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6.12 Controversies over the Role of Government

2 min readoctober 19, 2021

Ashley Rossi

Ashley Rossi


AP US History 🇺🇸

454 resources
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Controversies

During this period, the idea of laissez-faire economics (the idea that the government should not interfere with economic matters) combined with the idea of Social Darwinism to justify the economic developments that led to this boom in production. 📈 However, these developments also sparked debates on the ethics behind the economy. Was it the government’s responsibility to manage the economy, after all? 
Eventually, the government stepped in with an attempt to regulate trusts and monopolies. The Sherman Antitrust Act was created in 1890 and attempted to prevent the development of monopolies. However, the act lacked any real “teeth” and was mostly useless in its ability to stop corruption.
Because of the domestic issues of the period, the United States government was largely isolationist. However, there was some important foreshadowing going on.
It is in this time that we start to see the seeds of imperialism sprout. In his thesis, Frederick Jackson Turner speculated about the impact the closing of the frontier (as reported in the 1890 census) would have on America. He predicted, correctly, that we would look to expand our markets and influence elsewhere since the West was now spoken for (by us, of course). 
The United States began flexing the Monroe Doctrine (1823) as it stepped into its role of policeman of the Western Hemisphere. This is especially important as tensions with Spain began to rise in the last years of the period. 
The United States also began looking to possibilities in the Pacific 🗺️. This was born partially out of a desire for new markets, but also out of a missionary and naval agenda as well.
🎥 Watch: AP US History - Industrialization and City Life
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