United States History
Decades of Change
Source: United States Information Agency
"I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood." Martin Luther King Jr., 1963
By 1960 government had become an increasingly powerful force in people's lives. During the 1930s, The White House had initiated legislation and worked closely with Congress to ease the trauma of the Great Depression. New executive agencies were created to deal with many aspects of American life. The number of civilians employed by the federal government rose from 1 million to 3.8 million during World War II, then stabilized at 2.5 million throughout the 1950s. Federal expenditures, which had stood at $3.1 thousand-million in 1929, increased to $75 thousand-million in 1953 and passed $150 thousand-million in the 1960s.
Most Americans accepted government's expanded role, even as they disagreed about how far that expansion should continue. Democrats wanted the government to use its power to ensure growth and stability. They wanted to extend federal benefits for education, health and welfare. Republicans, while accepting government's basic and necessary responsibility, hoped to cap spending and restore a larger measure of individual initiative.
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