Washington Law Review


Historians' reconceptualization of the nineteenth century American legal order has led to a reconsideration of law and the state in modem America. The origins of administrative law, redistributive social programs, and a concern for economic planning lie not in the progressive era of Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, as once thought, but in the final decades of the nineteenth century. The old liberal synthesis, which posited a continuing legal struggle between big business on the one hand and selfless, idealistic reformers on the other, began to lose credibility in light of modem research. Many historians now argue persuasively that corporate leaders and their legal advisers played important roles in the drafting and implementation of many reforms and that businessmen and middle-class progressives shared a common ideology rooted in their concern for economic efficiency and social order.

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