20th Century Quotes on Growth of Government

"So far as the Declaration of Independence was a theoretical document, that is its theory. Do we still hold it? Does the doctrine of the Declaration of Independence still live in our principles of action, in the things we do, in the purposes we applaud, in the measures we approve? It is not a question of piety. We are not bound to adhere to the doctrines held by the signers of the Declaration of Independence; we are as free as they were to make and unmake governments. We are not here to worship men or a document. But neither are we here to indulge in a mere rhetorical and uncritical eulogy. Every Fourth of July should be a time for examining our standards, our purposes, for determining afresh what principles, what forms of power we think most likely to effect our safety and happiness. That and that alone is the obligation the Declaration lays upon us. It is no fetish; its words lay no compulsion upon the thought of any free man; but it was drawn by men who thought, and it obliges those who receive its benefits to think likewise.

What then do we think of our safety and of our happiness, — of the principles of action and the forms of power we are using to secure them? That we have come to a new age and a new attitude towards questions of government, no one can doubt, — to new definitions of constitutional power, new conceptions of legislative object, new schemes of individual and corporate regulation. Upon what principle of change do we act? Do we act upon definite calculations of purpose, or do we but stumble hesitatingly upon expedients? To what statements of principle would a declaration of our reasons and purposes commit us before the world: to those the signers of the Declaration of Independence would have avowed, or to others very different and not at all novel in the political history of the world? This is not a party question: there is apparently little difference between parties in regard to it. It is a national question, — a question touching the political principles of America. We ought not to hesitate to avow a change, if change there is to be; but we should be ashamed to act in radical fashion and not know that there was a change. Precedent is at least a guide by which to determine our direction."

Woodrow Wilson
September 1907
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Library Topic: Growth of Government

"The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration."

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Library Topic: Growth of Government

"I sign this bill with considerable hesitation, not because I dissent from the purpose of Congress to create a Department of Labor, but because I think that nine departments are enough for the proper administration of the government, and because I think that no new department ought to be created without a reorganization of all departments in the government and a redistribution of the bureaus between them. The distribution of bureaus between the existing departments is far from being economical or logical, and if there is one thing that is needed in the present situation it is a reorganization of our government on business principles and with a view to economy in the administration of the regular governmental machinery."

President William Howard Taft
U.S. Department of Labor
March 4, 1913
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Library Topic: Growth of Government

"A significant circumstance of the First Congress, one which ought never to be overlooked, lies in the fact that it resulted from the voluntary effort on the part of the people to redress their own grievances and remedy their own wrongs. We pay too little attention to the reserve power of the people to take care of themselves. We are too solicitous for government intervention, on the theory, first, that the people themselves are helpless, and second, that the Government has superior capacity for action. Often times both of these conclusions are wrong."

President Calvin Coolidge
The American Presidency Project
September 25, 1924
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Library Topic: Growth of Government

"I have mentioned the desirability for the people to keep control of their own Government and their own property, because I believe that is one of the American ideals of public welfare in harmony with the efforts of the first Continental Congress. They objected to small infractions, which would destroy great principles of liberty. Unless we can maintain the integrity of the courts, where the individual can secure his rights, any kind of tyranny may follow. If the people lose control of the arteries of trade; and the natural sources of mechanical power, the nationalization of all industry could soon be expected. Our forefathers were alert to resist all encroachments upon their rights. If we wish to maintain our rights, we can do no less. Through the breaking down of the power of the courts lies an easy way to the confiscation of the property and the destruction of the liberty of the individual. With railways and electrical utilities under political control, the domination of a group would be so firmly entrenched in the whole direction of our Government, that the privilege of citizenship for the rest of the people would consist largely in the payment of taxes. The Fathers sought to escape from any such condition, through the guarantees of our Constitution. They put their faith in a free republic. If we wish to maintain what they established, we shall do well to leave the people in the ownership of their property, in control of their Government, and under the protection of their courts. By a resolute determination to resist all these encroachments we can best show our reverence and appreciation for the men and the work of the first Continental Congress."

President Calvin Coolidge
The American Presidency Project
September 25, 1924
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"There has been with the years a gradual growth of the Government by the accretion in its departments and by independent executive establishments, boards, and commissions as problems requiring solution confront the President and the Congress. Today the Government embraces from 150 to 200 separate units, dependent on the method of notation used. Governmental units when once set up have a tendency to grow independently of other units. This leads to overlapping and waste. Moreover, there is a marked tendency to find new occupations when the initial duties are completed. The overlap and the number of agencies can be reduced."

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"Our greatest primary task is to put people to work. This is no unsolvable problem if we face it wisely and courageously. It can be accomplished in part by direct recruiting by the Government itself, treating the task as we would treat the emergency of a war, but at the same time, through this employment, accomplishing greatly needed projects to stimulate and reorganize the use of our natural resources."

President Franklin D. Roosevelt
The American Presidency Project
March 4, 1933
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"A national emergency productive of widespread unemployment and disorganization of industry, which burdens interstate and foreign commerce, affects the public welfare, and undermines the standards of living of the American people, is hereby declared to exist. It is hereby declared to be the policy of Congress to remove obstructions to the free flow of interstate and foreign commerce which tend to diminish the amount thereof; and to provide for the general welfare by promoting the organization of industry for the purpose of cooperative action among trade groups, to induce and maintain united action of labor and management under adequate governmental sanctions and supervision, to eliminate unfair competitive practices, to promote the fullest possible utilization of the present productive capacity of industries, to avoid undue restriction of production (except as may be temporarily required), to increase the consumption of industrial and agricultural products by increasing purchasing power, to reduce and relieve unemployment, to improve standards of labor, and otherwise to rehabilitate industry and to conserve natural resources."

The United States Congress
June 16, 1933
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"We should bring more citizens under the coverage of old-age pensions and unemployment insurance.

We should widen the opportunities for adequate medical care.

We should plan a better system by which persons deserving or needing gainful employment may obtain it.

I have called for personal sacrifice. I am assured of the willingness of almost all Americans to respond to that call.

A part of the sacrifice means the payment of more money in taxes. In my Budget Message I shall recommend that a greater portion of this great defense program be paid for from taxation than we are paying today. No person should try, or be allowed, to get rich out of this program; and the principle of tax payments in accordance with ability to pay should be constantly before our eyes to guide our legislation."

President Franklin D. Roosevelt
The American Presidency Project
January 6, 1941
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"To these objections we must answer again that bureaucracy in itself is neither good nor bad. It is a method of management which can be applied in different spheres of human activity. There is a field, namely, the handling of the apparatus of government, in which bureaucratic methods are required by necessity. What many people nowadays consider an evil is not bureaucracy as such, but the expansion of the sphere in which bureaucratic management is applied. This expansion is the unavoidable consequence of the progressive restriction of the individual citizen's freedom, of the inherent trend of present-day economic and social policies toward the substitution of government control for private initiative. People blame bureaucracy, but what they really have in mind are the endeavors to make the state socialist and totalitarian.

There has always been bureaucracy in America. The administration of the customs and of the foreign service has always been conducted according to bureaucratic principles. What characterizes our time is the expansion of the sphere of government interference with business and with many other items of the citizenry's affairs. And this results in a substitution of bureaucratic management for profit management."

Ludwig von Mises
Yale University Press
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"In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all regardless of station, race, or creed.

Among these are:

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the Nation;

The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;

The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;

The right of every family to a decent home;

The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;

The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;

The right to a good education.

All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being. ...

I ask the Congress to explore the means for implementing this economic bill of rights- for it is definitely the responsibility of the Congress so to do. Many of these problems are already before committees of the Congress in the form of proposed legislation. I shall from time to time communicate with the Congress with respect to these and further proposals. In the event that no adequate program of progress is evolved, I am certain that the Nation will be conscious of the fact.

Our fighting men abroad- and their families at home- expect such a program and have the right to insist upon it. It is to their demands that this Government should pay heed rather than to the whining demands of selfish pressure groups who seek to feather their nests while young Americans are dying."

President Franklin D. Roosevelt
The American Presidency Project
January 11, 1944
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"I think that such answer as I can give to your letter of November first will be arranged in reverse order--at least I shall comment first on your final paragraph.

You keep harping on the Constitution; I should like to point out that the meaning of the Constitution is what the Supreme Court says it is. Consequently no powers are exercised by the Federal government except where such exercise is approved by the Supreme Court (lawyers) of the land. ...

I admit that the Supreme Court has in the past made certain decisions in this general field that have been astonishing to me. A recent case in point was the decision in the Phillips case. ... Others, and older ones, involved 'interstate commerce.' ... But until some future Supreme Court decision denies the right and responsibility of the Federal government to do certain things, you cannot possibly remove them from the political activities of the Federal government."

President Dwight D. Eisenhower
The Presidential Papers of Dwight David Eisenhower, Document #1147
November 8, 1954
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Library Topic: Growth of Government
Library Topic: Constitutional Limits

"The fact is that the Great Depression, like most other periods of severe unemployment, was produced by government mismanagement rather than by any inherent instability of the private economy. A governmentally established agency – the Federal Reserve System – had been assigned responsibility for monetary policy. In 1930 and 1931, it exercised this responsibility so ineptly as to convert what otherwise would have been a moderate contraction into a major catastrophe…. Similarly today, governmental measures constitute the major impediments to economic growth in the United States. Tariffs and other restrictions on international trade, high tax burdens and a complex and inequitable tax structure, regulatory commissions, government price and wage fixing, and a host of other measures give individuals an incentive to misuse and misdirect resources, and distort the investment of new savings. What we urgently need, for both economic stability and growth, is a reduction of government intervention not an increase."

Milton Friedman
University of Chicago Press
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"The first and most frequently asked question is: Is the Federal Government growing so large that our private economy is endangered?

My answer to that is no. The Federal Government has been growing for 175 years. Our population has grown even faster. Our territory and economy have grown and become more closely linked; the size of our business, labor, farm, and other establishments, and organizations, have grown. Above all, our responsibilities around the world have grown and our stake in world peace has grown immeasurably. Life itself is, more complex and the American people in the 20th century have come to expect more from governmental action.

But there has been no sudden spurt in the growth of Government under this administration. Leaving national security outlays aside, the Federal civilian expenditures today when measured, as they should be measured in a growing economy, as a percentage of our national output, are no higher than they were at the end of the Second World War. A mere 5 percent of our gross national product is not a threat to our economy."

President John F. Kennedy
The American Presidency Project
November 18, 1963
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"These are three of the central issues of the Great Society. While our Government has many programs directed at those issues, I do not pretend that we have the full answer to those problems. But I do promise this: We are going to assemble the best thought and the broadest knowledge from all over the world to find those answers for America.

I intend to establish working groups to prepare a series of White House conferences and meetings -- on the cities, on natural beauty, on the quality of education, and on other emerging challenges. And from these meetings and from this inspiration and from these studies we will begin to set our course toward the Great Society.

The solution to these problems does not rest on a massive program in Washington, nor can it rely solely on the strained resources of local authority. They require us to create new concepts of cooperation, a creative federalism, between the National Capital and the leaders of local communities."

President Lyndon B. Johnson
May 22, 1964
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"In the last two decades the Federal Government has grown almost 500 percent, and that's several times as much as the country has grown. And so did the income tax payments of individual Americans.

Every generation faces its responsibility and ours, I think, is bringing government growth and taxation under control before it destroys everything that we hold dear."

President Ronald Reagan
The American Presidency Project
September 29, 1981
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"Federalism is rooted in the knowledge that our political liberties are best assured by limiting the size and scope of the national government."

President Ronald Reagan
The American Presidency Project
October 26, 1987
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Library Topic: Growth of Government

"The growth of government has politicized life and weakened the nation's moral fabric. Government intervention—in the economy, in the community, and in society—has increased the payoff from political action and reduced the scope of private action. People have become more dependent on the State and have sacrificed freedom for a false sense of security."

James A. Dorn
The Freeman, Volume 46, Issue 3
Foundation for Economic Education
March 1996
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"The story of the growth of the federal government can be divided into two parts: before and after 1913, when the 16th amendment to the Constitution, which permitted a federal income tax, was ratified. In 1913 federal spending was a mere 2.5 percent of GNP (today spending is almost ten times that level); so if the federal government is measured only by spending, little growth took place before the income tax. Before 1913, however, the federal government grew in other ways, by enlarging its power and changing its mandate. When the colonies came together to form the United States, the founders viewed the new government as the defender of its citizens' liberty. That meant protecting their rights-and in those days the most significant threat to the rights of individuals was, in nearly everyone's eyes, the government itself. By 1913 the federal government had been transformed into an organization not to protect rights, but, ostensibly, to further the nation's economic well-being."

Randall G. Holcombe
The Freeman
Foundation for Economic Education
September 1, 1997
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Library Topic: Growth of Government

"The first major event in the growth of the federal government was the ratification of the Constitution in 1789. Before that, the United States was governed under the Articles of Confederation. The Constitution is frequently praised as a document that protects the rights of individuals and limits the powers of government. But a comparison of the Constitution with the Articles reveals that just the opposite is true. Under the Constitution the federal government gained more power, was less accountable, and had greater latitude to determine its own scope of action. That is what the Constitution was intended to accomplish."

Randall G. Holcombe
The Freeman
Foundation for Economic Education
September 1, 1997
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Library Topic: Growth of Government

"Undoubtedly the biggest event in the growth of the federal government was the Civil War, which established its supremacy over the states. The Civil War brought much new power to the federal government, and laid the groundwork for the growth of interest groups. ... The first interest group to systematically raid the Treasury for its own benefit was the war veterans. Originally, Union veterans were entitled to pensions only if they had been injured in battle; they had up to five years to claim them. In 1870 veterans pensions totaled $286 million in 1990 dollars and should have then declined. Instead they rose to $1,548 million by 1890, because the Republicans, who dominated the White House and looked to veterans for political support, increasingly liberalized the pension laws until every Union veteran of the Civil War qualified."

Randall G. Holcombe
The Freeman
Foundation for Economic Education
September 1, 1997
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Library Topic: Growth of Government
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Spalding traces the roots of American progressives to German thinkers who believed in the "Administrative State." Here, government is controlled by administrators and "experts," rather than officials elected to represent the people. Spalding also notes that the Founders and the progressives differed in their view of the Constitution. Progressives believed in a "...

"When the income tax system was born in 1913, the New York Times published all of the required forms on one page. At that time there were 3,000 employees at the IRS. Today the tax code is lengthier than the Encyclopedia Britannica and consequently there now are 115,000 IRS employees to interpret and enforce this monstrosity. Incredibly, the IRS now has more employees than the Environmental...

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"Capitol Hill seems to be in the grip of national monument hysteria. Lawmakers in both the House and Senate have introduced a flurry of bills to limit or end presidential authority to designate areas of federal land as national monuments, an executive power that's been in place—and used extensively by presidents of both parties—for more than a century.

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"If the expansion of intrusive government (a redundancy) gives you the willies — it should; the cost is freedom and prosperity — you may be tempted to direct your anger at Obama and the rest of the Democratic leadership. That would be myopic, however.

Blame the Republicans, beginning with the former president, George W. Bush. (We could go back further, but time and space are limited...

"In a way that was inconceivable when he took office, Mr. Bush -- the advance man for the 'ownership society,' smaller and more trustworthy government, and a humble foreign policy -- increased the size and scope of the federal government to unprecedented levels."

"President Obama has called Rep. Paul Ryan's budget 'an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country,' but as this week's chart illustrates, if something radical doesn't happen, entitlement spending will nearly double by 2050. The amount of spending on Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and Obamacare subsidies will soar over the next 38 years, leaving future generations with an alarming...

"Many of us who believe that governments continue to grow relentlessly, at least in the economically advanced countries, have been criticized by analysts who claim that in fact the growth of government has petered out or slowed substantially. The latter group perceives us to be needlessly alarmed and faults us for a failure to acknowledge the decisive turn of events associated with the so-...

"The tea leaves are clear: The Great Recession will not be a second Great Depression. And, as I argue below, President Obama's stimulus package, though imperfect, deserves a great deal of credit for bringing us back to the positive trajectory we're on today. Any reasonable grader of the stimulus's effects on driving recovery and combating joblessness would give the stimulus at least a B+. In...

This timeline traces the growth of the Department of Agriculture from before it was created in 1862 under President Lincoln, to 2008 when "The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act" was "enacted over a presidential veto."

Although the Department of Commerce was not established until 1913, its history and growth can be traced back to the year the Constitution was ratified. This timeline gives a brief description of key events related to the Department of Commerce.

The Department of Defense was officially established in 1947; however, its many components such as the Department of the Navy and the Department of War were early creations in the young United States. This piece chronicles key events in the Department of Defense's evolution.

One of the most well-known government departments, the Department of Education was established by President Carter in 1979. This timeline traces the growth of the department and other events which led to its creation.

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A timeline history of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, from its roots as a federal study in 1892, its offical inception as a Presidential Cabinet post in 1965, and to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009.

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"One of the benefits of historical knowledge is that it brings perspective. Things that seem obvious look quite different when you realize that they are of recent origin. Things that seem inevitable do not appear so when you look at their past. One of the best examples of this is the size of modern government."

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"Indeed, there's a long history that when unemployment rises, the government steps in to pave the way for job creation. And these policies have been effective. It's time to do so again because, well, yes, we can."

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"Ordinary people — not just a small fringe group of zealots — are really afraid today. They see the country they adore being attacked at all levels; they see their freedoms under assault, their life savings genuinely in jeopardy, an endlessly anemic economy, a longer period of sustained unemployment than we've experienced in a half-century and a national financial crisis, born of world-...

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"In 2011, as in 2010, America was in a technical recovery but continued to suffer from disastrously high unemployment. And through most of 2011, as in 2010, almost all the conversation in Washington was about something else: the allegedly urgent issue of reducing the budget deficit.

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"As an opponent of government growth, I'm interested in what we can learn from history to help us reverse the trend going forward. We need to understand the mechanisms of government growth if we are to combat the disease."

"For all of his talk about jobs and the economy, President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech was not an economic policy blueprint. This was a speech about power — about increasing the scale and scope of government and the power of those who govern over the American people."

"Those of us who believe that taxation is theft, and that there is nothing 'fair' about the federal government seizing a portion of its citizens' income or confiscating 23 or 30 percent of the value of every new good or service, are often told that we support the current tax system with its 54,000 pages of Internal Revenue Code because we don't jump for joy over any of the abovementioned tax...

"Contrary to popular myth, every Republican president since and including Herbert Hoover has increased the federal government's size, scope, or power--and usually all three. Over the last one hundred years, of the five presidents who presided over the largest domestic spending increases, four were Republicans. Include regulations and foreign policy, as well as budgets approved by a Republican...

This article argues that tax cuts do not stimulate the economy in the Keynesian sense. Instead, a decrease in taxes creates a greater pool from which the private sector invests money. This leads to long-term growth. However, the author warns that tax cuts without budget cuts will not increase the funding pool, and therefore tax cuts will have no real effect. He argues that if government...

"Government seems to grow constantly bigger and ever more intrusive in our lives.

Modern history reads like a tale of interventionism run amuck. ... Before World War II, it was widely believed that government had no business interfering with the private economy in the absence of dire necessity; after the war, Americans generally assumed that government interference was the rule rather...

"The original bureaucracy of the federal government consisted only of employees from three small departments — State, Treasury, and War. The executive branch employs today almost three million people. Not only have the numbers of bureaucrats grown, but also the methods and standards for hiring and promoting people have changed dramatically."

"As we approach the bicentennial of the ratification of the Constitution, Americans face what many regard as a constitutional crisis. A resolution calling for a constitutional convention to limit the spending powers of government has been approved by thirty-one out of a required thirty-four states. Over two hundred other constitutional amendments, many of them dealing with economic issues,...

"Carney made his comments while berating reporters for not realizing that 'the rate of spending — federal spending — increase is lower under President Obama than all of his predecessors since Dwight Eisenhower, including all of his Republican predecessors.' He cited as his source an article by Rex Nutting, of MarketWatch, titled, 'Obama spending binge never happened,' which has been the...

"When looking at Obama's spending, the key issue is what to do about the 2009 fiscal year. Since the federal government's fiscal year begins on Oct. 1, about four months took place in Bush's presidency — and those were dramatic months of fiscal crisis and emergency spending."

"Sometimes things are not what we think they are. The conventional notion is that government has become more important under President Obama, while the private sector has stagnated. Yet in some ways the data tell a different story."

"In late November 1972, Governor Reagan convened a small group at the Century Plaza in Los Angeles. In his opening remarks, he observed that conventional politics, including the recent reelection of a Republican president by a large majority, would probably not be sufficient to slow the growth of government. Several other speakers summarized what little we knew about the reasons for the growth...

"Our nation was founded by men who believed in limited government, especially limited central government. They were not anarchists; nor did they espouse laissez faire. But they did believe that rulers ought to be restrained and accountable to the people they govern. If the founders could see what has happened to the relation between the citizens and the government in the United States during...

"Did you know that annual spending by the federal government now exceeds the 2007 level by about $1 trillion? With a slow economy, revenues are little changed. The result is an unprecedented string of federal budget deficits, $1.4 trillion in 2009, $1.3 trillion in 2010, $1.3 trillion in 2011, and another $1.2 trillion on the way this year. The four-year increase in borrowing amounts to $55,...

"The law creating a U.S. Department of Labor, signed by President William H. Taft on March 4, 1913, was virtually overlooked among the historic events of that day. The city of Washington was bursting with goings on of all kinds. It was Inauguration Day for Woodrow Wilson and there was the usual social whirl that accompanies such an event. In addition, the 62nd Congress was still in session on...

"On August 2, 1988, President Ronald Reagan announced that he had changed his mind about the pro-union plant-closing bill. He had vetoed it three months earlier, but now let it become law without his signature after intense pressure from presidential nominee George Bush and former Treasury Secretary James Baker, now Bush's campaign chairman. Reagan claimed that only this action would enable...

"New Hampshire, scene of the upcoming GOP presidential primary, seems like the perfect illustration of the Republican low-tax philosophy. With no state income tax and one of the lightest tax burdens in the U.S., New Hampshire enjoys an 8.3% poverty rate, the lowest in the country, and an unemployment rate of only 5.2% as of November, far below the national rate.

But here's a surprise:...

"Richard Weaver's observation that 'ideas have consequences' is especially valid when we study the growth of government in America. If we compare the attitudes of Woodrow Wilson and Calvin Coolidge on the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence we can see how their views on government intervention were a logical outcome of their conceptions of these documents."

"The fates of the American economy and the presidency of Barack Obama are inextricably linked, and both of them hit a bump in April. The economy added 252,000 jobs each month between December and February, but that rate seems to be slowing. Payrolls rose by just 154,000 in March and by only 115,000 in April. Unemployment dropped in April, from 8.2% to 8.1%, but for the wrong reason: an exodus...

"In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, AEI President Arthur Brooks and Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) discuss why America continues to have big government even though Americans consistently tell pollsters that they'd prefer smaller government. The Left answers that Americans suffer from some form of cognitive dissonance, in which they retain nominal loyalty to an outmoded view (from...

"Whether we need more government in this country really depends on the answer to three other questions. First, is there room for improvement in government programs? Have we reached the limits of what government can do in most policy areas, or could expanding these current programs produce significant added benefits for the public? Second, are any of our current social and economic problems...

Chart or Graph

"Table 1 provides a list of all executive cabinet departments and the dates they were each established."

"The 1990s were a decade of rapid private sector expansion and federal government restraint."

"Tax collections of the Federal government have increased at a compound annual rate of 6.4 percent since 1792."

"People's level of confidence in government's problem-solving ability powerfully shapes their view on the proper role of government."

"Figure 5 shows the budget for each regulatory agency per full-time employee as reported by the Office at Management and Budget (OMB)."

This chart breaks down U.S. entitlement spending into three parts: welfare, health care, and pension costs.

"The amount of spending on Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and Obamacare subsidies will soar over the next 38 years, leaving future generations with an alarming debt burden."

"Figure 5 reports executive branch employment for the years 1936 through 2001."

"By 1940 the number of federal aid programs had increased to 30, and aid spending had soared to 9.2 percent of the federal budget."

"Figure 3, which tracks real federal expenditures from 1913 through 2001, shows the sharp increase in federal expenditures during the two world wars...."

"Figure 6 illustrates how pages in the Federal Register have increased during national wars."

"Though imperfect, the measures illustrated in the table reflect the size of government."

"This chart illustrates the year-over-year percentage change in government expenditures (red), with those in the private sector (blue)."

"The top (blue) line shows that private nonresidential investment has rebounded smartly since early 2009, when President Obama took office. Residential investment first dropped, and then mostly came back."

"While the full opportunity costs of conscription are not readily accounted for, these costs are at least somewhat visible."

"Our survey findings reveal considerable differentiation in Americans' views of how individual programs and agencies perform."

This chart traces the changing confidence in government to solve the problems in the United States.

"A majority of Americans (54%) continue to believe the government is trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses, although that is down from the record high of 61% earlier this summer. About four in 10 Americans (39%) say the government should do more to solve the nation's problems."

"Figure 2 shows the number of aid programs for the states beginning with the education program of 1879."

"Figure 5 shows that, while the number of federal workers has been roughly constant for decades, the number of state and local workers has soared."

"The history of real (2000 dollars) federal government expenditures per capita from 1792 to 2004 is shown in Figure 1."

"Figure 1 shows real per capita federal expenditures from 1800 to 1990, and illustrates the difference between government growth in the 20th century and the 19th."

"In addition to the increase in federal government expenditures, state and local government expenditures per capita have also increased since World War II, as seen in Figure 5."

"Today, 39 percent of adults say that 'government should do more to solve problems,' while a 57 percent majority feels 'government is doing too many things better left to businesses and individuals.'"

"Figure 3 shows the real dollar increase in social and economic regulatory spending by presidential term between 1960 and 2009."

"Figure 1 illustrates the interlocking parts of the federal aid system."

"In this survey we ask people whether they would like to see the federal government become more or less involved (or not change its involvement) in five different domestic arenas."

"Federal spending has also increased relative to gross domestic product (GDP) throughout much of this country's history, as seen in Figure 3. Expanded government during World War II is clearly evident in Figure 3, as is the slowdown in government growth during the 1980s and 1990s. Figure 1 shows that the federal government has historically spent more per person each year, but Figure 3 suggests...

Since 2000, U.S. federal spending has increased from $1.8 trillion to $3.8 trillion.

This chart traces the growth of U.S. defense spending from fiscal year 1900 to fiscal year 2012.

This chart demonstrates the growth in government education expenditures since 1900.

This chart demonstrates the growth of government spending on health care since 1900.

U.S. spending on pensions dramatically skyrocketed beginning in the mid-1950s.

This chart demonstrates the growth of U.S. transportation expenditures in the last century. The transportation spending budget has gradually grown to nearly $300 billion.

This chart shows the growth of government spending on welfare from 1900 to 2012. Welfare spending especially accelerated after 2005.

Analysis Report White Paper

The federal government has grown substantially in the 20th century. In 1913, just prior to World War I, federal government expenditures were 2.5 percent of gross national product and by 1990 they had risen to 22.5 percent of GNP. The relatively small size of the federal government before World War I shows that it exhibited minimal growth in the 19th century, in stark contrast with its tremendous growth in the 20th century.

As the title suggests, this piece provides a quick overview of the Department of Education's development and evolution through the years. Some of the key elements of this piece are the descriptions of the various education secretaries and the main accomplishments of their tenure.

"Early Progressives co-opted Abraham Lincoln's legacy to justify their program of expansive government powers over American life. In so doing, they obscured how their philosophy of government broke with Lincoln and the Founding to which he was heir.

Based on a variety of empirical indicators of regulation, we suggest that regulation has grown over the last 100 years, but less rapidly than tax revenues. Regulation grew more slowly during the 1980's and, according to some measures, declined. We suggest that the long term regulatory and budgetary trends are consistent with growth in the political power of those subsidized – especially the elderly.

Americans want a federal government that is better, not smaller. CAP's new research shows people would rather improve government performance than reduce its size. And they are extremely receptive to reform efforts that would eliminate inefficient government programs, implement performance-based policy decisions, and adopt modern management methods and information technologies.

"This paper examines the growth of government during this century as a result of giving women the right to vote. Using cross-sectional time-series data for 1870–1940, we examine state government expenditures and revenue as well as voting by U.S. House and Senate state delegations and the passage of a wide range of different state laws. Suffrage coincided with...

Economists, public choice analysts, political scientists, and other scholars, especially during the past 10 to 15 years, have made many studies of the growth of government. As the literature has grown, a number of conventions have become established with respect to concepts, measures, assumptions and modes of analysis.

The theory behind aid to the states is that federal policymakers can design and operate programs in the national interest to efficiently solve local problems. In practice, most federal politicians are not inclined to pursue broad, national goals; they are consumed by the competitive scramble to secure subsidies for their states.

Several monetary institutions appeared in the United States prior to the formation of the Federal Reserve System, or Fed. These were, in order: the constitutional gold (and bimetallic) standard, the First and Second Banks of the United States, the Independent Treasury, the National Banking System, clearinghouse associations, and the National Reserve Association. The Fed was the last such institution founded.

It is conventional wisdom in America today that high levels of taxes and government spending diminish America's prosperity. The claim strikes a deep intuitive chord, not only among those on the Right, but also among many on today's Left. It has become so obvious to so many over the last thirty years, it hardly seems to require demonstration any longer.

America was founded on the basis of an explicit philosophy of individual rights. The Founding Fathers held the view that government, while deriving from the consent of the governed, must be limited by the rights of the individual. The purpose of government was to maintain a framework within which individuals can pursue their own self-interest, controlled by the competitive marketplace.

The literature on the relationship between the size of government and economic growth is full of seemingly contradictory findings. This conflict is largely explained by variations in definitions and the countries studied.

This paper asks whether increases in government spending stimulate private activity. The first part of the paper studies private spending. Using a variety of identification methods and samples, I find that in most cases private spending falls significantly in response to an increase in government spending.

Everyone knows that the government of the United States has grown enormously during the past century, but no one knows exactly how much. Government has many aspects, some of which defy precise measurement. ... Unfortunately the most readily quantified are not necessarily the most important.

Through a comparison of the economic conditions of the 1890s and the 1930s, the authors argue that post-1930 government growth in the United States is not the direct result of the Great Depression, but rather is a result of institutional, legal, and societal changes that began in the late 1800s.

Crisis and Leviathan is indeed the theme of this essay. Inspired by the scale of post-9/11 actions taken by government and the fact that this national crisis is the first to emerge since Higgs' book, we seek to do three things. First, we will describe the mood change that affected public opinion about government.

This paper reviews several theories of government size and growth that are dominant in the public choice and political science literature. The theories are divided into two categories: citizen-over-state theories and state-over-citizen theories. The relationship between the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the timing of government growth is also presented.

Theories of the size of government focus on either the demand for government or the supply of tax revenues. Demand side theories such as those of Peltzman, Meltzer and Richard, Husted and Kenny, and Lott and Kenny are essentially political theories. They emphasize the role of voters or interest groups in expanding government.

Like previous years, the budget requested by the president in his FY 2009 Budget of the United States to run federal regulatory agencies and its staff increased significantly. Tracking the expenditures of federal regulatory agencies and the trends in regulatory spending over time helps analysts monitor one aspect of the cost of regulations: the direct cost to regulate the economy and taxpayers' lives.

I maintain that in the economically advanced countries, government continues to grow, as it has grown for more than a century, although the growth now takes a somewhat different mix of forms than it did in earlier times. Some leading analysts, in contrast, have concluded that the growth of government has slowed or even stopped in the past twenty years.

The growth of government has politicized life and weakened the nation' moral fabric. Government intervention—in the economy, in the community, and in society—has increased the payoff from political action and reduced the scope of private action.

If we consider only Wilson's political speeches, his abrupt change from advocating laissez-faire positions to endorsing progressive reforms in 1908 seems inexplicable except as an opportunistic political maneuver.

From the moment you get up in the morning until the close of the day, and from the day you are born until the day you die, the Federal government intrudes upon virtually every aspect of your life. The Founding Fathers had a very different philosophy about the proper role of government.

The triumph of the administrative state has been made possible by the emasculation of the legislative power. Washington’s problem is not merely federal spending and debt; it is the arrogance of centralized power. The time is therefore ripe for a major national discussion not only about the size of government, but also about the processes of government.

Democratic government continues in relatively few countries, and mainly in the market economies of the world. Yet even in the United States, with a long history of coexistence between market freedom and political freedom, state intervention in the market has grown, and the size of government has grown. Growth of government is not a simple transfer of power from one group to another.


A ten part lecture series by Robert Higgs about the growth of government throughout American history. Including why government grows the way it does.

Here are the remaining installments of the lecture series: two, three,...

Mark Thornton discusses the Civil War and the Growth of Government. He especially discusses how the economy dealt with the issues it faced due to government intervention.

"Agriculture is easily the most distorted sector, with high tariffs and, in developed countries at least, large amounts of government subsidies through price supports and direct payments. On the other hand, developing countries, who have a comparative advantage in these products, cannot afford to subsidize their agriculture sector and face prohibitive tariffs for their products abroad. The...

"Based on a theory known as Keynesianism, politicians are resuscitating the notion that more government spending can stimulate an economy. This mini-documentary produced by the Center for Freedom and Prosperity Foundation examines both theory and evidence and finds that allowing politicians to spend more money is not a recipe for better economic performance."

In this video Congressman Dan Burton makes a speech on the House floor about government's growing reach in areas such as health care and banking.

"Traces the expanding influence of government versus several other societal groups in meeting people's needs from 1850 to present. Illustrates the impact of Roosevelt's New Deal, Johnson's Great Society and War on Poverty, and the Bush/Obama nationalization of GM, Chrysler, AIG, etc."

"This Center for Freedom and Prosperity Foundation video analyzes how excessive government spending undermines economic performance. While acknowledging that a very modest level of government spending on things such as 'public goods' can facilitate growth, the video outlines eight different ways that that big government hinders prosperity. This video focuses on theory and will be augmented by...

This video contains an audio message from Franklin Roosevelt concerning his proposal to "pack" the Supreme Court with his own judicial appointees, an apparent attempt to increase the power of the executive branch.

"Lots of books examine the military history of World War II. In this new book, Burt Folsom and Anita Folsom, authors of New Deal or Raw Deal?, look at some of the domestic aspects of the war. Taxes and spending soared — along with government propaganda for taxes — laying the groundwork for a permanently larger government. History books tell us the war ended the Depression. But the...

"This Economics 101 video from the Center for Freedom and Prosperity explains that excessive government spending undermines prosperity by diverting resources from the productive sector of the economy. Moreover, the two main ways of financing government -- taxes and borrowing -- cause additional economic damage."

Friedman addresses concern over the ever-growing number of lobbyists in politics. He discusses how this is a result of growth in government and what it means to the individual.

Krugman discusses the fiscal problems in the United States. He suggests that the government needs to spend money in order to create jobs.

Paul Krugman talks with Ed Shultz about government spending and job creation. Krugman says that difficult economic times require the government to grow its employment force, not slash it.

Joseph Stiglitz keynotes the beginning of the Roosevelt Institute's "Rediscovering Government," a project which seeks to "create a national conversation about the role of government, and promote 'active government' in the public discourse."

This video features a debate about U.S. debt, inflation, and monetary policy between Congressman Ron Paul and Professor Paul Krugman.

"Paying taxes can be tough -- it's complex, time consuming and often frustrating.

Watch as Randall Holcombe, Professor of Economics, explains how we can simplify the tax code by eliminating loopholes for special interests and lowering tax rates and how this helps improve economic growth.

It might not make paying taxes any sweeter, though."

"A new study by the Institute for Market Economics (IME) in Sofia, Bulgaria, using the latest OECD data, finds that the government sectors in developed countries are too large relative to their private sectors to maximize economic growth.

The IME study finds the government sector should be no larger than 25% (and perhaps considerably smaller) to maximize GDP growth.

The average...

"The last century has seen the rise of bigger and bigger governments, with very little discussion or debate on merits or the implications. Discover the truth about Big Government. It is not a practical/efficient machine, working successfully for the good of the people. The bigger government gets, the less representative, accountable and efficient it is." Part two of the video can be found...

"Professor Sowell comments on how the Founder's vision of limited government transmogrified into its present state."

"Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Institute for Individual Rights sees a troubling pattern of expanding government that causes great injury to individual rights and the ability of our economy to produce products and services that people want. In addition, the damage done by the Dodd-Frank and Sarbanes-Oxley regulatory schemes has caused immeasurable damage to America and its markets. Companies are...

Primary Document

The full text version of the original legislation which was signed into law August 14, 1935 by FDR.

"The organic act establishing the Department of Labor was signed on March 4, 1913, by a reluctant President William Howard Taft, the defeated and departing incumbent, just hours before Woodrow Wilson took office. A Federal Department of Labor was the direct product of a half-century campaign by organized labor for a 'Voice in the Cabinet,' and an indirect product of the Progressive Movement....

"Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do hereby proclaim and make known to all whom it may concern that the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is suspended throughout the United States in the several cases before mentioned, and that this suspension will continue throughout the duration of the said rebellion or until this proclamation shall, by a subsequent...

"Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That there shall be a Department of Treasury, in which shall be the following officers, namely: a Secretary of the Treasury, to be deemed head of the department; a Comptroller, an Auditor, a Treasurer, a Register, and an Assistant to the Secretary of the...

The Act established the Agricultural Adjustment Administration, which regulated the following commodities: wheat, cotton, field corn, hogs, rice, tobacco, and milk.

Making supplemental appropriations for job preservation and creation, infrastructure investment, energy efficiency and science, assistance to the unemployed, and State and local fiscal stabilization, for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2009....

"Be It Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That there is hereby established at the seat of government of the United States a Department of Agriculture, the general designs and duties of which shall be to acquire and to diffuse among the people of the United States useful information on subjects connected with...

"Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That there shall be, and is hereby, established an executive department of the government of the United States, to be called the Department of Justice, of which the Attorney-General shall be the head. His duties, salary, and tenure of office shall remain as now fixed by law...

"You know, it was here where we came together to reclaim the basic bargain that built the largest middle class and the most prosperous nation on Earth. We believe that in America success shouldn't be determined by the circumstances of your birth. If you're willing to work hard, you should be able to find a good job. (Applause.) If you're willing to meet your responsibilities, you should be...

"Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow Americans:

Last month, I went to Andrews Air Force Base and welcomed home some of our last troops to serve in Iraq. Together, we offered a final, proud salute to the colors under which more than a million of our fellow citizens fought -- and several thousand gave their lives.

We gather tonight...

"The main issue in present-day social and political conflicts is whether or not man should give away freedom, private initiative, and individual responsibility and surrender to the guardianship of a gigantic apparatus of compulsion and coercion, the socialist state. Should authoritarian totalitarianism be substituted for individualism and democracy? Should the citizen be transformed into a...

"No American coming to Philadelphia on this anniversary could escape being thrilled at the thought of what this commemoration means. It brings to mind events, which in the course of the century and a half that has passed since the day we are celebrating, have changed the course of human history. Then was formed the ideal of the American nation. Two years later this was put into practical...

Updated in May of 2010, this document contains the full text of the health care law popularly known as Obamacare and signed into law on March 23, 2010 by President Barack Obama.

Predominantly written by Thomas Jefferson, the Declaration of Independence formally and eloquently justified the independence of the United States from British monarch King George III.

Tocqueville's famous analysis of the American economic and political system, as he observed during his travels of the country in the 1830s.

This piece provides a copy of the original act which established the federal Department of Education. The opening pages of the document describe the reasons why the Education Department was established, some of which include "strengthen[ing] the Federal commitment to ensuring...

"An act to establish a Department of Energy in the executive branch by the reorganization of energy functions within the Federal Government in order to secure effective management to assure a coordinated national energy policy, and for other purposes."

"Though formally established as an executive department by the First Session of Congress in 1789, many functions of the Department of the Treasury were being carried out even before the signing of the Declaration of Independence thirteen years earlier. Over the decades, the functions of the Department have expanded and grown more sophisticated to meet the needs of a developing nation."

"This Act became law on October 15, 1966 (Public Law 89-670), 49 U.S.C. 303 (formerly 49 U.S.C. 1651(b)(2) and 49 U.S.C. 1653f). Public Law 90-495 (August 23, 1968) amended section 4(f) to its most commonly known form which is presented here. Public Law 97-449 (January 12, 1983) re-codified the Act from 49 U.S.C. 1651 to 49 U.S.C. 303. Congress has amended this Act three other times. The...

"Now it is true that I believe this country is following a dangerous trend when it permits too great a degree of centralization of governmental functions."

"The Education Department Budget History Table shows President's budget requests and enacted appropriations for major Education Department programs. This table breaks out Department budget totals by discretionary and mandatory spending. Spending for discretionary programs is decided in the annual appropriations process. In contrast, spending for mandatory programs is usually a function of the...

"This Order establishes the initial organization of the Environmental Protection Agency."

"An Act To provide for the establishment of Federal reserve banks, to furnish an elastic currency, to afford means of rediscounting commercial paper, to establish a more effective supervision of banking in the United States, and for other purposes."

The most current version of the Act is available at the Federal Reserve's...

"The present federal income tax dates from the act signed by President Wilson on October 3, 1913. That act was made possible by the ratification of the Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution adopted on February 3, 1913. Earlier federal income tax laws had been repealed or held unconstitutional. The income tax first became a significant source of revenue during World War I.

Four tax...

In this paper, which would later be assembled in The Federalist Papers, Madison explains to the Constitutional Opponents that the "General Welfare Clause" does not provide an unrestrained, vast reservoir of power for Congress. He shows that in that case there would be no need for a commerce clause or interstate...

Writing under the pseudonym "Publius" James Madison discusses the relationship between the federal and state governments, concluding that "the powers proposed to be lodged in the federal government are as little formidable to those reserved to the individual States, as they are indispensably necessary to accomplish the purposes...

In his first inaugural address, President Roosevelt (FDR) gives a speech that borders on messianic with references to the money changers in the temple and the need to move away from a society based on profit. He then outlines various steps towards restoring the economy...

The bill entitled 'An act making a grant of public lands to the several States for the benefit of indigent insane persons,' ... is returned to the Senate ... with a statement of the objections which have required me to withhold from it my approval.

"I address you, the Members of the Seventy-seventh Congress, at a moment unprecedented in the history of the Union. I use the word 'unprecedented,' because at no previous time has American security been as seriously threatened from without as it is today."

"This Nation in the past two years has become an active partner in the world's greatest war against human slavery.

We have joined with like-minded people in order to defend ourselves in a world that has been gravely threatened with gangster rule.

But I do not think that any of us Americans can be content with mere survival. Sacrifices that we and our allies are making impose upon...

"Good morning. This is a pivotal moment for America's economy. Problems that originated in the credit markets and first showed up in the area of subprime mortgages have spread throughout our financial system. This has led to an erosion of confidence that has frozen many financial transactions, including loans to consumers and to businesses seeking to expand and create jobs."

"Any doubt remaining after Butler as to the scope of the General Welfare Clause was dispelled a year later in Helvering. There the Court defended the constitutionality of the 1935 Social Security Act, requiring only that welfare spending be for the common benefit as distinguished from some mere local purpose. Justice Benjamin Cardozo...

"Because of its direct relation to the cost of Government, I desire again to bring to the attention of the Congress the necessity of more effective organization of the Executive branch of the Government, the importance of which I have referred to in previous messages. This subject has been considered many times by the Executive and by the Congress, but without substantial results. Various...

"In 1789 Congress created three Executive Departments: Foreign Affairs (later in the same year renamed State), Treasury, and War. It also provided for an Attorney General and a Postmaster General. Domestic matters were apportioned by Congress among these departments.

The idea of setting up a separate department to handle domestic matters was put forward on numerous occasions. It wasn't...

This massive piece of legislation most importantly consolidated dozens of federal agencies in order to improve means of fighting terrorism. It was single largest consolidation of federal power since the National Security Act of 1947. This act also established the Department and Director of Homeland Security.

"The federal government's interest in housing conditions can be traced back to the first national investigation of large urban slum areas in 1892. HUD is the successor to a number of federal housing agencies, which gradually evolved following a major effort during the great depression to stimulate housing development. The following narrative highlights major events and legislation tracing the...

Offers a timeline of important events in the history of the Housing and Urban Development department.

"It may be presumed that the proposition relating to internal improvements by roads and canals, which has been several times before Congress, will be taken into consideration again either for the purpose of recommending to the States the adoption of an amendment to the Constitution to vest the necessary power in the General Government or to carry the system into effect on the principle that...

Jefferson argues against the creation of a national bank on the grounds that it is not one of the delegated powers given to Congress under the Constitution.

"The first and most frequently asked question is: Is the Federal Government growing so large that our private economy is endangered?

My answer to that is no. The Federal Government has been growing for 175 years. Our population has grown even faster."

In an opinion authored by Justice John Paul Stevens, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that the city of New London, Connecticut could condemn Susette Kelo's house and take the property for the purpose of economic development. The question presented was whether the city's actions fit within the "public use" requirement of the Fifth Amendment. The Court found that in...

In this speech, President Lyndon B. Johnson outlines his vision and goals for "The Great Society," a massive web of government programs and legislation aimed at societal improvement and progress. This speech was given during the University of Michigan's graduation commencement ceremony on May 22, 1964 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

"The excitement which grew out of the territorial controversy between the United States and Great Britain having in a great measure subsided, it is hoped that a favorable period is approaching for its final settlement. Both Governments must now be convinced of the dangers with which the question is fraught, and it must be their desire, as it is their interest, that this perpetual cause of...

"I sign this bill with considerable hesitation, not because I dissent from the purpose of Congress to create a Department of Labor, but because I think that nine departments are enough for the proper administration of the government, and because I think that no new department ought to be created without a reorganization of all departments in the government and a redistribution of the bureaus...

This Act created the predecessor of the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development and sought "To encourage improvement in housing standards and conditions, to provide a system of mutual mortgage insurance, and for other purposes."

The National Industrial Recovery Act of June 16, 1933 was a forerunner of the Wagner Act. Signed by President Franklin Roosevelt, the Act was implemented by the National Recovery Administration and the Public Works Administration until it was ruled unconstitutional, in part, in May of 1935.

"Good morning, everyone. Thank you for starting early with us as we make our way over a number of states to Colorado -- Colorado Springs -- where the President will, with great pleasure, deliver the commencement address at the Air Force Academy -- part of a tradition where the President, every year, delivers the commencement at one of the service academies. This year he very much looks forward...

The original act that created the United States Department of Labor.

"As concern with the condition of our physical environment has intensified, it has become increasingly clear that we need to know more about the total environment-land, water and air. It also has become increasingly clear that only by reorganizing our Federal efforts can we develop that knowledge, and effectively ensure the protection, development and enhancement of the total environment...

"By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America, and in order to restore the division of governmental responsibilities between the national government and the States that was intended by the Framers of the Constitution and to ensure that the principles of federalism established by the Framers guide the Executive departments and agencies...

"All those who have served in America's uniform deserve the Nation's thanks. To show our gratitude, I am about to do something I've been looking forward to for a long time: sign the bill that creates a Cabinet level Department of Veterans Affairs."

"For the last few years, we've all faced an ever more grave economic situation with dismay and frustration—sort of a truck on the way downhill, as I said the other night, without any brakes. Many of our citizens were resigning themselves to permanent economic hardship. But what you achieved this summer, I think, has put us in a position to get control of the situation. And for the first time...

An Act to Improve the Navigability and to Provide for the Flood Control of the Tennessee River: To Provide for Reforestation and the Proper Use of Marginal Lands in the Tennessee Valley; to Provide for the Agricultural and Industrial Development of Said Valley; to Provide for the National Defense by the Creation of a Corporation for the Operation of Government Properties at and Near Muscle...

"It is common to think of the Declaration of Independence as a highly speculative document; but no one can think it so who has read it. It is a strong, rhetorical statement of grievances against the English government. It does indeed open with the assertion that all men are equal and that they have certain inalienable rights, among them the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness....

"It would be the extreme of vanity in us not to be sensible that we began this revolution with very vague and confined notions of the practical business of government. To the greater part of us it was a novelty; of those who under the former constitution had had opportunities of acquiring experience, a large proportion adhered to the opposite side, and the remainder can only be supposed to...

"This book contains the substance of the course of lectures given in the Old South Meeting-House in Boston in December, 1884, at the Washington University in St. Louis in May, 1885, and in the theatre of the University Club in New York in March, 1886. In its present shape it may serve as a sketch of the political history of the United States from the end of the Revolutionary War to the...

"Even though I arrived at the Department of the Interior with a background of 20 years on the Interior Committee in the House of Representatives, I quickly discovered that this Department has more nooks and crannies than any Victorian mansion or colonial maze. Fortunately, my predecessor, Secretary Don Hodel, had come to realize that many new employees--I'm not sure he had Secretaries in mind...

"HAVING shown that no one of the powers transferred to the federal government is unnecessary or improper, the next question to be considered is, whether the whole mass of them will be dangerous to the portion of authority left in the several States."

"Following the assassination of President James A. Garfield by a disgruntled job seeker, Congress passed the Pendleton Act in January of 1883. The act was steered through Congress by long-time reformer Senator George Hunt Pendleton of Ohio. The act was signed into law by President Chester A. Arthur, who had become an ardent reformer after Garfield's assassination. The Pendleton Act provided...

"One of the most challenging issues Congress faced during the Civil War was how to fund the war effort. Before the war tariffs generated adequate revenue for a relatively small federal budget. When it became clear that the war would not be decided quickly, Congress drafted legislation to generate more revenue. The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, William Pitt Fessenden of Maine,...

The Constitution of the United States established the federal governmental system currently in place with three branches of government. The premise of executive privilege developed from the separation of powers clause.

"The Department of Transportation (DOT) was established by an act of Congress, signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on October 15, 1966. Its first secretary, Alan S. Boyd, took office on January 16, 1967. The department's first official day of operation was April 1, 1967."

"The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all. I like a little rebellion now and then. It is like a storm in the atmosphere."

"I received with great pleasure your favor of June 4, and am much comforted by the appearance of a change of opinion in your state; for tho' we may obtain, & I believe shall obtain, a majority in the legislature of the United States, attached to the preservation of the Federal constitution according to it's obvious principles, & those on which it was known to be received; attached...

"No, my friend, the way to have good and safe government, is not to trust it all to one, but to divide it among the many, distributing to every one exactly the functions he is competent to."

"The idea which you present in your letter of July 30th, of the progress of society from its rudest state to that it has now attained, seems conformable to what may be probably conjectured. Indeed, we have under our eyes tolerable proofs of it."

"CALLED upon to undertake the duties of the first executive office of our country, I avail myself of the presence of that portion of my fellow-citizens which is here assembled to express my grateful thanks for the favor with which they have been pleased to look toward me, to declare a sincere consciousness that the task is above my talents, and that I approach it with those anxious and awful...

"This short essay stands as a distillation of Adams's most advanced political thinking. The principles that he would later put forth in his great treatise, A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America, are all found in Thoughts: republican government, frequent elections, separation of powers, bicameralism, a unitary executive armed with a...

"The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration."

"Since its creation in 1789, the Department of State has carried out a series of reorganizations and has created new offices and bureaus to deal with new diplomatic challenges."

"In Butler, the Court struck down the Agricultural Adjustment Act, which taxed processors in order to pay farmers to reduce production. Although invalidating the statute, the Court adopted the Hamiltonian view (almost in passing) that the General Welfare Clause is a separate grant of congressional authority, linked to and qualified by the spending power...

This report briefly traces the history of the Veterans Affairs government department, while also explaining some of its key duties and responsibilities.

Members of Congress wanted to help suffering farmers in the American West, but Cleveland rejected their bill, citing the limited mission of the general government and arguing that private charity ... should furnish the necessary aid.

Syllabus of Whitman v. American Trucking Association, a case which dealt with the EPA's ability to set clean air standards.

This Supreme Court case is regarded as the case that threw open the doors of federal government regulation. Whenever the constitutional authority of Congress to regulate interstate commerce is brought up, legal scholars and analysts point to this case, which gives Congress the authority to regulate almost anything it wants to regulate.