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The Industrial Period To Modern Times

The Rise of Industrialism

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History Part II: The Industrial Period to Modern Times
After the Civil War, the United States underwent a huge surge of industrialization and economic growth. This became the age of capitalism when railroads made money, and fortunes were made. It also became a period of growing power of the central government to regulate trade and commerce. The first antitrust legislation was passed in 1890, and the Supreme Court continuously upheld the federal government's right to regulate public safety and the purity of foods and drugs. And by 1913, the first federal income tax was allowed by the 16th amendment.

The nation entered into World War I in 1914, and for the first time joined forces with other nations to overcome a common threat. But the cost of the war and other financial factors fueled a downturn in the economy, and the Great Depression created a need for the federal government to step in to help the faltering economy. This need was answered by president Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal policies, where for the first time the federal government attempted to mandate aid to the poor with law such as minimum wage, the 40 hour work week, and the creation of social security and public housing laws.

World War II brought an end to the Depression, and the United States became recognized as a major military power for the first time as it formed lasting alliances with other nations. After the war, the federal government and the states tried to work out a cooperative yet separate system of government that has been termed "marble cake" federalism as the two co-mingled. And by the early 1960s, the right of the federal government to both regulate commerce and to mandate that states follow constitutional laws was enforced as the Civil Rights Act was passed, and as schools were integrated in the aftermath of the Brown v. Board of Education decision.

The United States entered war once again in 1950 in the defense of South Korea as it attempted to support democracy in other nations, and battled a "cold war" against communism. And again in the early 1960s, another arena in Asia, Vietnam, became a ground for attempting to support democracy against what was viewed as the encroachment of communism. But the war had no local support in the country for a corrupt government, and finally in 1973, the United States withdrew its open participation in the war.

In recent years, the arena for conflict has changed from Asia to the Middle East, as the United States entered into the Persian Gulf War and the recent Operation Iraqi Freedom. The events of September 11, 2001 and the resulting military action in Afghanistan have raised concerns about national security, as the question of terrorism, and the role of our nation in preventing this form of coercion has arisen.

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The Rise of Industrialism

During the years after the Civil War, there was a huge rise in the industrialization of the United States. Steam engines, cotton gins, and the advent of the railroad changed the economy as capitalism rose as a force and the federal government used its growing power to protect this with tariffs, the introduction of interstate transportation, police and stable currency which helped fuel industrial growth. At the same time, this growing power to regulate capitalism was challenged (in Lochner v. New York) and the power of the federal government to regulate capitalism was declared unconstitutional. The increasing urbanization and US immigration into cities also created new social problems, and the progressive movement tried to deal with these first at the state level, and then at the national level.

Some of the federal changes and regulations included the introduction of antitrust legislation (Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890), and the regulation of interstate commerce (Interstate Commerce Act of 1887) Also, the Supreme court consistently rejected individual state's attempts to regulate food, carriers, and utilities, which led to the creation of national laws in these areas. Congress moved to enact the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, to regulate an area (public health) which had formerly been regulated by the individual states. Child labor laws were also federally enacted in the early 1900s in response to the long hours that young children were working in increasingly industrialized cities.

In 1913, the Sixteenth Amendment, which allowed a federal income tax was passed. This tax provided the foundation for modern government and federalism, with the government's power to tax and spend increased. And by 1920, the federal government had initiated 20 grant-in-aid programs for the poor.

The era of dual federalism ended during the Great Depression when Roosevelt's New Deal increased the power of the central government in an attempt to bring the economy around. His policies which became federal mandates included the initiation of the 40 hours work week, minimum wage laws, social security, the creation of the TVA, unemployment insurance, and the first public housing laws.

World War I and II

World War I lasted from 1914 until 1918. It became a global conflict when Germany declared war on Russia, and the United States joined on the side of the Allies and the Associated Powers, opposing the forces of the Central powers which included Germany, Austria, Turkey, and Bulgaria. The war cost greatly in terms of both money and in the loss of lives.

While World War II started in 1939, the United States waited until the attack on Pearl Harbor to enter the war effort and to overcome its former neutral stance. The effect of the war was to stimulate the economy of the nation, and to bring the great depression to an end. It also extended the influence of the federal government in its regulation of the economy and changed the face of national foreign policy as the United States for the first time entered the world of lasting political alliances with other nations, and was recognized as a major military power as the result of the buildup during the war.

The period known as the New Deal was a time of a strong central government in response to external threats during the two world wars, and the need to protect commerce and help a nation recover from severe economic depression. The beginning of modern federalism, characterized by federal approval of state plans, and requirements for matching funds for funding, began during this period with president Roosevelt's policies.

Cooperative Federalism: Government on all levels Learns to Work Together (1930-1960s)

After the world wars, the states continued to grow, and the growing national government shared its power with the states. This became known as "marble cake" federalism as the state and federal o bjectives mingled with different layers of each working together towards common objectives during the prosperous post-war period. The New Deal assumed a strong national government was needed to respond to the national crisis in the economic area, and established federal overseeing of state controlled social support programs.

And in the U.S. v. Darby case, in 1941 the Supreme Court gave control over commerce to Congress. During the time, the federal government began to regulate areas that had been formerly controlled by the states, including the areas of agriculture and labor relations. The federal government also established guidelines for social support programs, while allowing the states to retain control.

President Eisenhower attempted to help return activities to the states when he established his Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, but few changes were implemented. And during the post-WW II era, the Supreme Court asserted the role of the federal government in the area of civil rights as it interpreted the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment, and as it interpreted cases such as Brown v. Board of Education, and forced sometimes reluctant states to integrate in the wake of this decision. The Supreme Court in this case judged that the Constitution represents a compact between states and the federal government, and that the federal government can regulate certain actions by the states.

Later Wars (Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm)

In 1950, the United States entered into conflict with North Korea in support of South Korea in a war that would last until 1953. The Korean War was declared by then president Truman to be a "testing ground" between communism and democracy and occurred in part because of increasing tension in relations with communist Russia which was expanding into eastern block countries and the US policy of the containment of communism in the world. It was also the first war in which the United States and South Korea also petitioned the United Nations for its intervention in the conflict.

Almost immediately after the Korean War ended, the United States government acted to give economic aid and support to the fledgling Government of the Republic of Vietnam which was born in 1955. The Kennedy administration was forced with facing the issue of whether they should continue to support the increasingly corrupt regime of Diem in South Vietnam which was at least nominally democratic. But a groundswell of popular resistance in North and South Vietnam under the umbrella of the People's Liberation army made Diem's regime fragile. After Diem's assassination, and then Kennedy's assassination, President Johnson decided to increase the amount of American military intervention in Vietnam. By 1968, the nation had wearied of the ongoing war in the face of continued north Vietnamese victories, and the newly elected president Nixon chose to decrease the ground support in the war, and to concentrate on air offensives. And in January, 1973, at the Paris Peace Agreement, the United States ended its open participation in the war.

With the advent of the presidency of Kennedy, and then Johnson, the Democratic party expanded in the United States and with it the power of the national government to address social issues. This time of "Creative Federalism" was marked by grants that established the strength of the government at all levels, including its ability to implement programs to ensure racial and economic justice even when states were challenging these programs. Nixon's presidency continued the policies of the New Liberalism started by Kennedy and Johnson, with increased social services programs such as welfare, Medicare, Medicaid, and federal regulation of workplace health and safety. During the 1960s, the War in Vietnam slowed some of this economic growth, and taxation was needed to help implement these programs.

In August, 1990, Saddam Hussein's Iraqi troops invaded and then annexed the country of Kuwait in a conflict over oil fields. In January 1991, the United States joined a military coalition of 37 countries from around the world as it entered into the Persian Gulf war in an effort to expel Iraq from Kuwait. In the conflict which ended at the end of the next month (February), the Iraq army lost over almost a fifth of its soldiers. This conflict also marked the interest of the United States in participating in peace-keeping efforts in the often volatile Middle East and delineated the role of the United Nations in its global effort to maintain peace. The United States afterwards had to deal economically with issues that included the funding for the war; and the increase in military defense spending which resulted in investigating 'smart bomb' technologies. The ongoing cost of the war was also felt in the policies directed at containing Iraqi influence in the area as well, since the United States has an interest in the resources of this area of the world (oil).

Terrorism: Difficult Issues in the Modern World

The United States has struggled with the issue of terrorism in the aftermath of the events that occurred on September 11, 2001. While the Al Qaeda terrorism organization has been identified as the perpetrator in this event, terrorism has been a concern around the world as individual governments have threatened or acted out violently against other governments. Terrorism can take the form of bombings, of hijackings, of kidnapping hostages, or bio-terrorism, as has been seen with the outbreaks of Anthrax linked to envelopes powdered with this deadly disease began surfacing in 2002.

More recently, with the Operation Iraqi Freedom war campaign, U.S. President George W. Bush vowed to "reveal the truth" about Saddam's arsenal of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD).

The United States government has in place mechanisms intended to prevent and defeat terrorist attacks, which are considered a threat to national security and a crime against its citizens.

Our government has created directives for dealing with terrorist acts, including the United States Policy on Counterterrorism (signed by President Clinton in 1995) which created an interagency approach to combat terrorism both on our soil and in the international arena. And more recently the USA Patriot Act of 2001-03 (Uniting and Strenghthening America by provding appropriate tools required to intercept and obstruct terrorism act of 2001 ) signed by President G. W. Bush.

In the case of a threatened or actual terrorist attack, several federal agencies are activated at once, and coordinate their activities to aid, and contain, the crisis, including:
  • The Department of Justice/ FBI and the Federal Emergency Management Agency(FEMA)
  • The Department of Defense and the Department of Energy
  • The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Health and Human Services
FEMA is the lead agency, and manages and coordinates the Federal response and the different agencies, and its support of State and local governments. Its first task is often crisis management, which involves law enforcement to identify and utilize resources to prevent or resolve a terrorist threat or action. Its second task is consequence management, which includes protecting public health and safety and restoring essential government services and relief to agencies and businesses affected by the terrorist act. The primary authority to respond to a terrorist act and its consequences still lies with State and local governments, but the Federal government provides assistance if needed.

Some citizens have stated their support for the military intervention in Afghanistan as a reaction to the terrorist act that took the lives of innocent citizens. They feel that the country which harbors a known terrorist group should be punished with military action.

Others have favored nonmilitary means to combat this type of threat. They have suggested an increased role in the United Nations in combating terrorism, with the passage of international laws to combat it. Other nonmilitary methods to combat terrorism against our country that have been suggested include cutting off funds to terrorist organizations, improving intelligence operations, and building goodwill toward the United States around the world. Many experts feel that in the long run, nonmilitary means can be as effective or even more effective than combat in preventing future attacks.

Modern Federalism: from Creative to the New Federalism of Today

Since the 1970s, there have been several attempts to increase state control over grants-in-aid programs and revise federal spending on social programs. Congress has also used mandates and grants to achieve policy objectives during the 1970s and 1980s, fueling a backlash against federal regulation in the states. Decentralization of national programs to field regions, and the redirection of funds in the government have all occurred.

Block grants and revenue sharing, initiated by Nixon and continued by Carter and Reagan, gave states greater freedom with less regulation, and have set the stage for the withdrawing of federal monies. This attempt to withdraw federal spending and increase the economic control by the states includes a joint effort. Meanwhile the Garcia decision eliminated almost all barriers to federal regulation of state functions.

Congress took an active role during 1995 to 1997 by enacting federal insurance reform laws, while at the same time the federal government implemented them in a dual model that would not preempt current state practices. And welfare programs were essentially given back to the states, while the federal government placed guidelines over the programs.

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