In the last century and a half, the United States Government has grown significantly in size, scope, and influence. There are many contributing factors to this expansion. The quest for civil rights, presidential programs and how those programs affected domestic policy, and the foreign policies that were a result of imperialism, nationalism, and the many conflicts that the nation became involved in were the biggest catalysts attributing to this progressive development in the government. These effects have shaped the government from the vision of the Founding Fathers into what it is today.
The expansion of the government’s power, particularly the Executive Branch, has its roots in Progressivism. Based on the ideas of philosophers like Spencer, Darwin, and Marx, President’s started to believe that government could make society better. The thinking became that the more the government had a hand in society’s everyday doings, the better off society would be. The Executive Branch was originally formed to be just that: an executor of policy and a face for the nation. Congress, The Senate, and the House of Representatives were supposed to compose the Legislative Branch. They were the branch of the government that made federal laws. As the nature of politics progressed, the roles of the Executive Branch started to bleed over into the realm of responsibilities charged to the Legislative Branch. These changes would manifest themselves with a change in foreign and domestic policy of the United States.
As the US Government grew, the foreign policy that the country started with started to change. Early Presidents tried to keep a policy of non-aggression and non-interfering. They wanted this country to avoid war at all costs and keep the role of a powerful trading partner for foreign countries. Imperialism, arising after the Civil War, made the expansion of the government a necessity. Needs relating to the military, the economy, and a hunger to become a more intellectual country drove American Imperialism. This is what drove the US to acquire Hawaii and Alaska. Seeking a way to keep Russia out of North America made the purchase of Alaska a viable action. US protection from Asian countries and the need for a Pacific base were the reasons for getting Hawaii. Both of these acquisitions would become a huge part of foreign policy and the need for an expanded government in the coming years.
As imperialism extended the country’s power and influence through diplomacy and military might, the policy of non-intervention would quickly become outdated. Due to Britain and France running out of men, money, and material, the US had to get involved in World War I. ...