What caused the movement toward larger government during the Progressive Era?

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rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Progressive Era was a period when many reformers began to advocate for the use of the state, as well as many other institutions. The purpose was to address many of the issues that had arisen with the development of industrial capitalism and the rise of rapid urbanization. This required an unprecedented amount of intervention in business, including the enforcement of anti-trust legislation. In addition, many of the regulatory laws associated with Progressivism required bureaucracy for their enforcement, and by the late Progressive era, in the Wilson Administration, many of the reforms (the creation of the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Reserve System, for example, explicitly entailed the expansion of government.) Prohibition, which involved an extraordinary intervention of government into the lives of people, was also a Progressive reform. It should also be observed, however, that many of the most important reform impulses were local, as Progressives pushed to reform corrupt municipal governments, pass building codes, limit the effects of crime in inner cities, and other reforms. Additionally, most of the laws governing working conditions were passed at the state, not the federal level.

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