Before the Civil War, the only significant contact that most Americans had with the federal government was through the postal service. By the 1990s, the federal government was a vast bureaucracy. Many changes preceded this development and many leaders of the US were great contributors to the course the changes took. The federal government has indeed gone through many changes. Abraham Lincoln has been celebrated as one of the best leaders America has ever had. In his annual speech to the congress in 1863, he confirmed the abolition of slave and put an end to inhumane suffering of foreigners especially in the hands of American forces.
This was in deed a very important period in the history of America. The president recognized that every human being should be respected and treated humanely irrespective of his origin, skin color or nationality. America at certain periods had leaders who did little to heed the voices of the people. The sending of half baked soldiers to France in 1917 by the president of the time, Wilson, to join the Allied forces was ludicrous (Terkel, pp7). There were few resources that could sustain the American soldiers at any battle of such magnitudes.
The president even ignored the wise advice of the some of the top soldiers at the time. There was call for having the American soldiers train for a period not lees than one year in order to be able to fight in that war as was counseled by General Tasker Bliss on behalf of his fellow soldiers. Then nobody thought this would come to pass as there was a shipping problem and there were concerns for how million contigents would reach France. The French government even let it known that American company would not be required at the time.
The highest office was marked by the indecision as well as confusion on actually what should be the right course of action. According to Terkel (pp 15), the idea of whether or not to amalgamate the American forces once they had disembarked in France divided the president and his secretary. While president Wilson was bowing to the demands of the Allied forces and looking more confused by the day, his Secretary Baker was adamant that American soldiers would forge their own front in the war.
There were dramatic events later on as the ghosts of this would return to haunt the federal government. Soldiers who claimed to have fought for the German democracy matched the streets to White House demanding their dues. The police blocked this group of matchers because some people thought they were causing mayhem on the busy Pennsylvania Avenue. The damage was unprecedented as many were injured and killed by the clashes that ensued (Terkel, pp 6). Truman’s infamous Executive Order 9835 was part of this history in the making.
The Order which was signed into law in 1947 set into motion a number of activities. The order sought to dismantle the communist sympathizers within the civil service (Steven pp 46). In what was referred to as the political test, the federal employees were to be fired in case they held communists ideal or sympathized with its group consider subversive by the federal government. In the Executive Order, it was clearly spelt that the civil service commission would be in charge of the investigative programs.
Steven (pp50) suggested that the intentions of the program was imbued with great injustice as was witnessed later when the FBI hijacked the programs and sidelined the Civil Service Commission. The bureau wanted to put the lid on whatever malicious charges it had against any federal employee whom they consider to be in “association” or sympathetic to the communists. After three years of inception of the Executive Order 9835, the liberal rejected the anti-Communists law. Famously known as the McCarran act, it sought to abolish the anti-communists legislation that had earlier been in operation.
The period was a major one in the history of the country. At the time, the world was grappling with cold and the Korea war. The president was opposed to the passage of this law but was overpowered by the congress and senates overwhelming vote against his veto. The president argued that the passage of the law may have adverse effects on the US world standings. The liberals on the other hand wanted to create more room for freedom of speech though they contended that communism was not good (Steven pp67).
The coming to power of Ronald Reagan herald many changes in the operations of the federal government. The inauguration speech said as much, the federal government was a creation of the American people and the states and as such should serve the needs of each and everyone as well as leaving individual states to independently run their government. The period was the beginning of many changes that took place as far as federal government and the governed transacted business. Reagan called the government a servant of the people.
To him the government should run hand in hand with the American people in order to foster individual and America’s growth and not to hamper it. Conclusion The period between 19th and 20th century was a long one not only in time but also in the journey to transform the way Washington conducted business with the American people. It was marked by a lot of ups and downs but perhaps it could be said that it took great leaders like Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan, much pain to see the suffering of the American people in the hands of their very own government that rode over them instead of riding by their side.
These gains must not be credited to the leaders only but the America people who have been resilient and tirelessly worked hard even when conditions are tough. Work Cited Steven J. Diner, A Very Different Age: Americans of the Progressive Era. New York: Hill and Wang, 1998 pp 34-76. Terkel, S. Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression. New York: The New Press. (n. d) pp 2-32
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