Building Administrative Capacity in the National Government: The Role of Rockefeller-Funded Initiatives, 1910–1930

by Jesse Tarbert

Aug 11, 2020

During the 1910s and 1920s, corporate elites and their Republican allies emerged as the leading proponents of central power and national authority in debates about the institutional structure of the federal government. This project traces the progress of their agenda and shows how it was foiled by defenders of local control and white supremacy. The primary focus is on policy debates about three general topics: budget reform, executive reorganization, and anti-lynching. On each of these topics, elite reformers sought to build central power and national authority. In each case, they faced opposition from political leaders from the South and West. Rockefeller-funded initiates—and, indeed, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., himself—played a key role in the elite reform efforts of the 1910s and 1920s. The report that follows presents evidence drawn from records held at the Rockefeller Archive Center.

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