“Because most reformers conceived the world as an orderly affair where societies, like planets, normally functioned according to rational laws, they had customarily looked for that one gear askew, that one fundamental rule violated, as an explanation for America’s troubles.  Reset the gear, abide by the great law, and all difficulties would vanish. A crisis psychology accentuated this tendency; the more anxious the search, the more imperative that man penetrate to the root of the matter; the more serious society’s predicament, the more grandiose the visions of perfection following that correction.”

From The Search for Order 1877-1920 by Robert H. Wiebe, Hill and Wang, 1967, p 62


For some the gear was tariffs, for others it was immigration, inflation, socialism, silver money, or prohibition. Crisis became a crutch to simplify a society that was getting much more complicated, and delude the new administrative elite into thinking they had the answers to questions they could only pretend to understand. Early Progressivism sought central power from a decentralized system. Its conflicts with the constitution would become inevitable.