What instances show the growth of US federal power between 1865-1990?

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Federal power has increased greatly during the years that you mention.  Some instances of this growth include:

  • Progressive Era.  During this time, reformers attempted to use the government to intervene more strongly in the economy.  This included things like antitrust legislation and the creation of things like the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission.
  • The New Deal.  Intervention into the economy exploded in this time. The federal government took responsibility for things like people's pensions and bank accounts.  It came to regulate relations between employers and businesses.  Overall, it entered many more aspects of our lives.
  • The boom in civil rights.  This has given the federal government oversight over things like voting laws in various states.  It has reached down far enough to allow the federal government to regulate things like wheelchair ramps in stores.

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