

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