The “First New Federalism” and the Development of the Administrative State, 1883–1929

Kimberley Johnson

in The Oxford Handbook of American Bureaucracy

Published in print October 2010 | ISBN: 9780199238958
Published online January 2011 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of American Politics

The “First New Federalism” and the Development of the Administrative State, 1883–1929


This article provides several lines of interrelated arguments related to scholarly oversight. These oversights occurred as national state-building reformers were stymied by political and judicial realpolitik and instead tapped into and appropriated the existing capacity of the states. It outlines the nature of the American federal system. The development of bureaucratic capacity at the national and state levels in the last third of the nineteenth century is also described. Demonstrated next is how partisan and institutional incentives in Congress, the presidency, and the judiciary fostered the emergence of qualitatively different intergovernmental policy tools. It then summarizes the reasons for the oversight by researchers of this critical era of national American state building and concludes by offering suggestions for future research. The American state that emerged, especially after the New Deal, was far stronger and more centralized in administrative capacity than what had previously existed.

Keywords: New Federalism; American federal system; Congress; presidency; judiciary; American state; intergovernmental policy

Article.  11791 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; US Politics ; Public Policy

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